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Asus Zenfone 5 review

Andrew Williams



  • Recommended by TR
Asus Zenfone 5


Our Score


User Score


  • Great screen
  • Decent camera for the price
  • Excellent value


  • Battery life not great
  • A few camera bugs to squish

Review Price £149.99

Key Features: Dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560; 2GB RAM; 8/16GB storage; 5-inch 720p IPS screen

Manufacturer: Asus

First reviewed 27th August, 2014

What is the Asus Zenfone 5?

The Asus Zenfone 5 comes alongside the smaller Zenfone 4 and the slightly larger Zenfone 6, and it’s our pick of the bunch.

The arrival of the excellent sub-£150, 5-inch Motorola Moto G2 makes it difficult to recommend the Zenfone 5, but after the disappointment of the more diminutive Asus Zenfone 4 this is a big step in the right direction for Asus. It’s one of the Taiwanese company’s first phones headed for the mainstream, and it’s a bit of a revelation.

At around £119 SIM-free, the 5-inch Zenfone 5 is one of the biggest handsets you can get at the price. Although the battery life isn’t great, it offers decent hardware, a good camera, and represents excellent value for money.

Zenfone 5 17

Asus Zenfone 5 – Design

The Zenfone 5 is the middle of the range of 3 Zenfones, all featuring slightly curved plastic backs, and is available in a handful of colours. As seen on its Zenbook laptops, and somewhat of an Asus signature look, the range also features a little metal lip underneath the screen with a shiny finish textured with concentric circles.

SEE ALSO: Best Cheap Mobile Phones 2014

Zenfone 5 3

Some of the more subtle finishing touches that we saw in the smaller Zenfone 4 are missing, simply because the larger handset doesn’t suit them. Although it’s not a bad looking phone this gives the Zenfone 5 a slight clunkiness and a look that smacks of inexperience.

The Zenfone 5 embraces more vibrant colours than its smaller predecessor. It comes in comes in bold, metallic red or purple rear cover colours as well as white and black.

SEE ALSO: Best Android Phones Round-up

Zenfone 5 39

The rear cover is a removable plastic plate with a soft touch feel. At first we found the edges to be a little severe, but once you’re used to the shape you start to notice the nice, tactile finish more.

One of the great features of the Zenfone 5 is that everything is designed to be within easy reach. After the initial bed-in period that comes with any larger phone, we found it fairly easy to use one-handed. While the screen isn’t as super-slim as the likes of the LG G2, and at a rather beefier 72.8mm width and 10.3mm thick, the curvature of the phone’s back makes it easier to handle. And the power/volume buttons are kept on the side, within (mostly) easy reach of your thumb.

Zenfone 5 35

Before we praise the Zenfone 5 too much, it is a little bit trickier to handle than the smaller Samsung Galaxy S5, and as its soft keys do not light up it’s can be a bit tricky to use in the dark. But this phone is a third of the price and therefore gets a whole bucketful of the benefit of the doubt.

How is the phone so cheap? Asus has had to price the phone aggressively as the company has effectively no track record of making mainstream phones, and the version we’re looking at lacks 4G. We have seen an LTE version advertised, but as it sells for £250 – a similar price to the Nexus 5 and LG G2 – it seems a lot less attractive. Cheap is the key word when it comes to selling the Zenfone 5.

Asus Zenfone 5 – Screen

Recently, we took a look at the Asus Zenfone 4, and one of its numerous disappointments was that the screen was pretty rubbish. A TN-type panel and low display resolution led to universally uninspiring experience.

The Asus Zenfone 5 is a completely different beast. It has a 5-inch IPS display of 720p resolution.

Zenfone 5 25

Ideally, a 5-inch phone screen should have a 1080p screen, but we’re very happy with resolution given the asking price. Sharpness is pretty good, and the lower screen resolution is only totally obvious if you get very close up.

For all you pixel peepers out there, this resolution and screen size gives you pixel density of 294ppi. That’s not bad and not much less than the Retina 326ppi sharpness of the iPhone 5S.

Other aspects of the screen are also great, given you can get on-board for as little as £150. Contrast and colours are strong but natural-looking fresh out of the box, and you even get a bit of control over how the display looks.

