New Delhi: Taiwan's ASUS has entered the Indian market by launching its ZenFone series of smartphones in the Indian market, at a starting price of Rs 12,999. The 8 GB and 16 GB versions of ZenFone 5 will cost Rs 12,999 and Rs 13,999, respectively, and compete against the likes of Moto G.
The company has launched the Zenfones series in three display sizes – 4, 5 and 6 inches. In addition, Asus has also announced a refreshed version of its voice-calling tablet, the Fonepad 7 (FE170CG). The Asus ZenFone devices are powered by Intel's Atom processors.
Design-wise the Asus ZenFone 5 feels solidly built – something that could easily withstand the daily usage. The device offers a glossy, brushed-metal finish, having company logos from ASUS and Intel. The phone sports minimalist design language and gives smooth feeling because of matte finish rear flap. It is rectangular in share and has curved edges. It is a tall smartphone and one-handed usage on the phone is almost impossible. It is 10.3mm thick and weighs 145 grams.
On the sides the controls are placed in standard way. While the right side has the volume rocker and the power button, the top is home to the 3.5mm jack and the microUSB port is at the bottom. The front is dominated by the 5-inch IPS display, reinforced by Corning Gorilla Glass. Just above the display you'll find a 2.1-megapixel camera and underneath the three capacitive Android keys.
Asus ZenFone 5 comes with 5-inch IPS 1,280x720 pixels screen that delivers 293 pixels per inch. While this maybe below what Apple defines as ‘Retina Display', you won't have much to complain about. The display delivers crisp and sharp text and images along with great colors. It offers good viewing angles. Asus offers a tool called Splendid, which lets you play around with the tonality of the display.
The device runs Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean), which is an old version given that most handset makers are coming with Android KitKat powered smartphones.
It runs on a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2560 processor with HyperThreading technology and packs 2GB RAM. On the back, it has an 8MP camera with LED flash, while a 2MP camera is placed in front.
On the camera front, the ZenFone comes with a new PixelMaster camera, which combines four pixels into one to improve light sensitivity, thus delivering great quality images even in indoor shoots. It offers a low-light Owl mode when shooting in low light. Overall, the results are good in ideal lighting conditions but images tend to miss out on details in poor lighting conditions. Asus has also crammed in a camera modes such as Time rewind, HDR, Panorama, Low light, Depth of Field, GIF animation and smart remove among others. The rear camera comes with an LED flash and also has a software-based image stabilization.
The camera UI is intuitive as it recommends when you should switch to the low light mode. The camera also supports video recording at 1080p and is again quite good under ideal lighting conditions.
On the software front, the camera runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, wrapped under Asus' Zen UI. The theme is flat and combines circular and squarish icons. It has lots of preloaded apps that may not be useful. Asus has promised an upgrade to Android KitKat, but there in currently no timeline.
The device delivers good call quality even in loud environments. The device features a 2,110mAh battery, which is not enough to last a day. On heavy usage — involving using the phone while on roaming, push notifications from two email accounts, Facebook and Twitter — the battery will barely last five hours. Asus is offering the device in three power saver modes — Optimized mode, Ultra-saving mode and Customized mode.
Connectivity options include 3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and Micro-USB. The ZenFone 5 is available in Charcoal Black, Pearl White, Cherry Red, and Champagne Gold.
Overall, the ZenFone 5 makes a strong point in the under Rs 14,000 price category; however, it remains to be seen how Indian consumers respond to this device given that there is a spurt of low-cost Android KitKat powered devices in India.