ATTRACTIVE, BUT DERIVATIVE DESIGN
For starters, the notch — which carves into the 6.2-inch display — is slightly smaller. There’s also a noticeable bezel at the bottom of the screen. Flip the phone over and there’s a fingerprint sensor in the middle of the rear. The dual camera sensor sits at the top left, but the flash module is just below instead of inside it. The bottom edge is home to a USB Type-C port and a headphone jack, while the right edge houses the power button with a volume rocker above it.
If you’re not familiar with the minutiae of smartphone design, you could easily mistake the Zenfone 5Z for an iPhone X, and more than one person asked us if it was Apple’s flagship during the first week we were using it.
It’s quite a big phone, but we found it comfortable to use one-handed. The glass sandwich design is common, but it does mean falls are heart-stopping if you don’t have a case. Thankfully, Asus provides a clear case in the box with the Zenfone 5Z.
At first glance, you could easily mistake this phone for Apple’s iPhone X — that’s no accident.
With a resolution of 2,246 x 1,080 pixels and an unusual 19:9 aspect ratio, this isn’t the greatest display around, but we found it bright and readable in most circumstances. As an IPS LCD screen, it lacks the deep blacks of leading OLED screens, and colours can appear washed out at times. It’s not a bad display by any stretch of the imagination, but it can’t match the AMOLED in perhaps its closest competitor – the OnePlus 6.
We’re not big fans of the notch, but it can be hidden if you prefer. Asus is far from the only manufacturer pursuing this kind of design, and the Zenfone 5Z surprised us by drawing admiring glances and comments from people.
Asus has packed in dual speakers, which are impressively loud for a phone. The Zenfone 5Z is also Hi-Res Audio (HRA) certified, and we’re glad to see a headphone jack. Audiophiles can dig into the custom equalizer to tweak the sound if they so desire.
Just like nearly every other flagship Android phone released this year, the Asus Zenfone 5Z relies on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 processor, which is backed by an ample 6GB of RAM. This is a blazing fast smartphone as the benchmark results suggest:
- AnTuTu 3DBench: 269,332
- Geekbench 4 CPU: 2,448 single-core; 8,995 multi-core
- 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme: 3,779 (Vulkan)
Samsung’s productivity powerhouse — the Galaxy Note 9 — scored 273,992 in AnTuTu, but it costs literally double the price of the Zenfone 5Z. A closer competitor at just $30 more is the OnePlus 6, which scored 269,191 in AnTuTu. All three of these phones pack the same processor, so the comparable performance shouldn’t be a big surprise. Although impressive, the Asus Zenfone 5Z isn’t the cheapest phone we’ve used recently that offers this kind of power – the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S got very similar scores and can be imported for $400.