Asus Zenfone 6 hands-on: $ 499, stock Android + and a motorized flip camera!

11 min read

The constant refinement of the form factor of the smartphone has resulted in almost perfection. In 2019, there are still some matters of great importance that still need to be resolved. Familiar with this, companies have long built in functions that serve two purposes at the same time. The first: provide a legitimate solution to a problem. The second: be a striking novelty. Consider the curved screens from Samsung, the second screen from the LG V series or Motorola Moto Mods. Companies have to work harder than ever before to get you into trouble before they can get you.

The unique function of the new Asus Zenfone 6 – the motorized flip camera – is a good example. Yes, it solves the problem of a full screen screen without putting a dash. But it is also unbearably tempting as a "thing to play with." I challenge you to see it in action in a store and not try it yourself. It's the kind of thing that nerds like me dream of.

Asus has certainly succeeded in the new part of the comparison, but is the flip camera a legitimate solution to a problem? Does it only replace one problem with another? What else does the Zenfone 6 have to offer than the most recognizable feature? Let's look at it in our Asus Zenfone 6 hands-on.

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Asus Zenfone 6 camera

  • 48MP Sony IMX586, f / 1.79 aperture
  • 13MP ultra-wide lens (125 degrees)
  • HDR +, Super Night mode
  • 4K 60 fps video with EIS (front and rear)
  • Full HD slow-mo at 240/120 fps
  • HD slo-mo at 480 fps

The Zenfone 6 is similar to the Oppo N1 in 2013. Why place weaker cameras on the front of a phone when you can use the main cameras for everything? Oppo & # 39; s solution turned the & # 39; s camera that was in the gigantic top of the N1. Asus instead runs the & # 39; s main camera on the backup to turn on an almost bezel-free screen.

You get here the current 48MP flag sensor from Sony, set by default to a pixel-impeded image of 12 MP. Pixel binning combines light data from four adjacent pixels into a "super pixel" with low light at a quarter of the maximum resolution of the sensor. You can always switch to 48MP shots if you want higher resolution photos with good exposure.

The secondary lens is an ultra-wide "selfie" camera that also acts as a wide-angle lens using the motorized hinge.

A small, custom gearbox feeds the hinge, using 13 micro-stepped gears for smoother and precise control. Tap the "change camera" button to fully fold the camera 180 degrees, or press the shutter button to manually set the angle of the camera. Asus calls this "free shooting" and uses children, pets and unique points of view as the obvious cases.

The motorized hinge mechanism uses a micro-step gearbox for fluid operation and granular control.

The motor of the flip camera can make automatic panoramas in horizontal or vertical direction. Simply tap the shutter in panorama mode and the camera rotates automatically until you stop it – this means you stay stable while the camera is moving, rather than the other way around. If you drop the Zenfone 6 while the camera is off, it will automatically retract before it hits the ground.

The motion tracking mode locks on a subject and keeps them sharp. It also automatically sets the angle of the camera to keep the subject in view. It's pretty wild and a bit disorienting when you try it the first time. The same goes for slowly adjusting the camera angle: you see the viewfinder image all the way up until your head appears upside down at the top of the image. (When you open the camera 180 degrees automatically, the right side appears upwards).

Asus has clearly paid a lot of attention to making the Zenfone 6 camera unique outside the gearbox itself. This is encouraging to see. It may feel like a gimmick, but it's a better execution than most. The Zenfone 6 has the potential to radically expand the limits of what is possible with smartphone photography – as long as enough people buy it. You will just have to wait for our full Asus Zenfone 6 review to see what the camera performance is like.

The Zenfone 6 has the potential to radically expand the boundaries of what is possible with smartphone photography.

There is a lot of other good camera stuff here. The HDR + and Super Night mode respectively offer improved dynamic range in environments with high contrast and low light. The Super Night mode also ignites and restores the color when shooting in low light.

The PDX autofocus with 2 x 1 on-chip lens on the primary camera provides eight times the pixel area of ​​traditional PDAF systems for faster autofocus times. Because the main camera is running, your selfie camera now has auto focus. Although you usually do not need autofocus on a front camera, it is nice to have the option.

Asus Zenfone 6 camera app UI detail

A camera update shortly after the launch adds Google Lens, a 2x switch to quickly switch to a lossless crop, and the automatic panorama mode when the camera is in the selfie position.

4K video at 60 fps with electronic image stabilization (EIS) is possible regardless of the direction the camera is looking (forward-facing 4K 60fps with EIS has only been added since we first saw the phone, so keep in mind that you may conflicting information elsewhere).

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Asus Zenfone 6 in the hand shows tray for Android apps

Software

In addition to the camera, the most striking feature of the Zenfone 6 is that it runs a near-vanilla version of Android. Asus still calls it ZenUI, but the Zenfone 6 abandons the visual clutter and even more preloaded apps. In addition to the cleaner layout, you also get a system-wide dark mode even though the Zenfone 6 only uses Android 9 Pie. However, the Zenfone 6 is part of the Android Q beta program and it is confirmed that the Android R update is available.

OptiFlex is the memory management system for machine learning from Asus. Using a neural network, it predicts the apps that you are likely to use and pre-loads them for faster launch times. A hybrid algorithm also prevents frequently used apps from starting from scratch. There are various Android framework optimizations in play to help speed up the slow system performance in areas such as recent apps, the gallery and the keyboard.

