Asus ZenFone 5Z Review



About a month ago, Asus gave us the opportunity for some in-depth testing of the first ZenFone 5 version to hit the U.S. – the ZenFone 5Q. This mid-ranger impressed us with its slick UI and capable cameras, leaving us hotly anticipating its high-end brother, the ZenFone 5Z. Well, here we are looking at this sleeker, Snapdragon 845-toting, notch-screened device, and we have to say, we’re ready to get to the nitty gritty. Can this $500 flagship compete in the upper echelon of the phone market?

In the box:

  • Asus ZenFone 5Z
  • USB-C cable and wall charger
  • Silicone Case
  • Earbuds
  • Quick Start guides and Warranty info

Design and Display



The Asus Zenfone 5Z is the sleekest of the ZenFone line-up, sporting glass in the front and back, aluminum on the sides, and a notch in its pretty, minimally-bezeled display. This 6.2-inch, full HD+ (1080 x 2246) Super IPS+ display delivers colors that are deep, vibrant, and quite accurate – a characteristic that will jump right out at you. And reaching a maximum brightness of 604 nits certainly helps it look good in any light. This display also has the ability to auto-adjust color warmth depending on the environment, as well as a switch to hide the notch via a black bar. The former makes very little impact, only tinting the screen very slightly more yellow, while the notch-hiding features looks good serving its purpose. We decided against keeping either of these features enabled, though.

The notch itself isn’t too big – smaller than that on the iPhone X, for instance – and the slim bezels complement this screen well. Turning the device around, under the glass, you’ll see a concentric circular pattern emanating from the fingerprint sensor – a welcome bit of flair. It’s a light yet sturdy, decent-looking device, made nicer to look at by its vibrant screen – even with the notch.

Asus ZenFone 5z

Asus ZenFone 5z

Dimensions

6.02 x 2.98 x 0.3 inches

153 x 75.65 x 7.7 mm

Weight

5.82 oz (165 g)

OnePlus 6

OnePlus 6

Dimensions

6.13 x 2.97 x 0.31 inches

155.7 x 75.4 x 7.75 mm

Weight

6.24 oz (177 g)

Samsung Galaxy S9

Samsung Galaxy S9

Dimensions

5.81 x 2.7 x 0.33 inches

147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5 mm

Weight

5.75 oz (163 g)

LG G7 ThinQ

LG G7 ThinQ

Dimensions

6.03 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches

153.2 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.71 oz (162 g)

Asus ZenFone 5z

Asus ZenFone 5z

Dimensions

6.02 x 2.98 x 0.3 inches

153 x 75.65 x 7.7 mm

Weight

5.82 oz (165 g)

OnePlus 6

OnePlus 6

Dimensions

6.13 x 2.97 x 0.31 inches

155.7 x 75.4 x 7.75 mm

Weight

6.24 oz (177 g)

Samsung Galaxy S9

Samsung Galaxy S9

Dimensions

5.81 x 2.7 x 0.33 inches

147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5 mm

Weight

5.75 oz (163 g)

LG G7 ThinQ

LG G7 ThinQ

Dimensions

6.03 x 2.83 x 0.31 inches

153.2 x 71.9 x 7.9 mm

Weight

5.71 oz (162 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Interface and Functionality


ZenUI on the ZenFone 5Z sits atop an Android 8.0 Oreo base and looks as Zen as ever. Icons and fonts are uniform and pleasing to look at, and Asus has done a better job of keeping the interface and offered gestures simple right out of the box.

It wouldn’t be ZenUI, though, without a dearth of customization options. This includes Asus’ typical aesthetic tweaks like changing the dock, icon fonts, colors, scroll effects, and icon sizing, but also a seemingly ever-expanding suite of assistive features. Options for twin apps, ringtones that adjust based on environmental noise, and charging that “learns” how you charge your phone to better protect the battery's health are some of the newer additions you’ll find here. Many of these seem like they can be helpful for users, and as always, we’re pleased to find so much customization.

Although the settings menu is rather well-organized – a quality which assists in finding and utilizing these many features – much better would be a savvier settings search which can deliver you to these many functions based on context and keywords, rather than searching for exact terms you don’t necessarily know to look for. The all-device search has also been whittled down to only be able to search for apps and nothing else.

Processor, Memory, and Performance


Packing Qualcomm’s latest in the Snapdragon 845, paired with 6 gigs of RAM and 64 GB of expandable storage, the ZenFone 5Z stacks up pretty well against other high-end competitors. This is a phone that moves when you tell it to go and the movements are smooth and prompt. Apps launch and switch in a flash – blink and you’ll miss most transitions.

