Which flagship killer is for you? ASUS ZenFone 5Z vs OnePlus 6

Unveiled back at MWC 2018 in February, the ASUS ZenFone 5Z finally went up for pre-order in the US this week at an affordable $499. And the price puts it in direct competition with the OnePlus 6.

The affordable flagship category has been seeing an intense amount of competition in recent years. It was initially dominated by OnePlus and Xiaomi, but now entrants like ASUS are coming out with very compelling alternatives.

Which brings us to today’s question. How does the new ASUS ZenFone 5Z stack up against the flagship killer? Keep reading below to get an idea.

On the outside

Both phones look and feel very premium thanks to their metal and glass design. Each comes with a notch, but the display cutout on the ASUS phone is wider than the one you’ll find one the OP6. The chin at the bottom is also slightly thicker.

As for the rear panel, ASUS brings back its iconic concentric circle design, which gives a phone a distinctive look. The OP6 has its own unique set of finishes including Mirror Black, Sandstone White and the newly announced Red. There’s also the more classic Midnight Black.

Moving on to the display, the ZenFone 5Z includes a 6.2-inch IPS LCD with FHD+ resolution and 19:9 aspect ratio. In contrast, the OP6 has a 6.28-inch AMOLED display, which is often considered the superior option. The flagship killer features the same resolution and aspect ratio as the ASUS phone.

Both models give you the option to hide the notch by adding black bars on each side of the cutout. They also include a fingerprint scanner centrally positioned on the back. Although the OP6’s is candy bar-shaped, while the ZenFone 5Z’s circular.

The two models also include a face unlock feature.

On the inside

The two phones are among the most powerful on the market. Both rely on a Snapdragon 845 processor and offer a base version of 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Customers can also pick up variants with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, but in ASUS’ case, it’s not available in all markets. The ZenFone 5Z model that went up for pre-sale in the US will ship with the base configuration.

Now, let’s talk battery. The ZenFone 5Z ships with a 3,300 mAh powerhouse, which should be able to deliver a day’s worth of usage consistently. The OP6 bundles a 3,300 mAh battery too, so it will also last you an entire day on a single charge. Sometimes even more.

Fast charging is supported via each phone’s USB Type-C. OnePlus uses its own Dash Charging technology which works great, while ASUS sticks to Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 3.0. But while both phones feature a glass black, neither of them offers wireless charging. This is not necessarily a deal-breaker, but it would be nice to have.

We should also mention here that the ZenFone 5Z has stereo speakers, while the OP6 lacks that. In contrast, the OP6 is splash resistant, while the ZenFone doesn’t have any type of water protection.

Photography

The OP6 is outfitted with a good set of main cameras, which were very much improved since the 5T. The phone features two 20-megapixel + 16-megapixel sensors on the back. The main one is now 19% larger, so it’s capable of capturing more light. The camera also boasts optical image stabilization.

As for the ASUS ZenFone 5Z, it boasts a 12-megapixel (with PDAF) + 8-megapixel (120-degree field of view) dual-camera on the back. ASUS has relied heavily on AI-based features to differentiate the camera from the other devices in this category.

For example, the phone has an AI-based scene detection feature that automatically selects the optimal shooting mode in a particular environment. For example, if you’re taking pics at night, the camera will automatically switch to night mode.

The OP6 has its own Pro mode, from where you can fiddle with more advanced settings. But it does not rely on AI to help you take better photos.

Moving on, the OnePlus 6 has a 16-megapixel selfie snapper with Portrait mode, while the ZenFone 5Z boasts a more modest 8-megapixel selfie shooter.

When it comes to video, both phones can shoot 4K video at 60fps, as well as 1080p at 240fps.

Software

It’s well-known that OxygenOS is one of the best implementations of Android currently available, with OnePlus building a few useful additions on top of a near-stock experience. The OP ships with Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box and is among the phones that are part of Google’s Android P beta program.

But if you’re a fan of stock Android, you might not agree with the ZenFone 5Z extremely customized approach to Android, called ZenUI. Once again ASUS is pushing AI integration here, so the phone comes with a series of AI optimizations backed in.

There’s OptiFlex that trains the system to load certain apps faster than other. Another smart feature is AI Charging which learns how to charge your phone by using your past charging habits to extend the battery’s lifespan.

The ZenFone 5Z also offers a feature similar to Samsung’s AR Emoji. It’s called Zenmoji and it uses to front-facing camera and its AI algorithms to map the user’s face in 3D and create avatars.

Verdict

It’s hard to ignore the super-affordable price of the ASUS ZenFone 5Z ($499). More affordable than the OnePlus 6, which starts at $529, the new ASUS flagship is a premium offering with top specs that packs additional goodies like Zenmoji, stereo speakers and some AI features.

AI is all the rage right now, so if you want to give it a go without breaking the bank, the ZenFone 5Z might be what you’re looking for.

On the other hand, if you want a phone with an AMOLED display or to be able to experience the joy that’s Oxygen OS, you’ll go for the OnePlus 6.