ASUS 6Z (Zenfone 6) review: everything you need to know
By Linky Johnson 2019-06-10 1318 0
One thing seems clear: If you want to succeed in the highly competitive smartphone market right now, you need something special. Most manufacturers try it through the camera. Asus is also going down this road with the new Zenfone 6 (not to be confused with the 2014 model of the same name). The new folding camera, which also serves as the main and selfie camera, is truly innovative. Asus also provides a lavish battery for smartphone users who are constantly plagued by a lack of power. The whole thing is garnished with a price of 559 euros, which is far below what other manufacturers are proclaiming today for their top models. This seems to be an attractive offer, at least on paper. Our test says how the Zenfone 6 performs in practice.
The first impression
The first impression is quite weighty. At almost 200 grams, the mobile phone weighs almost as much as two bars of chocolate. But it still lies comfortably in the hand, even if it seems a little unbalanced and thick. It seems to be a bit heavier at the upper end, which makes it tilt easily in the hand. It also makes a high-quality impression: with its practically rimless display (screen-to-body ratio: 92 percent) and rounded edges, it is in no way inferior to current top appliances in elegance.
There's no notch, because the Asus has a special rotating flip camera that simultaneously serves as a front and rear camera. With its double lens and the LED flash in between, it looks like a friendly owl face. The lenses are not completely flat and the cover protrudes a little.
The gorilla glass back is not very sensitive to fingerprints, but, as is so often the case with current smartphones, it is very smooth and slippery. The Asus likes to be independent on inclined surfaces, so very little inclination is enough. The fingerprint sensor is also located on the back. It is located centrally under the camera and is easy to reach with the index finger.
In contrast to the current top smartphone league, the Asus did not give the Zenfone 6 an OLED, but "only" a 6.4-inch IPS display with 1080 x 2340 pixels resolution, which corresponds to a good pixel density of 403 ppi. With 472 cd/m2 it is not one of the brightest of its kind, but in daily use the luminosity is fine: the display remains legible even in direct sunlight. The colors are strong, in the lab it shows an average color deviation Delta E of 4.81. This is also a decent, but not an outstanding value.
These values must also be seen in connection with the price. An OLED would have pushed up the production costs and thus the final price, an effect that Asus probably wanted to avoid.
Probably also due to the display technology, the Zenfone 6 shows a slight dependence on the viewing angle. Even at smaller tilt angles, the display becomes visibly darker and tends to reddish. However, this effect doesn't get much bigger with stronger tilting, so that the display always remains easy to read.
If you don't like the basic settings of the display, you can also make individual settings with the Asus. For example, the color temperature and hue can be changed. For the brightness, there is a booster that temporarily increases the luminosity in order to be able to read the display even in very bright light. The dark mode is indeed fashionably chic, but it shouldn't bring any noticeable power savings with an IPS display.
User Interface, Performance, Battery
Very pleasing: Asus, which for a long time was known as a manufacturer that fills its mobile phones with bloatware, has reconsidered a better idea and delivers the Zenfone 6 with an almost clean Android Pie. But the Asians probably didn't want to do without pre-installed apps, so there are "Facebook", "Instagram" and the migration tool "Asus Data Transfer" as add-ons.
If you're still looking for something, you'll also find the "Powermaster" in the settings, which bundles the power-saving functions or the "Screen Recorder", which can be started via a button in the information bar and saves the processes on the display as a film. In the information bar there is also the button for the FM radio, in times of Spotify or TuneIn Radio a quite nostalgic feature. You shouldn't expect much from it. Neither sound nor reception quality are really good and RDS, for example for displaying station names, is not mastered by the device either.
Asus doesn't forget the gamblers either. With "Game Genie", various functions for doddling can be deactivated. You can suppress notifications directly in the game or switch off the navigation keys and a recorder for in-game macros is also included. There are also links to Twitch and YouTube.
As far as the operating system is concerned, the Zenfone 6 proves to be future-proof: Asus has promised to equip the smartphone with Android Q as soon as possible, the successor Android R will also be available, as well as security patches in the next two years.
Funny security function
The Android phone comes with a wide range of security features, including a fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor is easily accessible and can be fitted on the back of the device, making it very easy to use. Very practical: the display does not need to be switched on to unlock it. All you have to do is place your finger on the sensor.
Something very special is the face recognition function. To use the function, the device must first be woken up and wiped over the display. Then the flip camera moves into position, looks curiously over the edge and disappears again. This looks pretty funny and is a real eye-catcher at least for the first time among friends. In good light, the identification works quickly and smoothly, even with glasses on your nose.
However: In bad light, as with a single desk lamp, the identification sometimes doesn't work. This is especially true if the device is not held directly in front of the face.
In terms of computing power, the Asus doesn't burn anything. The Snapdragon 855 doesn't show any signs of weakness, the operation is full and round. The Adreno-640 GPU, which plays in the top league when it comes to performance on mobile devices, also contributes to this.
This is also confirmed by our benchmarks. In the Geekbench Multicore, the new Asus is only just behind the OnePlus 7 Pro with 11 184 points, and in our browser benchmark it's even ahead with 242 points. However: The Asus gets quite warm under load and if you play demanding games, it can happen that the device reduces the performance after a while in order not to overheat. But the power reserves are big enough to get over it.
The memory equipment corresponds to the upper middle class: our test device could fall back on 6 GB RAM and 128 GB data memory. Good: The device has a dedicated slot for microSD cards. The memory can theoretically be expanded by up to 2 TB.
