The Asus ZenFone 5 phones want to win on value if not originality
The phone launches continue to come thick and fast at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and Asus is the latest company to show off its wares. It's unveiled three new ZenFone models for 2018, one of which bears more than a slight resemblance to a flagship smartphone recently launched by Apple.
These ZenFones run Android rather than iOS though, of course, and despite years of regular launches, Asus has struggled to get a foothold in the mobile market, especially outside of Asia. If 2018 is to be any different, it's on price and value where these phones will have to stand out.
The three phones announced today are the low-end 6-inch ZenFone 5Q, the mid-range 6.2-inch ZenFone 5, and the premium 6.2-inch ZenFone 5Z. The latter two share the same design, with minimal bezels and that distinctive iPhone X-style notch, though the ZenFone 5Z has more powerful specs on the inside.
Those 5Z specs include a top-of-the-range Snapdragon 845 processor from Qualcomm, and up to 8 GB of RAM, compared to a slower Snapdragon 636 and either 3 GB or 4 GB of RAM on the standard ZenFone 5. The ZenFone 5Q settles for either a Snapdragon 630 or Snapdragon 430 processor, and 3 GB or 4 GB of RAM, depending on your choice of configuration.
All three phones come with Android 8.0 Oreo on board, with Asus' own Android skin on top, and dual-lens cameras around the back, with the 12 MP, f/1.8 aperture lens on the ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 5Z the best of the bunch. The camera app can auto-detect the type of image you're trying to shoot, Asus says, and adjust its settings accordingly.
Asus also showed off a few special tricks it's added to the software, including a feature that keeps the display on while you're looking at it, and the ability for the phone to ramp up performance for certain apps as and when it's needed. We've seen features like these in other handsets, but they might just make you choose a ZenFone over something else.
Based on the spec sheets and images of these new ZenFones, and without having had a chance to test them, these look like perfectly respectable handsets, but as we mentioned at the start, it's likely to be the price where Asus can distinguish itself in a market that continues to be crowded.
The Zenfone 5Q is scheduled to go on sale in March, with the Zenfone 5 following in April, and the Zenfone 5Z in June. As yet we don't have any official pricing information, but expect Asus to offer these for less than comparably specced 2018 smartphones.
Product page: Asus