With the Zenfones 5 and 4, ASUS is launching two particularly inexpensive UMTS smartphones on the market. The duo, with the Intel processors, must show what it can do in the connect test.
Taiwanese manufacturer Asus is mainly known for its computers, notebooks and tablets. For some time, however, the company has also been bringing smartphones to the people. The latest specimen is the Zenfone 5 UMTS model for only 189 euros.
When it comes to appearance, the Zenfone 5 earns points right off the bat. The color combination of the test device with a black front and a back cover in bright purple is sure to impress. If you get tired of this composition over time, you can simply replace the back with a different color cover.
Not so nice is the diligent collection of fingerprints – and this applies both to the front and to the back. After a short time, the display cover looks like a ceramic stove after frying a steak, not quite tasty. Although the screen of the Zenfone 5 protected with Gorilla Glass is supposed to have an anti-fingerprint coating according to Asus, it wasn’t very effective in the test device. Too bad, because otherwise the workmanship is fine, even if the plastic back slightly creaks now and then during operation and yields a bit under pressure.
The IPS display in a 5-inch format, however, is totally convincing. The display has a HD resolution with 720 x 1280 pixels, features a brightness of 339 cd/m2 and reproduces the contents of the smartphone sharply and with strong color. As already mentioned, a Gorilla Glass cover is meant to protect the display from scratches.
The attractive shell of the Android 4.4.2 model houses an Intel Atom Z2560 platform of type Z2560, which is based on a dual-core CPU with 1.6 GHz and 2 GB of RAM. For the user, there is even a whopping 11 GB of free memory that can be expanded with the micro SD slot under the back cover. In addition, Asus offers 5 GB of free cloud storage. The connectivity department provides excellent options so you can utilize this: LTE is not included for the price, but quad-band GSM and -MTS, HSPA+ with up to 42 Mbit/s in downloading and b/g/n-WLAN and Bluetooth 4.0 are.
A special feature of the Zenfone 5 is the use of two SIM cards. There is a separate menu item under “Settings”. Here, the owner can select which card should be responsible for telephony and which for mobile data transmission. For telephony, a query can be defined for each use. There is also the option of setting redirection between the two SIM cards should one card not be available.
The Zenfone 5 has a lot to offer in other ways, such as the 8 megapixel camera with autofocus and photo light. The recordings are impressive under good lighting conditions, countless settings are provided in Options. Videos are even recorded in full HD. The integrated FM radio provides for sounds from the airwaves.
Thanks to the Asus Zen UI user interface, operation is easy. It offers numerous options for adaptation and includes a large number of functions. There is an audio assistant in the main menu, a file manager and a task and a memo function with handwriting recognition. We particularly like the “What’s Next” widget, which always keeps you informed about upcoming events on the screen. You can even see them when the screen is locked.
The results of the endurance test of the Asus Zenfone 5 were disappointing. While the conversation times resulted in some very good values, about 27 hours with GSM use, 3:48 hours in practical mixed operation compared to competitive models in a similar price range are downright pitiful. The display seems to take a huge amount of the permanently installed energy suppliers. We therefore do not recommend the Zenfone 5 for frequent smartphone users. Too bad, because the transmission and reception are good, as are the acoustics.
The entry-level phone was disappointing in the test. Aside from the dual SIM feature, it has little to offer.
The Zenfone 4 is also available in bright colors. The price is also a record low of 119 euros. But can the quality keep up?
Unfortunately, Asus’ attempt to slash costs is clear to see on the Zenfone 4. Examples? Here you go: the housing creaks slightly, moire patterns appear when the display is exposed to slightly elevated pressure and the materials seem to be of low quality. The back cover, however, does not collect fingerprints like its big brother, and the battery of the Zenfone 4 can be replaced by the user.
The 4-inch display also deserves praise. Given the low price, the resolution of 480 x 800 pixels is reasonable, and the luminous efficiency is okay with 299 cd/m2. But the display sometimes looks a bit boring.
Intel’s dual-core Z2520 Atom processor with 1.2 GHz and 1 GB of RAM makes for a quick operating tempo. The radio is equipped with HSPA+, b/g/n-WLAN and Bluetooth, and the Zenfone 4 can also manage two SIM cards.
The Zenfone UI interface makes for ease of use of the multiple functions, as with the 5 series model.
In the lab, a picture similar to the Zenfone 5 emerges: the reception is good, but the battery properties are rather bleak. The Zenfone 4 only lasted four hours in realistic mixed operation – this is too little for an everyday phone.