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Asus ZenFone 5 has iPhone X looks, but not its price

The iPhone X "clone wars" are here. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

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One of the big trends this past month has been the adoption of the notch from the iPhone X by Android phones. Phones like the Leagoo S9, Asus ZenFone 5, Asus ZenFone 5Z and the rumored Huawei P20 all mimic Apple's distinctive display notch. Even Google's first developer version of Android P makes allowances for notched-displays.

But buried in this copycat news were some truly impressive Android phones announced by Asus. The company launched four new handsets at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Three of the phones, the ZenFone 5, 5Z and 5 Lite are part of Asus' 5 series. The fourth one, the ZenFone Max (M1), is the newest edition to Asus' high-battery capacity phone series.

ZenFone 5Z

The top-tier phone in Asus' 5 series is the ZenFone 5Z. It has a 6.2-inch display which looks like a love child from Apple and Samsung. It has the iPhone X's notch on the top and the Galaxy S9's chin at the bottom.

The back is aluminum and has a fingerprint sensor in the center and a vertically stacked dual-rear camera in the corner. The dual-rear camera follows the same approach as the LG V30 and LG G6 offering a regular lens and an ultra-wide lens. It's unclear if just one or both cameras have optical-image stabilization (OIS).

The cameras use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve image quality kind of like the Google Pixel 2. The AI can recognize 16 scenes and improve photos accordingly. So if you were taking a photo of a sunset, the camera would optimize the settings to best capture it. This is akin to the scene settings on an old point and shoot camera.

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On the left, the Asus ZenFone 5Z. On the right, the iPhone X. Notice any similarities?

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Powering all this AI is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor. Yep, that's the same one used in the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. The ZenFone 5Z can also be quick charged. Asus calls it "BoostMaster" which, let's be honest, is the best branding name I've heard for fast charging.

Influenced by Apple's Animoji on the iPhone X, the 5Z has ZeniMoji which lets users animate cartoon animal faces using their voice, facial expressions and movements. The 5Z also has a face unlock feature, too.

All these features are impressive especially when it comes to price. The ZenFone 5Z costs £500 which converts to $690 and AU$880.

ZenFone 5

The ZenFone 5 is identical to the 5Z except in two areas. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor and will cost even less -- though a specific price has not been announced.

Compare the specs of each of the ZenFone 5 series phones in the chart below.

Asus ZenFone 5 Series spec comparison


ZenFone 5Z ZenFone 5 ZenFone 5 Lite
Display size, resolution 6.2-inch; 2,160x1,080 pixels 6.2-inch; 2,160x1,080 pixels 6-inch; 2,160x1,080 pixels
Pixel density 390ppi 390ppi 403ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.02x2.98x0.30 in 6.02x2.98x0.30 in 6.32x2.99x0.31 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 153x75.65x7.7 mm 153x75.65x7.7 mm 160.52x76.06x7.75 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.46 oz; 155g 5.46 oz; 155g 5.94 oz; 168.3g
Mobile software Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo
Camera two 12-megapixel cameras two 12-megapixel cameras two 16-megapixel cameras
Front-facing camera 8-megpixel 8-megpixel 20-megapixel and second camera
Video capture 4K 4K 4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 Qualcomm Snapdragon 630
Storage 128/256GB 64GB 32/64GB
RAM 8GB 6GB 3/4GB
Expandable storage Up to 2TB Up to 2TB Up to 2TB
Battery 3,300mAh 3,300mAh 3,300mAh
Fingerprint sensor Rear Rear Rear
Connector USB-C USB-C Micro-USB
Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes
Special features FM radio, ZeniMoji, dual-sim card slots FM radio, ZeniMoji, dual-sim card slots FM radio, ZeniMoji
Price off-contract (USD) $690 converted TBA TBA
Price (GBP) £500 TBA TBA
Price (AUD) AU$880 TBA TBA

ZenFone 5 Lite

Whereas the ZenFone 5 and 5Z are two sides of the same coin, the ZenFone 5 Lite is geared toward the camera lover -- it has four.

asus-zenfone-5-lite-2

The Asus ZenFone 5 Lite has four cameras: Two on the front and two on the back.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

There are dual-cameras on the front and on the back. Each camera pair has a regular camera and an ultra-wide angle camera. The rear cameras lack OIS but do have electronic image stabilization (EIS) for video recording.

The ZenFone 5 Lite has a 6-inch display inside the body that Asus claims is the size of most 5.5-inch phones. The 5 Lite runs a Qualcomm Android 630 processor and comes with either 3 or 4GB of RAM. No pricing has been announced yet.

Zenfone Max (M1)

The ZenFone Max (M1) isn't a 5 Series phone, but rather is a long-battery standout of the Asus' ZenFone Max Series. The Max (M1) has a 5.5-inch display, dual-rear cameras and a fingerprint reader. It has a 4,000mAh battery -- compared to the 3,300mAh of the 5 Series phones.

At this time we haven't tested any of these phones in-depth, but we look forward to doing so in the future.

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