ASUS Unveils the ZenFone 5 and 5Z with iPhone X-Style Notches, and the 18:9 ZenFone 5Q and Max M1

ASUS Unveils the ZenFone 5 and 5Z with iPhone X-Style Notches, and the 18:9 ZenFone 5Q and Max M1

ASUS announced the ASUS ZenFone 5 series at Mobile World Congress 2018, a lineup of new high-end, mid-range, and low-end devices: The ZenFone 5Z, which features Qualcomm’s 845 chip; the ZenFone 5, a cheaper, slightly less powerful variant of the  ZenFone 5Z; and the ZenFone 5Q, which packs four cameras. Here’s everything you need to know.

ASUS ZenFone 5Z

SpecsASUS ZenFone 5Z
Display6.2-inch Full HD+ (2246 x 1080) LCD
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 845
Rear CameraDual cameras: 12MP wide-angle lens with f/1.8 aperture + 12MP sensor with f/1.8 aperture
Front Camera8MP with f/2.0 aperture
Connectivity802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, BT 5.0, GPS, NFC
SoftwareAndroid Oreo with ZenUI 5.0

The ASUS ZenFone 5Z, the undisputed flagship of ASUS’s 2018 ZenFone lineup, features a 90% screen-to-body ratio, “premium materials” and a small, compact glass-covered body that measures 5.5 inches across. Its top-of-the-line features include Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of UFS 2.1 storage, a dual camera module, and 2.5D 6.2-inch Full HD+ (2246 x 1080) screen.

The above-mentioned screen, which has an Essential Phone-like notch on the left side to accommodate the front-facing camera, supports DCI-P3 color space and wide color gamuts, and taps ASUS’s intelligent display technology to adjust the color temperature automatically in response to ambient light changes. Screen On, another handy feature, prevents the phone’s display from turning off when you’re looking glancing at it.

The ASUS ZenFone 5Z’s vibrant screen is complemented by three noise-canceling microphones and two five-magnet speakers in stereo configuration, driven by dual amplifiers. The handset supports Hi-Res Audio and files encoded up to 24-bit/192KHz, and DTS’s Headphone-X technology for 7.1-channel virtual surround sound on supported headphones.

The ASUS ZenFone 5Z doesn’t just pack a powerful screen and stereo speakers. It also has a dual rear camera with Sony’s IMX363 sensor and a six-element lens, and a 8MP front-facing camera with a f/2.0 aperture. The 12MP shooters, which have a f/1.8 aperture and 1.4um pixel size, tap dual-pixel phase detection autofocus (PDAF) that takes just 0.03 seconds to focus, and a four-axis optical image stabilization system the reduces blur.

One of the sensors has a 120-degree wide-angle lens, and both take advantage of a “night HDR” mode that delivers up to 5x brighter and clearer photos. On the video side of things, the ASUS ZenFone 5Z can capture smooth, jittery-free 4K UHD clips at 60FPS (or 1080p at 30/60FPS) stabilized with the help of three-axis electronic image stabilization (EIS).

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 is at the heart of the ASUS ZenFone 5Z, and it doesn’t disappoint. The chip comprises Qualcomm’s latest Kryo 385 core design, and packs the chipmaker’s new Adreno 630 GPU, optimized-for-AI Hexagon DSP, and Spectra 280 ISP. We’ve covered it at length, and from what we know so far, it’s no less capable in the ZenFone 5Z than in any of the smartphone’s competition.

The 5Z leans on a variety of new AI-powered features in ASUS’s new ZenUI 5.0. An energy-saving service called AI Charging automatically adjusts the phone’s charging rate in response to your usage habits (ASUS claims it “slows down the battery aging process”), and AI Ringtone tweaks the phone’s call volume in response to ambient noise.

When it comes to photos, AI Scene Scene Detection uses algorithms to analyze subjects in real time and match them to one of 16 scene types, optimizing for different lighting conditions. AI Photo Learning identifies your go-to camera settings over time and adjusts the defaults accordingly. Real-time Portrait Mode produces a bokeh effect, blurring the background of photos while keeping the foreground intact. And Real-Time Beautification brightens your skin tone, removes stress lines, and applies other digital enhancements based on 365 facial points. It works in real time, and even in live-streaming video apps.

Other ZenFone 5Z highlights include a 3,300mAh battery, super-fast biometric security features (the phone’s facial authentication can unlock it in 0.1 seconds, and its rear fingerprint sensor can unlock it in 0.3 seconds), and ZenMoji, a feature akin to Samsung’s AR Emoji: Cute characters respond to head and mouth movements captured via the phone’s front-facing camera. ZenMoji can be used in video and text chats and live-streaming, or you can add voice recordings to them via the microphone.

