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For the ZenFone 6, Asus didn’t need to make a telephone that’s the identical as all of the others. By approaching the core know-how in a brand new means, the ZenFone 6 will not be solely some of the attention-grabbing Asus telephones shortly, but additionally some of the versatile.

I’ve been utilizing the ZenFone 6 for a number of weeks, and likewise visited Asus in Taipei, Taiwan forward of launch to see how the ZenFone 6 was developed. Sure, the flip digicam is the headline-grabbing function, however the remainder of the telephone is simply as attention-grabbing and weird. It has been a really welcome, and really succesful companion that makes me enthusiastic about Asus’ smartphone future.

Idea and design

The ZenFone 6 was conceived round 4 ideas: A giant-screen viewing expertise, lengthy battery life, quick and clean efficiency, and photographic creativity. Lofty objectives, however hardly distinctive. However Asus has delivered on them in some uncommon methods.

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The telephone’s 3D, curved Gorilla Glass three rear blends into the metallic chassis, whereas the Gorilla Glass 6 over the display screen stands happy with the physique. This method masks the dimensions of the telephone each visually and if you maintain it. If, like me, you admire the individuality of the Asus ROG Telephone, the ZenFone 6 additionally has its personal id; nevertheless it’s extra usable each day than the gaming telephone. Does the big 5,000mAh battery make the telephone too huge and thick? At 9.1mm thickness — sure — however at 190 grams, it’s comparably light-weight over its rivals.

The notch-less, 6.Four-inch LCD display screen has a Full HD+ decision, and though Asus calls it NanoEdge, the bezels are comparable in thickness to an Apple iPhone XR or a Galaxy S10e. It additionally has a barely bigger “chin” or backside bezel. It’s of excellent high quality, however I miss an always-on AMOLED display screen. The LCD additionally isn’t very vivid when seen exterior in daylight, and the auto brightness is gradual to react, making it not ok to compensate for quick adjustments.

A giant-screen viewing expertise, lengthy battery life, quick and clean efficiency, and photographic creativity.

Initially, a rattle brought on by the digicam module because the telephone vibrated aggravated me. I do know it’s the digicam module, as a result of if you maintain it down, the telephone vibrates usually. The digicam module doesn’t flap about, nevertheless it doesn’t sit in opposition to the physique fairly tightly sufficient when flush in its compartment. Over time, I’ve observed it much less, nevertheless it undoubtedly makes the telephone louder in vibrate mode.

The motion when the module does flip round is extremely mechanical — in which you could hear and even really feel the gears working. When activating it within the digicam app, it’s a clean, nicely-dampened movement. Should you slide the digicam view button up and down, you’ll be able to management the digicam’s angle your self, and even the velocity of the motion. It feels properly engineered.

I actually like utilizing the ZenFone 6, however other than the flip digicam, it doesn’t look or really feel like a “trendy” telephone, in that it’s fairly thick and has a rear-facing fingerprint sensor. This isn’t a foul factor, however in comparison with telephones just like the OnePlus 7 Professional, the ZenFone 6’s design is a step behind.

Flip-around digicam

The motorized flip-around digicam system is the function everybody will speak about. To facilitate the notch-free display screen, Asus has made its personal interpretation of the pop-up motorized digicam. From the again of the telephone, the dual-lens digicam seems like some other, however to take selfies, it flips excessive of the telephone. Virtually every little thing you are able to do with the rear digicam, you are able to do for selfies too.

A Sony IMX586 48-megapixel digicam sensor is the star of the ZenFone 6’s lens array, and it’s joined by a 13-megapixel ultra-wide lens, all wrapped up inside a splendidly advanced module product of extremely sturdy, super-lightweight liquid metallic. How advanced? There are 13 gears inside delivering the torque wanted to flip the digicam round. In a daily pop-up digicam, there are normally solely 5 gears.

Liquid metallic was chosen for sturdiness because it’s 4 occasions extra resilient than chrome steel, and the mechanical motion has been examined to 150,000 cycles. It’s actually intelligent, too. For instance, it really works with the proximity sensor so it gained’t unintentionally open or shut when it’s in opposition to the aspect of your face — useful should you’ve obtained lengthy hair and don’t need it caught within the mechanism — and the gyro mechanically flips the digicam closed when it senses the telephone is being dropped, similar to the OnePlus 7 Professional’s pop-up digicam.

