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.

Processor and memory

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.

Related phones

ZenFone 5 (A502CG)
  • Display 5.0" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Intel Atom, Dual-core, 2000 MHz
  • Storage 8 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2110 mAh
Galaxy S4
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, Quad-core, 1900 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2600 mAh(17h 3G talk time)



1. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

S4. But Z5 is great for $150 unlocked.

2. jellmoo

Posts: 2588; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Wow. That thing is huge for a 5 inch display. I guess tradeoffs need to be made to hit that price point, but something that big sacrifices 1 handed use and comfortable pocketability, without any of the benefits a larger screen bring.

3. hboy857

Posts: 367; Member since: Jun 03, 2013

I just don't understand the point of comparing a $150phone with a $534 phone expect for showing that GS4 su*k.

6. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

45+ million people around the world disagree.

8. hboy857

Posts: 367; Member since: Jun 03, 2013

That's coming from a guy who said that he would buy a iphone if it has bigger screen. If you're so content with samsung experience why would you want to switch?

11. g2a5b0e unregistered

I guess if you like oranges, you're not allowed to like apples too. Good job.

5. TheKookiemonster007

Posts: 12; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

htc one v

7. Doakie

Posts: 2478; Member since: May 06, 2009

Now the main question is: will any of the ZenFones be released in the USA? I bought a Fonepad off eBay previously and had it sent over from Taipei which seemed OK until the panic of a warranty question came up. Asus USA Customer Service would refer to the International Website and the the International Website would say contact the USA Customer Service. Needless to say I'm not making that mistake again.

9. alextheZowner

Posts: 33; Member since: Jan 01, 2014

I will buy 4 zenfones for the price of a GS4 and have 32gb 4 GB RAM and 8ghz yeah boy hahaha zenfone beats GS4

10. bluescreen

Posts: 154; Member since: Nov 22, 2012

150 is still more than i paid for my s4!

12. peterjohnson

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 15, 2014

One of the biggest difference between Asus Smartphone and S4 is that, S4's screen is sold at a much higher price as compared to Asus, even after it is broken down.

13. clayton

Posts: 17; Member since: Jun 15, 2012

Why do you compare these two phones? The two phones are aimed at two completely different market segments; the zenfone is for normal realistic people who are looking for a phone first, and are therefore happy with capable phones that offer value for money. The S4 on the other hand is for people who are happy to show off with recognized branded phones with features they hardly use, and pay so much (60% for the brand logo on the phone and 40% for the phone itself) for them. The S4 is almost four times the price of the Zenfone 5. Can anybody sincerely justify that? I think we should give credit where it's due. That phone for that price is simply amazing and I can't wait to have one. I am imagining the caliber of phone Samsung will produce for $150 in this present day. Please make your comparison with a $150 samsung phone.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.