Asus Zenfone 6 – Software and ZenUI
The Asus Zenfone 6 runs Android 4.3 with the ZenUI, as seen in the other phones in the Zenfone range. This isn’t the latest version of Android, but differences between core versions of the system software are often steamrollered by changes made in the custom interfaces that sit on top anyway.
ZenUI doesn’t mess too much with the basic way Android works, but it does fiddle with some elements and applies a tweaked look to the entire system.
For example, the Zenfone 6 has a split drop-down notifications bar. Flick down on the right of the screen and you get your settings controls and toggles. Flick on the left and you get your notifications.
In the 4-inch Zenfone 4 we thought this was a dreadful idea. But it makes perfect sense in the Zenfone 6, where you’re more than likely to have two hands involved when using the phone.
However, sharing the interface with much smaller phones often backfires for the Zenfone 6 too. There are zero optimisations specifically for the phone’s large screen size.
In the apps menu, there are just four icons fit into the screen’s width, and both the home screen and settings menu are similarly languorous in their dealing with the giant 6-inch screen. The phone offers no reason, no justification for the 6-inch screen, so you’d better be prepared to find your own.
Asus Zenfone 6 – Apps and Performance
As we found in the Zenfone 5, while ZenUI doesn’t add masses to Android, it doesn’t detract from it hugely either. General performance is very good, with very little lag. Lower-cost phones with custom UIs often slow you down by having little pauses between traditions, or as widgets load. But here everything is quite smooth.
The Zenfone 6 doesn’t need a top-end processor to get this either. It uses the 2GHz Intel Atom Z2580 with 2GB of RAM. The generous RAM probably has a lot to do with the phone’s good performance, so make sure you get the 2GB edition (there are 1GB versions outside of the UK).
Intel’s Atom Z2580 seems to be a little bit faster than the Snapdragon 400 used on many mid-range phones these days, including the pricier big-screen Sony Xperia T3. In the Geekbench 3 benchmark, it scores 1303 points – more than Snapdragon 400 phones, but still way off Snapdragon 800 ones like the Nexus 5.
Digging a little deeper, the Intel Atom Z2580 is actually only a dual-core processor where every Android under the sun seems to be at least quad-core these days. However, Intel’s cores pack a real punch.
It’s also worth noting that while the Zenfone 6 has a processor of the same series as the Zenfone 4 and Zenfone 5, it’s actually significantly more powerful than either thanks to its higher clock speed.
We found that, happily, it has enough power to play high-end games with little or no dips in performance. We have a feeling it might suffer if this was a 1080p phone, but the partnership of Z2580 and a 720p screen works well.