Asus ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 5Q hands-on: hey there, good-looking!

Asus ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 5Q hands-on: hey there, good-looking!
Mobile World Congress is in full swing in Barcelona, and announcements have been pouring over the past few days. The latest unveiling comes from Asus: the company just introduced a trio of new ZenFone 5 handsets, including the Asus ZenFone 5Z flagship. However, the first two phones we had the chance to check out were the ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 5Q – and at a glance, they don't look bad at all. (In a last-minute update, Asus informed us that the ZenFone 5Q will be known as ZenFone 5 Lite outside of the US.)

Actually, calling the ZenFone 5 and 5Q "not bad" would be an understatement. The two are quite attractive with their design and would definitely stand out in their price point. This is especially true for the Asus ZenFone 5, the design of which bears a striking similarity to the iPhone X. Yup, the phone has a notch – that is where its front-facing cam resides, alongside various sensors. The spacious display (19:9 ratio, 6.2 inches) exhibits bold and vivid colors, and even if its color accuracy isn't perfect, we must stay that it looks pretty good to the naked eye. The ZenFone 5 Lite has an extra-tall display as well (6-inches in diagonal), but lacks a notch, while colors appeared noticeably tamer and blueish. Needless to say, the two ZenFone models are quite big physically, though not impossible to handle. 

Flipping the two phones around we find dual cameras on both, as well as center-positioned fingerprint scanners. Face Unlock is also available on both. The back itself is made of glass, and while it is a fingerprint magnet, it does reflect light in a rather unique manner when it's clean. 

ZenUI, Asus's custom Android interface, is found on both phones, but only the ZenFone 5 appears to have been enhanced with AI features. While the term appears to have been used quite broadly here, the features that it enables sound neat. AI Display, for instance, adjusts the screen's color temperature to the environment and disables the screen timeout if it detects that you're still using the phone. AI Battery prolongs the battery's lifespan by limiting overnight charges to 80% capacity, then fills up the rest in the morning right before you wake up. AI Ringtone adjusts the volume of the ringtone depending on the environment. And the camera is made to recognize a number of scenes, helping you take better photos. 


Now that we've mentioned it, we have dual main cameras on the ZenFone 5 and 5 Lite. The setup is comprised of a regular main camera and a wide-angle secondary shooter. Both can take portrait shots with background blur – with their main and front cameras, too! But only the ZenFone 5 Lite has dual cameras at the front. The secondary cam in this case is again a wide-angled one for those group selfies.

As mentioned, the ZenFone 5 can recognize various scenes, which could be helpful in tricky situations. Winter scenes are a good example where scene recognition comes in handy, as the ZenFone 5 could adjust color accordingly to not produce an overly blueish snowy scene. Asus's algorithms control not only the way colors look, but also aspects like exposure, sharpness, and noise. 

Sound on the ZenFone 5 is produced by a stereo speaker arrangement. During a quick demonstration, the phone was compared against a Galaxy S8 and a Google Pixel 2 XL, and yes, it did sound louder. Overall sound quality could have been better, though. 

Ultimately, Asus would never claim that the ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 5 Lite are the best phones on the market. On the other hand, they could be among the better options in their respective price segments, judging by what we saw during our brief time with the two. We doubt that the AI features would draw a lot of buyers, however. The ZenFone 5 and 5 Lite have a better chance at attracting attention with the way they look, especially when put side by side with similarly priced devices. 


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37 Comments

1. maherk

Posts: 6749; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I don't get it why people keep on crying over the notch design. I used the Essential Phone for 10 days, and I would gladly take a notch over a phone with a forehead.

2. ZEUS.the.thunder.god

Posts: 1093; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

How was your experience with Essential Phone? How would it compare to let`s say Note8? Thanks in advance.

4. maherk

Posts: 6749; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Double post

5. maherk

Posts: 6749; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Great device, especially for the price. The camera is very good already, especially with the updates Essential keeps on pushing. But if you want a Pixel 2 like quality, root your phone and install the Gcam app, it will bring every Pixel 2 camera feature. Battery life was fantastic, the phone was fast, and ram management was fixed with the Oreo update. It's not as capable as the Note 8, but for half the price, it's a hell of a device. The only thing going wrong for the Essential Phone, is the terrible reputation it has based on the initial reviews of the phone, which were fair at that time due to the disastrous software it was released with.

