Asus has loving its Zenfone series over the years – the 2018 Zenfone 5 was a fine-but-whatever mid-ranger, the Zenfone 4 was expensive and somewhat forgettable , whereas previous model introduced firsts however did not impress the western market – it’s a wholly pleasant surprise to examine the Zenfone 6 go all-in for the high-end flagship position in its own distinctive manner.
When Asus invited North American nation to require a glance at the Zenfone 6 a month before its launch event, we tend to did not expect it to feature an oversized notch-free screen, mechanized Flip Camera to counter the front/rear cameras riddle – a extremely distinctive absorb the globe of slider phones, punch-hole selfie cameras and a glut of notched devices – and large battery capability featured aboard the top-end flower 855 processor.
Even a lot of stunning is that Asus’s alleged ZenUI is more-or-less dead; ZenUI 6 is more-or-less stock Google automaton Pie with some further camera controls and rule layers for dark mode and battery management. That, to us, extremely shows that Asus is wanting to focus on the smartphone world, to draw in a special audience of users UN agency may well be shopping for a Google pixel 3 or Huawei P30 professional.
Sure, the Zenfone 6 can still a comparatively unknown proposition given the quality of the company’s output over the years, however we’ve been victimization one for a full week to allow you to apprehend whether or not it will live up to its lofty potential or not.
Table of Contents
No notch display
The Asus combat 2018/9’s currently well-established notch – that black-out space at the front of the many current smartphones wherever the selfie camera is usually housed – is that it’s simply not necessary. It simply takes a touch of creative thinking and an entire new camera mechanism – that we’ll get to during a moment.
When the Zenfone 6 was initial thrust into our hands it absolutely was not possible to ignore this giant-screened device’s lack of front-facing camera distraction. It is a display-forward proposition with no notch and little edges overall – we have a tendency to side-by-sided it with our P30 professional and also the ‘chin’ bezel is more-or-less identical, whereas the facet bezels square measure maybe a mm close to a lot of on the Zenfone 6. All that creates the big 6.4-inch panel a dominant force because of that ninety two per cent screen-to-body magnitude relation.
As Asus has chosen to ditch the notch, however, there is one unclear hardware alternative in our view: this can be associate IPS alphanumeric display panel instead of OLED. Now, it’s wholly fine, however a punch-hole notch resolution would have to be compelled to be alphanumeric display due to however the panel is cut. For sure Asus ought to have taken on the advances of associate OLED panel – with richer blacks and a lot of pronounced colors – to essentially swellhead its notch-free solution? and, despite a quoted 600 nit’s brightness, we’ve found the auto-brightness to be stingy and lacking once it’s typically required, dropping to low levels unexpectedly.
When eyeing-up content notably shut the panel’s Full HD+ resolution is lots sharp. Sure, others go higher resolution, however there is associate argument that it’s nothing however prejudicial to battery life, even at this larger screen scale. Sit the Zenfone 6 next to its notched competitors and it stands go into a mostly positive lightweight overall.
There’s no in-screen fingerprint scanner to be found here either, with Asus going somewhat old school in its use of a rear positioned device. The positioning of this can be fine enough, however the scanner gap is little and victimization it looks like going in the past. We have a tendency to a lot of like the side-mounted resolution on the respect twenty professional, for instance, whereas the choice of associate in-screen scanner very does not seem to be associate impossibility to America.
So what of the front-facing camera? Well, it is the rear camera. Solely with the bit of a button within the camera app the rear unit – comprising a 48-megapixel sensing element (which quad samples for 12MP shots), aboard associate degree ultra-wide 13MP sensing element – flips forward, therefore its Flip Camera name. We’ve never seen an answer quite like it; the nearest factor is that the Samsung Galaxy A80, however that phone’s auto-slider mechanism and flip-around camera ‘bar is binary, i.e. it’s either facing forwards of backwards. Asus goes one higher.
Flip Camera rotation and modes
This is wherever the Taiwanese company has extremely delved into its box of creative thinking. Not solely will the Flip Camera rotate around on its hinge mechanism – it’s fairly fast, we’re talking perhaps a 3rd of a second to induce into position, however does not feel quite quick enough – its gear system means that it also can be step controlled throughout its a 180 degrees’ rotation to any angle that you simply would like.
