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Asus Zenfone 5: Is it the best smartphone under Rs 10,000?

July 23, 2014 09:40 IST

Asus Zenfone 5: Is it the best smartphone under Rs 10,000?

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Himanshu Juneja

A 5-inch screen, a memory card slot, front facing camera and FM radio and more under Rs 10,000 is something people can ill afford to overlook, says Himanshu Juneja.

Asus has made a fresh foray into the Indian market and has been able to grab a good bit of attention as well. They have tried to offer a bunch of goodies and seems like they are in sync with the demands of the targetted segment as well.

It might have raised eyebrows from some quarters to see an Intel Atom processor being trusted by Asus, but seems like their move has paid off nicely.

Let's take a closer look at the latest head turner in the budget segment from Asus.

Specs

  • OS: Android OS, v4.3 (JB)
  • Display: IPS display 5.0 inches @ 720 x 1280 pixels (~306 ppi)
  • Processor: Intel Atom Z2580/ Z2560
  • RAM: 2 GB RAM
  • Camera: Primary -- 8 MP LED flash; Secondary -- 2.0 MP
  • Memory: 8/16 GB, expandable upto 64GB
  • Battery: Li-Po 2110 mAh (Non-removable)

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Image: Asus Zenfone 5
Photographs: asus.com

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Built

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Asus has built this phone in a simple yet elegant manner. They also took care of good ergonomics by making the back curved to make for an easier and pleasant grip.

The phone basically is built with a plastic body and sits pretty easily in the hand for the user to give a nice snug feeling.

People with small hands might struggle to control the entire device while reaching out for the farthest points, but otherwise the device has little to complain for.

The material used imparts a soft touch to the device.

The audio jack is located on the top side of the phone, making it an easy to access spot, for the music lovers especially. The microUSB port is located at the bottom.

The power button, and the volume rocker are located on the right side of the phone.

There are three capacitive buttons right at the bottom of the screen: back, home and recent.

The concentric circle pattern provided towards the end of the phone gives it a classy touch. There is the notification LED as well, located right by the side of the front facing camera.

Users would want to use a cover with this phone straightaway, as the camera lens is absolutely in line with the rear panel. A cover will ensure the lens doesn't get scratched every time the phone is placed on a surface.

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Image: Asus Zenfone 5
Photographs: asus.com
Tags: LED

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Display

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The display is a very decent and capable 5" IPS LCD. It does the job, but doesn't really gets counted as crisp owing to its ~294ppi density. But it is understandable for a budget choice device.

The viewing angles are good, but the colours look washed out as soon as one steps into the sunlight.

A quick tweak to the brightness level becomes inevitable if one wishes to continue using the phone even if for little while.

The good thing here is, that Asus supplies the 'Splinded' app. This enables the user to set the levels of colour saturation and other such parameters to tweak the colour palette according to the user's preference.

This is a great advantage, especially when the display is about goodish in a budget segment.

Asus has also thrown in good bit of modes for different times of usage.

For example, there is the Glove mode, which increases the sensitivity for people using it with gloves on.

Another mode allows for the ebook readers on the go to read their collection with less strain on their eyes.

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Image: Asus Zenfone 5
Photographs: asus.com
Tags: 1

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OS and features

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The phone runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean out of the box, and this is disappointing. Asus really should have made sure that the phone shipped with Kitkat onboard.

Good news is that the update is on the cards, and once released, users can make the switch.

Asus has supplied a completely revamped ZenUI for the Asus Zenfone 5, and first good news about the Zen UI is that it doesn't comes across as heavily tweaked like Samsung's Touchwiz. The skin imparts a nice fresh look to the phone.

The notification tray makes sure that the frequently used features are enlisted first. If at all a user prefers making changes, the simple editing of the notification area is there to come to the user's rescue.

The Do it later app is something which will really find takers instantly. The users can enlist their important tasks which they need accomplish later. This will help set a reminder and not let the all important replies to something like a missed call, or SMS etc be forgotten in the hectic schedule.

Another app is the Timeline, which presents itself right at the lockscreen. It displays the appointments lined up as per their chronological order.

For the all important and impromptu notes, the app by the name of 'Super note' should come in handy.

Asus Open cloud technology will prove in handy for combining all the cloud related services under one roof, which is very thoughtful. With growing trend of cloud storage, one often feels the need for such an app, and Asus has done it for their customers. Asus' very own Webstorage is an option here as well.

Apart from these, the Zen link has been provided for managing any type of connection to be established between different devices. They have also included the Omlet app which is a free chat service. WhatsApp should comfortably beat it, but it was nice to see Asus trying their bit to include things from relevant genre.

Asus has given distinct touch to apps like the phone app, messaging app, email and calendar app etc by providing different colour schemes.

This makes the apps look unique in not only the functionality, but the treatment itself provides them another level of uniqueness.

It is pretty much clear that Asus has tried its best to provide a good number of features in here to make the user experience that much richer.

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Image: Asus Zenfone 5
Photographs: asus.com

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Camera

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Let's get the obvious out first. The phone camera performs admirably for the cost and segment involved, and should get the users impressed with the results.

The phone comes with an 8MP camera, with LED flash for its main camera.

The camera performs admirably well, but one shouldn't expect very high quality photographs. Even though Asus has tried to promote the pixelmaster technology, which is supposed to deliver in terms of quality, the camera performs at an okayish level.

The results during the daylight photography were more than acceptable, and should be able to pass the tests for most of the users. Low light photography however was less impressive.

It is advised that ambient light be used as much as possible, since the flash does not enables the camera to capture to do much.

The presence of a front facing camera should excite many and should be able to pull in more customers.

Asus has included bunch of modes for the camera app like HDR, panorama, low light mode, depth of field etc. Apart from the regulars, there is the selfie mode which will click a snap upon detection in the designated area, the beautification mode (helpful and self explanatory), the Smart remove allows removal of moving objects, GIF mode.

All in all, Asus has packed in about 18 modes and should keep the users busy and attention would be on optimising these modes to get the best results.

The camera app allows users to command the setting for shutter speed which was good to see. The focus, ISO, white balance, image size, etc can be managed by the user as well.

Oveall, the app is rich with features and the camera has plenty of surprises in store, especially if one considers the price segment. Considering the latter, customers shouldn't be too disappointed, as the camera has good potential.

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Image: Asus Zenfone 5
Photographs: asus.com
Tags: Asus , ISO , HDR , GIF , LED

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Battery

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The phone comes with a Lithium polymer battery and performs admirably for the pricing. Getting about 18 hours of talktime, and more than 350 hours of standby time is a serious advantage.

There is the option to use the power saving mode as well for getting that crucial extra from the battery in the time of need. For example with the Ultra saving Mode activated, it turns off all the network activity as and when the screen is turned off. Some serious battery conservation ought to be expected with this mode.

Apart from this, there is the optimised mode, which doesn't switch off data, so it allows the user to keep getting the all important messages.

Then there is a custom mode which can be tweaked by the user according to the personal preferences.

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Image: Asus Zenfone 5
Photographs: asus.com

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Verdict

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Asus has provided an option for the budget phone seekers which has not only impressed with its performance, but also has shaken the segment. Without a shadow of a doubt, Zenfone 5 is the new leader in the sub 10k bracket.

Not only has Asus brought out a phone, which new users or people looking for a good capable secondary phone will look up at instantly, they have kept the pricing down fantastically well.

Presence of the 5" screen, the memory card slot, front facing camera and FM radio within 10k budget is something people can ill afford to overlook.


Image: Asus Zenfone 5
Photographs: asus.com
Tags: FM , Zenfone

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