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It may have taken some time to arrive, but the Asus ZenFone 5 is worth the wait. Asus has managed to make a great mid-range smartphone that punches above its weight in many areas.
While it does cost a little more than some of the competition, the ZenFone manages to pack a lot into reasonably attractive design. There's a lovely large screen, great performance, decent connectivity and an above average camera. It is only slightly let down by its under performing battery.
The Moto G has been the king of the mid-range for some time now and the ZenFone 5 doesn't quite knock its crown off, but it comes mighty close. The Moto G with LTE is cheaper, uses slightly nicer materials and has more up to date software. Despite this, Asus has come the closest that I have seen to toppling the Motorola mid-range powerhouse.
A large bright and sharp screen with super fast touch response makes the ZenFone 5 excellent in all conditions.
Zen UI offers an attractive and useful Android skin that doesn't seem to impact performance at all.
An above average camera makes the ZenFone 5 a better all rounder than most at this price point.
Great performance and lots of RAM helps achieve a smooth feel to the user experience with no multi-tasking issues.
The battery in the ZenFone 5 is smaller than most in similarly sized phones and endurance suffers. Arriving with an out-dated version of Android dampens excitement over the nice Zen UI.
The ZenFone 5 is larger than most other phones with a five-inch screen and the bezels are quite noticeable.
No backlight on the weirdly spaced capacitive buttons can be a problem especially in dark environments.
If you are not concerned about 4G or being a version behind on the software, the ZenFone 5 is very easy to recommend. It is a very compelling package having a great screen, decent camera, good performance and a nice software skin. The only device that comes close is the Moto G.
Asus should have released the ZenFone 5 eight months ago. Had Asus done that, it might have propelled it to the top of the mid-range Android class. As it is, Asus misses out not by having a weak device, instead it is the timing that seems wrong.
First reviewed: September 2014