Why would you would like to manage the camera in such a way? Well, there are a lot of potential choices here, a number of that are accomplished inside the app. Press-and-hold the selfie camera button Associate in Nursing an on-screen slider seems, which means you’ll be able to position the camera at, say, 90 degrees for waist-level shooting – ideal for obtaining down lower to shoot scenes during an additional square-on fashion or be at the amount of animals and youngsters to shoot during an additional artistic method. However, there is no pre-set angles, sort of a 90-degree possibility, to pick out with ease – therefore we have a tendency to doubt many folks can turn over into this mode, neither is it simple to understand however it’s controlled from the off.
Beyond that, Asus has conjointly enforced a Motion chase mode that locks onto a subject matter so physically moves the camera around in period of time to stay that subject within the frame as they conjointly move. It works virtually, too, though fast-moving subjects are outside of its capabilities – one thing we’d wish to see improved upon.
Furthermore, the Pano mode conjointly takes advantage of the camera’s rotating motion. You needn’t pan your hands/body to require a panorama – merely hit the beginning button and also the camera handles the rotation till you request it to stop, with up-to-180-degree panoramas in either vertical or horizontal format doable. It’s kind-of trippy to use as a result of it nearly provides you that sensation of falling once staring at the screen, because it shows the movement despite your body being stationary.
However, Pano introduces some bugs as a results of this motion – we have a tendency to caught a screaming shot with folks walking through the frame and their legs concluded up being stretched everywhere the show, like Stretch Armstong – on the other hand no multi-frame sampling panorama mode is ideal. There’s additional too, as a result of the Zenfone 6 contains a form of sensors on board, together with a gyro and proximity device, the device is aware of the camera’s position and orientation in the least times. Therefore, it will not slam shut into your ear/hair once creating a telephone call, it will not start once the phone is flat on a table and see the device go locomotion off onto the ground and smashing to items.
The Flip Camera even contains a default psychoanalytic process if you drop the phone by auto-retracting in 0.1 seconds to make sure its stowed and will not be broken – one thing we have a tendency to tried out (nervously, just in case we have a tendency to did not catch the device) and located divertingly spectacular. It’s maybe strange, however, that it will retract this quick however does not get into position as inadvisably for selfies. Asus says this is often for the sake of longevity (the unit is tested to 50,000 cycles); not that it is a somebody anyway – grabbing the camera unit and moving it manually is not what you are presupposed to do, however it isn’t caused issues once we’ve been doing therefore.
A rotating camera will bring its share of burdens, though, together with the very fact that Face Unlock is most slower that it’s unlikely to ever be used. The mechanical method conjointly means that the gear system and motor makes a touch little bit of noise and a few physical grinding operating. You’ll be able to add extra sound presets for other amusement to mask this although.
The biggest drawback of all, however, is that there is no optical image stabilization. Asus is locution this feature would add physical constraints that would not be doable to feature inside the present style. However it is a feature that the majority can expect – particularly once same-price phones with additional cameras, just like the Honor 20 professional, supply it as customary to help during a form of its shooting modes.
We conjointly do not assume the Flip Camera is totally accomplished in computer code terms simply nonetheless. The manual slider for rotation is just too short and fiddly. The shortage of predetermined positions – like we have a tendency to say: 90 degrees at a faucet would be nice – could be a shame. and there is wider unfulfilled potential around third-party apps. Therefore, whereas there is nothing else just like the Flip Camera on the market, some additional standard solutions do not constitute an equivalent set of criticisms.
Image quality and modes
Having fancy modes is one factor, however what of the camera itself? Asus has opted for a twin detector setup, the most detector – a 48-megapixel unit sourced from Sony – providing a bigger physical size, a motivating color sampling methodology and wide f/1.79 aperture to up its quality potential; whereas the fisheye lens opts for a 13-megapixel detector with automatic barrel correction to stay shots trying less distorted.
