For only 500 euros, Asus offers a Zenfone 5Z with high-end equipment. Snapdragon 845, screen (almost) without edges, double camera module … this smartphone can reissue the feat of OnePlus one offering the best value for money of the moment?
The manufacturer Asus has managed to make a place for itself with its Zenfone 5 in the mid-range market. Pretty good in all areas, he had for him a nice screen and a pleasant grip. The Zenfone 5Z looks a lot like the latter but opts for a more robust formula by trading the Snapdragon 636 against an 845 is the most powerful processor currently available on the market. Is this enough to make this smartphone a must?
As beautiful as Zenfone 5
At first glance, the Zenfone 5Z looks like Zenfone 5. They both share an elegant style, with a glass design with impeccable finishes. Its shiny back offers multiple reflections of the most beautiful effect, but tends to retain fingerprints! The 5Z is no exception to the rule: to reach the 19: 9 screen format with fine edges, it inherits a notch. But if it bothers you, you can still hide it from the settings. Smart, even if Asus is not the first to offer this solution!
Like Zenfone 5, the unlock and volume buttons are placed on the right edge and the SIM and microSD card drawer on the left. As for the microphone, speaker, USB Type-C and jack, well present, we find them on the lower edge too.
An almost perfect screen
One of the strengths of this boosted Zenfone 5 is its superb screen. Its IPS Full HD + 6.2 inch panel offers, with its high resolution, a good comfort for the eyes. With a maximum brightness close to 560 c / m² and a contrast ratio of 1902: 1, this smartphone also ensures good readability, regardless of the light conditions. Finally, the fidelity of the colors is rather well respected. It’s rare enough to be reported. The Delta E on the default color profile displays 4.54 and the standard profile allows it to go down to 3.65. Recall that the ideal is between 2 and 4. Asus delivers an excellent screen, better than the original Zenfone 5 which was already very good. And without even using OLED technology.
Closer to the Android experience
The time when Asus and its overlay ZenUi came to taint the Android experience is definitely over. No more useless applications preinstalled, you will now have the right to an interface closer to Android Stock, with some small additional functions sometimes even welcome. As mentioned earlier, the colorimetry can be changed, we can also assign a bookmark on Chrome and artificial intelligence gives a boost to performance (photo, autonomy …). Little quibble, this is Android 8.0 and the latest security update dates back to June 2018. It starts to date a bit for a high-end model!
The Zenfone 5Z is one of those smartphones with high-end equipment but marketed at a much lower price. For less than 500 euros, the basic version includes Snapdragon 845 and 6 GB of RAM. The benchmark results follow, placing this device in terms of performance between a Sony Xperia XZ2 and a Vivo Nex. In practice, the smartphone makes it possible to run multiple tasks at the same time and the most resource-hungry games without the slightest apparent problem. For example, PUBG Mobile displays the highest graphics quality and does not suffer from big slowdowns: the experience is fluid. Note that there is also a version with 8 GB RAM sold more expensive, 600 euros.
Autonomy a little disappointing
Our versatile self-test runs at 11:51, a few minutes longer than the Zenfone 5. It comes between a Nokia 7 Plus (11:50) and a OnePlus 5T (12:12). Nothing foolish, a little below the best flagships of the year but not so far either: the Galaxy S9 + rises to 12:34 for example. In everyday life, Zenfone is quite disappointing. It hardly takes a whole day when it is subjected to an intensive use. However, it catches up with its fast charging function very effective (thanks to the supplied charger). It only takes an hour and twenty minutes to go from 0 to 100% battery.
A questionable photo quality
The Zenfone 5Z is equipped on the back of the same double photo module as the Zenfone 5. It includes a first 12 Mpix sensor with a lens opening at f / 1.8. The second 8 Mpix sensor with f / 2.0 aperture is responsible for capturing very wide-angle shots. Does this make the 5Z a champion of photography so far? Not necessarily. Whatever it is, before testing the effectiveness of this dual module, we waited, at the request of Asus, the latest update of its smartphone (22.214.171.124.), Supposed to bring software improvements at the level of the picture.
Under optimal conditions, in bright highlights, there is a clear improvement over Zenfone 5: more details, good texture effects and better dynamics. On these last mentioned points, the Zenfone 5Z raises the level. Nevertheless, we can not help noticing the presence of noise and a little grayish veil that makes the pictures rather dull. We are far from taking full eyes or even just find natural colors like the Zenfone 5. So, our verdict is very mixed especially as Asus has integrated into the photo an artificial intelligence that can not to be disabled. And it can give rise to some failures.
Let’s add that it is possible, at the front or at the back, to activate or not a digital bokeh effect. The result is nothing transcendent, some locks of hair are not taken into account for example.
The second sensor offers a wide-angle lens, a rare choice in the current market that favors rather portraits with either a second black and white sensor or a second sensor to generate a bokeh effect. This wide-angle lens allows you to capture scenes that require a little perspective like landscapes. It is useful and even fun to use but the photos still have significant deformations, with a fish eye effect quite high, much more than a LG G7 ThinQ equipped, also a wide-angle.
In low light, there is a significant loss of detail. The treatment that could improve the rendering by smoothing it slightly is absent, the photos are generally too noisy. However, the colors are pretty well respected. With the wide-angle mode, the scenes are darker, you lose the liveliness of the colors. The dynamic is, in both cases with or without wide angle, fairly poorly managed.
The 8 Mpix front camera does the job, but beware of backlighting and lighting through artificial lights that can “burn” the photos, the camera suffering from overexposure. As we explained above, the bokeh effect is only partially successful since the contours are not very well defined.
The video part is doing well. The colors are natural, the focus is good, the deformations almost non-existent and the recording is fluid. The main defect lies in the mismanagement of the light transitions.