With its Zenfone 5 and 5Z, Asus has managed to make a smartphone in Android "the iPhone X" really promising. Contrary to what we might have thought, our first grip is really positive.
If you follow us on Instagram, you know that since the beginning of the MWC, we look with a mocking air all that near or far from a clone of the iPhone X. We saw all possible horrors on the stands of Chinese manufacturers, until the smartphone that had a notch sticker on the top of the slab. That's why, at first sight, Asus's proposal for Zenfone 5 did not inspire confidence. We are happy to have been wrong.
From the outset, the Zenfone 5 seduced by hand, declined in two versions found their main difference in the processor. The smartphone breathes quality, the materials are pleasant to the touch and it does not feel, under the thumb or in the palm, the asperities of plastic which can sometimes spoil the pleasure to hold a technological apparatus. Especially as a smartphone is destined to be held a good part of the day. In short, it is a very pleasant first contact.
InterfaceThe key of the notch: the interface
When we turn on the screen, we also see that Asus worked on his design. Much copied from that of the iPhone X, it is still balanced and elegant. With all the horrible smartphones we could see on the MWC, we realize that the notch at the top of the slab is a mastery that must be acquired. If it is too rounded, it is ridiculous. If it is too square, it is a kind of V little elegant. If it is too deep, it makes horns. In short, it is often very ugly, but like Apple, Asus has found an aesthetic balance that does not swear.
We can debate the usefulness of the notch when there is no TrueDepth camera to ship, but we must recognize that the Taiwanese manufacturer has done well and this depression in the front allows it to house the camera in the front and the main speaker of the phone.
And as much as the hardware integration, Asus has taken care of the software integration. This is something that is missing from all clones of the iPhone X: Android is not adapted by default to the notch and if software engineers do not work an overlay that takes it into account, the visual joke is double of an ergonomic hell. Asus knows and has looked after his copy: the information to the right and left of the screen is not cut and all proprietary applications fit perfectly to the notch. Even Android's system applications (Chrome or Gmail) seem to fit perfectly – they fit right under the screen.
Side use, notifications and settings are coming from one side and the other of the notch, which allows a control that closely resembles that of an iPhone X. To be honest , as a user of Apple's flagship, I surprised myself several times to make the gesture of iOS to return to the home screen – it is a sign, for me, that the illusion works. Better: Asus has thought of everything and by default, this gesture that goes from top to bottom brings back the navigation bar of Android when we are on the applications which, they are displayed in full screen. We can not wait for this step to become optional as the tactile movement set up by Apple is efficient and intuitive.
Low cameraIA and camera
We can also find the pledges of good will of Asus on its Android smartphones with the personalized interface: no application is duplicates with the Google suite and changes of the interface are minor. This should not disillate a follower of clean experiences, even if we still regret some colors too garish.
To finish on the software, Asus seems to follow the grueling fashion of weak artificial intelligence and has renamed everything that would have been considered AI features or applications something. There is an IA Ringtone (it adjusts the volume depending on the ambient noise), a IA Processor Management (the frequency is adjusted according to the use), a User Attention IA (the screen does not go off if the detector at the front sees you are watching it), a Photo IA (the camera settings are preset according to the scene you are taking and have been dragged upstream on a database). In short, technically, it is computer and features related to smartphones: they are all interesting and welcome, beyond the marketing mask.
Finally, on the camera side, Asus has chosen a dual-sensor solution that can be used for normal shooting or wide-angle shooting. Our use of a smartphone tends to make us say that the zoom is more important than the wide-angle, but according to Asus, it is a function that is more appreciated on the cameras on the back of the devices. Is.
Price and Release DateThe Asus Zenfone 5Z, the highest end, dual SIM microSD port and all the trimmings, will be released in June 2018 at 599 € and will ship a high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor (the same as on the Galaxy S9 ). The Zenfone 5, equipped with a Snapdragon 636, will be released in May 2018 at € 499. An offer that seems serious on Android and could redistribute the mid-range cards. After years of falling behind, that's all we want from Asus.