23. ZEUS.the.thunder.god

Posts: 1093; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Thanks, man. I`m using an S8 Plus, which is my first ever Non-Rooted phone lol. It`s running Oreo with Feb security patch and with Samsung UX, there`s zero need to Root IMHO. That being said, I`ll definitely skip the S9+ and wait for either Note9 or next year`s Galaxy. Also, It`ll be interesting to see Essential`s next offering.

24. Sparkxster

Posts: 1200; Member since: Mar 31, 2017

How did you get Oreo on your s8 plus? I'm still stuck on nougat and Dec security patch.

26. maherk

Posts: 6749; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

You can go and download it from sammobile, use Odin on your PC and flash it. It's just a one click mehod, doesn't brick your phone and also doesn't void your warranty.

28. Heisenberg

Posts: 367; Member since: Feb 11, 2015

Does back up havs to be done before proceeding with it?

32. maherk

Posts: 6749; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

They usually recommend backing up your phone, but I never did and never ever had a problem when flashing a stock rom through Odin.

29. Sparkxster

Posts: 1200; Member since: Mar 31, 2017

Thanks I might go and try it out.

27. maherk

Posts: 6749; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I might end up getting the S9 after all, but only because I would end up paying zero dollars on top of my Note 8, as Samsung are giving up a free tv here if you pre-order it, which can be easily sold for 250 dollars. And yeah, I'm also curious and excited about Essential's next phone, hopefully they'll go with OLED this time around.

11. midan

Posts: 2597; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Well you answered your own guestion, they haven't used one

14. Orion78

Posts: 178; Member since: Mar 27, 2014

You don't get it? Well it's simple.... because it's a horrible design? I mean if it doesn't bother you then cool but it would drive me insane.

18. midan

Posts: 2597; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

You won't even see the notch when you use the device, it's out of your field of vision when you actually look the screen.

31. RoyalMike unregistered

The notch is useless when all these phones come with a big bottom bezel.. It's never gonna look bezel-less so why sacrifice real screen estate. The S8 approach is by far the best, the very thin bezels added with curved displays make it a real bezel-less phone and the most beautiful too.. If someone can really live with that notch,, iphone x design is more practical than these cheap Chinese craps like Asus and essential

33. nodes

Posts: 1154; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

S9 forehead is quite thick, though. and for this year i think Samsung will be late into the even more bezel-less game(is that even a word lol). looking at those beautiful Mi Mix 2S leaks..

3. bucknassty

Posts: 1318; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

well... even though it has a notch... the 5Z is very, very interesting. i did not expect this from Asus

6. Trex95

Posts: 2377; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

There’s no comparison between Zenfone before and now lot of improvement in desgain.

9. bucknassty

Posts: 1318; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

yeah, and look how much they stuffed inside 500 dollars... hard to deny this may possibly be the best in show at MWC

16. Xperia14

Posts: 1206; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

Agreed. The biggest surprise didn't come from Samsung or Sony, but from Asus! If it only had IP68...

19. bucknassty

Posts: 1318; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

its a very compelling device.... IP68 would be nice... and why hasn't anyone else incorporated samsungs MST for payments? its so nice

36. Sparkxster

Posts: 1200; Member since: Mar 31, 2017

I believe LG is going to launch LG pay which will have MST support.

37. Furbal unregistered

Love the design of the back. Always liked Asus sunburst type effect on their laptops.

7. Cat97

Posts: 1804; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Behold...the notch copycat era has officially begun ! :)

8. Trex95

Posts: 2377; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Yup, but still a lot better desgin than old ugly zenfone lol.

30. Sparkxster

Posts: 1200; Member since: Mar 31, 2017

True that a whole lot better looking.

10. Chaise unregistered

Wow, iPhone hardware with Samsung theme software!

12. midan

Posts: 2597; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Another notch, difficult times for Android users :)

13. Diego!

Posts: 863; Member since: Jun 15, 2009

Asus ZenFone 5Z I'm considering getting you

15. gamehead unregistered

SMGDH

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