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ASUS is going #BackTo5 with the launch of their newest lineup, the ZenFone 5. Aptly named from its predecessor ZenFone 4, the new series of phones, especially the phone that we are going to talk on right now, is actually conflicting with ASUS’s first ZenFone 5, which is a low-spec’d phone, and launched wayback 2014.

Now, it seems that ASUS wants to pay homage for the success of that ZenFone variant, or let’s say completely forget about it and instead focus on the new ZenFone 5 (2018). Whatever will be the case, I’m sure it’s for the good.

Photo: Eljay Reyes/AMG

First announced at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018 in Barcelona, the new ZenFone 5 was unveiled on an event in Saturday at One Esplanade, Pasay City alongside 3 new other phones, namely the ZenFone Max M1, ZenFone 5Q and the flagship ZenFone 5Z. It is competing with the likes of Huawei P20 Lite, OPPO F7, Nokia 7 Plus and others which are similarly priced.

Like what I’ve said earlier, ASUS’s #BackTo5 campaign meant a lot of changes on how the people will perceive the ZenFone 5. That’s right, the company wants you to perceive it as an incremental upgrade to its last year’s ZenFone 4 series.

Now, like most 2018 mid-range and flagship smartphones, the ZenFone 5 also comes with AI inside, thanks to the latest Snapdragon 600-series processor and it’s dedicated Neural Processing Engine. It also comes with a notch on top, and is actually really similar to its higher-end sibling, the ZenFone 5Z – similar to the point that you can’t easily distinguish which is which.


Impressions

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The phone, despite its size, is actually easy-to-hold, although we’re sure that the curved glass finish on both sides of the phone makes it attractive to fingerprints, especially the back of the phone. The fingerprint reader was in ideal position, easy to reach by the index and middle finger, the dual cameras which is actually oriented in similar to Huawei’s P20 Lite are also notable and of course, the Zen finish which is seemingly centered this time at the fingerprint reader, complements the overall design.

Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG
Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG
Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG
Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG

Of course, who wouldn’t point out the notch in the front? ASUS markets the notch as ‘smaller than the fruit phone’, yet did managed to install essential sensors and even implementing stereo speakers (which is good for 2018) and a brilliant idea of how to implement the notch.

ASUS shows their version of notch implementation (Photo: Eljay Reyes/AMG)

I personally hated the notch, and told myself that I won’t be able to live with it, until I personally got my hands on this phone.

Of course, the camera should be at least, beyond reasonable given that the price of this phone is way around the prices of not-so-midrange smartphones. While cheaper than some of the other competing phones such as Huawei P20 Lite and Nokia 7 Plus, the ZenFone 5 really got dibs on this one, thanks to its AI-enabled camera system.

Photo: Eljay Reyes/AMG

The photos are great, the focusing are fast, and the camera UI is seamlessly simpler than what we have before. For those who wants more control, ASUS has got you covered with their Pro Mode as well as RAW image file support (enabling you to color-correct your image without losing the details).

ZenFone 5 Pro Camera Mode (Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG)

As you can see above, the notch is hidden when you are taking photos or videos, giving you a good view of what you are capturing. Also, since it appears that the 5 and the 5Z are similar in terms of other specs, we assume that the higher-end ZenFone 5Z is also equipped with the same camera system, making it a one-and-for-all camera impression.

Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG
Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG
Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG
Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG

On the other hand, the software powering all the hardware inside is actually good. While still containing some bloat and unnecessary apps, we can see some notable improvements on the UI and its sleekness are shown more compared to the previous iterations of the ZenUI. We can’t wish for more (I mean, stock Android experience), I guess.

Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG

The ZenFone 5, while there is still some compromises such as the notch and its finish being a fingerprint magnet, is absolutely a great phone with a great price. If not only that I need more power than what this phone has and was eyeing for the higher-end ZenFone 5Z, I might actually bought one from the event yesterday.

Known for offering phones more than what is it worth on most cases, ASUS has finally changed their gameplan with the ZenFone 5 series. They offered it cheaper, so that more people can afford, effectively targeting a market where most people aren’t buying ridiculously priced smartphones. And if ASUS keeps their game on like this, more and more people are going to buy their future releases.

Here’s my final thought: The ZenFone 5 is actually a bang-for-the-buck midrange smartphone, giving you all the features a 2018 smartphone should have, although it also gives you the smartphone design which almost everyone has right now.

I’m pretty sure this iteration of the ZenFone is ASUS’s most successful release to date.

Specifications and Features

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Model:ASUS ZenFone 5
Display:6.2-inch FHD+ 19:9 IPS LCD display (1080 x 2246 resolution), ~402 ppi, 90% screen to body ratio, 95% DCI-P3 coverage
CPU/SoC:Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 Octa-core (AI-enabled)
GPU:Adreno 509
RAM:4GB / 6GB
ROM/Storage:64GB (expandable to 1TB via microSD, takes SIM slot 2)
Rear Cameras:12-megapixel Sony IMX363 1.4um, 1/2.55" with f/1.8, Night HDR, OIS/EIS, PDAF
8-megapixel 120-degree wide-angle, 4K video recording and RAW image file support
Front Camera:8-megapixel f/2.0 front camera
Battery:3300mAh battery with support for BoostMaster & Smart Charging S
Connectivity:Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth 5.0
USB Type-C, USB On-The-Go (OTG)
3.5mm headphone jack
Network Bands:4G/LTE, 3G (HSDPA), 2G (GSM)
SIM Slot:Dual SIM
Sensors:Fingerprint sensor (rear), GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, NFC, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
OS/Software:Android Oreo 8.0 (ZenUI 5.0)
Dimensions & Weight:Size: 153 x 75.7 x 7.9 mm (6.02 x 2.98 x 0.31 in)
Weight:155 g (5.47 oz)
Colors:Midnight Blue, Meteor Silver
Protection / IP Rating:Corning Gorilla Glass
IP Rating: N/A
Other Features:Stereo Speakers, Smart Amp, Face Recognition, Hi-Res Audio,

Availability

The ZenFone 5 is now available for purchase in the Philippine market for only PhP19,995, which is actually fair considering the features it has.

And for the people who will be buying from now until April 24, you’ll be entitled to freebies worth PhP8,000 as well as a chance to win a Toyota Vios E AT. You can check out ASUS’s official Facebook page for more details.