The biggest announcement on the day two at the MWC 18 (Mobile World Congress) came from Asus. The Taiwanese company unveiled two new smartphones—the mid range ZenFone 5 and the flagship ZenFone 5Z. Except for the processor, the ZenFone 5 (which runs in Qualcomm Snapdragon 636) and ZenFone 5Z (which runs on the more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 845) have almost similar specs and thin bezel design with an iPhone X like notch at the top of the screen. While the ZenFone 5Z will start at €479(approximately Rs38,121), the price of the mid range variant has not been released yet.
We take a look at the key highlights of the ZenFone 5Z to see where it stands against the likes of Samsung Galaxy S9+ which starts at $839 (approximately Rs54,631) and Sony Xperia XZ2 (price has not been announced yet).
■ The standout element in the ZenFone 5Z is the bezels-less screen with a thin strip at the top for the front camera. This is the reason why it feels surprisingly light (155g) for a big screen smartphone. The Galaxy S9+ despite having a similar screen size weighs 189g, while the Xperia XZ2 has a smaller 5.7-inch screen yet it tips the scales at 197g.
■ The smartphone has a glass back design similar to the iPhone X, but it doesn’t support wireless charging. The fingerprint sensor is placed at the back and the navigation keys are integrated within the interface.
■ The 6.2-inch LCD screen has a resolution of 2,246x1,080p. While it’s good enough for the mid range ZenFone 5, it is a bit on the lower side compared to rivals in the premium segment. The Galaxy S9+ offers a resolution of 2,880x1,440p on a 6.2-inch OLED screen. The Sony Xperia XZ2 has a resolution of 2,160x1,080p only but on a smaller 5.7-inch screen.
■ The ZenFone 5Z is one of the first smartphones to embrace Qualcomm’s latest top of the line Snapdragon 845 chipset. The other smartphones with the processor are the Galaxy S9+ and Sony Xperia XZ2. The India version of Galaxy S9+ is likely to run on Samsung’s proprietary Exynos 9810 processor.
■ Asus has clubbed the new processor with 4GB RAM in the 64GB storage in the lower variant. There will be an 8GB RAM variant too with 256GB internal storage.
■ For photography enthusiasts, the ZenFone 5Z has a 12-megapixel camera powered by Sony IMX363 sensor with aperture of f/1.8, OIS support and pixel size of 1.4um and an additional 8-megapixel camera to capture images in bokeh or portrait mode. The Galaxy S9+ has two 12-megapixel cameras with aperture of f/1.5-2.4, OIS and 1.4um pixel size. Sony Xperia XZ2 has a single 19-megapixel camera with f/2.0 but it supports 4K HDR recording, which is a first in smartphone cameras. For selfies, the ZenFone 5Z has an 8-megapixel camera.
■ Asus has used AI (artificial intelligence) to make the camera smarter. The AI scene detection can automatically adjust white balance, exposure, brightness, and saturation by analysing the objects in front of the camera.
■ AI has been used in other elements of the smartphone too. The AI Charging feature optimises the charging speed when the user requires the phone to be charged faster and then switched back to regular charging speed during night time.
■ The ZenFone 5Z comes with a 3,300mAh battery, which on paper looks at par with the 3,500mAh battery inside the Galaxy S9+ and the 3,180mAh battery that powers the Xperia XZ2.
■ Like most of the flagships showcased at the MWC, the ZenFone 5Z doesn’t miss out in the latest software. It runs Android 8.0 (Oreo) out of the box with a slightly improved version of ZenUI, which looks less cluttered and has very few pre-loaded apps compared to earlier versions of ZenUI.
■ The Asus smartphone lacks water-proofing capabilities. The Galaxy S9+ is water proof up to a depth of 1.5 metres for 30 minutes, while the Xperia XZ2 can survive water splashes with all the ports covered.