MWC 2018 is underway and major brands such as Samsung, Sony, HTC and HMD Global among others have all announced their flagship smartphones of the year. Asus also took the stage to announce its Zenfone 5-series smartphones at the expo. Along with the Zenfone 5 (2018) and Zenfone 5Z, Asus also announced the affordable variant in the Zenfone 5-series, the Zenfone 5 Lite. Ahead of the event, I got to spend some time with the smartphone and here are my first impressions.
18:9 display finally
Asus is usually late to join the party, and we have seen that with the Zenfone 3-series with it introduced metal design, a year after other manufacturers got it. It’s the same story this time around. With the Zenfone 5 Lite, Asus has finally brought the full screen, 18:9 display to its smartphones. The smartphone features a 6-inch full HD+ display running at a resolution of 1080x2160pixels. It is bright, crisp and offers good color reproduction.
The Zenfone 5 Lite comes with a metal frame sandwiched between glass on the front and back. This is a change compared to the Zenfone 4 Lite that featured a metal design. Above the display, you have a dual camera module, earpiece and the proximity sensors. Below the screen, you have a slightly thicker chin, but you don’t get the capacitive Android navigation buttons anymore, and they are now onscreen.
The power button and the volume rocker is placed on the right; on the left, you have a hybrid dual SIM card slot for two nano SIM cards or one nano SIM can one microSD card slot. The 3.5mm audio jack sits on the top whereas the microUSB port is at the bottom.
Turn the phone around and you have the glass back with vertically placed dual camera modules on the top along with the LED flash. Just below the camera module, you have the fingerprint sensor for biometric authentication.
Specifications and software
Under the hood, the smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 octa-core SoC featuring eight Cortex A53 cores, with maximum clock speed of up to 2.2GHz. It is paired with up to 4GB of RAM and 64GB onboard storage. With a 3,300mAh battery, the Zenfone 5 Lite comes with connectivity options such as 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi.
On the software front, it is disappointing to see the smartphone run on Android 7 Nougat OS, but Asus said that it is a production unit, and by the time it launches in India, it may run Android 8.0 Oreo. And even if launched with Nougat, the company will offer Oreo update in the coming months. With the Zenfone 4-series Asus done away with some bloatware, and with the new smartphone, it is clearing things further.
The new smartphone now comes with GBoard keyboard, Chrome browser, Google Messages and Gmail apps, replacing Asus apps. In the little time I spent with the smartphone, the OS seemed pretty smooth and I had no issues at all.
After Huawei’s sub brand Honor, Asus has also introduced quad camera setup on the Zenfone 5 Lite. Up front, you get a 20-megapixel main camera supplemented with an 8-megapixel secondary camera which acts as a depth sensor to add DSLR-like bokeh effects to your photos. I tried clicked a couple of photos in both normal and bokeh mode, and the quality looks impressive.
At the back, you get a 16-megapixel primary sensor and an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens. Together the cameras let you capture standard and wide-angle photos. Again, the quality looks good, but I will reserve my final verdict until I review the smartphone. You can check the photos below.
Overall, the Zenfone 5 Lite is an interesting device and looks much better in every sense compared to its predecessor, the Zenfone 4 Lite. Asus will soon be bringing the smartphone to India soon, but there is no word on exactly when. Also, it remains to be seen if Asus will price it higher as always, or get aggressive to compete with the rivals.