The Asus Zenfone 5 comes with a little screen customisation utility called Asus Splendid. It lets you tweak the colour temperature and saturation, giving you very easy and effective tweaking over the character of the display. There’s also a hue control, but it’s pretty much useless as you can only really make your display look worse with it.

Asus Splendid

From an image quality perspective, the Asus Zenfone 5 has an extremely satisfying screen, one that – like the Motorola Moto G – sets a standard for what we’ll expect (or at least hope for) in the screen of a budget 5-inch phone.

The one clear indication that this isn’t quite a super-high-end screen other than resolution is that there’s pretty significant blue colour shift when you view the display from an extreme, awkward angle. But that’s not exactly a natural, comfortable or healthy position.

It’s impressive, and really not all that far off the top 1080p phones in terms of the experience you get.

It also solves a few other issues we saw in the Zenfone 4. The Zenfone 5 has an auto brightness setting, meaning you don’t need to change the screen brightness manually when you go outdoors.

Visibility in sunlight is pretty good too – extremely good for a £150 phone. A fairly good slimline screen architecture and very good top brightness make this phone a joy to use just about anywhere. If anything, we found that the auto brightness setting can be a bit generous at times – but this is only a concern for battery life.

There’s no scrimping on the screen’s top layer either. The Zenfone 5 has a Gorilla Glass 3 top surface. It’s hard, scratch-resistant, and shows none of the flexing of the Zenfone 4 (even though that phone supposedly has a Gorilla Glass screen too.

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January 27, 2014, 2:04 am

I am anticipating this fone so much its gonna be awesome


July 15, 2014, 8:21 am

$155.99 Free shipping

Person chap

August 28, 2014, 10:01 am

Lenovo P780. Same size. Same price bracket, roughly. But a class leading battery. 4,000mAh.


August 28, 2014, 3:37 pm

Priced too high in the UK. This phone is available in India for around £100 which makes it a bargain!


August 29, 2014, 12:41 pm

That's a stone cold bargain. Still... £150-180 isn't bad when you look at what it gets you elsewhere!


August 30, 2014, 12:10 pm

I love asus zenfone


August 31, 2014, 12:00 am

there is 2 different models of the phone if you want it cheaper you'll be dropping quality and power (1.6ghz cpu, 1gb of ram and 8gb storage) its $183 in Australia for the 2.0ghz cpu, 2gb ram and 16gb storage. so look at the specs more than the price as there is a big difference between the 2 models....


September 11, 2014, 7:09 am

asus...... i'am very stress with you !!! always confirm READ CONTACT in every application, please what i should to do !!! i'am with asus zenfone 5 2gb ram 16gb ;(

madhava reddy

October 23, 2014, 3:29 pm

please dont buy asus zenfone 5 . while talking resound is coming phone heating toomuch


November 2, 2014, 7:36 pm

great review!

Marcos Paulo Ruppel

December 1, 2014, 4:51 am

That was not a fair review. The comparison kept saying that the difference between Zenfone 5 and most mid-range Android devices like Moto G was not a big deal. It IS a big difference. Moto G and Xperia T3 stutters a lot, specially after installing common social apps like Facebook and Twitter, while the same does not happen on Zenfone 5. And the 2GB of RAM does make a big difference, while I used my phone, it kept marking about 600~400MB of free RAM, meaning that Android 4.4 DOES require more than 1GB to run properly.
PhoneArena has a more complete and proper review of this device.

Johnny Derpp

January 14, 2015, 1:34 pm

got the T00F model. apparently Antutu does not recognize it as a Zenfone 5 hehe.

Johnny Derpp

January 14, 2015, 1:43 pm

Actually there are more than 2 models... some 8gb rom - 1gb ram units came with z2580... 16gb rom - 2gb ram ones came with z2580. others come in mix. i even got to see ones that came with z2520 chipsets.. So beware when buying. As for me i was lucky to get the T00F model at a 10% discount (16gb rom - 2gb ram - z2580) :)


February 16, 2015, 9:37 pm

Our entire group of friends bought the Lenovo P780 (14 of us) the battery life is fantastic...But like all chinese products it does not last...one year down the line the phone starts hanging...Battery life goes down from almost 2 days on a full charge to one day...also in india to repair it the company says it will take 3 weeks & no replacement phone is given to use while its being repaired...

emylee dela rosa

June 29, 2015, 3:04 am

how can i activate my video call in messenger and viber?

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