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Asus ZenFone 6 is official and may be one of the best phones of the year

Image via Asus
Image via Asus
The ZenFone 6, announced today, offers a unique solution to the notch problem plaguing modern smartphones. In addition to its flagship specifications, the ZenFone 6 features a rotating camera module that flips the dual-camera array a full 180 degrees. Users can also take shots at any angle in between, and the rotating mechanism can be used for panoramic shots and subject tracking.

We recently reported on a potential leak of the Asus ZenFone 6, and that phone looked to be one of the best smartphones of the year. However, Asus today officially unveiled the ZenFone 6, and it turns out the earlier leak was not at all accurate. That’s great news as the actual ZenFone 6 may be the most unique (and overall best) phone of the year.

The ZenFone 6 checks almost every box expected of a 2019 flagship:

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 (7 nm, 64 bit)
  • GPU: Adreno 640
  • RAM: 6 or 8 GB LPDDR4X
  • Storage: 64, 128, or 256 GB UFS 2.1, MicroSD up to 2 TB
  • Display: 6.4-inch FHD+ (2340 x 1080, 13:6 or 19.5:9 ratio), up to 600 nits, 96% NTSC coverage, HDR10 and DCI-P3 support
  • Dimensions: 159.1 x 75.4 x 9.1 mm (6.3 x 3.0 x 0.36 in), 190 g (6.7 oz)
  • Battery: 5000 mAh, Quick Charge 4.0 (18 W adapter in the box)
  • OS: Android 9 Pie w/ Zen UI, promised update to Android 10 later this year

The ZenFone 6 also has a rear-mounted fingerprint and two nice touches that are sorely lacking on most of this year’s flagship phones so far.

The first is a high-quality onboard DAC that Asus says supports Hi-Res audio at 192 kHz/24-bit. While we’ve seen better audio solutions before (namely on LG’s V series phones), DACs of this caliber are few and far between. And yes, there’s a headphone jack.

The second standout feature is a rather unique solution to the notch problem. The display is a true full-screen panel (92% screen-to-body ratio), and to get an edge-to-edge screen, Asus opted for a rotating camera module mounted on the rear of the device. The dual-camera setup can pivot 180 degrees around a hinge, allowing users to take selfies without an obtrusive notch or hole punch. But the rotating module unlocks so many other possibilities.

For one, users can set the cameras anywhere along their rotation axis, allowing for a “periscope” type of feel. The volume rocker turns into a rotation control in the camera app. The shooters also rely on the rotation mechanism for panoramic shots. This means a user only needs to hold the phone still instead of slowly sweeping the entire device to capture a panoramic picture. Lastly, the camera can also track subjects in either photo or video mode. Users can tap an area within the frame, and the module will rotate to center the subject. There is a bit of lag, but the feature might be useful for framing slow-moving targets.

The cameras themselves are fairly good. The primary shooter is a Sony IMX586 sensor (48 MP, f/1.79, 0.8 µm pixel size). The camera relies on a laser autofocus system and has a Super Night shooting mode, which fares a bit better than the OnePlus 7 Pro’s night mode in sample photos but falls behind Google’s Night Sight. (Note that Super Night will be available to the public after an OTA update.) The secondary camera is a 13 MP 125° wide-angle shooter, which has a larger frame than other wide-angle lenses we’ve seen.

There are a lot of other features, such as reverse wireless charging, Bluetooth 5.0, a triple-tray SIM card that allows two SIM cards and MicroSD card at the same time, and others. The official release date has yet to be determined, but the base model (64GB storage, 6 GB RAM) will be priced at US $499, which should make the phone extremely competitive.


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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 05 > Asus ZenFone 6 is official and may be one of the best phones of the year
Sam Medley, 2019-05-16 (Update: 2019-05-16)