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Asus Zenfone 5 is an iPhone X on the cheap

Sure, it looks identical to Apple's phone. But is that such a bad thing?

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

There's no escaping the fact that the Asus Zenfone 5, and the 5Z, look almost identical to Apple's iPhone X. There's a copycat "notch" at the top of the screen, the edges are curved metal and the rear dual camera is in an awfully familiar portrait position. (Huawei's rumored P20 and the Leagoo S9 will also give you iPhone X deja vu.)

So yes, it's a clone. The question is, do you really care?

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At £500 -- around $690 converted -- the 5Z is about half the price of the iPhone X. And the 5Z is the Zenfone's top-end model, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, the same chip that powers the Samsung Galaxy S9. There's also 8GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of storage, depending on your region. 

The standard Zenfone 5 is physically identical but uses a lower-powered processor and will cost even less, though Asus hasn't said exactly how much yet.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

That's a low price for a lot of phone. As Asus CEO Jerry Shen put it "Our price will be... for everyone to enjoy compared to the fruit company."

Beyond the processors, both the 5 and 5Z share identical specs, including a 6.2-inch display with skinny bezels, a 3,300-mAh battery with quick charging and a dual camera with a standard and wide-angle view. What you won't find is wireless charging or any kind of waterproofing -- two things you do get on the iPhone X.

We've only spent a short time with the Zenfone 5 so it's too early to tell if these phones really do offer any kind of competition to Apple's handset, or indeed Samsung's new Galaxy S9.

The Zenfone 5Z will go on sale in the US and UK later in the year, with no plans for an Australian release. The 5 is coming to the UK, but Asus hasn't said if it will come to the US or Australia.

Zenfone 5 series specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor (Zenfone 5Z)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor (Zenfone 5)
  • 8GB RAM, 128/256GB storage (Zenfone 5Z)
  • 4GB RAM, 64GB storage (Zenfone 5)
  • 6.2-inch, 2,160x1,080-pixel screen
  • microSD card expandable
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • 3,300 mAh battery
  • Android 8.0 Oreo software

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