The ASUS Zenfone 5Q is having an identity crisis. In some countries, the device is actually called as the Zenfone 5 Lite, making it the most affordable member of ASUS’ current smartphone line-up.
But for some reason, the device is named as the ASUS Zenfone 5Q here in the Philippines. We’re not sure why the branding was changed, but we’re glad that it was able to make it here.
The local market is already saturated with tons of midrange smartphones. As an emerging country, there’s a constant demand for this kind of devices as they provide almost-flagship features without breaking the bank.
ASUS Zenfone 5Q Specs
- Android 8.0 Oreo, ASUS ZenUI 5.0
- Dual SIM, Dual Standby
- 6-inch FHD+ IPS display, 2160 x 1080 resolution, ~402ppi
- 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 octa-core processor
- Adreno 508 GPU
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 400GB
- 20-megapixel + 8-megapixel (120-degree wide-angle) dual front cameras
- 16-megapixel + 8-megapixel (120-degree wide-angle) dual rear cameras
- Fingerprint scanner, Face Unlock
- HSPA+, 4G LTE
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, WiFi hotspot
- GPS, A-GPS
- NFC, FM Raio
- microUSB 2.0
- Dimensions: 160.6 x 76.2 x 7.8mm
- Weight: 168g
- 3,300mAh battery
Now that we have it in our hands, we’re excited to see what ASUS did to make the Zenfone 5Q standout from the crowd. Of all the other prominent brands in the midrange market, can ASUS’ offering challenge them?
All that and more shall be revealed in our ASUS Zenfone 5Q review. Let’s start!
Design and Build Quality
People say that first impressions last. And while it is too early to say, I was quite excited to this device thanks to its gorgeous and premium design. The ASUS Zenfone 5Q is made with 2.5D contoured glass, which looks really good in person. But not until it gets bombarded with fingerprint marks.
The ASUS Zenfone 5Q’s glass sandwich setup is being held together by a metal frame. This handset screams premium every time you hold it. However, since it is made with such materials, the Zenfone 5Q is a bit heavy. It has a weight of 168.3g, which is relatively heavier than other competing devices that weighs no more than 160g. Also, its sharp edges don’t make it the most ergonomic thing to hold despite the four corners being rounded.
Additionally, since it is a 6-inch smartphone, this means that the ASUS Zenfone 5Q belong in the big leagues. But thanks to its minimal bezels, the device doesn’t feel as ginormous like other 6-inchers from the past. It has the popular 18:9 aspect ratio, which means that the entire front is occupied by the entire display save for the noticeable top and bottom bezels.
For a quick rundown, we have the said 6-inch IPS FHD+ screen on the front. On top of that are the dual front-facing cameras, an LED notification indicator, ambient light and proximity sensors, and the earpiece for calls. The bottom is empty as the device uses on-screen buttons.
The SIM tray is sitting alone on the left side. It can house two nano SIM cards and a microSD card of up to 2TB.
You can find the physical buttons on the right side. The lock/power button is situated right below the volume controls. I do wish that they are positioned a little lower for easier reachability, something that people with smaller hands would really appreciate. But if you have giant hands like me, this wouldn’t be an issue.
At the top of the ASUS Zenfone 5Q, you can find your 3.5mm headphone jack and a mic for noise-cancellation. While at the bottom there’s the micro USB port, the primary built-in camera, and the loudspeakers. The speakers deliver usable performance. The sound is a bit muffled and distorted. I guess it’s fine for watching YouTube videos or casually listening to music. But if you’re picky and serious about audio quality, you’re better off plugging in headphones or connecting it to an external speaker.
Moving on, we have the other dual-camera at the back, which results to a 4 camera setup all in all. We also have a fingerprint scanner located just a few centimeters below the camera.
The ASUS Zenfone 5Q is one of the most attractive smartphones that we have tested. There’s something about that glass material that makes it look fine and elegant. Also, the back is so reflective that you can literally use it as a mirror.
The ASUS Zenfone 5Q boasts a tall 6-inch Full HD+ IPS display. This 18:9 aspect ratio screen has a resolution of 2160 x 1080 and a total of ~405 pixels-per-inch. Personally, I think an FHD+ resolution on a 6-inch display is the sweet spot. It doesn’t lack sharpness, but it is not too pixel-packed that some of it go to waste.
With that said, the screen can project details with the right fidelity. You can read even the smallest of texts without trouble and individual pixels will be barely visible. Also, having a large screen like this is perfect to make watching movies or playing games more immersive.
Speaking of movies, the color quality here is just adequate. It is good for an IPS panel, but since OLED screens are now around — it is most certainly not the best out there. But if you’re not a display enthusiast or someone who do color grading and such, you’d find the display on this thing satisfactory.