In terms of other internals, the ZenFone 5Z has 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, an FM radio, a dual SIM slot, and a USB Type-C connector. It starts at $499, and ships with Android Oreo.

ASUS ZenFone 5

SpecsASUS ZenFone 5
Display6.2-inch QHD (2246 x 1080) LCD
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 636
Rear CameraDual cameras: 12MP wide-angle lens with f/1.8 aperture + 12MP sensor with f/1.8 aperture
Front Camera8MP with f/2.0 aperture
Connectivity802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, BT 5.0, GPS, NFC
SoftwareAndroid Oreo with ZenUI 5.0

The ASUS ZenFone 5, the 5Z’s mid-range counterpart, is nearly identical to the 5Z. It’s got the same “premium materials”, compact body, 2.5D 6.2-inch Full HD+ (2246 x 1080) LCD, stereo speakers, and Android Oreo with ZenUI 5.0. But it’s not a carbon copy.

One of the key differences between the ZenFone 5 and the 5Z is the processor: while the 5Z has Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845, the ZenFone 5 has a Snapdragon 636 (paired with an Adreno 509 GPU). ASUS says that Snapdragon 636, a 64-bit system-on-chip that was announced a few months back, delivers 40 percent faster CPU performance and 10 percent better graphics performance than the Snapdragon 630, the SoC that powers the ZenFone 5Q.

The ZenFone 5 also has slightly less capable shooters than the ZenFone 5Z — its dual rear cameras lack phase detection autofocus and four-axis OIS. But like the ASUS ZenFone 5Z, they’re capable of shooting in up to 4K at 60FPS, and both the front and rear cameras are three-axis stabilized (with EIS).

ASUS didn’t announce pricing for the 5, but said it’ll come in two configurations — one with 4GB of RAM and one with 6GB of RAM (both with 64GB of storage and microSD slots) — when it ships later this year. It’ll also be available in two colors: Midnight Blue and Meteor Silver.

ASUS ZenFone 5Q

SpecsASUS ZenFone 5Q
Display6-inch QHD (2160 x 1080) 18:9 LCD
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 630
Rear CameraDual rear cameras: 20MP sensor with f/2.0 aperture + 20MP sensor with f/2.6 aperture
Front CameraDual front cameras: 16MP with f/2.0 aperture + 16MP with f/2.0 aperture
Connectivity802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, BT 4.1, GPS, NFC
SoftwareAndroid Oreo ZenUI 5.0

The ZenFone 5Q (or ZenFone 5 Lite, depending on the region), is a slight step down from the 5 and 5Z. It boasts a 4-camera module with a 20MP rear sensor and a 16MP front sensor, dual internal microphones with noise-canceling tech, an FM radio, a 120-degree wide-angle lens, and a 6-inch Full HD+ (2160 x 1080) 18:9 screen.

The cameras are the headliners. The rear and front sensors are 20MP with f/2.0 aperture and 16MP with f/2.2 aperture, respectively, and one sensor in each pair has a 120-degree wide-angle lens. Uniquely, ASUS says all four can be controlled independently of one another; using the pre-loaded camera effects doesn’t require using the secondary sensor in conjunction with the main camera. (It’s a bit unclear how that’ll work in practice.)

The rear cameras can record in 4K resolution with three-axis EIS.

The processor — a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, paired with an Adreno 508 GPU — isn’t quite as powerful as the Snapdragon 636, but it’s capable in its own right. ASUS says that its power efficiency (thanks in part to a FinFET Lower Power Plus manufacturing process), combined with the 5Q’s 3,300mAh battery, delivers up to 24 days of 4G standby time and 4 days of music playback.

It’ll be available in a 4G RAM/64GB storage model (expandable with a microSD card) later this year in Midnight Black, Moonlight White, and Rouge Red. Like the ASUS ZenFone 5Z and ZenFone 5Q, it’ll ship with Android Oreo and ZenUI 5.0.

ASUS Max Plus M1

Lastly, ASUS announced the Max Plus M1, the latest model in the ZenFone Max series. The budget handset has a 5.5-inch “full-view” display, a 4,000mAh battery, dual rear cameras (one of which has a wide-angle lens), and a fingerprint sensor.

About author

Kyle Wiggers
Kyle Wiggers

Kyle Wiggers is a writer, Web designer, and podcaster with an acute interest in all things tech. When not reviewing gadgets or apps, he enjoys reading the New Yorker, tinkering with computers, and playing the occasional game of Rock Me Archimedes.