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Big screen, big on features too

It has a big screen and is big on features too. With its Dual Sim capability, the ZenFone 5 comes in as a very balanced option between the economy-sized ZenFone 4 and upsized ZenFone 6, all of which were recently unveiled.

Singapore: When it comes to smartphones, consumers are big on big screens.

Making a call on the smartphone market, independent analysts Canalys, noted that phones with screens that are 5 inch and larger, grew more than 300 per cent and represented just over a third of shipments worldwide.

In fact, Canalys analyst Jessica Kwee points out, “the trend is unmistakably toward larger-screen handsets at the high end of the market”.

While Samsung has the Godzilla grip on large screen mobiles, other device makers are jumping in to grab a slice of the Android pie with hearty sizes too.

Asus, a familiar name in computing which made a break into the phone industry with revolutionary concepts such as the PadFone, recently launched the ZenFone series that ships with Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and the option to upgrade to Android 4.4 (Kit Kat).

The ZenFone numbering from 4 to 6, to reflect the screen size of the mobiles, come in a range of colours that make them stand out from the rest.

Only red, white and black are available in Singapore, and for those who want a break from the mundane, the Cherry Red ZenFone 5 is a good bet.

What made the ruby hued review set more delicious was the fact that the body of the smartphone did not feel like a big piece of plastic, with a good grip offering some slip resistance.

The back-pocket phone packers will also like the 10.34 mm thick ZenFone which allows users to sit comfortably. 

The generous 5 inch screen is great for viewing and photo-taking while offering a sense of comfort with its scratch resistance and durability thanks to the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 finish.

While being tough, the screen is at the same time, sensitive enough to respond to touch even when the fingers are gloved.

But of course, it would also help that the phone is able to endure frigid weather and not choose to hibernate should gloved users whip out their mobiles to capture a snowscape scene.

In any other weather and occasion, the ZenFone that sits nicely in the hand with well-placed buttons, can be a photographer’s friend with an 8 Mega Pixel camera with LED flash, F2.0 aperture, image stabilizer and Asus PixelMaster that combines hardware with software.

The Depth of Field option captures great close up details while Time Rewind, which is similar to the iPhone burst mode, automatically takes a series of shots before and after the user presses the shutter button - great for fidgety subjects.

But it's the fun features such as Beautification (slim cheeks without a diet, yes!) and Smart Remove (no need to wait for the hordes of tourists to get out of the way of your beauty shot) that are the winners.

Too bad that the many features available for both photo and video, also seem to cause some unsteadiness,  leading the camera function to crash a few times.

The ZenFone also comes bundled with the Asus ZenUI which boasts of over 200 enhancements but seems too much of an effort to be different from other device-makers just for the sake of being different.

There’s SuperNote for handwriting for instance, but wouldn't it be better to have handwriting also available for messaging and all other writing options?

What’s Next and Do It Later - - seem like a procrastinator’s dream, except they are too fussy, so learning how to use them will most likely be put off.

While it may read like an oxymoron, simple smartphones are what a number of users appreciate.

And that’s what makes the Simple Mode in the ZenFone so attractive, with its large icons that are limited to just the few essential ones – no fuss or frills.

Asus banks on Intel Atom processors to power the ZenFone 4, 5 and 6, while keeping the device power-efficient and robust and at the same time, keeping costs competitive.

In the case of the mid-range ZenFone 5, what’s under the hood is a Multi-Core 1.6GHz Z2560 Intel Atom with hyper-threading technology, taking on tasks with little lag or stuttering.

With a 2110 mAh Lithium battery, the smartphone also promises to keep going for as long as its owner, with 18 hours of talk time.

Compared to the economy-sized ZenFone 4 and upsized ZenFone 6, the ZenFone 5 comes in as a very balanced middle child, made even more attractive with its Dual Sim capability.

This brings Asus in close contention with the current rage, Chinese tech firm Xiaomi, and its Redmi smartphone.

In a simple comparison, the ZenFone 5 from the Taiwanese firm offers an edge over the Chinese option.

Apart from being much better looking and with a crisp, clear screen, the ZenFone 5 offers a larger form factor and weighs way lighter at 145grams against the 158grams Redmi.

Both offer 1GB RAM, with the ZenFone 5 offering double the amount of storage.

In terms of pricing, it is quite hard for most mobile phone makers to beat the S$169 price mark of the Redmi, but the S$80 extra for the ZenFone 5 might be worth the hassle surrounding the often out-of-stock Chinese phone and other trade-offs.

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