“The ASUS Zenfone 6 is an interesting proposition for those who want a big-screen device, minus the hefty price tag”
With its Zenfone range of smartphones, ASUS has made a successful comeback in the mobile phone market in India. With the interesting range of products that the brand has to offer under the new Zenfone range, it has managed to capture a fair bit of the market with devices ranging from the compact 4-inch going up to the biggest 6-inch screen sized device as well.
The devices offer a compelling proposition of performance and flaunt stylish designs as well. At the same time, the prices of these devices have been kept reasonable, and it has helped ASUS gain traction among Android smartphone users in India, despite being a lesser-known brand as far as phones go. We got the biggest member of the Zenfone family, the Zenfone 6 for review in our labs, so let us find out what the device is worthy of.
When it comes to describing the look and feel of the device, ASUS is to be commended for adopting a contemporary styling without sacrificing on the utility aspect. The devices in the range offer a comfortable yet portable form factor adding to the overall utility. The Zenfone 6 is no different to this treatment, and follows the same design patterns as its smaller siblings in a bigger, bolder form factor. Despite its 6-inch screen, the device has been designed for utility with minimal possible discomfort. The device that we got for review came with a white back panel and a default black front accented with a chrome metallic strip at the bottom.
The device sports the usual three-button control interface along with three additional hardware keys on the right for power/standby and the volume rocker. The device features slim bezels surrounding the display and almost close to 75 percent of the area on the front has been taken up by the display, making the device smaller while offering maximum functionality to users.
One thing noticed here is that the back features a matte finish which is great for avoiding scratches and wear marks, but for day-to-day use, the white matte finish could get dirty really soon. Therefore, investing in a carry case for the device would be a good idea especially considering that this phablet would rarely be sitting in your pockets.
Lively display with a sensitive touch
The biggest member of the family, the Zenfone 6 is based on a 6-inch LCD display built using In-Plane Switching technology. The brightness levels offered by the display are good and therefore result in brightly-lit visuals across various lighting conditions making it ideal for use in sunlight as well. The display offers a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels which for a large screen size might sound low, but in real-life usage it’s difficult to notice any sort of pixelation or lack of resolution for most application and games.
The display offers wide viewing angles as well and sharing content with a number of users would not be a problem Even though the display used has not employed the sue of OGS (One-Glass solution), it offers a viewing experience close to devices built using similar technology.
On top of the display, the company has provided Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 protection, which is quite useful, especially considering the size of the device’s display. However, even with Gorilla glass the device is to be used carefully as it is easy to damage even with the smallest of drops, owing to the bigger display size.
The touch is quite accurate, and one of the most sensitive we have used on mobile devices so far. The touch sensitivity on the device can be enhanced with the glove mode, which means during colder weather users can keep wearing their gloves.
One of the biggest pain points for the Asus Zenfone is the dated operating system, the Android Jelly Bean 4.3 platform it is still carrying around. Although the company may not really be at fault here, since this Intel processor is yet to get the update for the Android KitKat 4.4. Nevertheless, buyers would have to face the brunt in form of a device that will be running on an older operating system. However, there is some good news as Android KitKat 4.4 upgrade has been made available for the Zenfone 4 and also for the Zenfone 5, so rest assured that within a few days the Zenfone 6 would also be bestowed with the same refresh.
ASUS has layered Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with its custom ZenUI user interface, which is quite nice and easy to use. The custom icons take a little while to get used to, but it’s just a matter of a few days before you get used to this device and its user interface completely. However the user interface in quite similar to the smaller Zenfone 5 and Zenfone 4 and to read in-depth about it, you can check out our review of the Zenfone 5 where we have offered detailed review of the user interface and its features.
As a nifty little addition, the Zenfone 6 comes with a unique one-handed mode as well. This mode squeezes down the display to one side of the screen, which the user can choose to be either the left or the right side. In addition, users also get to choose which screen size they are more comfortable using the device in one-handed mode, and can choose between 4.3, 4.5 and 4.7-inch display sizes.
The quick access bar on top is a nifty addition and along with providing a quick toggle to some of the default Android functions, this custom user interface allows users to customise the quick settings as well as per need.
