“With the ZenFone 6, ASUS hasn’t just introduced an innovative design but also launched a compelling phone that seems to deliver on most fronts”

ASUS has taken the wraps off its latest flagship, called the Zenfone 6, at an event in Valencia. Although the handset is yet to be launched in India, I managed to spend some time with it and have to say that the device seems to have left a lasting impression on me. While I can’t wait to spend more time with the ZenFone 6, for now, let’s take a sneak peek at the device to see why you should also be excited about ASUS’ offering. 

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With almost every single brand currently contemplating a way to get rid of cut-outs and notches from their phone’s display, ASUS is also figuring out a way to achieve the same. While most players, including OnePlus, Vivo, and OPPO, have opted for a pop-up selfie camera, ASUS has come up with rather a unique solution, which surprisingly makes a lot of sense. The Taiwanese brand has introduced a “Flip Camera” on the Zenfone 6 that essentially works in the same way as the name suggests. The dual-camera setup, consisting of a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor and a 13MP wide-angle (125-degrees) lens, is placed at the back in a resting position, just as it is in most phones, but as soon as you take a selfie or opt for a face unlock mechanism, the motorised camera module springs up to the front.

zenfone_6_hands_on3Now, this mechanism might look gimmicky at first but opens up a lot of room for creativity (read versatility). The native camera app, for example, allows users to click pictures at their preferable angle as the motorised camera module can be adjusted at any angle. You can change the angle as per your liking and during my brief time with the handset, this feature worked quite smoothly. 

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Instead of going around the elephant in the room, let’s address it right away. I was initially concerned about the durability of this camera module as most of us would like to play around with the flip mechanism a lot. However, as the flipping camera slightly is slightly on the thicker side, it seemed to me that it should hold up somewhat better against wear and tear than some of the thinner pop-up modules seen on the other handsets. Having said that, we will have to wait and see how the handset performs in the long-term usage.

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Now that we have discussed the USP of the device, let’s move on to the other aspects. Thanks to the flip camera design, ASUS has managed to pack a large 6.46-inch full-HD+ NanoEdge display on the ZenFone 6 that comes with 600 nits brightness and Gorilla Glass 6 protection on top. To be honest, there are just a few things more satisfying in a phone that offers a notch- and bezel-less display. 

Moving on to the build quality and the design, both look quite premium. The handset’s frame is constructed out of metal but the back is polycarbonate. The buttons on the phone, i.e the power key, volume rocker, and a customisable ‘smart key’, are all positioned on the right side of the phone. The power switch also happens to have a blue outline, which looks pretty neat and might even remind you of gaming laptops from the brand. Coming to the customisable button, the ASUS ZenFone 6 allows you to allocate certain functionalities to it, with the brand claiming that support for more functionality is coming soon.

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Thankfully, the ZenFone 6 has a 3.5mm headphone socket as well. There are dual 5-magnet speakers onboard, which should be of interest to anybody who likes to watch multimedia content or play a lot of games. In my limited time with the phone, I found the sound quality to be good with decent volume levels.

ASUS’ ZenFone 6 is powered by top-of-the-line Snapdragon 855 SoC and comes in three RAM and storage variants — 6GB + 64GB, 6GB + 128, and 8GB + 256GB. As can be expected, I didn’t face any performance issues and the phone breezed through any tasks thrown at it. Coming to the software, the handset runs Android 9.0 Pie-based Zen UI out of the box. Although the ‘Zen UI’ branding might scare you, but the phone ships with a near-stock iteration of Android that has just around 10 to 11 pre-installed apps. If anything, the platform’s similarity to Pixel phone’s software is quite apparent. Of course, considering we have spent limited time with the phone, we will get back to you with detailed performance once we review it.

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For battery backup, the phone houses a massive 5,000mAh cell, which comes with support for QuickCharge 4.0. As of now, Zenfone 6’s price in India has not been announced and internationally, the pricing starts from €499 (~Rs 39,000). At this price point, the phone will be competing against the likes of the OnePlus 7 / 7 Pro (review), Pixel 3a (review), and the upcoming Honor 20 Pro. We shall keep you posted on the handset’s Indian launch, so stay tuned.