ASUS Zenfone 5: User Review
by Enrico Jesus Palma
January 1, 1970
The asus zenfone 5 is not the latest model available in the market now but rather, I would say it’s better than most other smartphones when it comes to performance-to-price considerations because I got it from a discounted price of Php 8,000 ($160) from the original price at the time of Php 14,000 ($281.63). I got my Asus Zenfone 5 from Singapore as my uncle informed my family on an upcoming sale for electronic gadgets. My phone before the Zenfone was a Blackberry Curve. I chose the Zenfone (the new model at the time was still at Zenfone 5 during 2013) because it had a touch screen feature. My previous phone would often process information at slower time than most of the iPhones that my classmates would have. After seeing that the Zenfone 5 was at sale that was way lower than the iPhone, I knew I was going to buy it. In this short article, I hope to convince you that despite not getting the Zenfone 3 or the Zenfone 2, you’ll be fine with just the Zenfone 5.
Here are images for the device specifications in case you would want to see it. These images are taken from a Malaysian online retail website because the exact model I have comes from Kuala Lumpur apparently. Note that Asus main website does not contain any device specifications so I had to do some digging by myself.
Some basic information regarding the phone.
Specific details on the phone including the various types of networks it can contain.
Specific details regarding the sound and battery information of the Zenfone 5.
BATTERY LIFE & CHARGING
As stated above in the 3rd image that the battery life when on stand by can reach up to 395 hrs (using the 3G technology) and it’s talk time can reach up to 20 hrs and 40 mins (using 3G technology). The battery is a non-removable Li-Po 2110 mAh battery. If you want to read further the difference between Lithium-polymer batteries (Li-Po) and Lithium-ion batteries (Li-ion), check this nice website to know the difference in performance.
Most of the Lithium battery technologies have fast charging processes so you don’t usually fret over your phone taking over 5 hours just to be fully charged. Personally, the Asus Zenfone 5 takes an average of 1 hr and 30 mins for me to reach fully charged status when plugged into an outlet and around 2 hrs and 30 mins when I use the USB wire for charging the phone. Sometimes, charging my phone takes lesser time than my old phone that I’m not used to. There was this instance that my old Blackberry phone took 2 hours on the outlet so I usually spend those two hours reading my lesson or watching YouTube videos. I didn’t notice until I had to charge my phone again for the next three times to make sure that it’s charging rate is on average of 1 hr and 30 mins depending on the battery level. The Asus Zenfone 5 usually charges really fast for the first 20% of its battery life, and then stabilizing at a lower rate when it proceeds from 21 – 100% battery level. It’s not bad considering that the Li-Po battery doesn’t overheat as bad as other Lithium based batteries (unless you’re running the music player, flashlight and a game app at the same time).
PERFORMANCE & DESIGN
Asus is a well-known brand in the computer industry because of the superior hardware they create that is intended for heavy levels of processing that is common in high specification gaming. Surprisingly, the phones they create (Zenfone series) lives up to the Asus name. Normally, the smartphone wars previous to the coming of the Zenfone series was usually between Samsung and Apple. When the Asus Zenfone series entered the market (well, at least here in the Philippines), the game has changed. What makes Asus Zenfone 5 in particular interesting is that it’s CPU is a Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7. For the non-geeky guys and girls, it simply means it’s processing power is close to a standard intel atom processor found in cheaper brands of laptops and computers. It’s GPU is a Andreno 305 allowing the user to watch videos even at 720p rendering without any noticeable lag.
The Zenfone 5 is at roughly 5 inches long and 3 inches wide with about a half inch thick. When we got the phone from my uncle when he came back to the Philippines, there wasn’t any case along with it so we checked around. The retail store owner told me that the naming scheme of why the Zenfone 5 was named so because of it’s length (also applicable to the Zenfone 4). It was sort of awkward for them to name the next Zenfone phone as Zenfone 2 using another naming scheme rather than it being 2 inches in length. The phone itself has only 3 side buttons for the volume and the power. The three display buttons at the bottom of the phone when looking from top view are touch-sensitive. It weighs roughly around 150 g (~5 oz.) making the phone itself quite right – not too light that you can easily throw the phone away and not too heavy that it becomes a burden.
As for performance issues, the main concern with this phone is that you will most likely overcompensate the maximum processing speed it has. This phone processes information fast allowing you to play games with high graphics without any worries. Its memory allows your user experience to be comfortable as I’ve tested with 4 different apps simultaneously to check the limitations. Apps begin to crash when you use apps that are memory and processing intensive like gaming apps and Facebook simultaneously. But if you’re the casual phone user, you wouldn’t have problems with using the phone.