Oddly, though, the fingerprint sensor gave us some spotty results. Typically lagging quite noticeably or sometimes completely unresponsive to our touch, this was far from our favorite biometric experience. Perhaps the sensor was simply not registering our touches or even just authenticating slowly – either way, we certainly hope that this lackluster aspect of an otherwise hyper-responsive phone can be addressed with a software patch.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5z 268722
OnePlus 6 260353.5
Samsung Galaxy S9 244207.33
LG G7 ThinQ 239753.5
JetStream Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5z 86.417
OnePlus 6 88.123
Samsung Galaxy S9 61.834
LG G7 ThinQ 88.304
GFXBench Car Chase on-screen Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5z 33
OnePlus 6 30
Samsung Galaxy S9 25.66
LG G7 ThinQ 20
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5z 59
OnePlus 6 50
Samsung Galaxy S9 43.33
LG G7 ThinQ 31.66
Geekbench 4 single-core Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5z 2459
OnePlus 6 2413.66
Samsung Galaxy S9 3709
LG G7 ThinQ 2439.5
Geekbench 4 multi-core Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5z 8789
OnePlus 6 8929
Samsung Galaxy S9 8814.66
LG G7 ThinQ 8793

Connectivity and Sound


Asus packs the ZenFone 5Z with all the requisite antennas and radios, including Bluetooth 5.0, dual-band Wi-Fi, and NFC. This dual-SIM phone can only work on AT&T and T-Mobile-based networks, excluding Verizon and Sprint from the honor.

Tools to play and manipulate Hi-Res (or regular) audio are also included in a suite called Audio-Wizard – something of a staple we’ve come to expect from Asus. These custom EQ presets and manual controls enable the user to easily and effectively tailor their listening experience to their specific auditory tastes – with headphones or without; the dual-speaker setup on the ZenFone 5Z helps to make listening to music an enjoyable, more immersive experience either way.

Camera


Asus has paired a 12 MP regular lens camera with an 8 MP wide-angle cam on the ZenFone 5Z. Unlike its brother, the ZenFone 5Q, the 5Z only has a single front-facing camera with an 8 MP sensor.


True to Asus’ “we love photo” creed, pictures taken on the ZenFone 5Z were, for the most part, quite impressive. The ZenFone 5Z’s main camera exhibits very good detail throughout most any situation, but in brighter scenes, colors tend to wash out a bit and exposure can appear blown out in spots. More dynamic sceneries seem to force the camera to do better work in color capture and exposure, though, and overall it proves itself to be quite a capable snapper.

The 8 MP wide-angle camera also composes some well-put-together shots, but compared to the main sensor, shows obvious troubles with exposure and detail capture. Still, this wide-angle camera gets the job done with more-than-passable results.

Selfies on the 5Z look pretty good too, and although beauty modes certainly have an effect, the auto mode doesn’t do the best job of cleaning up the subject in a natural, effective way. Still, tweaking these on your own can have some desired effect.

Portrait modes exist for both the front and rear cameras, with results being similarly pleasing. Asus has made much improvement in this area, and, even with the single front-facing camera, does an excellent job of separating the subject from the background and composing a pleasing bokeh aesthetic.

Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5z 1.57
1.47
751
356
OnePlus 6 1.8
2
No data
No data
Samsung Galaxy S9 0.7
1
No data
No data
LG G7 ThinQ 1.6
2
360
No data

Video


Video captured on the ZenFone 5Z shows much of the same characteristics of photo capture – abundant detail with decent color reproduction. Image stabilization does some pretty nice work in smoothing out bounces from walking, but movement from panning often appears artificial and even sometimes glitchy panning the camera from subject to subject.


Call Quality


Calls are another area in which the ZenFone 5Z executes well. Sound on both ends is clear and signal seemed to give no troubles. The speakerphone is also more than adequate for most any situation.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5z 0.252
OnePlus 6 0.49
Samsung Galaxy S9 0.75
LG G7 ThinQ 0.75
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5z 78.3
OnePlus 6 79
Samsung Galaxy S9 78
LG G7 ThinQ 81

Battery Life


Clocking over eight hours on our custom battery life test, the Asus ZenFone 5Z proves its 3300 mAh battery can easily last through a day’s use. You won’t get too far into day two without a charge, though. Re-charge times were pleasing as well; Asus’s fast charge powers up the 5Z from 0 to 100 in just under an hour and 40 minutes.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5z 8h 21 min (Excellent)
OnePlus 6 8h 10 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy S9 7h 23 min (Good)
LG G7 ThinQ 6h 32 min (Average)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Asus ZenFone 5z 97
OnePlus 6 80
Samsung Galaxy S9 107
LG G7 ThinQ 107

Conclusion



For all that the ZenFone 5Z does well, does it do enough to compete on the highest level? Well, given its $500 price, it’s a well-fought case. With this gorgeous display and the omnipresent “bezeless” metal-meets-glass construction, looking at this phone throughout the days will never disappoint you. The performance found within keeps up too; the processing components are of the highest quality available for Android devices, after all. Somewhat unusually, considering performance we’ve seen in other recent Asus phones, the camera is where this device starts to show its sacrifices. Still, it’s a formidable shooter that will please in a variety of situations.