A smart key on the right side of the phone starts the Google Assistant. You can double-press to access personal updates or hold to start the walkie-talkie mode in the assistant. If you have not used this before, you can only activate the microphone as long as you press the button. Compared to waiting for the assistant to stop listening before he answers you, it's nice to have. You can also disable it or reassign it to various other commonly used shortcuts.

There are also a few good audio tricks here. When this function is activated, the audio is routed through the loudspeaker speaker by private listening. This means that if you request something from Assistant on the train, you do not have to warn the whole carriage for the answer.

Smart Volume automatically adjusts the volume of incoming calls, media control and VoIP calls to the ambient volume of the environment. That means no missed calls if it's loud and don't blow your ears if that's not the case.

Asus Zenfone 6 stock Android + home screen

Hardware

  • 6.4-inch Full HD + IPS LCD
  • 92 percent screen-to-body ratio
  • 19.5: 9 aspect ratio
  • Gorilla Glass 6 (front)
  • Stereo speakers
  • Bundled hi-res earphones

The Zenfone 6 display is an IPS LCD instead of OLED. This will be a disappointment for many, but the 6.4-inch diagonal and notch design will at least take a bit of the sting away. It covers 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color space and 96 percent of the NTSC color gamut.

There is a fairly well-known frame around the screen, but no shred of what Asus calls a NanoEdge display. I really enjoyed it, with good colors and brightness, even outside. We will have to submit it to our full display test to see how it is piling up against the competition.

There is a tiny earphone speaker in the top ring and a footphone speaker. To the right is a 3.5 mm headphone port that will be a pleasant sight for many. At the back you will find a capacitive fingerprint scanner surrounded by glass. The space around the camera hinge will undoubtedly be full of dust, but the same applies to any phone that uses a moving camera.

Not everyone will like the idea of ​​a moving part or motorcycle on their smartphone, and this is perfectly reasonable. Whether we like it or not, from the OnePlus 7 Pro to the Realme X, we will see more and more until we finally get cameras that can see through the display.

For $ 499, the Zenfone 6 offers a 5000-Ah battery, headphone jack, no notch and stock Android +.

As with other OEMs, Asus assures us that it has extensively tested the durability of the flip camera system and is convinced of its reliability. Until we have had the opportunity to use a Zenfone 6 for a longer period, we will reserve an opinion. Of course, if you don't have a moving part or motorcycle in a phone, they can't break or get damaged, so you'll have to decide if you are willing to take the risk.

Related: The first smartphone book from Android Authority

Asus Zenfone 6 rear glass reflection with fingerprint scanner and camera

Asus Zenfone 6 specifications

  • 7nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
  • Up to 8 GB RAM + 256 GB storage
  • 5,000 mAh battery + 18 W charging
  • Triple slot (dual SIM + microSD)

The Asus Zenfone 6 specifications are of the highest level, from the latest Qualcomm mobile platform to powerful memory configurations up to 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. Asus used a two-part stacked PCB setup to create more room internally. It used that space for important things such as a 5,000mAh battery and the headphone jack.

Asus opted for a 40W super fast charge because it would require a thicker separation between the anode and the cathode. That would mean that you either get less space for a large battery or need a thicker phone to catch it. Asus chose to charge with 18W instead.

Asus Zenfone 6
show 6.4-inch IPS LCD screen
FHD + resolution
19.5: 9 ratio
Corning Gorilla Glass 6
processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
GPU Qualcomm Adreno 640
RAM 6 GB / 8 GB
LPDDR4X
storage area 64 GB / 256 GB
UFS 2.1
Expandable with microSD card (up to 2TB)
Battery 5,000 mAh battery
Fast charging 4.0 at 18W
cameras & # 39; s primary:
48MP Sony IMX586 sensor
f / 1.79 aperture
0.8μm / 1.6μm pixels
1/20 inch
Dual LED flash
4K 60 fps video with EIS (front and back)

Second:
13MP ultra-wide sensor

connectivity 802.11a / b / g / n / ac
2x2MIMO
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC
GPS (dual tires, L1 + L5)
GLONASS (L1)
BDS (B1)
GALILEO (double tires, E1 + E5a)
QZSS (double tires, L1 + L5)
SIM Dual nano SIM card
MicroSD card (up to 2TB)
Operating system Android 9 Pie
audio Dual speakers
NXP TFA9874 smart amplifier
Bundled earphones
3.5 mm headphone connection
Dimensions 159.1 x 75.44 x 9.1 mm (largest model)
190g
colors Midnight Black, Twilight Silver
Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for rear glass

According to Asus, a 4000 mAh battery with 40W fast charging takes up the same space as a normal 5000 mAh battery. But a 5,000 mAh battery with 40 W charging takes up the same space as a regular 6000 mAh battery. 18W charging meant a 5000 mAh battery that does not lose space on a larger separator. You will have to decide whether that is the right decision for your needs.

Asus points out that a battery with a larger capacity has a longer typical life than a smaller battery that needs to be charged more often. The Asus test shows that a 5,000 mAh battery that is charged with 18 W can get the same amount of juice – the legendary "day use" – in just under an hour. According to the Asus figures, this is exactly the same amount of time as with a 3,300 mAh battery, charged at 27W, to reach the same charge (because the charging speed decreases as a battery reaches almost 100% capacity).

Asus Zenfone 6 price

The Asus Zenfone 6 price starts at $ 499/499 euros for the version with 6 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. Building up to 128 GB of storage costs 559 euros, and the 8GB RAM / 256GB storage model costs 599 euros. We update this article with additional information about prices and availability as they become available. The Zenfone 6 is available in Midnight Black and Twilight Silver.

Written by

Don Bradman

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