However a brilliant camera
The ASUS Zenfone 6 comes with a 13-megapixel shooter at the back and gets a 5-megapixel snapper for the front. For a sub-Rs 20,000 device these specs might be quite common but the device makes all the difference with the quality it offers.The Zenfone 6 also flaunts the most powerful camera among its siblings.
The quality offered by the primary camera is very good in different lighting conditions. We tested the primary camera in several modes and scenarios,and you can check out our camera review to gauge its prowess.
The camera offers super-fast image captures along with a fast HDR mode as well, while keeping the quality and contrast high and offering a balanced focus rather than focussing on one single point as most cameras do. In low-light conditions, the camera gives up its balanced focus approach, and focusses the closest object. Although the images are a bit grainy, the level of detail captured is still higher than most 13-megapixel shooters offer at this price range.
As compared to the 13-megapixel rear shooter, the 5-megapixel front camera is not that impressive and can be regarded as average. The colours are saturated and there is considerable noise in lower light. Even with this the device can easily be regarded as one of the better camera smartphones out there
Powerful hardware for a budget mid-ranged device
The ASUS Zenfone 6 comes powered with the new Intel Atom Z2580 dual-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz. This processor may be dual core, but with Intel’s patented Hyper threading technology, the device can easily perform close to and even better than many quad-core devices.
To supplement this processor, ASUS has chosen a meaty 2GB RAM for this device. Although 2GB RAM is nothing out of the ordinary, but for a device bearing a sub Rs 20,000 price tag, it definitely is a good spec to flaunt. In addition, the device gets 16GB of onboard storage along with a microSD card slot that allows the storage to be expanded to an additional 64GB.
All in all, the processor gives the device ample headroom for speedy performance making the Zenfone perform well with most apps and games and the bigger RAM memory chunk makes the device perform well even while multitasking. This is clearly evident with all the applications and games that we tried running on this device and it ran them without any glitches or crashes.
For cellular connectivity, the device features dual-SIM connectivity with support for 3G GSM networks on the primary SIM while offering 2G connectivity on the secondary SIM. For wireless connectivity the device features Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as standard options, while USB 2.0 slot has also been provided for data transfers.
The device cleverly makes use of an under-clocked processor for greater stability and while the same processor can be easily clocked at 2GHz Asus has clocked it at 1.6GHz. The result is slightly lowered performance figures, while the temperature has been vastly reduced and at the same time the device works flawlessly and during the course of our review we did not witness a single crash.
And a marathon battery to fuel multimedia
One of the most impressive features of this device is its battery. The device offers a 3,300mAh battery pack, which is a standard for devices with similar screen sizes. In this case however, the device literally sips the juice rather than draining it. As a result, the battery easily lasts between one and a half to two days between recharges and in our battery drain test, it managed to last an impressive seven hours and 42 minutes. For a 6-inch display based device, this is an impressive figure to achieve and even despite the lower resolution, we feel that the Zenfone 6 would be a perfect fit for those who love entertainment on the move.
The Zenfone gets a mono loudspeaker at the back, which has ample sound levels to offer and therefore no matter if you are listening to some tunes or sharing your favourite flick with your friends, it won’t disappoint you. Unlike some smartphones, the Zenfone 6 also comes with an integrated FM radio receiver as well. Add it to a very capable audio-video player that the device features,and you get a powerful multimedia device as well.
Definitely one of the better Android smartphones under Rs 20,000
All in all, the Zenfone 6 is a good option for this who are looking for a big-screened smartphone in a limited budget. The Zenfone 6 offers good looks, decent hardware specifications, a brilliant camera and a eye-appealing display. At the given price point, this device faces competition from devices such as the Xolo Q3000, Nokia Lumia 1320 and the Sony Xperia T2,which is on the more expensive side. However, the Zenfone 6 is definitely a compelling proposition.
For Rs 16,999 (the current price tag of the Zenfone 6), it comes in as a pretty strong contender for those looking for a device that is good as a phone and also as a mini tablet. However, there are some flaws too, and it includes a low resolution display and above all an older operating system. So if you are okay with these issues then the Zenfone 6 is the device you’ve been waiting for.
Price: Rs 17,999
Editor’s Rating: 8 / 10
- Lively display
- Brilliant camera
- Feature-loaded UI
- Superb battery life
- Older Android version
- HD resolution display
Video by Pratik Vyas