ASUS Zenfone 6 First Impressions: complete flagship with a lot of creativity

ASUS Zenfone 6

Last year ASUS had a solid device in the Zenfone 5Z last year that delivered solid value for money and did quite well. They have now  come up with a successor to the phone with the ASUS Zenfone 6. The device is not just a simple upgrade and packs a lot of creativity. I spent some time with this device and here are my first impressions

Here are the key specifications of the phone

Price
$499
OS
Android 9 Pie with ZenUI 6
Screen Size (Resolution) 6.4-inch full HD+ LCD
CPU
Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
RAM
6GB; up to 8GB
Storage
64GB; up to 256GB
Expandable Storage Yes; up to 2TB
Front/Rear Camera Dual: 48-MP wide angle (ƒ/1.79); 13-MP ultra wide angle
Battery Size
5,000 mAh
Size
6.26 x 2.95 x 0.33 inches
Weight
6.73 ounces

At first glance, you’ll surely notice some similiarities when compared to the previous model. ASUS has once again gone with LCD technology for the ZenFone 6’s 6.4-inch display, and, just like the previous device, the screen has a resolution just north of full HD. The base $499 configuration comes with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (though it goes up to 8GB and 256GB). The phone is powered again by top-end Qualcomm chipset — in this case, the spanking new Snapdragon 855 system-on-chip. The camera is where the surprise is at in this phone. More about that in a bit.

ASUS Zenfone 6 Rear View

The ZenFone 6’s dual shooters aren’t like any we’ve ever seen before, either from Asus or any other company. That’s because they flip around the top edge of the device, a full 180 degrees, to shoot forward, backward or any angle in between. Housed in a mechanism machined from an amorphous alloy that is four times stronger than stainless steel, the ZenFone 6’s main 48-megapixel, ƒ/1.79 lens and secondary 13-MP wide-angle sensor are used for every shot you capture with the phone — even selfies. Wrap your mind around that. I was blown away when I saw that flip action and what the camera can do for the first time. Truly innovative. The number of possibilities of creative photo options with this setup is just mind-blowing. We will explore them all in the full review.

Due to the Quad Bayer design of the primary sensor, which has the capability to combine four image sensor pixels into one to maximize light sensitivity, the ZenFone 6 can either capture full-resolution 48-MP photos in bright conditions or optimized 12-MP shots when things get dim. This makes the low light capabilities of the camera very strong. Looking forward to explore this in the full review.

ASUS Zenfone 6 Flip Camera

The AI scene detection feature introduced in the ZenFone 5Z returns in the ZenFone 6, and given that it churned out some pretty impressive shots last year, I am looking forward to see how ASUS has developed its imaging software for the second iteration.

With a new feature called Free Angle Shooting, the Flip Camera can be rotated to any degree between its front or back positions, through the use of an on-screen slider. And if by any chance the phone slips from your grip with the camera housing extended, ASUS says the device is designed to automatically retract it to a safe position as quickly as possible. This will prevent accidental damage to the  Flip camera due to slippage.

The Flip Camera design adds a lot of advantages for photography, though it also benefits the ZenFone 6’s design. Because there’s no standalone front-facing camera baked within the display glass, there’s no need for a notch on the phone’s screen. The phone has an impressive 92% screen-to-body ratio. The bezels around the top and sides are very thin and certainly narrower than those on the iPhone XS, but there is still a definitive chin at the bottom, not that I am complaining at all.

ASUS Zenfone 6 Back View

Corning’s Gorilla Glass 6 is on the front, another slab of glass that isn’t quite as strong on the back, and as usual, a metal band merging the two together. Much to my happiness and joy, there’s a headphone jack in the bottom edge, and ASUS has added a multi-function button it calls the Smart Key, that can be used to quickly launch Google Assistant or trigger other shortcuts.

The ZenFone 6’s 6.4-inch LCD display may not offer the stunning colors and contrast an OLED does, but the brand promises it’ll achieve 600 nits of peak brightness — a claim I’ll definitely test. It’s not an HDR10-certified display but it has been tuned to DCI-P3 spec, which should provide a good balance between real colors and a tad bit of saturation.

ASUS Zenfone 6 Back Side

The new iteration of Zen UI is very close to stock android and has a lot of nifty improvements with it. The most popular one being the Pixel master camera UI. The most important area where the ZenFone 6 is most improved over its predecessor involves its battery. Where the ZenFone 5Z had a 3,300-mAh power pack, the ZenFone 6 has a gargantuan 5,000-mAh unit.  I am looking forward to the full review of this one.

As far as first impressions go, this one is a complete flagship with a lot of creativity

About Shakthi

I am a Tech Blogger, Disability Activist, Keynote Speaker, Startup Mentor and Digital Branding Consultant. Also a McKinsey Executive Panel Member. Also known as @v_shakthi on twitter. Been around Tech for two decades now.

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