Hands on: Asus Zenfone 6 review

A unique take on notch-less phones

What is a hands on review?
null

Early Verdict

The Asus ZenFone 6 feels both familiar and unique at the same time. The fact this handset has its unique rotating camera and a huge 5000mAh battery may help it stand out from the rest of the Android crowd.

For

  • Unique Flip camera
  • Minimal bezel screen
  • Near stock Android
  • Powerful processor
  • Huge battery

Against

  • Screen brightness drops at angles

Asus has just announced the Zenfone 6 which brings a near bezel-less front and packs in serious firepower. However, that’s not even the most interesting part of the phone Asus has launched today. In a world where smartphone manufacturers are finding ways to provide a full-screen experience to the end-user by implementing different types of notch designs, Asus Zenfone 6 comes as a breather as it does not have any kind of notch on the display.

But how has Asus been able to pull this off? I went hands-on with the new flagship phone from Asus, the Zenfone 6 and here’s what I found out.

Price and availability

Asus Zenfone 6 will be available in three variants starting at 499 Euros for 6GB of RAM and 64GB storage, 559 Euros for 6GB of RAM and 128GB storage and the top-end model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB storage at 599 Euros.

These prices indicate that the Zenfone 6 could start somewhere around Rs 39,000-mark in India and go all the way up to Rs 46,980 for the top end model.

Asus Zenfone 6 comes in Midnight black, Twilight Silver colour variants. 

Asus has revealed that the Zenfone 6 can be bought from May 25 in Europe, while in India the launch date is yet to be revealed. All we know is that the phone will be available to purchase from Flipkart when it launches in India.

Design

Going with the times, Asus has implemented a glass-and-aluminum sandwich design on the Zenfone 6. The back panel is coated with a layer of Gorilla Glass and tapers towards the edges which give the phone a nice grip to hold onto and also looks premium. This 3D curved design meets the aluminum chassis which gives it a certain amount of heft. The phone is 9.1mm thick and weighs 190g. 

Image 1 of 3

Image 2 of 3

Image 3 of 3

The screen has no cutouts for any type of notch on the phone. Instead, Asus has gone forward with an engineering feat that is unmatched when you look at the current smartphones in the market. This consists of a camera that’s located on the back which flips to the front for taking selfies or initiating face unlock. Asus calls it their Flip Camera and it could be one of the most innovative solution to create a bezel-free experience in recent past. 

The camera housing is made from liquid metal and contains the stepper motor which assists in flipping the module. In addition, the module also houses a bunch of sensors including Gravitational, Gyroscope and Hall sensors along with the camera sensor and a speaker unit. The stepper motor works on a system of 13 gears and the flip camera has been tested for 100,000 flips which roughly translates to taking 28 selfies per day for 5 years. 

Image 1 of 5

Image 2 of 5

Image 3 of 5

Image 4 of 5

Image 5 of 5

There’s an accented power on/off button on the right edge along with volume rockers and a smart key. This smart key has a set default which brings up the Google Assistant. Thankfully though, it is customizable and any function can be mapped to the smart key.

The Zenfone 6 has a very solid built that feels comfortable to hold due to the curved back design. And the flip camera is a very original take on creating a full-screen experience.

Display

Zenfone 6 features a 6.4-inch Full HD+ (2340 x 1080 pixels) IPS screen with noticeable bezels along the bottom. Being a notch-less display, there are no distractions while watching videos and playing games. The screen gets very bright and vivid as it supports 100% DCI-P3 colour gamut. This easily makes it one of the better screens to consume content on.

For added protection, the display is topped by a layer of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 6. We’ll be testing the display on the Zenfone 6 further when we get a chance to review it.

Camera

Image 1 of 2

Image 2 of 2

The flip camera of the Zenfone 6 packs in a 48MP primary camera along with a 13MP ultra-wide angle snapper. The main sensor is Sony IMX586 with an f/1.79 aperture while the ultra-wide camera provides a 125-degree field of view. And if it wasn’t already clear, the flip camera can be used to take selfies as well. So you get the same picture quality, in both situations.

There are several features of the camera that are very unique to the Zenfone 6 such as the ability to move the camera to any angle. It’s pretty convenient and provides better ergonomics while creating pictures from the Zenfone. In fact, in third-party apps like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have been tuned to support free-angle shooting.

Additionally, the phone supports motion tracking, automatic horizontal and vertical panoramas, HDR+ and Super night mode to name a few.

Asus Zenfone 6 is also capable to record videos at 4k 60fps and the 3-axis Electronic Image Stabiliser (EIS) keeps things smooth. You can also record slow-motion videos at 480fps.

A couple of pictures that we took from the Zenfone 6 camera were full of details however we will restrict our take on the camera perfromance till we get to use it for some more time.

Under the hood

Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, the Zenfone 6 leaves no stones unturned to flaunt its flagship features. This is paired with 6GB of RAM and 64GB/128GB of storage and 8GB RAM/256GB storage. There’s an option to further increase the storage via microSD card. The Snapdragon 855 is Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line chipset which provides more power than ever to your smartphone. Most of 2019 flagship smartphone will feature this SoC this year, so getting the Zenfone 6 you’re assured that you get the latest tech that’s available in the market.

In addition, the phone has dual stereo speakers- one on the top and the other on the bottom, supported by dual smart amplifiers and two microphones. The fingerprint sensor is located on the back of the phone and Asus claims that it has an actuation time of 0.3 seconds.

The other interesting bit about the Zenfone 6 is that it runs on ZenUI 6 based on Android 9.0 Pie but on first look, it gives an impression of running on stock Android. With the new ZenUI, Asus’ interface is now nearly close to the stock Android experience with added features like double tap to wake, smart speakers, native dark mode and OptiFlex memory management utility among others. 

During the launch, Asus also revealed that the Zenfone 6 is compatible with Android Q beta and users can expect it to receive at least two years worth of Android updates. As the UI is now closer to stock Android than ever, it should comparatively take lesser time for Asus to seed updates and bug fixes.

In our limited time with the phone, the Zenfone 6 was pretty fast but we’ll be testing it out further and will be running some benchmarks to gauge its performance for our full review.

Battery

The Zenfone 6 packs a huge 5000mAh battery which supports Quick Charge 4.0 via 18w fast charging adapter. While we didn’t have the time to test the battery life of the Zenfone 6, Asus claims that it will last for two days on a single charge which is decent.  

Early Verdict

Asus Zenfone 6 is a unique phone in its own way and takes certain risks to get there. Having said that, it offers flagship hardware at a much affordable price which makes it an alternative to the likes of the recently launched OnePlus 7.

The full-screen display, humongous battery, powerful processor, flip camera and an almost stock Android interface makes for an exciting phone that could sell like hotcakes if priced correctly for the Indian market.

Image Credits: TechRadar India

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.