Andy Boxall/Digital Traits

What’s it like? Utilizing it’s so a lot enjoyable. The rotation strikes by 180 levels, and you may cease it at any level through the use of an on-screen slider and even the amount keys. I like the automated panorama mode, the place the digicam itself strikes to seize the scene, moderately than you following instructions on the display screen. It even tracks motion, so you’ll be able to comply with a topic on the transfer with out at all times caring about watching the viewfinder. Lastly, Asus has added its personal pop-up digicam management overlay so you need to use the function in apps like Instagram and Twitter.

All these options will likely be for nothing if the standard isn’t there. After a number of software program updates, the digicam has improved significantly from the early model I attempted. The HDR setting is efficient, taking nice pictures in difficult lighting, whereas Night time mode takes vivid, clear, blur-free low-light photographs. It’s versatile with a 2x zoom and the wide-angle mode, plus edge detection in portrait mode is great.

Saturation ranges are usually not too excessive, though some evening pictures are just a little too clean generally, and colour accuracy was generally off in earlier variations of the software program — with yellow and inexperienced ranges particularly. Selfies outperform most different telephones, because of the high quality of the lenses and software program. They’re actually unbelievable with loads of element, and a powerful portrait mode. A magnificence mode may be managed in portrait however not in regular mode, and though some have observed it provides some negative effects this manner, it has not occurred for me.

The digicam takes engaging, shareable pictures, and has loads of versatility, whether or not it’s going through towards the again or the entrance.

There are some downsides to the digicam. It doesn’t embody optical picture stabilization, solely digital stabilization, as a result of the extra weight would have dramatically affected the dimensions and weight of the motorized module. Face unlock is onboard, nevertheless it’s not computerized — it’s important to slide up the display screen to make it work, which is slower and fewer handy than different techniques.

The ZenFone 6’s digicam takes engaging, shareable pictures, and has loads of versatility, whether or not it’s going through towards the again or the entrance.

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Software program and efficiency

ZenUI has been consigned to historical past, and instead comes a clear, virtually Pixel-like Android expertise. Deep inside are a variety of velocity enhancements, from clearing apps to reminiscence administration, and a sooner preliminary launch time. The work has paid off — it’s fast, fluid, and there are not any irritating slowdowns when switching between a number of apps.

The easy Android expertise means you’ve gotten a slide-up app tray, a slide-down notification display screen, and the Google Feed to the left of the house display screen. App icons are constantly designed, the design is pleasantly coherent, and there are just a few pre-installed Asus apps. It’s nonetheless customizable, and Asus has added some cool options — for instance I switched to the brand new Asus-made Darkish Mode and haven’t gone again.

Andy Boxall/Digital Traits

ZenUI on the ZenFone 6 is a large step ahead in gaining mainstream attraction for the telephone, and it’s glorious. It’s extremely near utilizing Android on a Pixel, and is clean, quick, and for probably the most half dependable too. It has crashed a number of occasions — largely the Gmail app, oddly — however that’s all. ZenUI is a real purpose to purchase the ZenFone 6 over telephones with extra advanced, extremely–custom-made person interfaces. Asus has additionally been sending out updates to my early evaluation mannequin too, with the third one arriving as this evaluation is being written. It’s good to see dedication like this — you gained’t discover well timed updates on comparably-priced telephones just like the Moto Z4.

No compromises have been made on the specs. The Snapdragon 855 processor is inside with 8GB of RAM and as much as 256GB cupboard space. Asus labored laborious to revamp the PCB, making a two-piece board, so it could actually slot in a triple-slot SIM tray with room for 2 SIM playing cards and a MicroSD card as properly. That is very welcome, and extra preferable than having to decide on between storage and a second SIM.

Listed below are the benchmark outcomes (with these accomplished utilizing Asus’ AI Enhance function, which promised to enhance benchmark take a look at outcomes, in parenthesis):

AnTuTu 3DBench: 361,821 (383,158)
Geekbench Four CPU: three,520 single-core; 11,141 multi-core
3DMark Sling Shot Excessive: Four,936 (Vulkan)

I’ve not come throughout a scenario the place the ZenFone 6 lacks energy, or is something aside from pleasurable to make use of; the benchmark scores show its prowess, as the bottom AnTuTu rating is the third highest rating we’ve seen up to now, coming in need of the OnePlus 7 Professional and the 2019 iPad Air.

