The Zenfone 5z shows strength in all key areas; its AI engine is more than a gimmick and its system-wide implementation adds to the smartphone’s smooth performance.
The Zenfone 5z, a premium smartphone from the stable of Taiwanese computer peripheral manufacturer Asus, boasts premium innards, coupled with system-wide artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities that learn, adapt and customise user experience based on machine-learning algorithms. Importantly, it is the phone’s starting price of Rs 29,999 that makes it an interesting proposition in the mid-range flagship smartphone segment.
First unveiled at the Mobile World Congress, the Asus Zenfone 5z was the first Android-based smartphone to showcase iPhone X-inspired notch-based screen. However, other smartphone manufacturers rolled out similar offerings before Asus, rendering the Zenfone 5z a late comer to the party. But the phone’s user interface is optimised to support the notch – be it in apps or otherwise – which makes it one of the few Android offerings with a usable notch screen.
In terms of outlook, the Zenfone 5z sports a glass-metal-glass sandwich design reminiscent of the Huawei P20. It looks plush, feels light in hand and has a solid feel to it. The front is dominated by a 6.2-inch IPS LCD screen of fullHD+ resolution stretched in a 19:9 aspect ratio. The screen leaves a nominal cutout area (notch) on the top, accommodating an earpiece, sensors and a notification LED. On the back, there are vertically aligned dual cameras positioned on the top left corner and bulging out of the chassis; this makes the phone uneven on flat surfaces. The glass on the back features three-dimensional (3D) reflective properties which do not change colours like the Huawei P20 Pro or Honor 10 but shows an arc line that moves with light. Overall, the Zenfone 5z offers no-frills lightweight design with a modern outlook.
Screen and multimedia
The screen is an eye-candy – bright, vivid and full of colours. Though it is of the IPS breed, it offers deep blacks and good viewing angles which puts it on a par with some of the best LCD screens that we have seen in smartphones, including those of HTC. The screen is HDR-compliant which boosts colours while playing HDR content – it is the only mid-range flagship at present that has this feature.
In terms of multimedia playback, like any other notch-based smartphone, the screen supports operations with or without the notch. However, unlike any other mid-range smartphone, the option to enable or disable notch pops up on the navigation bar as soon as video content is played, either through in-built video player or apps like Amazon Prime Videos, YouTube, Netflix, etc. This makes it easier to switch between notch and without notch operations without getting into the settings menu.