Asus Zenfone 5Q Review
The Asus Zenfone 5Q is a mid-to-upper-mid-range device where so many manufacturers seem to be aiming. Competition is still stiff around the $299 price point the Zenfone 5Q is going for, but Asus hopes to pull out a win with dual cameras in the front and back (20 MP regular in front and 16 MP regular in back, both paired with 8 MP wide-angle lenses), sleek glass back, and Asus’s typically fast ZenUI performance.
We’ve seen solid attempts in the past, but often times one or two glaring flaws have held us back from fully embracing the Zenfone lineup. Does the Zenfone 5Q overcome this and establish itself as a worthy mid-range alternative?
- Asus Zenfone 5Q
- Micro-USB cable and wall adapter
- Clear silicone case
- Asus headphones and spare earbuds
- Warranty and manuals
The glass back looks nice albeit rather familiar and plain, but we do like the color selection, namely the addition of a red colorway to spice things up. The power and volume buttons built into the plastic sides also have a nice solid click to them – not too firm, and not at all mushy.
Notched or not, this 6-inch Full HD+ (2160 x 1080) display still achieves a respectable 80% screen-to-body ratio. Clarity on this screen is pretty good, as are the colors, though it can seem a bit bluish. Reaching a max brightness of 478 nits and a minimum of 6, it’ll be easy to see this display in any lighting scenario.
Interface and Functionality
Asus’s ZenUI has undergone a series of small, but effective refinements over the past few years. A nip here and a tuck there has left ZenUI looking more cohesive and less confusing than it’s ever looked in this Android 8.0-based iteration. Aesthetically, we’re fans of this increasingly uniform UI and appreciate the level of tweaking still provided.
Tools to clean up cached files, theme your interface, manage your files, and lock certain apps are all well integrated and bloat is kept to a bare minimum. Adding a better all-device search functionality could certainly help to organize them further, making features more accessible and therefore more likely to be utilized.
Processor, Memory, and Performance
Asus likes to remind us every now and then that being a mid-range device doesn’t have to mean being slow. The Zenfone 5Q pairs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 630 with 4 gigabytes of RAM to keep things running smoothly, and smooth it is. Navigating through your day-to-day tasks for work or for pleasure won’t often leave you frustrated. We encountered no hangs, quick app launching, and brisk app switching throughout.
Gaming will drop some frames and load slower than higher-end phones, but the experience overall is more than tenable.
The Zenfone 5Q is a dual-SIM device which expands the dual-SIM tray to also fit a microSD card in addition to two simultaneous SIM cards (only one SIM can connect to data at a time). That’s pretty cool, but otherwise there’s nothing too noteworthy to find in the connectivity department for the 5Q. You’ll find the proper requisites like dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, and NFC – pretty much par for the course at this price point. Being an unlocked phone, you won’t be able to put this on Verizon Wireless or Sprint, but AT&T, T-Mobile, and prepaid companies who use their towers should have no issue hooking up the Zenfone 5Q.
Being a device that uses micro-USB as opposed to USB-C, we’re not surprised (and far from displeased) to find a 3.5mm headphone jack on board. The built-in speaker doesn’t do a bad job of entertaining on its own though. Sound is decently clear and loud enough for most situations.
Flipping on the HDR mode seems to rectify these small annoyances with exposure pretty much entirely, which thankfully doesn’t add too much time to the shot.
The secondary 8 MP wide-angle lens does a lot of the same things right that the main sensor does in terms of color accuracy and detail capture, but it unfortunately lacks the main sensor’s adeptness in exposure and higher proclivity in mitigating movement, which leaves the wide-angle lens more vulnerable to blowing out highlights and capturing blurry shots if you’re not careful.
Overall, in terms of color reproduction, detail, and point-and-shoot-ability, the Zenfone 5Q pulls off easily one of the best photo capturing experiences in its field.
4K video taken on the Zenfone 5Q is perhaps unsurprisingly well-detailed. Colors aren’t quite as accurate as in image capture though, displaying a tendency to punch things up a bit. Electronic image stabilization helps keep things steady, but not enough to keep movements from becoming too shaky and jarring most of the time. Exposure is good though, as are focusing times, but audio came out sounding rather compressed, which is a shame to match such sharp video with sub-par audio.
Calls come through nicely on the Zenfone 5Q; we didn’t have any issues with signal or reception. The earpiece is plenty loud, and the speakerphone is adequate for most situations. Callers could hear us well and we could hear them without issue or interruption.
Packing a 3300 mAh battery, the Zenfone 5Q does well with its battery efficiency; well enough to last through a full-day’s use in our time with the device. Clocking a respectable 10 hours on our custom drain test, we found the 5Q’s battery life quite reasonable. Re-charge times are quick too, taking just under 90 minutes to charge from 0 – 100.
UPDATE: You can now read our Asus ZenFone 6 Review!