Battery and safety

Asus went to some lengths to elucidate to Digital Traits why it has made sure selections on the ZenFone 6. It has a rear fingerprint sensor and never an in-display sensor as a result of it might have made becoming within the massive battery and a three.5mm headphone port not possible. The rear sensor is a tried-and-tested technique of securing a smartphone and it’s quick and dependable right here, nevertheless it doesn’t sustain with the newest design developments. The ZenFone 6 seems dated due to it.

The 5,000mAh battery is great. Though it solely returned 12 hours 37 minutes in our steady YouTube video take a look at — that means it’s bested by the Huawei P30 Professional, which has a smaller capability battery — each day it’s extremely robust. Even on the heaviest utilization days, it by no means fell under 20%, and with gentle use it generally completed at above 50%.

Two days cautious use is well potential, and I’ve even had a weekend away the place I forgot a charger, switched to airplane mode in a single day, and nonetheless had energy for normal use with Google Maps steerage on the second day.

For charging, it’s important to plug it in as there’s no wi-fi charging. Asus says it impacts the battery’s lifespan over time, which can be the explanation it doesn’t have charging sooner than 18W. That is one thing we haven’t discovered to be completely true in our analysis. Regardless, the upper capability battery is how Asus selected to take care of these issues, because the prolonged use time cuts down the necessity to recharge so typically, or so rapidly.

It really works. Battery nervousness will not be an issue with the ZenFone 6.

Worth, guarantee, and availability

The ZenFone 6 prices 500 euros and is in the stores in Europe now. A U.S. and a U.Ok. launch are coming, and Asus has knowledgeable Digital Traits that $500 is the goal for the ZenFone 6’s value. It’s almost certainly going to be solely out there by Asus’ web site and different retail companions, moderately than by a provider. The ultimate launch date within the U.S. is unknown.

Guarantee particulars will likely be out there upon launch, but when it’s just like the ROG Telephone, anticipate 12 months and for it to cowl manufacturing defects, however not misuse or water harm.

Our Take

The ZenFone 6 embodies every little thing that’s nice about smartphones in 2019. It doesn’t comply with developments set by Apple and Samsung, it doesn’t simply undertake the options different producers have  chosen, and it doesn’t repeat errors which have harm ZenFone fashions up to now. Asus has taken a step again, relaxed, and thought of what it must do to compete this 12 months. The ZenFone 6 is the outcome, and it’s very good.

Is there a greater various?

At $500, the Asus ZenFone 6 is a cut price; however there are another nice low-cost telephones to think about earlier than shopping for it. Within the U.S. the $550 OnePlus 6T is its finest and closest competitor in relation to value, however the $400 Google Pixel 3a has a really robust digicam and software program expertise for a barely cheaper price. Spend just a little extra to get the $750 OnePlus 7 Professional for its stunning display screen and ultra-modern seems.

Within the U.Ok., if the ZenFone 6 hits a 500 British pound price ticket, the 500 pound OnePlus 7 is its direct competitor, together with the wonderful Xiaomi Mi 9 at across the similar value. The Honor 20 Professional ought to arrive on the finish of July, or just a little earlier than, and also will be equally priced. These all supply extra options and extra energy than the 400 pound Google Pixel 3a, which doesn’t characterize nearly as good worth within the U.Ok..

How lengthy will it final?

This isn’t a rugged telephone, so that you’ll must watch out if you’d like it to final. There isn’t a IP ranking for water resistance, however Asus mentioned it’s protected in opposition to rain and basic damp situations. The physique is created from glass, and I did handle to crack the again of my evaluation telephone after a really minor fall. There’s a polycarbonate case included within the field, and I like to recommend utilizing it.

In any other case, the telephone will simply final greater than the period of a two-year contract, as a result of it having the newest processor, at present good software program help, and an modern and enjoyable digicam.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. The Asus ZenFone 6 has the efficiency, the battery life, and the software program expertise we wish from a fantastic smartphone in 2019, at a value that’s very aggressive. Plus, the flip-over digicam will not be a gimmick and does include some attention-grabbing options. The ZenFone 6 simply holds its personal in 2019, even amongst this 12 months’s severe smartphone competitors.

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