Asus ZenFone 6 Review: Hands-On With The Flippy Camera

After months of leaks and teasers, Asus finally revealed the ZenFone 6 at an event in Valencia, and it certainly offers something different to most flagships on the market. It boasts a gorgeous all-display design with a camera array that flips between the back and front to cover all your photography needs.

But, is it a gimmick or has Asus cracked the formula for the perfect bezel-less design? We’ve spent some time with the Asus ZenFone 6 at the launch event in Valencia, and here’s what we think so far. Check back in the coming days for our final review, complete with benchmarks, star rating and in-depth analysis of the features on offer.

Pricing and availability

The Asus ZenFone 6 will be available to pre-order via the Asus e-Store in the UK and Europe on 17 May, with units shipping on 30 May.

What’s most interesting is the price; it’s a lot cheaper than some of its rivals on the market. It starts at £499 for the 6GB/64GB variant, jumps up to £559 for a 6GB/128GB variant and for those that want the high-end experience, there’s also an 8GB/256GB variant for £599.

Compared to the Google Pixel 3 (£739), Galaxy S10 (£799) and P30 Pro (£899), the ZenFone 6 is very wallet-friendly.

What the flip?

There have been many different attempts from manufacturers to achieve a bezel-less display while still providing access to the all-important front-facing camera, from notches to pop-up cameras, sliders and, with the introduction of the Asus ZenFone 6, Flip Cameras too.

The flippy nature of the camera module is interesting; rather than featuring a front-facing camera that would encroach on the display, the phone’s rear-facing cameras can be flipped to face forwards.

The module sports a 48Mp Sony IMX586 sensor, with 1.6um pixels and an aperture of f/1.79, alongside a 13Mp 125-degree wide angle camera, laser autofocus and a dual-LED flash. The flippy nature of the camera module provides users with incredible-quality front-facing lenses, and allows users to access advanced shooting modes previously exclusive to rear-facing cameras.

One of the cool features of the Flip Camera is manual control; you can adjust the angle of the camera using the volume button, allowing you to find the perfect angle for your shots. It makes taking photos of animals and children easier too, as you can position the camera at a 90-degree angle and take photos from a horizontal position.

If you’re worried about durability, don’t; the housing features a G-Sensor that’ll flip the camera back to its original position if it detects a fall, and the gear system should be good for over 100,000 flips – that equates to 28 selfies every day for 5 years. And a short video shown at the announcement showcased a child actively trying to force the camera open using a screwdriver, pins and more, and the module still functioned properly.

If that’s not enough, the camera can also record [email protected] with Electronic Image Stablilisation, and while we’re yet to test it ourselves, sample videos provided at the announcement look very promising.

It’s a looker

Aside from the camera module, the Asus ZenFone 6 is a sleek bit of kit, featuring a completely bezel-less 6.4in display covered in Corning’s sixth-gen Gorilla Glass and a curved rear that fits to the contours of your hand, making it comfortable to use one-handed. On the rear, you’ll find a fairly standard fingerprint sensor below the flippy camera array, along with Asus branding.

You’ll also notice a ‘Smart Key’ on the side of the smartphone. This, by default, can be used to summon Google Assistant with ease, but it can be customised to perform a variety of actions, from opening the camera to enabling the torch.

The phone comes in two variants; a rather generic Midnight Black, and a more eye-catching white-to-blue gradient nicknamed Twilight Silver, with matching metal band.

Oh, and rather importantly, there’s a 3.5mm headphone port and a notification LED too!

Flagship specs through-and-through

The ZenFone 6 is certainly a good-looking phone, but it doesn’t stop there. Let’s talk about that gorgeous full-screen FHD+ display; it measures in a whopping 6.4in and boasts a tall 19:5:9 aspect ratio. It’s bright, at 600 lumens, and boasts an incredible 92 percent screen-to-body ratio. It looks bright, crisp and looks to have amazing colour reproduction, but this is something we’ll test out in more detail at Tech Advisor Towers.

Beneath the display, you’ll find Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855 processor alongside an Adreno 640 GPU, either 6- or 8GB of RAM and 64-, 128- or 256GB of UFS 2.1 storage, depending on the variant that you opt for. If the built-in storage isn’t enough for you, you can expand it by up to 1TB via the microSD card slot.

That should be more than enough to power pretty much any app or game on Android with little lag, and we must admit we’ve not experienced any during our limited time with the device, but this is something we’ll be putting to the test more thoroughly in the coming days. For now though, we’re quietly confident about the ZenFone 6’s capabilities.  

The ZenFone 6 also looks to stand out from the crowd in the battery department, sporting an incredible 5,000mAh battery that Asus claims can provide either two days of standard use, 26 days on standby, 33.3 hours of talktime or 21 hours of web browsing. We’ll be very interested to see the battery benchmark scores for this one!

When it does need a top-up, the Quick Charge 4.0 should provide users with a speedy charging experience, but again, this is something we’ll be testing over the coming days.

And, like most other Android-based smartphones being released at the moment, the Asus ZenFone 6 sports Android 9.0 Pie, but it separates itself from the crowd by guaranteeing an update not only to Android Q, but Android R in 2020 too. It’s also a part of Google’s Android Beta program, allowing users to sign up to experimental builds of Android months before release.

Though it may not look like it, the smartphone actually features a custom ZenUI. While it keeps the stock Android look and feel, there are enhancements available to users including the ability to double tap the display to wake, automatically adjust volume based on the environment, enable a system-wide dark mode and more.

Early verdict

If the camera array is as high quality and reliable as Asus claims, we’re confident that the ZenFone 6 could be a hit amongst tech-savvy consumers, but we’ll reserve our final verdict for now. 

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