Obviously 48 million pixels is one euphemism of tons, however by default the camera shoots 12 megapixel shots. The rationale is all the way down to however this Sony detector offers oversampling, whereby four pixels can become one in a very final image – however will draw from wider info and neighbor pixels to extract optimum detail, sharpening and color. a minimum of that is the theory. The total 48MP resolution is obtainable, too, if you would like to capture huge files, whereas the sampling methodology may also be utilized the opposite means by shooting multiple frames for 109 megapixel results (which square measure thus vast they take a bit whereas to load at full resolution on the Zenfone 6’s screen).
Thing is, despite all the description swagger, the Zenfone 6’s camera simply is not that smart most of the time. The process over finer details leaves tons to be desired – our shots at Red Rock in Silver State all lack real bite, with over-processed details – whereas lens flare is a problem, the fisheye camera is not wide enough, and low-light process leaves everything notably mushy. Where the camera succeeds is once subjects square measure a bit nearer. Shooting a succulent reveals ton, a lot of detail in its resolve; a similar are often same of Associate in Nursing owl-a-like lepidopteran that was perching in a very window. Here the Asus camera shows its value.
Asus has pushed into some extra modes, with Night Mode being one such example. This functions very like Huawei’s equivalent mode of a similar name, capturing multiple frames at totally different exposure levels and mixing them for a well-exposed shot even within the dead of night. Having shot variety of frames at Danish capital field terminus, however, it’s clear to envision this mode does not work nearly still because the Huawei P30 professional equivalent; the Asus’ results square measure simply too mushy and lacking in color sonorousness.
Furthermore, tonight Mode isn’t any Google Night Sight, i.e. the Zenfone 6 cannot shoot in terribly low-light conditions and magic exposure and color detail out of obscurity like its Google contestant. As luck would have it, the Zenfone 6’s quick aperture suggests that shooting in dim conditions is no hassle and therefore the optical device is tight enough – another advantage of that Sony detector with on-sensor phase-detection optical device pixels.
Ultimately, with several competitors currently running with a 48MP detector – from the honor 20 professional, Xiaomi MI 9, even cheaper models just like the Moto One Vision – the Zenfone 6 establishes itself aboard those equivalents to some extent. However there isn’t any stabilization, process is overworked for all the world however near-by subjects, night shooting modes are not that nice and therefore the fisheye camera is not wide enough and suffers badly from flare.
Flip this around to selfie mode and therefore the camera has the keys to nice self-snapping quality. Because the subject distance is ideal, the resolve here works a treat. If selfies square measure your all then there is a heap of profit. However, if you would like to own the foremost capable rear camera, too, then the Zenfone 6 leaves a lot of to be desired.
Flagship hardware and software
Compared to its Zenfone predecessors the Zenfone 6 dramatically changes its software package approach too. Though Asus remains line it ZenUI – here in its sixth iteration, ZenUI 6 – it is so way aloof from what you would possibly expect that to mean.
Stock Android solution
In fact, it’s more-or-less stock robot with just a few extras that square measure necessary for the camera and sensible Key controls (think of this because the Google Assistant route key). We’ve long same that the sooner ZenUI formats were too significant handed with totally different designs, pre-loaded apps and extras, that is totally removed within the Zenfone 6.
At first we tend to found ZenUI 6 to be swish and sleek. However, since going in the telephone set as our daily driver phone, we’ve found it to be less skilled than robot correct. Though Asus says it’s smooth-shaven milliseconds off animation and loading times compared to Google’s own, we’ve found some apps – just like the Camera – to be slower to load compared to associate degree older Google picture element phone.
At present its stability that is the Zenfone 6’s main issue. We’ve had ordered crashes (not related to machine code updates), corruption warning that have seen America totally reset the device and begin once more, apps fail to load while not a full telephone set restart, and lots of hangs and black-out app crashes (from AMEX to British Airways to Google Maps and more). All of this could be fastened with code patches however it is not as in real time excellent as we’d expected it to be.
There’s most smart to be same concerning the speculation of Asus’ new code. However, in observe it means off the mark and wishes heaps additional stability work.