STRENGTH & DURABILITY
As for the Zenfone 5’s strength and durability, it’s surprisingly alright for my standards. My first phone was a Nokia 3315 and that was the strongest phone I ever used. It survived a 15-foot drop when it accidentally slipped from my hand before from the 2nd floor of my house. That was the standard of my phone usage. Obviously, I didn’t use my Zenfone 5 as a test subject for drop test. It just happened that one day from the second floor of my house, the phone span out of my hands (because I have a habit of phone spinning) and fell off. I discovered that my phone survived the fall with no clear distinction of dents of cuts. The software inside the phone were pretty much also alright so there was no worries.
Another time that my Zenfone 5 experienced a durability test is when it span out of my hands again and it was stepped on by my classmate as were walking on the road. I thought it would be broken considering that he was heavier than me but fortunately, it wasn’t. There was only a noticeable scratch on the surface of the glass. Afraid that the touch sensitivity of the phone would be distorted, I went to my Electronic Engineer friends and did some test to check. Fortunately, it was alright. They even were shocked that my phone survived the fall and crushing considering that the incidents that happened to my phone were all done after having the phone for 3 years. I can tell you that the Zenfone 5’s durability is almost top-notch even after 3 years since I didn’t have to get my phone repaired for any reason.
Some features that I really like about my phone.
The slick and minimalist design of the phone gives its distinct feature of appearing like a high-end model. It’s really handy when you want to lure people into thinking that the Asus Zenfone 5 is on the same price range as the iPhone 5. It’s design is also convenient for phone spinning tricks due to having very little buttons and a smooth surface. The design is also what makes it stand out compared to other brands like Samsung and Apple. It may not be as iconic as the iPhone but it’s simple and clean look makes it memorable among the various models of smartphones.
The Asus Zenfone 5 is able to render 720p videos without any lag in sound and video quality. I sometimes watch movies or TV series on my phone whenever I travel around. I tried testing 1080p on the Asus Zenfone 5 and it somehow crashed the media app I used to play the video. Fair enough, I think 720p rendering is already good on its own. I also tested it with some Japanese gaming applications that are memory heavy since a friend of mine wanted me to try them. The phone performed well despite some minor crashes due to my overloading of apps simultaneously. I think the only time that I ran 3 battery-eating apps simultaneously without any drastic change in performances was when I was playing Chess with the music player on and I had to use the flashlight app to navigate in the dark. I still think that despite those petty issues, the very fact that a smartphone can run all those three apps without any drastic change in the performance is a thumbs up on the processing power.
The Asus Zenfone 5’s battery life is very good for the average phone user. Having an average time of 1 hr and 30 mins of charging to full battery is already great. The phone’s discharge rate when set at power saver mode can be at the rate of -1% per 50 mins if you really don’t plan on using it at all. I tried testing my battery before because it was the only device I could play around to understand better for my undergraduate thesis project. For me, I think it’s better that its battery is built-in rather than replaceable. In this manner, the wear-and-tear damage due to the frequency of taking out the cover and installing the new battery will be minimized.
Some features that I consider that needs improvement when compared with other device models.
The camera in the Asus Zenfone 5 is only 8 MP and can reach 1080p as stated in the image above. The only thing I consider it bad as there is a certain distance limitation as to where the image can give out a nice quality shot and a pixelated picture. In my experience of using my smartphone to increase my photography skills, I observed that anything beyond 10 meters, the image cannot be saved from being pixelated. But if you plan to take selfies and close photo shots with the smartphone, there’s no problem. 8 MP is already good for a smartphone on the price range of Php 5,600.00 (~ US 112). Also, the camera isn’t too bad; it’s just not suitable for long range shots and landscaping photography (which I usually do as practice).
The Asus Zenfone 5 user interface is not the best in my opinion. The third button located at the lower part of the screen allows you to navigate from one previously opened app to another. This feature is usually common in most phones and it runs on memory to restore back to the state where you left it. After using it for around 3 years now, the phone’s limits lies around 5 non-memory intensive apps and probably 3 memory intensive apps. Beyond those numbers, the app will eventually crash. I think it’s considered as part of the worst features to me because I usually have to swipe the app to close the program. This usually takes time to do and forgetting to do so might cause some performance issues due to the phone’s memory usage increasing. Other phones have a better UI approach which boosts the performance of their phone. It’s really not a big problem if you ask me. It’s just that, it’s one of the little annoying things you’ll learn to live with when you have this phone.
Overall, the phone is really nice considering that most games and apps we have now can run without any lag on the phone. The prices here in my country can go as low as Php 5,600.00 (~US $ 112). For a smartphone, the Asus Zenfone 5 can suffice as a good phone for everyday usage. It’s battery life, design and processing power can rival other phone models at a little higher price range. The only down side to this phone is that it has certain limitations that you have to be aware of before being carefree in the usage. Personally, I think it’s the best phone in the PH around the budget of above Php 5,000. If you can get newer models such as the Zenfone 2 and the latest Zenfone 3, then even better. I give it 8.5 / 10 because there are some issues with its limitations despite being a nice and perfect phone for everyday usage.