Asus Zenfone 5 review

Great hardware meets okay software

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The Asus Zenfone 5 has great tech for the price, including a dual-lens rear camera, a solid chipset and a build that combines high-end materials with a classic Asus look.

It’s a good phone. However, several parts aren’t as well implemented as slightly more expensive rivals like the OnePlus 6. Considering the hardware, low light shooting should be better, and Asus seems in the middle of getting the camera software and fingerprint scanner up to speed.

Still, given the price this phone is highly competitive.

Who's this for?

The Asus Zenfone 5 is for folk who want a phone that isn’t too expensive, but comes with some of the neat extras you get in phones up to twice the price.

Should you buy it?

If you can afford the jump to a OnePlus 6, we think you may well prefer that phone. Its performance is better and the camera is more consistent. 

However, if the price sits around your limit, this phone has more worthwhile extras than the Nokia 7 Plus, including a wide-angle camera and louder speakers.

First reviewed: June 2018

Not convinced by the Zenfone 5? Check out these four alternative options:

OnePlus 6

It may cost a little more but the OnePlus 6 nail parts that are problematic in the Asus. Low light photo quality is better, as is the fingerprint scanner. And the notch area is much more useful. The OnePlus 6 is also around twice as powerful thanks to a top-end CPU.

Day-to-day, though, these phones feel fairly similar in use, particularly as their screens are of a similar size and shape.

Honor 10

The Honor 10 is this year’s other top value smash. It has a smaller screen than the Asus. Consider it if you want a great-value phone, not necessarily a large one. The Honor is also more powerful than the Asus. Its Kirin 970 CPU is a top-end chipset (if not brand-new), the Asus Zenfone 5’s is not.

As the Asus doesn’t have the great low light camera performance its OIS seems to promise, this comes down to screen size. Do you want a big display, or a mid-size one?

Motorola Moto G6 Plus

It’s always hard to beat Moto G phones for value. The Moto G6 Plus is just one step below the Asus Zenfone 5 in power terms, using a chipset of the same series.

It has a glass and metal design too, although there’s no notch and the front fingerprint scanner leaves the phone a bit taller than the Asus. The Zenfone 5 also has a better speaker array, a punchier screen and a wide-angle rear camera. However, with the Moto G6 Plus you save a significant chunk of cash.

Asus Zenfone 5Z

Want more power? Asus makes a more expensive version of this phone with a Snapdragon 845 chipset, the Zenfone 5Z. Some versions have more RAM and storage too.

However, the other specs are the same so unless you really want the extra power you’ll get a similar experience with this cheaper version.

Andrew Williams

Andrew is a freelance journalist and has been writing and editing for some of the UK's top tech and lifestyle publications including TrustedReviews, Stuff, T3, TechRadar, Lifehacker and others.