The battery is also quite powerful. With a battery life of almost 12 hours, it's at the top of our tests. For comparison: the Samsung S10+ only achieves 8:33 hours, the OnePlus 7 Pro 9:45 hours. The Asus battery can be charged with Quick Charge, but cordless charging is not possible. But that's probably also due to the price.
As far as connectivity is concerned, Asus leaves little to be desired. WiFi 5, Bluetooth 5.0 and a universal package of globally usable LTE frequencies provide the wireless connections, there is a jack socket for the headset and a USB-C-3.1 socket for charging and data connection.
The WLAN connection is stable and fast in everyday use, and the mobile phone connections also gave no reason for complaint during the test. The positioning sensors support GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and the Japanese QZSS, which is still under construction. Even inside buildings, they have no problems locating the device quickly and precisely.
To enjoy music, the Asus is rather unsuitable. The sound through the included earphones is washed-out and without much treble. This doesn't get much better if you replace the ear plugs with hi-fi headphones. If you play the music through the internal loudspeakers, distortion quickly occurs and the sound sounds quaery.
Even when telephoning, you don't get much pleasure. Probably to suppress the background noise, the electronics mutes the conversation partner from time to time, so that the impression is created that the connection has been broken. This is very unpleasant. If you speak, the whole thing often sounds choppy and therefore unfortunately sometimes difficult to understand. The voices also sound rough and noisy. The opposite side criticizes dull voices, feedback effects and also an overall moderate intelligibility. The speakerphone delivers better results with well understandable and warm voices.
Actually, a device in this price class should deliver significantly higher speech quality results. teltarif.de will ask Asus whether the problem is known internally and whether they are working on a solution. We will inform you about the answer.
Camera & Conclusion
The Asus Zenfone 6 has a dual camera, which thanks to flip technology can be used both as a front and a back camera. Both cameras are built on a rotating mechanism that can fold them 180 degrees. The main camera has a resolution of 48 megapixels, the second camera, which is equipped with an ultra-wide angle lens, works with a sensor with 13 megapixels. Unfortunately, there is no optical image stabilizer and the 13-megapixel cam is a fix-focus camera.
The folding camera is not only useful for Selfies, it can also take automatic panorama pictures. All you need to do is hold the smartphone steady, the motor swivels the camera and creates a seamless stitching.
In the end, if you don't stop the camera, it swivels to the selfie position, so if you don't duck away, you'll grin at yourself on the last part of the panorama. Left-handers can also admire a blurred shot of their hand. The motorized camera can also follow a subject, such as a dog, that moves out of the picture. However, tracking them is usually the better solution.
The flip camera can be tilted to any angle between 0 and 180 degrees. The virtual switch in the camera app, which is usually used to switch to the front camera, is simply held longer and then pushed upwards. Asus uses the same trick for the self-timer. Holding down and pulling the release button upwards delays the recording by up to 10 seconds.
The quality of the pictures is really convincing. At least if the lighting conditions are halfway okay. The photos are practically noiseless and show many details. There is also nothing negative to say about the colour rendering. The photos show rich colours, which nevertheless look natural.
The HDR+ function can tickle a few additional details out of the pictures, especially in dark areas, even if the sometimes somewhat artificial results are a matter of taste.
12 Megapixel resolution brings the best results
The smartphone normally uses the 48 megapixels of the sensor to generate a 12-megapixel image. The information of four pixels each is combined into a new pixel. This eliminates exposure problems and image noise. Of course, it is also possible to read out the 48 megapixels directly and then obtain a high-resolution image. This is tempting, but not necessarily advisable. The results are only really useful in good light.
This also applies to the zoom, which in this case is only a digital zoom. For the shots, the camera cuts out part of the center of the image and blows the image to full format. The resulting resolution is fine, but the effective exposure and noise correction then falls flat.
In poor lighting conditions, the Asus delivers mixed quality. In our test photo, the structure of the wallpaper can still be seen well, but the inside of the rose mutates into a muddy red spot. The colours are quite good, but the surfaces show a visible noise.
The night mode brings big improvements. It brightens the shadows, the petals of the rose get a contour again. The color noise also improves, but remains visible. If you help the white balance a little bit, you will get shots that are really good to look at.
The Flip-Cam also serves well as a portrait and selfie camera. A special portrait mode provides a whole range of gradually usable embellishment tools, from skin retouching to facial thinning. Above all, the mode also offers a very natural looking bokeh effect that removes the portrait from the background. Of course, this can also be used for other motifs.
The ultra-wide angle lens is also available as a selfie cam, for example to get the extended circle of friends onto the picture. Excellent shots can be taken in good light. In bad light it is recommended to switch on the photo light. Unfortunately, the hair of our test dummy reflects very strongly on our test shot.
For video enthusiasts, the phone offers five resolutions from HD with 1280 x 720 pixels to 4k with 3840 x 2160 pixels resolution and 60 Hz refresh rate. Small limitation: The ultra-wide angle lens can only be used up to 30 Hz at 4k resolution. Remarkable: The electronic image stabilization works in every setting.
The quality is convincing in all resolutions. The videos show many details, the colours appear natural and there is a wide dynamic range. Nice: For people who like to experiment, there is also a slow-motion and a time-lapse function.
The Asus Zenfone 6 convinces above all by its favourable price. For 559 Euros you get a fast and durable smartphone with the latest Snapdragon 855 chip, which also comes with a unique camera. In addition, there is a socket for a headset and an amusing face recognition, with which you can really catch attention. But: You have to cut back on the price, too. You have to do without the very latest technology for the display, but without having to sacrifice a lot of quality. The audio department of the Asus is different, because it really can't convince. When telephoning, the Asus sometimes even has such big problems that intelligibility suffers. That's a real shame.
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