ASUS is pretty household name when it comes to PC hardware, but they also build some pretty nice smartphones through the years. Dubbed the “ZenFone,” we don’t really see too much of them here in the states, but never-the-less, the manufacturer continues churning out brand new Android devices every year.
Their newest flagship — announced at MWC 2018 — is the ASUS Zenfone 5. Like year’s past, there’s multiple version of the phone with varying hardware specs at different price points. The highest-end and most premium is the ZenFone 5Z (which has the exact same body as the regular ZenFone 5).
Priced at $500, the ZenFone 5Z offers a wide range of flagship specs along with a design all too familiar to Apple fans. In fact, the phone is a spitting image of the recently released iPhone X with a 6.2-inch 19:9 FHD+ and yes, trademark notch. ASUS talked about the notch being somewhere around 25% smaller than the iPhone X’s but let’s be real — that’s like paint giving you 25% less lead poisoning.
There’s no real point to the notch when there’s still a thick enough bezel along the bottom of the phone to house the phone’s sensors and front facing camera. Just eliminate the notch, flip the phone upside down, and call it a night. That’s not to say the phone’s not a clear design upgrade from last year’s ZenFone 4. The ZenFone 5/5Z actually has a smaller overall footprint, while increasing the size of the display. That’s saying something.
Aside from the ridiculous notch, ASUS advertised a handful of the phone’s smart features, something it appears they’ve just replaced with the word “AI.” For instance, the ZenFone 5Z features an “AI Display,” which adjusts the color temperature to the ambient light around you (just like on the iPhone X). There’s also “AI Ringtone,” and “AI Charging” — what artificial intelligence has to do with those features is anyone’s guess. Like the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, the ZenFone 5Z features an “AI Camera” that supposedly recognizes scenes and objects in real time, adjusting settings for snapping the best pics.
As for the rest of the hardware specs, you’re looking at a Snapdragon 845 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, 256GB of internal storage with micro SD expansion, and a 3,300mAh battery. As for the 5Z’s cameras, you have dual 16MP and 6MP (wide angle) cameras on the back, while the front has 20MP/6MP cameras. The ZenFone 5 and 5 Lite (5Q in the US) will have Snapdragon 635, 630, or 430, as well as 4GB or 6GB of RAM, and 32GB or 64GB of storage depending on the specific model. There’s certainly a lot of variation there.
It’s worth nothing that none of the phones — not even the flagship ZenFone 5Z — feature wireless charging or water resistance like you’ll find on most modern flagships. ASUS hopes to make up for this with their own knock-off Animoji, something they’re calling “Zenimoji.”
You can expect the ZenFone 5Z to be released sometime in June for €479 (around $500 US dollars), the ZenFone 5 in April, and the ZenFone Lite in March. For more on ASUS’ new ZenFone lineup, check out The Verge’s video below.