I have just left the Asus event where they announced this years line up of new phones. There are 3 versions of the Asus Zenfone 5.
The budget option is the Zenfone 5 Lite which packs four cameras, two of them with a 120-degree wide-angle field-of-view, one on each side. The main rear camera is a 16 MP f/2.2 unit with phase detection autofocus, while the main selfie snapper is a 20 MP f/2.0 part using the Sony IMX376 sensor.
The phone has a 6-inch 2,160×1,080 display, and an 80.3% screen-to-body ratio. Confusingly there will be at least 2 versions one with Qualcomm Snapdragon 430, the other by the Snapdragon 630 RAM/storage options will be 3/32 or 4/64. Normally a different SoC class would be reserved for a different model number.
It has a 3,300 mAh battery, NFC, and 2.5D curved glass. No word on pricing yet but should be available from March.
Next up is the Zenfone 5 which is strikingly like the iPhone X and the announcer wasn’t shy about making comparisons. The Zenfone 5 fits a 6.2-inch display within the same physical footprint as the 5.5-inch Zenfone 4. It has a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio in a 19:9 format with a 2246 x 1080 resolution, which inevitably leaves it with a notch. Quite cleverly though when watching media the notches won't be used and the end result will be the more common 18:9 aspect ratio.
The phone uses the mid-range Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 636, and onboard storage is limited to 64GB with a choice of 4GB or 6GB of RAM.
A big focus was on the cameras and this has a 4 camera set up with two cameras on the back – a 12MP f/1.8 main camera and a 120-degree wide-angle secondary lens, which you can use when you want to fit more in a shot.
But if you want more control there’s also a pro mode, which lets you manually adjust most settings, and both phones have an 8MP f/2.0 front-facing camera.
Last up is the 5z which is exactly the same as the 5 but the SoC gets bumped up to the latest and greatest Snapdragon 845 and has a maximum of 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. However the specification is again a bit confusing as there are 3 models, the lowest will be 4GB Ram and 64GB storage.
The 5Z won’t be available until June but the best news is that it will start from a bargain £479 which will likely undercut affordable rivals such as OnePlus.
Asus was also very keen to show off the AI tech in the phones and there are dozens of implementations of this. It is used easily with the cameras to detect objects and adjust the shooting mode. It also intelligently adjusts how your battery is charged, only charging to 80% when you are asleep then the last 20% just before you wake.
During my brief use of the phones, they felt well-built and looked just as good as any other premium phone. The cameras performed better than you would expect from a smaller phone brand and I think Asus could be onto a winner here. However, we will have to wait and see how well it performs during a review.