The entry- to mid-range smartphone market has changed tremendously over the last 12-18 months. At this point, the bar has been set high – build quality, specifications and features have been packaged rather nicely by mobile brands, big and small, and at incredibly attractive price points too. ASUS, partnering Intel, is set to push that envelope even further with its new flagship smartphone series – the ZenFone.
At a recent press event in Jakarta, ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih, alongside CEO Jerry Shen, unveiled the new portfolio - ZenFone 4, ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 6, sporting Intel Atom SoCs and some snazzy new features that should give more expensive phones a run for their money. The regional launch in Jakarta marked a significant milestone for ASUS following similar events in Taiwan and China.
The new ZenFone range boasts over 1,000 enhancements and comes in a variety of striking colours with ASUS’ renowned build quality. All feature Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screens for durability.
The big little
The entry level ZenFone 4 sports a 4-inch display, swappable back covers and supports expandable storage of up to 64GB via microSD. It uses the Intel Atom Z2520 (1.2Ghz) SoC and comes with 1GB RAM and 8GB storage. ZenFone 4 runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (upgradable to Android 4.4 KitKat).
The ZenFone 4 is priced at just RM299. Available colours are Cherry Red, Pearl White and Charcoal Black.
Five for fighting (with the rest)
ZenFone 5 comes with a 5-inch HP IPS+ display and features a design that tapers to an incredible 5.5mm at its thinnest point. The phone comes powered by the Intel Atom Z2560 (1.6Ghz) processor and packs 1GB RAM, 8GB storage and an 8MP PixelMaster rear camera.
The ZenFone 5 retails at RM599. Available colours are Cherry Red, Pearl White, Charcoal Black and Champagne Gold.
On the 6: Award-winning sexiness
The ZenFone 6 is a 2014 RedDot Design winner, and it’s easy to see why. With a combination of beautiful industrial design and impeccable build quality, this shames many, more expensive phones.
The biggest of the lot, the ZenFone 6 features a 6-inch HP IPS+ display and a 13MP camera. It also packs SonicMaster auio technology for an immersive audio experience.
The device is powered by the Intel Atom Z2580 (2.0Ghz) and comes bundled with 2GB RAM, 8GB storage and a 13MP PixelMaster main camera. It supports dual micros-SIM and packs a big, non-removable 3230mAh battery.
ZenFone 6 is priced at RM899. Available colours are Cherry Red, Pearl White, Charcoal Black and Champagne Gold.
ASUS ZenUI – a new ASUS experience
ASUS has developed an all-new mobile user interface which is claimed is fluid and intuitive. The new ZenFone range is one of the first to feature ZenUI.
Two key features includes What’s Next and Do It Later – designed to help users cope with information clutter and enable them to be more productive.
PixelMaster – impressive new camera tech
PixelMaster is ASUS’ own camera technology that comes with every ZenFone, including features like Selfie Mode, Depth of Field, Low-light Mode and Time Rewind.
Low-light Mode is said to increase light sensitivity by up to 400% and contrast up to 200% by cleverly merging adjacent pixels. With a built-in Electronic Image Stabilizer (EIS), photos are sharper.
If results are true to its bold claims, PixelMaster should give the more expensive iPhones, Nokia Lumias, Sony Xperias and HTC Ones a run for their money.
Pricing and availability
ASUS ZenFone 4 – RM299 (SRP)
ASUS ZenFone 5 – RM599 (SRP)
ASUS ZenFone 6 – RM899 (SRP)
My experience with the Intel Atom processor on mobile has been extremely positive, having tested performance extensively on the Lenovo K900 and Motorola RAZR i. Expect quad-core beating performance and exceptional battery life.
I’m eager to put the ZenFones to test once I can get my hands on review units. PixelMaster stirs my fancy, and there’s nothing like a quick, effective camera in low-light.
IMHO, these phones are priced to beat considering what’s already out there in the market. The ZenFone 5 seems like the best balance for performance and value IMHO and is likely to be the one with the biggest mass appeal.
What do you think?