Overall, I’m pleased with the Zenfone 5Q’s display and I can say that it is easily one of its biggest strengths.
Just like most midrange devices, the ASUS Zenfone 5Q comes with both facial recognition and fingerprint scanner technology. But unlike the OPPO F7 and the Vivo V9, which is in the same league as the Zenfone 5Q, it struggles a bit with the face unlock feature.
With the two mentioned competitors, their face unlock feature worked fast and reliably, which is completely the opposite on the Zenfone 5Q. The camera can detect my face correctly for about 70% of the time. But when it works, it takes a second or two before it gets it right.
After it gets your face right, the UI will show a slow transition effect as it gets unlocked. It looks jittery and it feels like the device was not sure and hesitant to unlock the device. Let’s just hope that ASUS is preparing a fix through a software update.
In contrary, the fingerprint scanner works really fast. It has a success rate of about 90%. Not to mention that the scanner is located at a convenient location where our index finger usually rests.
Performance and Hardware
The ASUS Zenfone 5Q comes with a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM, Adreno 508 GPU, and 64GB of expandable storage.
The processor used isn’t the best that we have seen on a device of this caliber, but considering all of the extras that you’d be getting from this device, it is actually forgivable. With that said, the actual performance was just a middle-of-the-road scenario.
Day to day tasks and basic applications were handled well. You can browse through Facebook and Twitter without any hiccups, surf the web, watch videos, and more. Since it also has 4GB of RAM, multi-tasking and switching between apps was smooth-sailing.
However, the gaming experience feels a little lackluster. It might handle casual games fine, but playing resource-demanding titles shows the ASUS Zenfone 5Q’s weakness.
In PUBG Mobile, the graphics of the ASUS Zenfone 5Q were automatically set to the lowest settings. And even so, I still noticed some minor stuttering from time to time. But overall, I was still able to finish an entire game without being frustrated. So I guess that’s still a good news.
Software and User Interface
The ASUS website claims that the Zenfone 5Q runs on Android Oreo. But disappointingly, the unit we have here on Android 7.1.1 Nougat with ZenUI interface on top. We were also constantly checking if there’s an OTA update that will bring the Oreo here, but sadly there wasn’t.
With that, I guess we’ll just have to settle for what we have here. Well, if an outdated software is a real deal-breaker, then you can now stop reading this review as the Zenfone 5Q is clearly not for you.
But if you can get past that, I’d be happy to report that the user interface on the ASUS Zenfone 5Q is actually pretty solid. The ZenUI interface is still one of the messiest interface around, but it obviously has gotten better over the years.
The entire look of the interface has been ironed out. The fonts have this Helvetica Thin-like look, no more unnecessary buttons, and the settings menu is in-line with stock-Android’s aesthetic, so you can easily tune what needs adjusting.
The lock screen also feels light and intuitive. You can swipe down from the middle to bring down the notifications tab and the control center, so you don’t have to reach from all the way up just to access them.
Alternatively, you can swipe from the bottom and up to access the app drawer. There’s a search bar on top, and a View Mode that organizes the apps from either the most frequently used, when it was downloaded, or you can customize the order yourself.
And for those who are worrying, the ASUS Zenfone 5Q doesn’t have redundant apps, which was a huge problem on the previous ZenUI devices.
Moreover, if you’re really into customization, the ZenUI interface has its own dedicated Themes app. The free themes were listed at the middle, while some of the paid ones that I’ve seen costs Php45 to Php89.
The ASUS Zenfone 5Q clearly doesn’t have the best user-interface. The Android 7.1.1 Nougat already feels outdated, plus ZenUI is not the most appealing interface around. So if you’re one of those Android enthusiasts and fanatic, you might want to skip this one.
We did a more comprehensive look on the ASUS Zenfone 5Q’s camera here. But if you want to spare yourself from another long article, just continue reading this review.
Probably the main feature of the Zenfone 5Q is its quad-camera setup. But unlike some of its competing devices, the setup on this one is more interesting. On the front, there’s a 20-megapixel camera, while on the back there’s a 16-megapixel shooter. Both of which are equipped with an 8-megapixel 120-degree wide-angle camera.
The primary camera on the back produces good, but not utterly impressive pictures. The colors look a little flat and washed out, but the contrast and dynamic ratio are actually acceptable.
If you think about it, taking images with flat colors can give you more flexibility when editing. But if you’re not keen on editing your photos, then you might find the Zenfone 5Q’s camera really lackluster.
I also have the same sentiments on the ASUS Zenfone 5Q’s 20-megapixel selfie camera. Just like the one on the back, the images taken have slightly lame colors, but the exposure is actually good — which is one of the most important things when taking selfies.
