Asus Zenfone 5Q Review

With all the hoopla about iPhones, Galaxies, Pixels, and others, it can be easy to forget that companies like Asus still make phones that aim to offer a bit of the high life, but at a more reasonable price.

The Asus Zenfone 5Q is a mid-to-upper-mid-range device where so many manufacturers seem to be aiming. Competition is still stiff around the $299 price point the Zenfone 5Q is going for, but Asus hopes to pull out a win with dual cameras in the front and back (20 MP regular in front and 16 MP regular in back, both paired with 8 MP wide-angle lenses), sleek glass back, and Asus’s typically fast ZenUI performance.

We’ve seen solid attempts in the past, but often times one or two glaring flaws have held us back from fully embracing the Zenfone lineup. Does the Zenfone 5Q overcome this and establish itself as a worthy mid-range alternative?

In the box:

  • Asus Zenfone 5Q
  • Micro-USB cable and wall adapter
  • Clear silicone case
  • Asus headphones and spare earbuds
  • Warranty and manuals

Design


Asus Zenfone 5Q Review

The Zenfone 5Q takes on a rather familiar styling, especially as it relates to previous Zenfones. Being the only Zenfone 5 to not feature a notched display, the back and front of this phone are quite familiar. Bezels are minimal on the sides, but the top and bottom have a pronounced forehead and chin. Within the forehead lies a 20 MP regular camera paired with an 8 MP wide-angle shooter and flash. We suppose that would be hard or simply not worthwhile to attempt to fit into a notch.

The glass back looks nice albeit rather familiar and plain, but we do like the color selection, namely the addition of a red colorway to spice things up. The power and volume buttons built into the plastic sides also have a nice solid click to them – not too firm, and not at all mushy.

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Front view | Side view
Asus ZenFone 5Q
Asus ZenFone 5Q
6.32 x 3 x 0.31 inches
160.62 x 76.16 x 7.8 mm
5.94 oz (168 g)

Asus ZenFone 5Q

Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018)
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018)
6.3 x 2.98 x 0.33 inches
159.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm
6.74 oz (191 g)

Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018)

Motorola Moto X4
Motorola Moto X4
5.84 x 2.89 x 0.31 inches
148.35 x 73.5 x 7.99 mm
5.75 oz (163 g)

Motorola Moto X4

Nokia 7 plus
Nokia 7 plus
6.24 x 2.98 x 0.38 inches
158.38 x 75.64 x 9.55 mm
6.46 oz (183 g)

Nokia 7 plus



Display


Notched or not, this 6-inch Full HD+ (2160 x 1080) display still achieves a respectable 80% screen-to-body ratio. Clarity on this screen is pretty good, as are the colors, though it can seem a bit bluish. Reaching a max brightness of 478 nits and a minimum of 6, it’ll be easy to see this display in any lighting scenario.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Asus ZenFone 5Q 478
(Good)
6
(Good)
1:2545
(Excellent)
9297
(Poor)
2.27
6.57
(Average)
9.44
(Poor)
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) 507
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7419
(Good)
2.03
7.37
(Average)
9.91
(Poor)
Motorola Moto X4 563
(Excellent)
6
(Good)
1:1689
(Excellent)
8007
(Poor)
2.15
13.17
(Poor)
6.06
(Average)
Nokia 7 plus 476
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
1:2170
(Excellent)
8105
(Poor)
2.32
4.22
(Average)
6.08
(Average)
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The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

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Interface and Functionality


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UI of the Asus Zenfone 5Q
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Asus’s ZenUI has undergone a series of small, but effective refinements over the past few years. A nip here and a tuck there has left ZenUI looking more cohesive and less confusing than it’s ever looked in this Android 8.0-based iteration. Aesthetically, we’re fans of this increasingly uniform UI and appreciate the level of tweaking still provided.

Tools to clean up cached files, theme your interface, manage your files, and lock certain apps are all well integrated and bloat is kept to a bare minimum. Adding a better all-device search functionality could certainly help to organize them further, making features more accessible and therefore more likely to be utilized.

Processor, Memory, and Performance


Asus likes to remind us every now and then that being a mid-range device doesn’t have to mean being slow. The Zenfone 5Q pairs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 630 with 4 gigabytes of RAM to keep things running smoothly, and smooth it is. Navigating through your day-to-day tasks for work or for pleasure won’t often leave you frustrated. We encountered no hangs, quick app launching, and brisk app switching throughout.

Gaming will drop some frames and load slower than higher-end phones, but the experience overall is more than tenable.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5Q 88493
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) 114688.33
Motorola Moto X4 70292
Nokia 7 plus 140880.5
JetStream
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5Q 27.443
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) 48.294
Motorola Moto X4 27.999
Nokia 7 plus 53.716
GFXBench Car Chase on-screen
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5Q 5.1
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) 5.8
Motorola Moto X4 5.8
Nokia 7 plus 8.6
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5Q 9.3
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) 9.6
Motorola Moto X4 11
Nokia 7 plus 14
Geekbench 4 single-core
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5Q 868
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) 1510
Motorola Moto X4 865
Nokia 7 plus 1636
Geekbench 4 multi-core
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5Q 4153
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) 4266
Motorola Moto X4 4154
Nokia 7 plus 5847.5
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Connectivity


The Zenfone 5Q is a dual-SIM device which expands the dual-SIM tray to also fit a microSD card in addition to two simultaneous SIM cards (only one SIM can connect to data at a time). That’s pretty cool, but otherwise there’s nothing too noteworthy to find in the connectivity department for the 5Q. You’ll find the proper requisites like dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, and NFC – pretty much par for the course at this price point. Being an unlocked phone, you won’t be able to put this on Verizon Wireless or Sprint, but AT&T, T-Mobile, and prepaid companies who use their towers should have no issue hooking up the Zenfone 5Q.

