Asus Zenfone 6 review
Key Features: 6-inch 1,280 x 720 pixel IPS screen; 16GB storage; 2GB RAM; 2GHz Intel Atom Z2580 CPU
What is the Asus Zenfone 6?
The Asus Zenfone 6 is the largest model in Asus’s new phone line-up – a set of phones out to establish Asus as a real phone brand. It gets you a 6-inch screen, and both a better processor and camera than the slightly smaller Zenfone 5.
We think the Zenfone 5 phone is pretty great, especially as it starts at just £150. The Zenfone 6 is a slightly tricker proposition as its size introduces a few usability issues, and it costs a fair bit more at £250 without 4G. But it’s ultimately a solid phone in almost every respect, and a good deal if you don’t mind about having a brand on the back your friends might turn their noses up at.
Asus Zenfone 6 – Design
The Asus Zenfone 6 is a huge phone. There was no way around this one really – you can’t make a phone with a 6-inch screen and make it small.
As you have probably guessed by now from the score, we quite like the Zenfone 6, but this size is something you should consider seriously before buying. It means that when you hold the phone in one hand, you need to grip it with your fingertips and there’s really no room for manoeuvring the thing unless you get a second hand involved.
It’s more of a handful than a naughty three-year old with a sugar high and soon-to-be-diagnosed ADHD.
The only way Asus could have made this slightly better is by trimming down the screen bezels as much as possible, a bit like the LG G3. We wouldn’t expect this from a company that’s pretty new to phones, and sure enough the Zenfone 6’s are pretty ordinary, resulting in a width almost 6mm greater than the Galaxy Note 4.
Yes, that phone has a smaller 5.7-inch screen, but it’s one of the few genuinely desirable big-screen alternatives out there. The Zenfone 6 isn’t exactly light at 196g either.
Aside from the largely unavoidable size issue, the Asus Zenfone 6 design is mostly a complete success. The look isn’t showy but has just enough little Asus inflections here to give the phone something bordering on an identity.
ou get a shiny bit of metal below the screen bearing a neat-looking finish of concentric circles - an Asus signature - a small Asus logo on back and front, and a simple, curved plastic rear.
In the Zenfone 5 we complained that the hardware soft keys looked a bit toy-like, a bit too large. However – strangely enough – they’re actually a bit smaller in this larger phone, giving them a more refined and sophisticated look.
The Zenfone 6’s design is not dynamic or particularly different. But from a company whose previous ‘phones’ like the Padfone 2 have been as ‘out there’ as the professor from Back to the Future, that’s no bad thing.
We should also note that Asus has put some clear thought into making the Zenfone 6 as usable as it can be. Where in the Zenfone 5 the power button sits above the volume rocker, here it’s below, keeping it within reach of your thumb. It’s hardly a eureka moment, but it’s reassuring.
Build quality of the Zenfone 6 is commendable, even though the whole rear of the phone is a fairly standard moulded piece of plastic. It feels tough, there are no wide seams or creaky bits and the front of the phone is covered with Gorilla Glass 3.
This is the kind of toughened glass used in a great many high-end phones, and means you don’t really need a screen protector unless you really want to sell it on in perfect condition in a year or so. It’s highly scratch-resistant, and while it’s used in quite a lot of lower-cost phones these days – even the Motorola Moto E – it’s good to see Asus managed to fit such a large pane of the stuff into the budget.
As well as looking and feeling really rather good, the Zenfone 6 is also a bit more flexible than an obvious rival on price, if not size: the Nexus 5. There’s a microSD card slot under that back cover, which is a great addition in a phone that really should be used as a little video buddy. If that isn't one of your primary considerations, why not get something smaller?
There are 8GB, 16GB and 32GB versions of the Zenfone 6 in existence, but the one we get in the UK at present has 16GB. There’s no 4G option at the moment, though. Given the £249 price, this is an issue.