BARCELONA — Asus wants to pack the performance of the Galaxy S9 and the design of the iPhone X into a $500 package. That would be the flagship ZenFone 5Z, which the company unveiled at a press event today (Feb. 27) during Mobile World Congress.
The device looks like Apple’s most expensive iPhone, complete with a notch to house the front-facing camera lens, but for half the price. To take on Samsung’s Galaxy S9, the ZenFone 5Z offers a combination of powerful RAM and storage options: 6GB of RAM with 64GB of storage, 6GB of RAM with 128GB of storage, and 8GB of RAM with 256GB of storage. The device also packs in a 3300 mAh battery, which it’ll need to keep its massive 6.2-inch full HD display from dying midday.
Android Brains in an iPhone X Body
You’d be forgiven for mistaking the ZenFone 5Z for an iPhone X at first glance, though the 5Z’s panel is LCD instead of OLED. (Hey, it’s $500 — what do you expect?) The device is covered in curved 2.5D glass from back to front and is available in two colors, Midnight Blue and Meteor Silver.
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With a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio, the 5Z is indeed distinctive, although its sibling, the ZenFone 5, offers the exact same display. In fact, the only difference between the two devices is processing power.
The ZenFone 5Z will ship with Android Oreo, but with Asus’s ZenUI laid overtop.
All About the Cameras
It seems like every smartphone maker but Google is offering dual-lens cameras, and Asus is no exception. Like the mid-range 5 and and lower-tier 5Q, the 5Z offers two rear-facing lenses. The 5Z sports a 12-megapixel primary shooter with Sony’s IMX363 sensor and a 6-MP 120-degree wide-angle secondary camera to achieve the popular Portrait mode. The 5Z takes a different approach to Portrait, unlike other flagships like the iPhone, which uses a telephoto lens to bring subjects into the foreground.
Like the just-announced ZenFone 5, the 5Z uses artificial intelligence to recognize the scenes you’re shooting and adjust the camera settings accordingly. Huawei’s Mate 10 Pro also sports an AI-powered camera, but recognizes 13 scenes to the ZenFone 5’s 16 subjects.
And both the 5 and 5Z take a swing at the Galaxy S9 and iPhone X with what Asus calls “ZeniMoji.” That feature leverages the camera to create avatars of your face which are animated with your voice and your facial expressions. You can use the emoji in video chats, live-streaming video or send them in text messages. In a hands-on with the 5Z after the announcement, we found the device to be identical to its sibling, the ZenFone 5. Neither phone had a working demo of ZeniMoji.
The ZenFone 5Z will debut in June, according to Asus. No word yet on carrier support or whether the device will arrive in the United States.