Sound


Being a device that uses micro-USB as opposed to USB-C, we’re not surprised (and far from displeased) to find a 3.5mm headphone jack on board. The built-in speaker doesn’t do a bad job of entertaining on its own though. Sound is decently clear and loud enough for most situations.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5Q 0.74
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) 0.53
Motorola Moto X4 0.429
Nokia 7 plus 0.38
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5Q 76.1
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) 78
Motorola Moto X4 77.5
Nokia 7 plus 78
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Camera


Asus stacked the cameras pretty tall on this order. Pairing 8 MP wide-angle lenses with 16 MP and 20 MP regular lenses in the back and front, respectively, the Zenfone 5Q seemingly has a camera for every situation. Thankfully, image quality stacks up well to match this tall order.

Asus Zenfone 5Q Review

Pictures on the Zenfone 5Q come out very accurately colored and well-detailed. Objects towards the edge of the frame can sometimes come out slightly blurred, but overall the Zenfone 5Q does a commendable job in focusing shots. Exposure is also very good, usually striking a happy balance between the light and dark areas of dynamic scenery, though brighter areas can sometimes get a little blown out.

Lower-light dynamic sceneries present the 5Q with a bit of trouble in taking in enough light for the darker areas but highlights in these scenarios remain well-tamed.

Flipping on the HDR mode seems to rectify these small annoyances with exposure pretty much entirely, which thankfully doesn’t add too much time to the shot.

The secondary 8 MP wide-angle lens does a lot of the same things right that the main sensor does in terms of color accuracy and detail capture, but it unfortunately lacks the main sensor’s adeptness in exposure and higher proclivity in mitigating movement, which leaves the wide-angle lens more vulnerable to blowing out highlights and capturing blurry shots if you’re not careful.

Asus Zenfone 5Q sample images

HDR
HDR
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Taking selfies on the 20 MP front-facing camera has the Zenfone 5Q showing off much of the same strong attributes seen on the main sensor, albeit with a slightly warmer tone to the images it captures. This aside, colors are decently represented, and details are sharp. Surprisingly, no bokeh modes exist for the front-facer, despite the secondary camera. This additional 8 MP snapper is the same wide-angle lens found in the back and is instead used for just that – wide-angle shots, which it does well.

Overall, in terms of color reproduction, detail, and point-and-shoot-ability, the Zenfone 5Q pulls off easily one of the best photo capturing experiences in its field.

Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better
Asus ZenFone 5Q 2
2.8
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) 1.85
2
Motorola Moto X4 2.71
2.98
Nokia 7 plus 1.9
2
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Video


4K video taken on the Zenfone 5Q is perhaps unsurprisingly well-detailed. Colors aren’t quite as accurate as in image capture though, displaying a tendency to punch things up a bit. Electronic image stabilization helps keep things steady, but not enough to keep movements from becoming too shaky and jarring most of the time. Exposure is good though, as are focusing times, but audio came out sounding rather compressed, which is a shame to match such sharp video with sub-par audio.


Call Quality


Calls come through nicely on the Zenfone 5Q; we didn’t have any issues with signal or reception. The earpiece is plenty loud, and the speakerphone is adequate for most situations. Callers could hear us well and we could hear them without issue or interruption.

Battery Life


Packing a 3300 mAh battery, the Zenfone 5Q does well with its battery efficiency; well enough to last through a full-day’s use in our time with the device. Clocking a respectable 10 hours on our custom drain test, we found the 5Q’s battery life quite reasonable. Re-charge times are quick too, taking just under 90 minutes to charge from 0 – 100.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 5Q 9h 55 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) 9h 24 min (Excellent)
Motorola Moto X4 9h 37 min (Excellent)
Nokia 7 plus 9h 46 min (Excellent)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Asus ZenFone 5Q 89
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) 99
Motorola Moto X4 99
Nokia 7 plus 113
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Conclusion


Asus Zenfone 5Q Review

The Asus Zenfone 5Q turns out to be a pretty solid performer. Asus’s push for capable photography continues to impress us with its results, and efficiency in the OS has led to improved battery life – something Zenfones have shown a distinct need for in the past.

Selling for $300 does put it against some potentially better-known competitors, though. Devices like the Moto G6 come to mind, but the Zenfone 5Q has a safe lead on the G6 in most areas we find – especially photography. Other phones to consider, like Nokia’s 6.1, also appear to be beat in areas like display quality, though photography may be a closer match up; we’d still give the Zenfone 5Q a slight edge for better usability and a quicker shutter in the camera department, though. For now, we’re pretty comfortable in saying that the Zenfone 5Q is one of the best phones you can get around the $300 price point.