Saturday, July 20, 2019

More than just a phone

Feb 01. 2019
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By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
The Nation Weekend

7,785 Viewed

The new Asus ZenFone comes packed with artificial intelligence to cater to your every whim

The new flagship smartphone from Asus, the ZenFone 5Z, is smart, strong and impressively fast. It’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor and the version I tested was equipped with 6 gigabytes of working memory and had 128 GB of internal storage with a UFS 2.1 memory chip. 

It looks sleek too with a glass-covered body built from special aerospace-grade aluminium that’s light but strong. Zircon-sandblasting technology and an intricate eight-layer optical coating process give it a beautiful finish and a final varnish coat under the glass blesses it with a deep, rich colour and Asus’s signature concentric circle pattern etched into its rear panel. This allows its reflection to shimmer and change when viewed form different angles.

Both front and back are protected by strong Gorilla Glass panels that have 2.5D contoured edges. 

The phone is very slim at just 7.7mm thick and although the 5Z has a smaller frame than its 5.5-inch predecessor, it now has a 6.2-inch display.

That Super IPS display comes with high resolution of 2,246x1080 pixels with 550 nits brightness and supports the DCI-P3 colour gamut.

The 5Z was really fast during my test. The menus and touchscreen were very responsive and games and applications ran fast and smoothly, as did HD video clips. 

I used the AnTuTu Benchmark v7.1.1 to measure ZenFone 5Z’s performance and it got an impressive score of 270,656 points.

The 5Z, which supports LTE CAT18, also has fast Internet connection. I found that applications were downloaded very fast and my snapshots were backed up to my Google Photos cloud storage in no time.

The Ookla Speedtest app measured the connection speed for me and ZenFone 5Z got a download speed of 85.0 Mbps and an upload speed of 39.2 Mbps.

ZenFone 5Z also sounds good with 2nd Generation dual NXP9874 Smart Amps that power dual speakers. This allows the 5Z to play music at maximum volume clearly and loudly but without distortion. And the 5Z supports Hi-Res Audio that is 4x CD quality. I tested it with Sony’s MDR-1ABT Hi-Res headphones and the music sounded great with good details and powerful bass.

The 5Z also supports DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Virtual Surround, meaning you’ll love the virtual surround sound when you wear the headphones to watch a movie.

ZenFone 5Z has a dual camera system for the rear cameras and they use Artificial Intelligence to capture images with good quality.

The main rear camera has 12-megapixel resolution, using a Sony IMX363 sensor with large 1.4 micro pixel. The lens is bright with f/1.8 aperture.

The second rear camera uses Omnivision 8856 sensor with 8MP resolution and a f/2 aperture 120-degree wide-angle lens.

The main camera is good for taking portrait shots and focusing on isolated objects as well for night and low-light shots. The second 120-degree wide-angle camera is the best choice for snapping broad landscapes, in confined areas or capturing more of a scene from the same spot.

In Auto mode, the camera uses AI data model to detect up to 16 different scenes and subjects to select the most optimised setting for the current scene. Asus says its AI data model is created by referencing thousands of stock photos stored on Asus servers and that the data model will be upgraded with each firmware update of the smartphone.

The 16 different scenes and subjects include People, Food, Dog, Cat, Sunset, Sky, Green field, Ocean, Plant, Night view and Stage. Once the camera identifies the scene, it will apply the ideal settings using the AI data model for the detected scene or subject.

During the test the AI worked effectively to identify scenes and allowed me to capture beautiful photos with ease.

And ZenFone 5Z comes with AI-powered Portrait mode that lets you achieve professional-looking shots of people or objets with blurred background or bokeh effect in real time. The front camera can also use this mode but the rear cameras have better quality because ZenFone 5Z uses two lenses simultaneously to add an even more precise depth perception.

The Portrait mode can be activated from the top row of the main interface. This mode automatically creates pleasing portraits of subjects against an artistically blurred background depending on your choice of aperture value. Simply slide the aperture value bar to get the effect you want. The less aperture value, the greater the blurred effect.

I was able to capture beautiful shots with the rear dual camera system and all the portraits had a pleasantly blurred background.

The rear camera also comes with Beauty mode. Here too, the camera uses AI to detect the gender of human subjects and apply beautification accordingly. Asus says the mode references more than two million combinations of different races, skin colours, skin tones, ages and genders to find the perfect beautification settings that best suit the subject best. And the AI beautification can recognise human subject faces within 0.03 of a second.

If you are an advanced photographer, you can also select the Pro mode that allows you to adjust focus, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity value, exposure compensation and white balance value manually.

The 5Z has multiple levels of biometric security. There’s a fingerprint scanner with a damp finger reading capability that works to unlock the phone.

The 5Z also has Face Unlock functions and they worked fast and effectively during my test.

ZenFone 5Z has 3,300 mAh battery with BoostMaster and AI Charging technology. The AI Charging allows the phone to detect your daily charging patterns and estimates the periods when you let it charge for longer amounts of time. It then varies its charging pattern to reduce heat or speed up charging as needed. The BoostMaster allows for very fast recharging –just five minutes is enough to give two hours of talk time. 

ASUS ZenFone 5Z with 6GB RAM and 128 GB storage retails for Bt15,990 and the model with 8GB RAM and 256 GB storage Bt19,990.

Key Specs

Network: GSM, HSPA+, LTE CAT18

OS: Android 8.0

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 octa-core processor

CPU: Adreno 630

Memory: 6GB DDR4 RAM

Storage: 128 GB UFS2.1 storage, expandable with microSD by up to 2TB

n Display: 6.2-inch Full HD+ (2246 by 1080) Super IPS+ display, 550 nits brightness, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass

Cameras: Main rear: 12MP Sony IMX363 sensor, f/1.8 lens; Second rear: 8MP sensor, f/2.2 120-degree lens; Front: 8MP f/2.0 84-degree lens

SIM: Dual nano SIM slots

Connectivity: Wireless: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, USB 2.0 Type C, audio jack

GPS: GPS, aGPS, Glonass, BDS

Audio: Dual NXP9874 Smart Amp powered dual speakers

Battery: 3300 mAh with BoostMaster & AI Charging

Dimensions: 75.6 x 153 x 7.7mm

Weight: 155 g

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