In totality, the sacrifices on this phone are mostly minimal; the ZenFone 5Z is a device you won’t regret buying – especially considering how much you can save in buying a phone of such capability with the few shortcomings it has.

Pros

  • Solid photo performance
  • Vibrant display with deep, accurate colors
  • Slick-looking, fast UI

Cons

  • No level of water resistance
  • Relatively slow fingerprint sensor
  • Camera can lean towards overexposing shots, sometimes losing details and obscuring colors

PhoneArena Rating:

7.8

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16 Comments

1. Cat97

Posts: 1979; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Asus did a great job with this phone. A lot of phone for the price. The only thing it is really missing is OIS, this will really hurt low-light performance and also video detail. I would still lean towards OnePlus 6 due to the perfectly calibrated OLED display, camera OIS but also the OxygenOS which is highly optimized. But it's a tough call.

4. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

OIS is useless for video. Vids looks better when shutter is faster, also OIS brings jelly effect. Only benefit is to prevent blur when shutter is between 0.25 - 0.8s... Even 1s can be too much for handheld shots on phones with OIS.

7. dimas

Posts: 3420; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Here, this might help you decide. They did great with their comparison. https://www.flickr.com/photos/101556126@N05/albums/72157697352143831

8. lostdaynight

Posts: 31; Member since: May 16, 2011

I'm pretty sure it has OIS and EIS, actually. I was disappointed in the lack of lip service paid to low light photography in this review.

2. japkoslav

Posts: 1552; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

Does this phone records stereo? No mention in the review.

5. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

All flagships do, except Pixel and iphone

10. japkoslav

Posts: 1552; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

I belive Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola use mono as well (at least on most of the models - even "flagships").

3. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Beautiful piece of kit for the price. Way to go Asus, the Rog should really kick it if the 5Z does so well. Want it.

6. dimas

Posts: 3420; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Zenfone 5z is only $567 after tax in my country so I think the cons are bearable. I disagree with the camera overexposing. I've seen a zenfone 5z vs. oneplus 6 in flickr and the "overexposed" are not noticeable unless you point them out. The real win of zenfone 5z is the near stock android UI. For me, this is the real flagship killer of 2018.

9. AbhiD

Posts: 856; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

I don't know if there was specifically something wrong with PA's 5z unit, but this phone has been selling since weeks in India. Has 3-4k reviews on e-commerce site Flipkart(where it sells) and has seen dozens of YouTube reviews and No One, not a single one out there complained about slow or spotty fingerprint sensor. Infact in videos i see it performing effortlessly and very speedily. Even in reviews on Flipkart, not one person complained about it. It was infact featured in Pros of 5z.

11. Sparkxster

Posts: 1247; Member since: Mar 31, 2017

Asus did a great job better in some ways than the OnePlus 6 and cheaper. Well deserving of a higher score I would give it a 8.5.

12. mbjbdc

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 02, 2018

If it is anything like the 5q it is lacking in the lte band department the 5q only had 2 of 5 T-Mobile bands. Making it useless in the States

13. redmd

Posts: 1948; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

This is way better than OP 6. The OP 6 is 100 USD more expensive than the 5Z in my country.

14. ScottsoNJ56

Posts: 134; Member since: Oct 01, 2017

The US version 5Q has 2,4,12 which should be all you need for tmobile lte

16. AbbyJ

Posts: 2; Member since: Aug 25, 2018

This phone = my wishlist. BUT does not support T-Mobile WiFi calling.

17. rshermanfl

Posts: 5; Member since: Nov 02, 2016

I'm in America, I'm an Android developer. I own a 5z. I have never experienced slow fingerprint reader response, this phone never even stutters. It's a solid performer and I'm a demanding user and I'm actually impressed with the effectiveness of the power optimizations. The sound quality is excellent, I mean excellent from the speakers or headphones or Bluetooth; and this phone is the bargain the OnePlus line used to represent. On AT&T the LTE performance has been stellar. I work with dozens of devices every day, I had the chance to get my hands on all the hot selling flagship devices. I'm not saying if you spent $900 on another device you wasted your money, but I will say this $500 device is in the same league. It's been a Samsung show for too long, LG is a hit and miss, Moto isn't Moto anymore, it's Lenovo and I'm not sure that's good or not, HTC is a question mark ('nuff said) so come on ASUS, come on Nokia, those are both names work some weight and they both seem to be serious about Android. I'm using the 5z as a daily. The camera hardware is fantastic; if you don't like the images try another camera app; there are so many good choices. The results will be different, photos are to some degree subjective, the hardware is great, find an app that processes the results to your liking. This phone is an affordable gem, I'm enjoying the blazing speed and high performance GPU for gaming. I have to agree with the commentators from India who commented before me, the criticism of the fingerprint reader in the article don't reflect my reality.
ZenFone 5z
  • Display 6.2" 1080 x 2246 pixels
  • Camera / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2800 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3300 mAh

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