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ASUS is on a strike lately on announcing and releasing new and great smartphones, such as the ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 5Q, as well as their new battery king, the ZenFone Max Pro M1. While the ZenFone 5Z was announced alongside the ZenFone 5 and 5Q, we didn’t get a chance to get our hands on a working unit back then since the retail units aren’t just available yet.

READ: ASUS just unveiled the ROG Phone – here’s what you need to know

Fortunately, our luck was on when ASUS Country Manager George Su itself, during the PUBG SEA Philippine Finals in SM North EDSA last June 9-10, let us experience his own ZenFone 5Z by playing PUBG Mobile of course. While we didn’t photographed that phone (you know, for privacy purposes since there’s so many things popping out there), we did experienced by ourselves how the phone performed and how it fares against the mid-range ZenFone 5. Here’s our initial thoughts:


Design Impressions

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This phone is identically the same with its lower-end sibling, the ZenFone 5 in terms of design, so there’s no noticeable changes on the outside. What we saw on the ZenFone 5 would simply apply here as well. Despite its size, the phone is actually easy-to-hold. Unfortunately, the curved glass finish on both sides of the phone makes it a bit slippery and a fingerprint magnet. A jelly case is included in the box, by the way, for those who want to protect it from day one.

The design is so identical that we can even use a ZenFone 5 to describe and showcase the design, right?
Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG

The fingerprint reader was in ideal position, it’s 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 eccentric finish which is seemingly centered this time at the fingerprint reader, complements the overall design. Again, just like on the ZenFone 5.

Its 6.2-inch Full HD+ 19:9 IPS LCD display is probably one of the best thing on this smartphone. While it’s not an OLED, it still got good colors, it’s bright, and although the notch still annoys me, it can be forgiven because of ASUS’s implementation of some cool features to complement with that top cut-out. We described those features on our ZenFone 5 first impressions.




Performance and Software

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Here’s where the ZenFone 5Z differs from the ZenFone 5, and by that we mean a big difference. Of course, that can be attributed to the 5Z’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and a hefty amount of RAM (6GB in the unit we’ve tested). As a result, the phone is literally buttery-smooth and fluid. It even scores high on AnTuTu, with initial run scoring up to 265,872, if you take note of these things.

Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG

On our initial testing, we’ve chose to run PUBG Mobile as well, and we cranked up the settings a bit so that we’ll know where the phone can withstand. From low to medium settings, of course the game runs without any hiccups. We even tried to crank it up to the settings as seen below and while we know that this might strain the phone, we did notice that it was consistently smooth until major clashes, where the frame dips and we have no choice but to reduce the graphic settings a little bit.

It might do Ultra HD, but expect lower framerates by then.

Camera

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Also, the camera app on this phone performs well. We know that it is equipped with the same software and setup from the ZenFone 5 (which scored 90 in DxOMark review), so we assume that it will perform the same there.

So here are some raw samples from the camera of the ZenFone 5 (HDR On):

ZenFone 5 Rear Camera Sample 1
ZenFone 5 Rear Camera Sample 1
ZenFone 5 Rear Camera Sample 2
ZenFone 5 Rear Camera Sample 2

And on the front as well!

ZenFone 5 front camera sample 1
ZenFone 5 front camera sample 1
ZenFone 5 front camera sample 2
ZenFone 5 front camera sample 2

We’re going to have more shots once we’ve get our hands on a retail unit for further evaluation, so stay tuned for that!


Specifications and Features

In case you’ve missed it, here’s the specifications and features of the ASUS ZenFone 5Z:

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Model:ASUS ZenFone 5Z
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 845 Octa-core @ 2.8GHz
GPU:Adreno 630
RAM:4GB / 6GB / 8GB
ROM/Storage:64GB / 128GB / 256GB (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,

Conclusion

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ASUS nails it with the ZenFone 5Z. This is the new flagship killer.

ASUS had drawn flak previously for its pricing for the previous generation of its ZenFone series. However, they did realized what’s going on and finally priced it right. It acts like any premium flagship, but for a fraction of their overwhelming price. It’s really a compelling option for those who wants a 2018-esque smartphone but not selling any kidneys or organs.

I can’t wait to get the retail unit so that we can evaluate this for a full review. Stay tuned for that!


Pricing and Availability

The ZenFone 5Z is priced at just PhP29,995 for the 6GB/128GB variant, and is now available for pre-order until June 17th. ASUS has bundled its pre-order with goodies such as a JBL T450 headset, a ZenPower Slim 3000 power bank, and a clear case.