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ASUS ZenFone 5Z Review - Best of 5 series?

Xtreme
ASUS ZenFone 5Z is the company's flagship for this year and tagged as the ZenFone with the best specifications inside.
ASUS ZenFone 5Z Review - Best of 5 series?
The best ZenFone yet?

In case you missed it, the ZenFone 5Z was launched last April along with the ZenFone 5Q and ZenFone 5. It features the speedy Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor with Adreno 630 GPU inside. It also has up to 8GB RAM and 256GB of internal storage!

But is it really the BEST of 5 series? Let's find out in this full review!

ASUS ZenFone 5Z Specs 

Display: 6.2-inch 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 5 Super IPS screen w/ FHD+ 2246 x 1080 resolution at 402 ppi
CPU: 2.8GHz 64-bit Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor
GPU: Adreno 630
RAM: 6GB
ROM: 128GB expandable via microSD card slot up to 2TB
Back Camera: 12MP f/1.8 Sony IMX363 + 8MP f/2.0 OV8856 w/ Tri-tech AF, Dual Pixel, 120-degree wide-angle, OIS, EIS, and dual tone LED flash
Selfie Camera: 8MP f/2.0 OV8856 w/ 83-degree wide-angle lens
Battery: 3,300mAh w/ ASUS BoostMaster fast charging and A.I. charging
OS: Android 8.0 Oreo w/ ZenUI 5.0
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 5.0, 4G LTE w/ VoLTE, OTG, GPS, A-GPS, dual SIM (hybrid)
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope
Others: Fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C face unlock, stereo speakers, NXP 9874 Smart Amp, Hi-Res Audio, DTS Headphone: X for 7.1 channel surround sound, dual microphones, Colors: midnight blue, meteor silver
Dimensions: 153 x 75.65 x 7.85 mm
Weight: 155 g
Price: PHP 29,995

Disclaimer: ASUS loaned with us the 6GB RAM/128GB ROM variant of the ZenFone 5Z for our honest review.

Unboxing/Accessories

Everything inside
Everything inside

Inside is the 9V/2A fast USB wall charger, USB Type-A to USB Type-C data/charging cable, one of the best FREE earphones (ZenEar) for smartphones, clear case, SIM ejector tool, and paper documents.

Build Quality/Design

Glass back design
Glass back design

The ZenFone 5Z is made of glass both on top and rear. The front is covered with a 2.5D curved glass and Gorilla Glass for protection. The overall look of the 5Z is definitely premium.

Same materials/design coming from the lower-end ZenFone 5

ASUS ZenFone 5Z has a FullView screen with a small notch compared with the iPhone X. The overall build of the phone is sturdy although it is really fragile since it has a glass design. You can prevent breakage by putting on the free clear case. 
Mic on the top
Mic on the top
Headphone jack, USB Type-C, speaker
Headphone jack, USB Type-C, speaker
Hybrid slot at left
Hybrid slot at left
Power button and volume rocker
Power button and volume rocker

The fingerprint scanner is placed on the upper middle of the phone's back. On the right side, are the volume rocker and the power button. While on the left side is the SIM and microSD card tray.

ASUS retained the 3.5 mm headphone jack placed on the bottom along with a single grille speaker and USB Type-C charging port.

It feels very good to hold. With or without a case, you wouldn't feel the 5Z slipping off of your hands. It is prone to fingerprint smudges though.

Display Quality

Big screen
Big screen

ASUS ZenFone 5Z features a 6.2-inch FHD+ Super IPS display. It has a full screen display and an iPhone X-like notch but ASUS made it a bit smaller.

This phone has a resolution of 2246 x 1080 at 402 ppi. The color accuracy is nice, it has sharp details and natural-looking.

It has a nice screen and a readable brightness even when under direct sunlight. The full screen display makes it nice to binge-watch our favorite series. ZenFone 5Z has the option to turn off the notch.

The ASUS ZenFone 5Z has 10 points of multitouch.

Audio Quality

The ZenFone 5Z is equipped with a single loudspeaker placed at the bottom of the phone. The speakers makes a decent and nice casual listening. Even if we crank it to the 100 percent volume, the ZenFone 5Z is by far, one of the few smartphones that has almost not noticeable distortion.

For headphones, the decent quality is very much comparable with the ZenFone 5. It also has the Hi-Res audio and DTS headphone: X for 7.1 channel surround sound which is may suit or not everyone.

The overall sound quality of the ZenFone 5Z is nice. It may be too bassy for some but it has respectable mids and good highs. It has a strong driving power while still being able to produce a good separation of details and soundstage.

For Bluetooth, it features aptX HD audio tech that promises purer and better sound in comparison with other smartphones who don't have that type of technology. 

Its two microphones are clear and decent for casual recordings and calls. It also has minimal hissing sound when recording videos.

Battery Life

11 hours and 29 minutes!
11 hours and 29 minutes!

The 5Z is packed with 3,300mAh of battery. Surprisingly, it got a total of 11 hours and 29 minutes on our battery benchmark! We were amused at how it managed to record that long since the smartphones with the same battery capacity only last 10 hours below.

Superb battery!

In real life usage, ASUS ZenFone 5Z proved that the battery benchmark is true. You can go a whole day up until the evening on just a single full charge. You can use WiFi, 4G LTE, some gaming, calls and texts and still go home with still having some juice on your ZenFone 5Z.

