Of late, there has been an influx of flagship killers at affordable prices. OnePlus was the first to nail it, but the company is increasingly facing competition from players such as Honor and Nokia. The latest one to join the league is Asus with its mid-range Zenfone 5Z. This one feels good to hold, has a straight-line design with curved edges and is quite sleek at 7.7 mm. With thin bezels and a notch at the top, the front features a 6.2 inch display that is sharp and super bright with full HD-plus resolution.
The rear has a vertical dual-camera set-up (12 MP and 8 MP) that captures good depth images. Just like Honor 10, the camera can auto-detect scenes such as people, animals, landscapes, night views and more, and adjusts settings accordingly. Most of the images come out well, but at times, there is colour oversaturation. As artificial intelligence is the latest buzzword, Asus has incorporated some AI features. For instance, when you hold the phone and look at it, the screen does not get auto-locked. Also, to optimise battery life, the AI-powered charging feature examines the charging history and decides when to charge the phone quickly.
Another AI feature is OptiFlex that speeds up the device by launching apps faster. Over the years, Asus has decluttered its Zen UI and Zenfone 5Z is free of bloatware. Shortcuts to apps can be added to home screen pages and one can access the app tray by swiping up from the bottom. On the app tray, users will find all Google apps in one folder. Plus, there is an Asus folder comprising a calculator, clock, contacts, sound recorder, weather and web storage apps.
Other pre-installed apps include Facebook and Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Go2Pay, Mobile Manager and Selfie Master. My review unit was the base variant with 6 GB RAM and 64 GB onboard storage, out of which users can use 49.98 GB. I often ended up using the Mobile Manager for scanning the system, quick clean-up and even for optimising the performance by stopping background apps. Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, the latest flagship processor, the Zenfone 5Z beat 99 per cent of the devices in the same range by scoring 2,69,463 points on the AnTuTu benchmark, finishing just behind OnePlus 6 and Xiaomi Mi 8. Performance wise, it comes very close to OnePlus 6 but fails to outshine it in the camera department