First Impressions: The Asus ZenFone 4, 5 and 6 – RM299, RM599 & RM899

I was at the launch of the ZenFone in Jakarta and besides the launch event and seeing the rather animated and cool CEO of Asus (for the first time) Jonney on stage, there was a in-depth technical seminar and a full experimental area for attendees during the day.

The ZenFone series come with ASUS ZenUI, the all-new mobile user interface

The technical seminar covered 3 main points (Asus PixelMaster, Asus Zen UI, ZenFone design) which I thought was of great relevance for those who might be considering getting a ZenFone.

In a nutshell: What can you expect from ZenFone 4, 5 or 6.

ZenFone 4 : (RM299)
4-inch display (Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3 screens for incredible scratch resistance and durability)
Colours: Swappable back covers available in Charcoal Black, Pearl White, Cherry Red, Sky Blue and Solar Yellow
Camera: Back: 5-megapixel. Front: 0.3MP
Supports Micro SD cards up to 64GB
PixelMaster: NOT available – Low-light Mode and Time Rewind

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ZenFone 5 : (RM599)
5-inch HD IPS+ display (also Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3). The screen is responsive even if you have gloves on. Hurray for the winter months! 😛
Camera: Back: 8-megapixel. Front: 2.0 MP
Colours: Charcoal Black, Pearl White, Cherry Red, Champagne Gold and Twilight Purple.
PixelMaster: Low-light Mode and Time Rewind (not available in ZenFone 4)

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ZenFone 6 : (RM899)
6-inch HD IPS+ display (also Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3)
Colours: Charcoal Black, Pearl White, Cherry Red and Champagne Gold
Camera: Back: 13 – megapixel. Front: 2.0 MP
SonicMaster audio technology
PixelMaster: Low-light Mode and Time Rewind  (not available in ZenFone 4)

ZenFone_Specs_ZenFone6

 

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The first was the Asus PixelMaster, a  exclusive Asus camera technology that makes it possible to capture images AND videos in ANY lighting conditions. Yes, ANY – or so it says on the press release.
Naturally we put the claim to test (Low Light mode & EIS (Electronic Image Stabilizer) at the experimental hall and boy, we were suitably impressed.

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a) Selfie Mode (enables user to use the high res main camera on the back instead of the low res front facing camera).
b) Low light mode & EIS (Electronic Image Stabilizer).
c) Time Rewind – for action shots.
d) Depth of Field – enables users to capture images with sharp, isolated subjects set against rich, blurred backgrounds (bokeh). 

Low-light Mode
– significantly increases camera performance in poorly lit scenes. By merging adjacent pixels, the camera increases light sensitivity by up to 400% and contrast up to 200%, resulting in clear and bright low-light shots without the need for a flash.
Electronic Image Stabilizer (EIS) improves low-light performance even further resulting in sharper, non-blurry photos. Low-light mode is also available when shooting video.

Below: CEO Jonney confidently shows off the comparison of other brands’ flagship smartphones.

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Here are the slides that was shown during the technical session which I think it’s self -explanatory & makes for better reading than plain text. 🙂

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Selfie Mode: Now how this works is that it uses the REAR camera (ZenFone 4, 5 or 6) instead of the front facing camera.
You would have to activate the camera, select the Selfie Mode, pre-select number of people and hold up the phone with the BACK camera facing you (yes, you would be staring at the BACK of the phone, so there is NO screen to see yourself).
Via an audio indicator; which is BEEPS to let you know if your and your friends’ faces are in frame (short beeps indicates that you must adjust the camera angle, long beeps means all is good & you may hold your pose for the shot) before the shot is taken.
The camera automatically detects when the selected number of people is in the frame and begins a countdown before taking three photos. Afterwards, the user can select the best-looking photo to save and share online.

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Testing a selfie!

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It would take some getting used to; but worth it when your selfie shots are of better quality since you’re using the back camera (8MP for ZenFone 5 & 13MP for ZenFone 6).
Here’s a test group shot.

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TIME REWIND mode:
Buffers 2 seconds before and 1 second after – meaning the camera captures the image 2 seconds before you trigger the capture button and 1 second later after you have triggered the capture button.
We know action photography can be challenging due to subject motion, but Time Rewind automatically takes multiple pictures before and after the user presses the shutter button, thus increasing the chances of getting a great photo of a difficult subject.
After taking the photo, the user can “go back in time” using an easy-to-use interface to select the best shot, or can simply choose to save all of the available shots captured by the camera.

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Ok, this Beauty Mode is self -explanatory. And this is the reason why no one should trust those selfies and pretty girl photos on Instagram/FB. Most (90%) of them don’t like anything like their photos in real life ok?

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Of course, after getting the perfect shot, you can edit them with these Asus in-house creative filters. And edit even further before you post to Instagram/FB since both has in-built filters as well. By the time you have posted your picture, it probably looks nothing like the original. But heck, that’s the world we live in now.
Most importantly the image shared looks incredible right? 🙂

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Lastly, Depth of Field Mode lets the user capture engaging photographs with sharp, isolated subjects set against rich, softly blurred backgrounds — a look known to photographers as shallow depth of field — that is usually only possible with dedicated, high-end cameras. There’s also Smart Remove (great to remove those pesky photobombers), Panorama & Miniature mode to create cartoon like effects.

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NEXT – Asus ZenUI.

2. All ZenFone models come with ASUS ZenUI; the all-new mobile user interface with over 1000 enhancements that make ASUS mobile devices even more seamless to use.
This means a cleaner layout to present information clearly; modern ‘flat’ icons, vivid color themes, animations, new ringtones and notification sounds – all designed with human intuition in mind.

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Navigating from screen to screen and prioritising tasks is fluid and almost instinctual as the Asus ZenUI includes two features — What’s Next and Do It Later; designed to unclutter our well, cluttered lives. 🙂

1. What’s Next:
Puts the information currently most important and useful to the user — such as upcoming appointments, new messages and missed calls from VIP contacts and more at the front and center on the lock screen, the home screen and in the notification drawer.
Basically it lets you see what are your priority tasks for the moment.

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2. Do It Later :
Just like it’s name – it’s an app that stores your to-do-list. Each reminder and saved item is collected in the separate Do It Later app and includes a shortcut to perform the related action, such as call a contact or view a webpage.

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“ZenFone offers an incredible user experience at a competitive price, and that will be a compelling proposition for consumers.” Joining Chairman Shih on stage, Intel Vice President and General Manager, Asia-Pacific and Japan Region, Gregory Bryant had said.

Intel Vice President and General Manger, Asia-Pacific and Japan Region, Gregory Bryant, joined Jonney Shih on stage.

All the ZenFone models are powered by Intel Atom processors.

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Lastly, the technical session spoke on the Asus ZenFone Design.

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Well, all that talk and the short test session we had with each phone was somewhat promising.
Now, I can’t wait for my Asus ZenFone. First impressions had been fabulous and I hope the phone lives up to all of its’ claims. We will know for sure soon! 🙂

Anyone here thinking of getting a ZenFone? Do give me a holla ([email protected]) or leave a comment! 🙂

Category : Technology