“We compare three of the hottest phones in the Rs 20K segment”
Flagship smartphones are no longer a premium commodity. Gone are the days when buyers had to shell out upwards of Rs 40K to buy a premium smartphone that boasted top-of-the-line specs. By packing their devices with the best hardware and also focussing on aesthetics, companies like Xiaomi, OnePlus, ASUS and Lenovo are constantly challenging high-end smartphones. With so many capable smartphones already out in the market right now, Lenovo has managed to grab the headlines with the unveiling of its Zuk Z2 Plus (first impressions) which launched today. Furnished with best in class specifications, the Zuk Z2 Plus will surely confuse buyers in the market for loaded, yet affordable daily driver. To ease your decision making process, we pitched Lenovo’s combatant against the 5.2-inch variant of the recently-launched ASUS Zenfone 3 (review) and the original budget flagship king, the Xiaomi Mi 5 (review) to see which is the best 5-incher of the lot. So without any further ado, let the showdown begin.
Design and Display
While shortlisting the smartphone of your dreams, there needs to be a good balance between aesthetics and performance. No one wants to go for a boring-looking phone, regardless of how fast it might perform which is why, design is the first thing we’ll be tackling in our comparison. All three devices sport fairly similar displays with the trio featuring full HD displays. The Lenovo Zuk Z2 Plus has chosen an interesting design language and features a roll-cage design as was seen on the company’s ThinkPad series laptops. The basic premise here is that the delicate components inside the phone rest on a separate frame within the outer shell providing better protection against damages and thermal management. The phone is also made out of fibre glass which brings helps in reducing the weight of the Lenovo Zuk Z2 Plus. Talking about the competition, the Xiaomi Mi 5 brings a familiar metal-glass blend to the smartphone’s casing featuring a curvy rear that tapers towards the sides. The Zenfone 3 features a fairly similar design with glass on the back and the front and metal on the sides albeit comes with a flatter back panel which makes the phone less wobbly when placed on a table. The Lenovo Zuk Z2 Plus will weigh your pockets down the most coming in at 149g. The Asus Zenfone 3 is next at 144g with the Xiaomi Mi 5 being the lightest of the lot coming in at 139g. All three phones come with fingerprint sensors with Xiaomi and Lenovo deciding to put it upfront whereas ASUS opting to put it at the back below the camera.
Peaking under the hood of the Lenovo Zuk Z2 Plus, users will find a quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor with two kryo cores spinning at 2.15GHz and the other two spinning at 1.6GHz. The phone comes in two different configurations of 3GB RAM / 32GB storage, and 4GB RAM / 64GB storage. Like mentioned earlier, we used the lower spec variant for this comparison. The Xiaomi Mi 5 also comes with a quad-core Snapdragon 820 processor, however, the cores run at a lower clock speed compared to the Zuk Z2 Plus with two Kryo cores running at 1.8GHz and the other two at 1.5GHz. For RAM, Xiaomi has provided users with 3GB of memory for multitasking. Putting the spotlight on the ASUS Zenfone 3, the phone features a mid-tier Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor with 3GB of RAM working in tandem which pales in comparison to the competition, at least on paper. We iterate that the specs alone don’t give the complete picture when it comes to real time performance, because in our usage of the Zenfone 3, it works quite smoothly.
In the camera department, Lenovo’s contender brings a pair of 13MP and 8MP sensors on the back and front respectively to the table, with the rear-facing camera aided by an LED flash capable of shooting in 4K. Xiaomi gets an edge here with superior pixel count on Mi 5’s rear facing snapper which comes at 16MP and offers a Sony Exmor-RS CMOS sensor along with a dual-colour LED flash. For selfies, users will be pouting at a 4MP sensor which has a bigger pixel size than the other two devices on the list putting it on par with the competition. Moving on, the ASUS Zenfone 3 features a similar rear-facing camera setup like the Xiaomi Mi 5 with the only difference being that the Zenfone 3 also comes with laser autofocus and phase detection. The primary camera on the Zenfone 3 is also a step up from the Xiaomi Mi 5 and comes at 8MP. If you are a camera-centric guy/gal, the ASUS Zenfone 3 is probably the phone you need in your pockets. We’d also like to point out that the Lenovo Zuk Z2 Plus doesn’t come with optical image stabilisation unlike the other two phones so if you do invest in the smartphone, capturing good moving shots will be tricky.
Storage and Battery
For storage, all three phones come equipped with 32GB of on-board storage however, that’s all you’ll be stuck with if you buy the Xiaomi Mi 5 or the Lenovo Zuk Z2 Plus as they don’t support expandable memory. The ASUS Zenfone 3 on the other hand, will let you expand your storage using a microSD card which makes it a much more appealing option. The story reverses when we take a look at the battery with ASUS packing just a 2,650mAh unit. The Xiaomi Mi 5 is up next with a battery capacity of 3,000mAh while the Lenovo Zuk Z2 Plus comes equipped with a 3,500mAh battery which should, in theory, last longer than what the competition has to offer.
Software and connectivity
The software platforms offered by the phones are poles apart with Lenovo’s ZUI 2.0 giving users a near-stock experience while Xiaomi layering the Mi 5 with the heavily loaded MIUI v8. The Zenfone 3 from ASUS lies somewhere in between these two with its ZenUI 3.0 with all three phones using Android Marshmallow as base. On the connectivity front, all three phones feature support for dual-SIMs, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, mobile hotspot, Bluetooth and A-GPS.
Pricing and availability
After all has been said and done, the crux of the matter resides in how the devices are priced. The Xiaomi Mi 5 will set you back Rs 22,999 for the 32GB model while the ASUS Zenfone 3 costs Rs 21,999 for the 32GB variant. Lenovo obliterates the competition in terms of pricing with the Zuk Z2 Plus carrying a price tag of just Rs 17,999. Buyers interested in the Mi 5 or the Zenfone 3 can pick the phones up from major online retailers while the Zuk Z2 Plus will go on sale starting September 25th exclusively on Amazon.