ASUS is bringing premium smart phone experience at an affordable price with its latest range of ZenFone smart phones. Available in 3 sizes – 4″, 5″ and 6″, the new ZenFone series are powered by Intel’s Atom processor and offers Dual-SIM connectivity. In terms of Malaysian pricing, the ZenFone is priced from RM299 for the ZenFone 4 and it goes up to RM599 for the ZenFone 5 and RM899 for the ZenFone 6.
The highest end ZenFone 6 features a HD 720p 6″ IPS display and runs on a 2GHz Dual-Core Intel Atom Z2580 processor with 2GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. With Intel’s frugal power management, the non-removable 3,230mAh battery should provide more than a day’s worth of usage. The next model is the ZenFone 5″ which maintains the same HD 720p display resolution but comes in a smaller 5″ dimension. It gets a lower but capable 1.6GHz Dual-Core Intel Atom processor with 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage and comes with a 2,025mAh battery. For taking pictures, both ZenFone 6 and ZenFone 5 comes with ASUS PixelMaster camera of 13MP and 8MP sensor respectively. You can check out its amazing low-light capabilities over here.
For those on the budget, the ZenFone 4 offers a lot at a small price. It gets a 4″ WVGA display and runs on a 1.2GHz Dual-Core Intel Atom Processor with 1GB of RAM and it also gets 8GB of storage. It settles for a moderate 5MP main camera but it is capable of shooting Full HD videos. Powering the device is a smaller 1,200mAh battery which is removable. The display for all ZenFone models are toughen with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and out of the box it is running on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean.
In the hands, the ZenFone is comfortable to hold thanks to its curved back. The device feels slimmer as the sides feel slimmer including the top and bottom edges that slopes downwards. The ZenFone comes in a variety of back cover colours and textures which are removable. The white colour units have a ceramic feel to it while the dark Black colour covers have a nice matte finish. At the bottom, ASUS has added a nice touch of incorporating a circular diamond cut design which gives a nice reflection under the light. The ZenFone uses the typical 3-button Android capacitive buttons but it doesn’t seem to be illuminated.
On the software side, the ZenFone feels very lightly skinned and is quite smooth including the entry level ZenFone 4. The ZenFone UI comes with a number of interesting features to provide a companion role for your day to day usage. On the home screen, there’s “What’s Next” widget which highlights your reminders, notifications and appointments according to chronological order. If you can’t attend to important activities such as calls, messages and even to-do tasks, there’s a Do It later interface which reminds you on outstanding items in a specially designed card interface like Google Now. This gives a pictorial view of tasks instead of the usual itemised listing. Being a connected device, the ZenFone also offers wireless sharing features such as ShareLink and PartyLink which lets you share files, photos and videos in a private group.
For office or presentation use, the ZenFone can double up as a wireless touch pad or remote control using Remote Link. If you’re working on a desktop you can bring your smart phone experience on the desktop with PCLink. This is similar to Samsung’s SideSync and uses USB connectivity with computers running on Windows 7 and above.
According to ASUS, the ZenFone series boast a fast display response of 60ms which puts it among the flagship models such as Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (65 ms), iPhone 5 (73 ms) and Sony Xperia Z (105ms). On the hardware side, they have even added a special coating on the glass to reduce friction by 30%.
While it lacks 4G LTE, the ZenFone series comes with dual antenna for enhanced reception and supports Quad GSM bands which makes this a true globally connected device. It supports Dual Carrier HSPA+ with download speeds up to 42Mbps. While units come with 8GB storage on-board, there’s a microSD slot supporting up to 64GB behind its removable back cover.
Overall the ZenFone series are compelling devices that are priced below RM1,000. The Intel Atom processor might be unknown but from our hands-on, it is capable of pushing smooth performance without any issues. The ZenFone 4 has impressed us with a decent build quality, larger display size and even faster HSPA+ connectivity under RM300. Even the ZenFone 5 is proving to be a serious challenger for the Moto G that’s priced slightly higher. If you really need a larger screen, the ZenFone 6 at RM899 is quite an attractive offering with a 6″ HD 720p display and packs a large 3,230mAh battery which is slightly more than the Galaxy Note 3. Personally we prefer the ZenFone 5 as it is just nice for single handed use and it does feel like holding a HTC One M7.
ASUS ZenFone Hands-On Video
ASUS ZenFone 4 Hands-on Photos
ASUS ZenFone 5 Hands-on Photos
ASUS ZenFone 6 Hands-on Photos