In an age of lookalike phones and steep competition, hardware makers need to be creative. And, while last year was all about squeezing in extra display around a cutout display, the trend in mid-2019 is to work around that concept.
ASUS today joined the ranks of phone makers offering up an interesting design choice for its latest device, the ZenFone 6. Moreover, the new handset also packs incredibly compelling hardware with a competitive price.
The flagship-worthy phone follows on the heels of the OnePlus 7 in that it’s essentially all-screen on the front. Rather than a front-facing camera that pops up from inside the chassis, the ZenFone 6 flips its around. Indeed, when not used for selfies, the camera faces the rear of the phone.
Like most top-tier devices of 2019, the ASUS ZenFone 6 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor. Bolstered by up to 8GB RAM, it can house up to 256GB internal storage. What’s more, it has a microSD expansion card slot for even more media.
The ZenFone 6 has a 6.4-inch FHD+ LCD screen with support for HDR10. Because it’s not an AMOLED the fingerprint reader is not hidden under the display.
The phone also houses a capacious 5,000mAh battery which is considerably higher than what most handset makers are doing. Charging is fast at 18W but not quite as quick as what some flagships can do. It’s a trade-off that ASUS thinks customers will appreciate. Oh, and it does reverse charging which means the phone can be used to charge other devices. Just make sure to have the proper USB C cable.
The phone employs a 48-megapixel f/1.79 main camera (with laser focus) and a 13-megapixel 125-degree ultra-wide camera plus a dual-LED flash. As a reminder, this is for both front and back. There’s no optical stabilization because of the tight fit, but both cameras support up to 4K video recording.
For those worried about the camera snapping off in a fall, fear not. Similar to how the pop-up camera on the OnePlus 7 Pro retracts, this one immediately jumps back into place when a drop is detected. ASUS says this mechanism has been test to work on more than 100,000 flips and drops.
Other noteworthy features include an aluminum body, Gorilla Glass 6, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Not present, however, are wireless charging and water resistance.
The ZenFone runs Android 9 Pie with the ZenUI 6 and figures to be a near-stock experience. A system-wide dark theme is present as is a dedicated hardware “Smart Key” which can toggle Google Assistant or a custom action like do not disturb or screen shot.
ASUS is on the Android Q Beta program so the ZenFone 6 could be quick to see the next version of Android as well as “R” when it’s released.
While most phone makers are content with asking $800 or more for a flagship, ASUS keeps the price of its ZenFone much lower. In fact, the starting price is just €499 (about $557 USD) for the 6GB/64GB model.