It’s been 5 and a half months since the Zenfone 5 set foot in the Philippine market, there’s plenty of competition in the mid-range space and the choices we have today are vast. I’ve had a chance to walk around with the Zenfone 5 for a couple of weeks and this is an evaluation of the Zenfone 5, 5.5 months after.
First, let’s take a look once again at what the Zenfone 5 is offering in terms of internals: It has a Snapdragon 636 inside with 4GBs of RAM and 64GBs of storage, it ranks among the top of mid-range offerings for certain. What sets it apart from the flock is the 6.2″ FHD+ IPS display panel with a notch that had been all the rage the past year. The Zenfone 5s implementation of the notch and interactions on both sides of it for the ZenUI is quite intuitive – I wouldn’t call it perfect but its definitely fully explored with animations consistently letting the user know that something is happening within the background.
Unlock options for this particular phone uses both fingerprint and facial recognition which, when combined with the “lift to check” gesture, allows for getting into the phone with no fuss at all.
It’s very nice to hold sporting 2.5D glass on both the front and rear. The package comes with its own fitted silicone case which I highly recommend using from the get-go as both prevention measure and grip improvement. There is also a pair of ZenEar Hi-Res earphones that come in the box – and it’s true to it’s name, outperforming some of my earlier earphone sets in terms of both clarity and depth. This inclusion is actual value that some manufacturers nowadays forego in favor of better internal components, an objective choice for sure, but more importantly, this means that the 3.5mm headphone jack standard is present and fully supported in the Zenfone 5 without the need for any dongles whatsoever.
The battery is rated at 3300mAh, it’s decent and with AI Charging implemented, gets to full charge in relatively no time at all coming from a full day of operation. The Zenfone 5 sports a hybrid dualSIM tray that would host either two SIMs or one SIM and a microSD card depending on user preference, the 64GB memory is plenty for me so dualSIM is a priority for my use case.
Let’s now move on to the “why” of the main Zenfone line – the cameras! #WeLovePhoto is part and parcel of the 5th generation, this particular one with a rear dual cam setup of a 16MP Sony IMX363 (24mm equiv) and an 8MP f2.2 Omnivision 8856 120-degree (12mm equiv) sensor. What I like about this pairing is it goes from standard to wide which, for my purposes, is better than zooming in.
Testing out these two cameras in succession reveals it to be more effective taking horizontal shots providing up to 40% more visibility on the left to right as opposed to the top and bottom which gains just a little, around 20% more. There is a little bit of barrel distortion when taking the wide angle shots but the compromise is more than welcome for the images and photographic data made available.
The front camera of the Zenfone 5 is also from Omnivision, an 8MP f2.0 84-degree shooter. These specifications suggest the use of the standard (main) camera most often and you’ll be hard pressed to find any fault with it.
Camera operation is very responsive especially now that you’re being assisted by AI making adjustments on the exposure settings after evaluating what it is and comparing it to how it’s supposed to look like using reference images and best practice. Is this the best use of this camera? The answer is a bit subjective but during my run with it, I didn’t find it to be that much of a problem that I had to turn it off or switch the camera to manual. The 16 scenes that can be identified by the AI is a good range that gives just the right amount of preferential settings boost that automatically increases/decreases what is necessary for a scene to be best portrayed.
Taking pictures with the Zenfone 5 doesn’t require a lot of thought; it’s point, shoot, and review fantastic shots – simply and quite literally. It brings composition and timing to the forefront of the entire shooting process providing you with options you’d otherwise have left out fiddling with the settings.
Here are a few photos taken straight off of the Zenfone 5:
The midrange category for smartphones has been a volatile playing field as of late, there is plenty of competition and the diverse range of offerings want for something that makes a particular unit stand out. As far as photography and videography is concerned, the reliability that the Zenfone 5 is able to deliver is on its very own playing field. If you’re looking for something to perform these two functions, apart from being really nice to look at and performing all the tasks a modern smartphone could, then the Zenfone 5 is a definite standout. The Zenfone 5 currently retails at Php 17,995 from its previous Php 19,995 price point – that’s a lot of value packed in, the real tenet of the Zenfone line.