Beyond the code the Zenfone 6 may be a fairly massive scale phone. Inevitable given its 6.4-inch screen size, for sure, however additionally half and parcel of 1 of its different important features: a 5,000 mAh battery. Yep, Asus has gone massive thereon front, being the primary manufacturer to try such a large battery with the Qualcomm flower 855 platform (with 6GB RAM, or 8GB within the special edition that we’re discussing here).
To put 5,000mAh into perspective: the Huawei Mate 30 professional includes a 4,200mAh battery Associate in Nursing it lasts an absolute age, to simply on the far side in some unspecified time in the future. Take that into thought and therefore the Zenfone 6 – that uses a mix of Google’s accommodative battery watching for individual apps, paired in hybrid with Asus’ own OptiFlex algorithmic program answer. It will attend show that less battery capability will last even as long, though, as we tend to were expecting the Asus to essentially own this class – not simply match it.
That’s just about extraordinary within the flagship house. As is that the 3.5mm phone jack, that options on all-time low next to the USB-C port and twin speaker output. But an enormous battery comes with some extent of compromise although. If you would like fast-charging, then the physical size of the battery must be so much larger to accommodate swell thresholds and stay safe. Asus has avoided this by choosing Associate in Nursing 18W charging answer – thus it is a heap slower than the 40W Huawei Super Charge that you’re going to realize on the P30 professional. However, having detected Asus’ reasoning’s for its choice we expect it’s a good compromise. After all, given however long the battery can last anyway, you are unlikely to be apprehensively dashing to the plug socket throughout the day, thus night-time top-ups are good for a tool like this.
Of course such battery capability needs physical house, however the Zenfone 6 is nigh-on clone of the Huawei P30 professional in terms of dimensions. It is a shade thicker close to the camera unit, however it’s barely noticeable. It is not too massive, nor too serious and is an element and parcel of shopping for a large-screen device with epic battery life.
Smart Key for Google Assistant
With Google Assistant changing into ever common, Asus contains a dedicated key – referred to as sensible Key – for dominant the voice management assistant. That is not associate degree uncommon feature – though others integrate it into the ability button, giving twin practicality, that may be a less complicated resolution – however why Asus has chosen to position this key regarding as far-flung from a finger or thumb we will not fathom. It makes the sensible Key nearly useless as a result of one-handed use is not plausible.
That’s a shame, as Asus has enforced some very nice tweaks over the quality Google Assistant use. As an example, non-public listening permits Assistant read-back to occur through the speaker electro-acoustic transducer instead of aloud for all to hear; whereas sensible Volume is usually watching the close sound within the space around to output smart volume levels instead of ultra-loud and embarrassing ones. Furthermore, the sensible Key has its name as a result of it will transcend simply job Google Assistant into play. Asus calls it customizable, we’d decision it semi-customizable as a result of you cannot assign specific app launches thereto – solely sure options like, say, torchlight. Additional would be higher, although, as we say, the position of the button is completely within the wrong place – it ought to get on the alternative facet of the phone, wherever it’d be accessible with ease – therefore it’s mostly extraneous anyway.
The Asus Zenfone 6 is an unexpectedly spectacular flagship from a corporation that is an unsuccessful person within the smartphone world. however simply because Asus is not a significant player in terms of volume cannot exclude from what the Zenfone 6 represents: it appears like a reset; an opportunity for a corporation wanting to draw in a brand new audience.
No, you will not get some niceties like an in-screen fingerprint scanner, waterproofing, fast-charging or additional cameras for bigger shooting skillfulness. Plus, the Flip Camera has its share of compromises for the sake of being the simplest selfie camera you are doubtless to ascertain (i.e. a great deal of its rear camera capabilities area unit behind its competition).
But you may get an enormous screen with no notch distractions, 2019’s most powerful current Qualcomm chipset, large battery capability, a code resolution which will be sleek and clean once a number of update tweaks, which kinky Flip Camera.
It does not get everything quite good, though, and it’d not sell in massive volumes. However, that is reasonably beside the purpose – we tend to love a turnaround story and Asus is correct on the heels of specifically that with this new approach. particularly with a worth of £499 creating it cracking sensible worth.
If its code is stable by launch, then the Zenfone 6 may somewhat be the surprise flagship success of 2019.