Smartphone market in India is too price sensitive and various manufacturers are trying to crack the code for a successful smartphone in Indian smartphone market. Moto G it seems, have been able to tap the Indian consumers with moderate budget of ~10-15k by offering it at a price bracket of 12.5 k to 14k. We are yet to see any serious contender in that price segment which can dethrone the Moto G. Perhaps ASUS Zenphone can be one, provided they price it right.
ASUS as a company is known more for its PC business than anything else. In smartphones segment, they are yet to make a mark if we leave aside the Nexus 7 tablet in association with Google and the Fonepad series of devices. ASUS is slated to announce its entry into smartphone with the launch of ZenFone 4, ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 6 on 9th July in India. We got access to the ZenFone 5 before its official launch in India and it did impress us while we used it for 3 days.
ASUS Zenphone 5 is priced at $149 in US and considering that price we can expect it to be priced in the same range as that of Moto G. The device looks too premium even if it is priced at 15 K and hence we need to wait till the final launch day to know the pricing and only after that we can make comparison with other devices like Moto G.
In terms of Design and Build quality, the device back panel is made of polycarbonate plastic with decent curves and a matte finish resulting in good hold of the device without any slippage. The build quality looks and feels sturdy yet a bit heavy at ~150 gram. It comes with capacitive buttons at the bottom the display instead of the soft touch buttons. One small issue with it though is that these capacitive buttons are not backlit buttons and hence you may find it difficult to use them in low light conditions.
In terms of display, ZenFone 5 features a 5-inch 720p IPS display along with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 protection with a 1,280×720-pixel resolution and a pixel density of 294 pixels per inch. The display looks great even though the default brightness may not be that bright for some of you.
It comes with removable rear cover, but the 2,110mAh battery is embedded and cannot be removed. The dual SIM-card and microSD-card slots are visible after you remove the back cover. You can insert your SIM and the micro SD cards only after removing the back cover. The audio speaker and the 8-megapixel camera rear camera is also visible after removing the back cover.
Zenphone 5 to be announced in India will be powered by an Intel Z2560 chipset clocked at 1.6GHz supported by 2GB of RAM (original Zenfone 5 announced at CES had a 2GHz Intel Z2580 chipset with just 1GB of RAM ).
Apart from the specs mentioned above, the device comes with 8GB internal storage along with support for microSD card up to 64GB. In terms of connectivity options, it supports 2G, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and microUSB 2.0. In terms of camera, it features an 8MP camera flanked by LED flash on the back, and a 2MP camera in front.
Even though we didn’t took much pictures with camera, one of the best things which we had ever encountered in a moderate price smartphone is its ability to take pictures in low light. ASUS Zenfone 5 comes with a low light mode and it does take great pictures even when its almost dark. Even though those pictures in low light come with lot of noise in images, yet these are much better pictures taken by a smartphone under 15K in low light conditions.
We also felt that the Battery was able to charge itself back to 100% from 0% quite fast. We were able to reach full battery from zero in ~1.5 hours which is great. But we need to test it out further before we can reach to a conclusion.
It’s rare that we like a custom UI from smartphone manufacturers, but the Zen UI from ASUS did impressed us. Even though it looked similar to stock UI, yet it provided access to common features quite well. The UI looks clean and almost perfect & you will love it if you like clean, simple UIs without complications or too much colors in it.
The device is powered by Android 4.3 Jelly Bean instead of the latest Android 4.4 kitkat. Even though we got an OTA update even during our testing phase itself, yet we were unable to install it and check whether its anything to do with Android 4.4 kitkat, due to lack of available time.
It also comes few ASUS own custom settings like Power saving mode, ultra power saving mode or customisedmode for battery saving, which can be enabled easily.
We did performed many benchmarks test and will share those results during our full review, but the conclusion that came out from those benchmark tests is ; ASUS ZenFone 5 performs almost equivalent to Samsung Galaxy S3 and by this, you can have a clear piucture of how capable this device is.
We will wait for the final launch and its pricing in India to be unveiled and after that only, we can conclude much better on how the ASUS ZenFone 5 will perform in Indian market. Stay tuned.