ASUS ZenFone 5Z

We've seen ASUS take an aggressive stance in India's budget segment with the ZenFone Max Pro M1, and the Taiwanese manufacturer is now doing the same in the mid-range category with the launch of the ZenFone 5Z. The ZenFone 5Z sits at the top of the ZenFone lineup, and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset.

The phone also features a 6.2-inch 19:9 FHD+ display, dual 12MP + 8MP cameras at the back with OIS and EIS, 8MP front shooter, 3300mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0, Wi-Fi ac, FM radio, Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm jack, and a high-fidelity DAC.

On the software side of things, the ZenFone 5Z is running ZenUI based on Android 8.0 Oreo, and ASUS has committed to rolling out the Android P update shortly after it becomes available. ASUS significantly dialed back on the customizations with ZenUI, and the interface doesn't feel as bloated as before.

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I've been using the device for just over a week, and the interface feels much more polished from even a year ago. ASUS is heavily touting the AI capabilities of ZenUI, with the phone featuring an AI-assisted screen calibration tool that adjusts the color balance of the panel, an AI ringtone mode that automatically adjusts the ringtone volume based on ambient noise, and a host of camera tweaks. I'll delve into the AI features in the review next week, so stay tuned.

The ZenFone 5Z isn't the first device to feature the Snapdragon 845 in India — the OnePlus 6 has that distinction — but ASUS is effectively undercutting OnePlus by launching the ZenFone 5Z for ₹29,999 ($440). By contrast, the OnePlus 6 retails for ₹34,999 ($510) in the country. ASUS undertook a similar strategy with the M1 in the budget segment, and it's clear that the manufacturer is looking to regain momentum in the country, and isn't willing to lose out on short-term profits to do so.

ASUS is selling the ZenFone 5Z in two color options — Midnight Blue and Meteor Silver — and the base variant with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage will be available for ₹29,999 ($440), and a version with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will retail for ₹32,999 ($480). The high-end variant with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage will be available for ₹36,999 ($540). The ZenFone 5Z will go up for sale exclusively on Flipkart starting July 9.

OnePlus went unchallenged in India's mid-range segment for the last two years, but we finally have an alternative in the ZenFone 5Z.

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