ASUS also claims that they equipped the ZenFone 5Z with BoostMaster for faster charging and AI charging. These manifested since we only waited for an hour to charge the ZenFone 5Z from 0 to 100 percent!

Camera

Dual cam!
Dual cam!

The ASUS ZenFone 5Z sports dual camera of 12MP f/1.8 Sony IMX363 + 8MP f/2.0 OV8856 with Tri-tech. It has the auto, portrait, HDR, face beauty, filters, watermark, and wide-angle modes.
Pro camera mode
Pro camera mode

The pro mode of ASUS works for both the normal and wide-angle mode. There's a new updated which added support for RAW format.

To our eyes, the shots we got with the ZenFone 5Z are better than the ZenFone 5 despite having the same camera specs.

Why? The ZenFone 5Z has the better processor. That better processor has the higher-end ISP (Image Signal Processor).

It is the one responsible for  controlling autofocus, exposure, and white balance for the camera system.

In terms of camera quality, the ASUS ZenFone shoots nice photos under daylight and indoors. It can compete with other flagship devices in daylight well. We noticed that it has better colors and details than the regular ZenFone 5.

The AI also works nicely. It will subtly improve the quality of the shots once it detected the type of scene you are shooting.

As expected, the shots taken with the primary 12MP shooter is better compared with the wide-angle mode. The wide-angle mode has less loss of details versus the other ZenFones in the past though.

For lowlight, it can also take decent photos with the help of the pro camera mode or the LED flash. It isn't on the level of the OnePlus 6 and Mi 8 in lowlight though.

But overall, the ASUS ZenFone 5Z takes decent photos with nice sharpness and details.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight
Daylight
Close-up
Close-up
Bokeh
Bokeh
Wide-angle bokeh
Wide-angle bokeh
Indoor bokeh
Indoor bokeh
Indoor close-up
Indoor close-up
Indoor dim
Indoor dim
Lowlight 1
Lowlight 1
Lowlight 2
Lowlight 2
Lowlight 3
Lowlight 3
Lowlight wide
Lowlight wide

For the front camera, the ZenFone 5Z has an 8MP f/2.0 OV8856 selfie camera with w/ 83-degree wide-angle lens. It has the auto, HDR, face beauty, portrait, and GIF animation options.

It shoots nice selfies under daylight and indoors. But, it is not flagship grade. 

ZenFone 5Z also shoots nice photos under lowlight. The grain is present but the photo still looks decent. It has screen flash as well.

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie daylight
Selfie daylight
Selfie face beauty with bokeh
Selfie face beauty with bokeh
Indoor selfie well-lit
Indoor selfie well-lit
Indoor selfie bokeh
Indoor selfie bokeh
Lowlight selfie bokeh
Lowlight selfie bokeh

The ASUS ZenFone 5Z can shoot up to 4K at 30fps. The quality is sharp with good contrast. Stabilization works up to 1080p 60 fps. It has OIS and EIS. There is a toggle for EIS. Also, it can shoot up to 4K at 60 fps! 

Meanwhile, the selfie camera can shoot only up to 1920 x 1080 resolution at 30 fps.

Video Samples


Performance

Benchmark scores!
Benchmark scores!

The ASUS ZenFone 5Z has an overall best performance among the ZenFone 5 series. Its 64-bit Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor coupled with 6GB RAM and 128GB internal memory gave us a seamless experience.

Note: In other parts of the world, this smartphone has also the 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage variant. 

But the speed and snap the 6GB RAM variant gives is more than enough for us. ZenFone 5Z is one of the smoothest smartphones. It didn't give us any hiccups in between multitasking and switching of apps from time to time.

As expected, flagship-grade performance!

The gaming on this smartphone is also nice! It was so smooth and did not give us any lags throughout playing. 


The thermal management of the ASUS ZenFone 5Z is also great. Although we use it with a high brightness over WiFi, LTE, calls, texts, and some gaming, it still manages to keep the phone on a levelled temperature.
UI
UI

It has the usual pre-installed apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Google apps. The ASUS Selfie Master app is also nice. We can go on Facebook or YouTube live with some beautification through the app. We can also take videos, and more refined beautified selfies by using the Selfie Master app.

Both the fingerprint scanner and face unlock were snappy. We didn't have any issue while unlocking the phone. There is a new update which added the lift to wake function for the face unlock.

The rest of the telephony experience is great! The WiFi connection is strong as well as the signal reception. The GPS works for the Grab, Google Maps, and Waze. Most of the time, the LTE connection is great with great quality of calls.

ZenFone 5Z has LED indicator and OTG plus dual SIMs.

Pros - premium build, stellar battery, superb audio, nice cameras, steady connectivity
Cons - a bit prone to fingerprint smudges, no screen or LED flash for selfie camera

Verdict

Indeed, the ASUS ZenFone 5Z is the BEST of 5 series. It is one of the better affordable flagship smartphone in town.

Go for it if you're looking for a smartphone with top-of-the-line performance, stellar battery, nice audio, and respectable cameras.

It retails for PHP 29,995. 

Build/Design - 4.25
Display - 4 
Audio - 4.5
Battery - 4.5
Camera - 4
Performance - 4.75
Average - 4.33/5 
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