Asus ZenFone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4: first look
Can $150 buy you a decent Android phone from a brand you've actually heard of? Yup, we're totally getting there and Asus is one of the companies hard at work towards making that possible. In fact, the Taiwanese company already has an offering that aims to meet that description, namely the just-announced Asus ZenFone 5. It is a $150 mid-range device with a 5-inch screen, 8MP camera, and a dual-core processor of the Atom variety. That right there, looking at specs alone, is a pretty good value-for-money ratio. But as ambitious as it is, the ZenFone 5 is clearly no match for a high-end rival such as the Samsung Galaxy S4. Or is it? Well, let's put them side by side and find out.
We can't say that the Asus ZenFone 5 is a bad-looking phone. Quite the opposite – we're content with its construction and modest appearance, especially knowing that it will be available in a variety of colors. The phone has a body made of plastic with a soft touch finish and our fingers are okay with that. Still, we have to admit that the Samsung Galaxy S4 has the upper hand in the design category. Samsung's high-end is noticeably lighter, thinner, and more compact. Plus, the S4's curvier corners make it more comfortable to operate.
Strike two for the Samsung Galaxy S4. It has a 5-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 by 1920 pixels, while the Asus ZenFone 5 offers a 5-inch IPS LCD screen with 720 by 1280 pixels of resolution. First and foremost, the S4's screen treats our eyes to a lot more detail thanks to its much higher pixel density. Furthermore, the S4's screen is clearer when viewed from the side. In terms of color representation, the ZenFone 5's display delivers pretty life-like colors, but so does the one on the S4 when set to the right mode. It is cool that the screen on the ZenFone 5 can be operated through gloves, but the S4's screen offers this perk as well.
Both the Asus ZenFone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 run a modified version of Android Jelly Bean. Asus has chosen to keep things more down to earth with its ZenUI – it is a rather simple interface with a few non-major tweaks here and there. A notable addition is the "What’s Next" feature which is made to aid users in keeping track of their daily events. Samsung's TouchWiz UI, on the other hand, is loaded with all kinds of extras. And we're not talking only about the visual and functional improvements that have been introduced. Samsung has thrown in a number of potentially handy features, such as its S Translator and S Health, its camera tweaks and modes, KNOX for business users, and those fancy Air Gestures. Not that a typical user would ever use all of these, of course, but it is nice knowing that you're holding on to a phone that's fully loaded out of the box.
Asus has partnered up with Intel for its latest smartphones, which is why we find a 2GHz dual-core Atom Z2580 chipset under its hood. The global variant of the Samsung Galaxy S4, on the other hand, is powered by a Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon 600 SoC clocked at 1.9GHz. On paper, the S4 seem to stand superior in terms of raw processing power and we know from experience that it is a high-performance device indeed. But the ZenFone 5 with its Atom chip might not be lagging that far behind. The 1GB of RAM, however, could be one of its weaker links – it is enough, but not top notch. With its 2GB of RAM, the Galaxy S4 excels when it comes to multitasking performance.
Both the Asus ZenFone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 come with microSD cards for storage expansion. The S4, however, offers more built-in storage and comes with 50GB of cloud storage via Dropbox.
We had the chance to perform an impromptu test on the ZenFone 5's 8MP camera here at the CES floor. It is definitely good enough, but not great, especially under low-light conditions. The 13MP camera on the Samsung Galaxy S4, on the other hand, has proven itself numerous times in our camera tests and we're pretty sure it can deliver better results than the ZenFone 5's camera.
So yeah, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is better than the Asus ZenFone 5 in a number of ways. It has a better screen, a better camera, and it is better designed overall. However, let us not disregard the fact that the ZenFone 5 would be several times cheaper than the Galaxy S4 upon release. Therefore, it is a phone that shouldn't be ignored. Buyers looking for a decent Android smartphone that doesn't cost an arm and a leg should totally give the ZenFone 5 a try. Those who don't mind spending the extra cash, on the other hand, would be better off sticking with the Samsung Galaxy S4.