REVIEW: Is the ASUS ZenFone 5 ‘intelligent’ enough to be taken to outdoor trips?

It was in April 2018 when we first laid our eyes on the ASUS Zenfone 5 – a mid-range smartphone that can easily be mistaken as a premium flagship at that time. Set at a very affordable price, it was one of the firsts to introduce impressive AI features that can serve as your assistant in everything – from camera adjustments down to battery saving; thus, this smartphone opted to use the title of “intelligent phone”.

Fast forward to the ASUS Summer Sale Madness of 2019, you can now see the phone being sold for P5,000 less than its original price. The price reduction is already a wow factor, but let’s see if its current price and phone performance are enough to keep up with our summer getaway trip!

Note: Photos with the ASUS Zenfone watermark are unedited and were taken using the Zenfone 5.

Battery Performance

With 3,300 mAh battery, we were able to maximize the use of the phone for more than 12 hours. This includes more or less 3 hours of data usage and Spotify on the way to our destination and non-stop photography for the rest of the day. We left Manila at 11:00 AM, got to the destination around 2:00 PM, turned off data since the signal in the area was weak and then I still had it on until I fell asleep past 11 PM.

For its battery capacity, the Zenfone 5 can serve its purpose well, especially for day hikes wherein bringing heavy powerbanks are out of the picture. Great for quick day tours, too!

AI Cameras that Think for You

Of course, taking photos is a must for every traveler who wants to document their adventure. In our case, it’s for blogging purposes. Packed with AI photography, the phone was quick to adjust to every setting but it seemed to work better in well-lit areas. It has a 12MP+8MP dual rear cameras equipped with a Sony IMX363 sensor and 120-degree field of view for landscape shots. For selfies, you can use its 8MP front camera and beauty settings. There’s also a separate SelfieMaster app if you want to look good in your selfie after a long hike.

Selfie test
HDR on
HDR off
Normal view
120-degree wide angle view

If you’re into mobile photography, Zenfone 5’s cameras are pretty decent for its current price range. Aside from its AI Scene Detection (16 scenes available), the rear camera can also do panoramic shots, time-lapse, slow motion videos, and photos with depth effect or filters.

Moving subjects
Focus on the flower!
Night shot
Zoom in, focus on the lamp

Here’s where it may need a bit more assistance, though: I tried using the selfie timer to take a full-body shot from afar, but it ended up distorted (zoom in face and hand) probably due to the sudden movement. Not as good as when you select which part of the frame to focus on.

The only photo that failed in the bunch

Display and Build

Let’s talk about aesthetics. Yes, it does look similar with the iPhone X, but I’m not really a fan of Apple products (sorry, iPhone users!) so I prefer Zenfone 5’s overall appearance, design, and colors. The 6.2-inch display is well-protected with a 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass so it’s durable even if you put it in your pocket while walking or if you accidentally drop it from a reasonable height. It’s only 155 grams and it can perfectly fit in your hand so you don’t need to worry that much about the latter.

The location of the fingerprint sensor, volume keys, and lock/power button are also worth noting, given its strategic placement. I love how all buttons are on the right side and only the SIM tray slot is on the left. This makes watching videos and taking photos on landscape mode easier. I never had the problem of accidentally turning off the phone or adjusting the volume while clasping it on a selfie stick or tripod. This has happened to me way too many times on other phone models!

At the bottom of the phone, you’ll find a USB Type-C port (a big yes!), the loudspeaker, microphone, and audio port (because we love wired earphones).

Verdict and Price

What I like most about it is that it knows what you’re looking at – may be it be plants, flowers, green fields, animals, food, or people. Like a real-life pal who takes your photos, Zenfone 5 also randomly suggests new photo effects that make these shots look better. You can compare with your original shot through a long press and instantly save the new version to your Gallery.

Face Unlock works smoothly as well. The quick facial recognition becomes super helpful whenever I see a scene that can quickly disappear (e.g. a cat doing a cute pose). Same goes for the fingerprint scanner at the back!

Another thing I like about this phone is its Auto Color Temperature which enables the BlueLight Filter when needed. No need to manually adjust your screen brightness every single day with the Zenfone 5.

Everything mentioned above, added with a Snapdragon 636 octa-core chipset, Adreno 509 GPU, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage, I’d say this “intelligent phone” is truly intelligent enough to be taken as a travel buddy this summer. Would highly recommend if you’re on a budget and you want a phone that can perform well during your day hike. It can think for itself so no need for you to manually control its every move. Zenfone 5 is like a cooperative travel buddy who’s always ready to go, takes a long time before needing a charge of energy, and game to make your photos look Instagram-worthy! 

You can get your own intelligent travel bud for only P14,995 – an awesome deal, I must say.


Display 6.2-inch Full HD (2246x 1080) Super IPS display
90% screen-to-body ratio
Auto Color Temperature
Smart Screen On
Corning Gorilla Glass for screen protection
Design Front and rear 2.5D curved glass display
Dimensions 75.6 x 153 x 7.7 mm/ 155 grams
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 Mobile Platform with 14nm, 64-bit Octa-core Processor with AI capabilities and AI Boost
636 Mobile Platform
GPU Qualcomm Adreno 509
Memory 4GB RAM / 64GB ROM
Storage 64GB EMCP
Main Rear Camera 12MP Sony IMX363 flagship sensor
F1.8 aperture
83⁰ field of view
24mm focal length
Second Rear Camera 8MP with 120⁰ wide-angle camera
200% wider view
AI Photograpy AI Photography:
AI Scene Detection in 16 types
AI Photo Learning
Real-time portrait & beautification
Rear LED Flash Yes
Main Front Camera 8MP with F2.0 aperture
Auto (with Night HDR and Portrait), Beauty, Selfie Panorama, and GIF Animation
OS ASUS ZenUI 5.0 on Android O, with future upgrades to P
Battery 3300 mAh with BoostMaster
AI Charging Yes
AI Ringtone Yes
Audio Dual speaker with dual NXP Smart AMP
Hi-Res Audio
DTS Headphone X
Dual internal microphones with ASUS Noise Reduction
Audio CODEC integrated into PMIC
Connectivity 600 Mbps (Cat 12/13 LTE)   Wired: USB 2.0 Type C, 3.5 mm combo audio jack
SIM Cards Dual 4G SIM
Radio FM
Fingerprint Scanner Yes
Facial Recognition Yes
Colors Midnight Blue, Meteor Silver
Weight 155g

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What’s the difference between Zenfone 5, 5Q, and 5Z? READ MORE:

Smartphone to intelligent phone: ASUS unveils Zenfone Series that can think for you

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