In addition, just like all of the midrange smartphones that we have now, the ASUS Zenfone 5Q’s selfie camera has beautification effects. If you set it to Auto, the app can apply the right amount of effect, which provides a more believable look. But in return, the entire image would lose a bit of detail and sharpness.
The 8-megapixel wide-angle cameras only has mediocre performance. But I must admit, having a wide-angle lens has tons of benefits. You can easily cram in subjects within the frame — either you’re taking a group selfie or a picture of a large but really close subject.
However, since ASUS Zenfone 5Q only comes with an 8-megapixel sensor, the images it can produce has disappointing details. Plus, images taken in low-light have tons of grains and noises.
The secondary sensor is also used to gather depth data for the Portrait Mode effect. It can isolate the subject well from the background, without that cut-out look that we see in other smartphone cameras.
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As stated earlier, the ASUS Zenfone 5Q comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 octa-core SoC, which means that it comes with a decent set of connectivity features. There’s 4G LTE, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, although it only has Bluetooth 4.2.
Despite that, all of them performed well under my testing. There were no signal drops, WiFi disconnection, and the device was able to connect through my wireless headphones and speakers without any hiccups.
As a bonus, the ASUS Zenfone 5Q comes with NFC, which is a rare feat to midrange smartphones today. This allows you to easily connect to any NFC-enabled peripherals just by tapping the device next to it. It also allows you to easily send files to other NFC-capable smartphones.
Moreover, the call quality is also impressive on this phone. Since it has a secondary microphone for noise-cancellation, it was able to pick-up my voice really well. The earpiece also has decent volume with good clarity.
The ASUS Zenfone 5Q clearly has an interesting set of specs. It comes with a large and sharp screen, capable processor, and tons of cameras. This smartphone might have hit good marks on those parts, but not so much in the battery department.
It is equipped with a 3,300mAh battery which is not the most exciting battery capacity of all, but not necessarily bad.
Anyhow, the battery provided customary performance. If you’re a casual user who only uses your smartphone for browsing the web and streaming music on your daily commute, the ASUS Zenfone 5Q can surely last you for a day. However, you still have to plug it in every night.
But if you’re heavy users who watch videos and play games the entire day, PCMark’s battery stress test suggests that the battery can have a screen-on time of 9hrs and 23mins before reaching 20%.
The ASUS Zenfone 5Q is one of the most interesting midrange smartphones that the company released in a while. Something that the company desperately needed to be able to survive in the really saturated market here in the Philippines.
ASUS’ attempt to come up with a killer midrange smartphone was really thoughtful but it didn’t quite hit the mark. Like I said, the market is now well-populated with different midrange smartphones that are competing to be on top. Sadly, the Zenfone 5Q does not have what it takes to dominate.
But that doesn’t mean that the ASUS Zenfone 5Q is a lousy contender. This device surely got a few things right, but I doubt that those are the top priority of the people shopping in the price segment.
For one, the ASUS Zenfone 5Q is definitely one of the most elegant and good-looking smartphones in its league. We’re so done on seeing midrange devices that are made in metal, or worse, plastic. The glass-on-metal build of this smartphone is a breath of fresh air.
The phone also comes with an interesting set of cameras. They might not be the best shooter out there in terms of quality, but having the flexibility of a wide-angle camera is a big welcome for us.
What ASUS clearly missed on the Zenfone 5Q are some of the important things. First is the performance. Sure, it is capable enough, however, some of the competition offers better power. If they really want to dominate, they have to get this part right.
The ASUS Zenfone 5Q also runs on an outdated software. As I stated earlier, the unit that we have here only run on Android 7.1.1 Nougat, instead of Android Oreo that was written on the device’s web page. This issue can be easily resolved via a software update. So hopefully, this gets sorted out really soon.
To finally wrap it up, the ASUS Zenfone 5Q is a really interesting device. But for its price tag, the device is facing some really tough competition. So unless you’re really a big fan of the design, you better look somewhere else. Devices like the Huawei Nova 3i, Honor Play, and OPPO F9 are some of the best in the midrange category.
Pricing and availability of ASUS Zenfone 5Q
The ASUS Zenfone 5Q has a retail price of Php14,995 here in the Philippines. You can get it at ASUS stores and kiosks nationwide. It’s also available in ASUS’ official stores on both Lazada and Shopee so you can get it at the comfort of your own home.
- Premium design
- Large display
- Good cameras
- Lackluster performance
- Outdated software
I really want to like these ASUS phones because I’ve always used ASUS laptops, but like you point out there are other phone brands that are better while also being cheaper, so it’s kind of hard to justify getting an ASUS phone at least at this point. They’re relatively new to making smartphones though aren’t they? So perhaps they’ll get better with time.