Asus’ new Zenfone smartphones are clever and colourful little blowers, with a size to suit all and a price to match. Starting at just £99, can the Zenfone be the Moto G killer we’ve waited for?
Some phones have come close, but we’re yet to see a phone that packs more value and fantastic features for just £100 than the Motorola Moto G. But Asus’ new Zenfone range might just prove the ultimate competition. Starting at a measly £99 for the 4-inch model, and building in size to a mighty 6-inch phablet, the Zenfones are a colourful bunch of Android smartphones rocking Android 4.3 and Intel processors for nippy performance.
We’ve had a play with all three models: the Zenfone 4 (4-incher), Zenfone 5 (5-incher) and Zenfone 6 (you guessed it, 6-inches) and so far we’re impressed, considering the enticingly low asking price. Here’s our early thoughts on the Zenfone 4 and Zenfone 6, and you can now check out our full Zenfone 4 review and Zenfone 6 review.
Asus Zenfone 4: Specs and features
The Asus Zenfone 4 is the baby of the bunch at just 4-inches, which definitely feels dinky compared to most modern mobiles – even the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact and the HTC One Mini 2 were 4.3 and 4.5-inches. The only other notable phone that’s as wee as the Zenfone 4 is the iPhone, something that’s set to change when Apple unveils a 4.7-inch model next month.
The Zenfone 4 is a chunky little chap (11.5mm thick), but that extra girth makes it comfortable to clutch, with a rounded rear that slips nicely into your palm. All three Zenfones sport a jutting lip at the bottom, with a subtle brushed circular finish similar to Asus’ Zenbook laptops. It adds a bit of extra bulk to the phone, but it’s not intrusive.
We love that more phone manufacturers are taking a cue from Nokia and splashing their budget phones with colour. The Zenfone 4’s blue back (also available in red, yellow, white and black) is undeniably cute, and we just wish that it extended to that front lip too. And like Nokia’s Lumia 630 etc, you can prise off the back to reveal the SIM card slot and a microSD memory card slot.
The Zenfone 4’s 4-inch screen is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to keep it protected, and it’s a decent budget display. It won’t exactly blind you on top brightness but it’s powerful enough to counter a bit of sun glare, and viewing angles are respectable.
Sadly the Moto G’s screen is still more vibrant, with deeper blacks, and a sharper resolution. But at 800×480, the Zenfone 4’s panel is easily crisp enough to browse the web. And we had surprisingly little trouble typing out emails considering the size of the screen (and our fat, cumbersome fingers).
That Intel processor seems to handle everyday tasks without breaking a sweat, and games seem to play smoothly too.
As of now, you get the older Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but we’ve been promised an update to 4.4 KitKat soon. And Asus’ ZenUI gives the Zenfone range a fresh new look, with plenty of shortcuts added to Google’s standard design.
The 5-megapixel camera packs in tons of features, and we’ll be testing them all out this weekend to see if the Zenfone 4 can destroy the Moto G’s one weak point: the sub-standard snapper. Check out our full review (coming soon) for more info.
Check out our full Zenfone 4 review for more info.
Asus Zenfone 4: UK price and release date
The Asus Zenfone 4 can be pre-ordered right now from a string of UK retailers, like Currys, PC World and John Lewis. It costs just £99 and ships on September 1st.
Asus Zenfone 6: Specs and features
Our Zenfone 5 model wasn’t the final UK version, so we’ve skipped straight to the Zenfone 6, which is the biggest of the bunch. This 6-inch behemoth may be bigger than most other phablets, even the freshly-leaked Samsung Galaxy Note 4, but it’s also a lot more affordable at just £249.
The Zenfone 6 is quite the hand-filler, but it feels like Asus makes better use of the space on offer, filling most of it with the screen. At 9.9mm it’s actually slimmer than the 4-inch model, and again it comes in a range of cool colours, with Samsung-style poncy names (charcoal black, pearl white, cherry red and champagne gold).
Android 4.3 has again been covered with Asus’ ZenUI, looking much the same as on the Zenfone 4. There’s also an Intel Atom processor stashed inside, plus 16 or 32GB of storage (expandable via microSD).
On the back you get a 13-megapixel camera, packing all the same features as the Zenfone 4 plus a ‘low light’ mode that shoots 3-megapixel snaps in dim conditions. And around the front there’s a 2-megapixel camera for getting your selfie on.
So, is that 6-inch screen any good? Well, it’s not as sharp as we’d hoped with a 720p resolution instead of Full HD 1080p. But it’s a step up from the Zenfone 4, with better contrast and excellent viewing angles.
Check out our full Zenfone 6 review for more.
Asus Zenfone 6: UK price and release date
The Asus Zenfone 6 can also be pre-ordered from today, shipping on September 1st. It costs £249 in the UK.
Read next: the best affordable 4G phones