There are two distinct variants of this phone, the Asus Zenfone 5Q, one for the American market, the other for the global market, but, strangely, both devices have overlapped and crept into each other’s markets. There is one that ships with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630, backed by an Octa-core 2.2 GHz Cortex-A53, and an Adreno 508.
That’s the one targeting the American market. The global one comes in Qualcomm Snapdragon 430, an Octa-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53 as well as an Adreno 503 GPU. It gets more divisive. Both are available in a 3GB RAM, 32GB storage variant as well as a 4GB RAM, 64GB storage variant. Almost everything else is the same.
They both have a 6 inch full HD display which is amazing, with rich colours and high responsiveness.
The dual rear cameras at the back consist of a 16MP sensor as well as a 6P wide angle lens camera that has LED flash and HD support.
Upfront is another dual array consisting of a 20MP sensor and a 6P wide angle lens camera similar to the one at the back. Again, the array comes with an LED flash.
Both variants have expandable storage that gets to 512GB via microSD. For connectivity, both variants are built for LTE networks, though there have been reports of non-LTE versions floating around.
The American version gets “AC” WiFi support, while the global one gets basic “b/g/n” WiFi.
Even Bluetooth is split between version 4.1 for the global version against version 4.2 for the American one. There is also a fingerprint sensor at the back, which in this case fits there well, as it is a budget phone. It’s easy to see why the phones are going all over the place.
They both have plenty to offer and both have the sort of cut-backs one could live with without really feeling the pinch. The software is very well built, offering simplicity and smooth performance in one package.
I must also say that the glass back and overall design make it one of the best designed phones of the year. The 3,300mAh battery gives it a 30-hour run on a 3G network, impressive by all standards.
As with all good things though, it has some drawbacks. The cameras are probably the greatest disappointment. The 6P cameras feel misplaced – it is as if Asus needed to simply have another camera in there to make it seem like they can deliver on a dual array arrangement.
This is unfortunate because a well-built single array arrangement could have worked just as well, probably even better, but, in this case, more seemed ideal when it wasn’t.
It is also a step backward, shipping with Android 7.1 (Nougat), which, for many, might not seem like a major issue, but still, feels like a major compromise.
That said, how many of you can afford to part with Sh30,000 for a phone? Because that’s what it costs.