ASUS Zenphone 5 Review

Asus has launched five smartphones in one shot. The Asus ZenFone 5 looks like the best of the lot, it has a 5” Screen, Androis 4.3, 2GB RAM and the best part is the under 10k price point for the base model. It has an Intel processor, most other phones have Qualcomm or MediaTek processors. Will this beat the Moto G base model? Should be buy this one or the Mi3? Let us look at this phone today.

Asus Zenphone 5

Design and display

Asus ZenFone 5 has a very subtly understated look, it is a largely plastic construction with only a hint of metal. The plastic used here is not cheap and has matte finish that feels good to the touch. However, the look is rather plain and does not set the smartphone apart from the competition either. This is not saying that it is not looking good, it just does not stun you.

Asus Zenphone 5 2

In the front, just below the screen you will see a metallic strip featuring concentric semi-circles, taking up less than a centimeter of space on the front panel. Though this strip is not too bold, it certainly adds a little flair to the design character, which the device doesn’t seem to have otherwise. Asus uses the same metal trim in its laptops.

Asus Zenphone 5 4

ZenFone 5’s removable back panel is curved, which make it easy to hold with one as well as two hands. However, the smartphone itself is a little big and, thus, a little difficult to operate with one hand. At 145gram, it is a little heavy, but feels solid. We got the feeling of slight uneasiness when held for a long time, not very comfortable but not bad either.

Asus Zenphone 5 5

We don’t understand why the phone has the wide bezels, which make ZenPhone 5 unnecessarily large. Without the bezels, it would have been similar to a Samsung Galaxy S4 in size, this is a design flaw for sure. The Home, Back and Task Switcher buttons have not been given on the screen as well, thus adding to its size. Overall, the design leaves a lot to be desired!

Asus Zenphone 5 6

Asus ZenFone 5 sports a 5-inch display with 720p resolution. The screen’s colour reproduction is balanced, delivering accurate and balanced colours in most cases. Being an IPS panel, it offers good viewing angles, ensuring that colours do not wash out when viewed from the sides. Pixilation is not noticeable either.


Asus ZenFone 5 comes across as pretty well-equipped when it comes to the hardware. The smartphone has the Intel Atom Z2560 dual-core processor running at 1.6GHz; it features Hyper-threading technology, meaning that it can act as a quad-core CPU when too many processes are running. This is very nifty when you have heavy multiprocessing on a stressful workday. This is a very useful configuration!

Asus Zenphone 5 7

In India, the ZenPhone 5 comes with 2GB RAM, 8GB and 16GB internal storage options and microSD card support up to 64GB. Connectivity options are standard: 2G, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and microUSB 2.0. The smartphone also sports an 8MP camera with an LED flash on the back, and a 2MP camera in front. It has a non-removable 2,110mAh battery.

The 8GB variant has been priced at Rs 9,999, whereas the 16GB model can be purchased for Rs 12,999.


Software is a good highlight of Asus ZenFone 5. Android smartphone makers try to set themselves apart via customized software, but most do not turn out well and make the phone appear cluttered.


However, Asus, despite its rather limited experience with smartphones, has done a great job, giving us an Android launcher that improves the basic functionality of Android, is pleasing to the eyes and does not make you cringe or cry or laugh when you look at the icons. ZenFone 5 comes preloaded with Android 4.3, but the Android 4.4 update is around the corner. There is no word on Android L release for this smartphone.

Very much like HTC’s Sense UI, the Asus custom skin brings shortcuts to the lock screen so that you can open the apps that you use the most without unlocking the device. It also displays time, weather and upcoming events on the lock screen. Very useful and well thought out for the serious user of the phone. This is a distinguishing feature in the UI. Makes it better than most others, like the Zen Notebooks from Asus.

While you swipe downwards to open the Notifications Bar, a swipe from the left side of the screen opens your notifications whereas the swipe from the right opens all the toggles, just like it happens in Android tablets nowadays. Brightness, Flashlight, Memory Booster, Calculator and Quick Memo are permanent in the toggles menu, but you can choose the remaining toggles that show up in Notifications from Settings.

Another useful and thoughtful feature worth mentioning here is Easy Mode, which lets you choose and control those apps you may use most frequently. The Asus ZenPhone 5 shows common apps like Dialer, Contacts, Camera by default, but also lets you set which other apps can be opened in this mode.

Software 2

Through the settings, you can enable ZenFone 5 to open the camera by clicking the Volume Down key twice when the screen is turned off. You can also take screenshots by just tapping the Task Switcher haptic key twice. Both of these add to the ease of use of the phone!The icons are flat and minimalistic, making the screen uncluttered even if it has several apps and widgets. Along with Google apps, the Taiwanese manufacturer has put several apps on the device, and not all are useful. Those worth mentioning are AudioWizard and Splendid. The former, as the name suggests, lets you control the phone’s audio profile depending upon the functions you are performing. There are six modes in this app, namely Speech, Music, Recording, Movie, Gaming and Power Saving.

Splendid enables you to control the color reproduction on the display, allowing you to make it richer or colder.


The phone is able to deliver consistent and glitch-free performance during our review. What’s more surprising is that the Intel-powered smartphone delivered a user experience that was as good, if not better, than that of its Qualcomm-powered counterparts. Apps opened quickly and switching between them was smooth. With 2GB RAM at its disposal, the smartphone did not give any ‘out of memory’ error as well.


The smartphone performs well as a gaming machine too, but resource-hungry games feel a little slow to start. The Power VR GX544MP2 GPU renders rich graphics without a hitch. The games we tried, Real Racing 3 and Dead Trigger 2, played smoothly and there were no frame drops.

In benchmark tests, Asus ZenFone 5 gave pretty good results. In fact, its scores were right up there with those of Google Nexus 4 in most tests we used, and decidedly better than that of Moto G.


Calling, WiFi and 3G are like any other phone in this segment, satisfactory but not recolutionary in any way. We are just ok with these factors.

As a multimedia device, however, Asus ZenFone 5 is not good enough. Though the display is great and all video formats play easily, the sound extremely disappointing, even using the loudspeaker mode on the phone is simply not audible and clear enough. So Videos with clear sound will not play well, be warned.

One problem we faced while handling the device is that the haptic keys are not backlit. Therefore, using it in the dark is a little difficult.


Battery life is also a major concern. During regular usage, where we kept the brightness at 50% and always keep either 3G or Wi-Fi turned on, the battery drained out fully in approximately 6-7 hours. Turning off internet connectivity helps the ZenFone 5 get through a day. That is not good for a smartphone, we suggest that you keep a charger or a power pack with you at all times.


Asus Zenphone 5 Camera

More Candy for the children. The camera of ZenFone 5 is decent for an 8MP camera, and especially good for the sub-Rs 10,000 range. Asus has used also added several software feature to give users an array of image capturing options, such as Depth of Field, Miniature, Smart Remove. New candy for the bored child!

In Auto mode, the lighter parts in photos are overexposed, while dark areas are underexposed. Colors in daylight photos are accurate and the white balance also okay. Lowlight photos come out pretty great and show a little less noise compared to rival smartphones. In all, satisfactory camera for a cost effective phone!


For the price range and the features, this phone is a compelling buy and we must say that Asus has made a very formidable entry into the budget phone market!

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