An excellent value, but no longer the best

If it wasn’t for the Pixel 3a, the Asus Zenfone 6 in all probability might’ve been a shock hit in 2019. It packed an virtually stock-like Android expertise, one of the best processor available on the market (again then), and a singular flip digital camera. We fearful that Asus’ creation might turn into a flash within the pan, however after spending two weeks with the Zenfone 7 Professional, I can verify that it’s an enchancment over that already nice cellphone. It comes with a better value, although.

The Zenfone 7 Professional retains the distinctive digital camera setup, the large 5,000mAh battery, and the top-of-the-line ARM chip. The change from an LCD to a 90Hz Samsung OLED panel is a welcome enchancment as effectively. The handset will not formally make it to the US, however you will get it in European and Asian markets for €799 (round $950), and perhaps you need to.

Design, hardware, what’s within the field

The very first thing you may discover whenever you choose up the Zenfone 7 Professional is the subtly curved again glass with the light-dependent coloration gradient. The black aluminum body dividing the entrance and the again make it feel and look sturdy, which you need to anticipate at a value of €799 — even when there are dearer telephones nowadays.

Utilizing the cellphone for lengthy intervals may be tiring due to how huge and top-heavy it’s. The flip digital camera module provides substantial weight, and the large 6.67-inch display screen and the 5,000mAh battery do their half to make it a hefty package deal. It isn’t an enormous deal for those who’re somebody who likes huge telephones, although — you already know what you are in for.

The Zenfone 7’s 90Hz OLED display screen is attractive with the type of vibrant colours we’ve come to anticipate from trendy OLEDs, and a most brightness greater than appropriate for utilization within the solar. You can too change it to a extra correct coloration mode. The dearth of a notch or punch-hole means virtually the complete face of the cellphone is display screen with slender (virtually symmetrical) bezels all the way in which round. It seems very putting.

The side-mounted energy button sports activities a fingerprint reader so you’ll be able to unlock your cellphone by tapping the button, which takes some getting used to — I did unlock the cellphone whereas placing it in my pocket a couple of occasions on accident. You’ll be able to customise what the button does on an extended press or a double press, which is why Asus calls it a “good key.” Each the amount rocker and the good key are nice to press and do not feel mushy or low cost.

The vibration motor is okay, however it’s no Pixel or iPhone. It is sturdy sufficient to get your consideration relating to notifications and calls, however you don’t get actually exact “flagship” haptic suggestions when typing or tapping. The unbalanced stereo audio system include the tinny earpiece and the a lot louder bottom-firing speaker — you must be sure to do not cowl it up when gaming or watching movies. In distinction to its predecessor, the Zenfone 7 does not have a headphone jack, which is a bummer. There is not any water-proofing or wi-fi charging, both — you may need to make do with 30W wired charging.

The black hard-shell case and the clear silicon case are included within the field.

The Zenfone 7 Professional is available in an enormous field that features two instances and a chonky 30W quick charger (20V=1.5, USB-PD) — for those who purchase this cellphone, you will not have to fret about stocking up on equipment.

Software program, efficiency, and battery

Asus’ ZenUI 7 seems near inventory Android, however there are some pointless modifications under the floor. If you wish to run apps within the background with out having them unexpectedly killed, you must pin them within the multitasking overview and be sure that they’ve the autostart permission in settings. The always-on panel additionally does not show notifications, which is a bummer.

I used to be proud of different tweaks, although. Asus’ Sport Genie enables you to flip off notifications and arrange your most well-liked show refresh price on the fly whereas gaming, standing bar icons may be hidden, and non-compulsory battery care settings allow you to activate gradual charging and scheduled charging to make the hardware final so long as attainable. There are additionally customized battery saving modes, the place you’ll be able to select to activate darkish mode and tweak different power-saving measures to your liking. It is also nice to see a minimal quantity of bloatware.

The Snapdragon 865+ and the 90Hz panel make the Zenfone 7 buttery easy. Apps begin shortly and run with out stutters (apart from the standard suspects just like the Play Retailer, Twitter, and so forth.), and you’ll play 90 FPS video games on the very best graphics settings obtainable.

Battery life was disappointing after I began utilizing the cellphone, however Asus confirmed it was the results of a pre-release firmware bug. And positive sufficient, as soon as I turned off the function that triggered the problem (scheduled charging), the Zenfone 7 Professional would simply final me a day of heavy use together with taking footage, navigating, and listening to music by way of Bluetooth. Asus says the battery concern will probably be mounted in a software program replace, and we’ll verify that when attainable.

Digicam

The Zenfone 7 has three cameras on its flip mechanism, rated for as much as 200,00zero rotations: A major 64MP Sony IMX686 sensor, a 12MP Sony IMX363 ultra-wide, and an 8MP 3x zoom telephoto. By default, the first digital camera makes use of pixel binning and creates 16MP images. You will get the total 64MP decision for those who like, however then you definitely’ll lose HDR.

Whereas the Asus ROG Cellphone three had a fairly weak digital camera, the Asus Zenfone 7 Professional does a lot better. Most photographs end up effectively with ample mild, however Asus’ picture processing isn’t 100% dependable. Publicity occasions fluctuate drastically in burst pictures with a bent to blow out highlights. You will additionally typically see digital artifacts and halos round edges whenever you zoom in, regardless of which of the three cameras you utilize, however it’s not too noticeable. Colours and brightness are artificially pumped up, however that appears good typically. I even acquired a couple of pictures with the Zenfone that I appreciated greater than related pictures with the Pixel four. And naturally, the Zenfone crushes another cellphone within the selfie division.

Two photographs taken in fast succession with wildly completely different outcomes.

I am glad that Asus lastly added a telephoto to the cellphone, however sadly, it is by far the worst of the bunch. When taken side-by-side, the telephoto reveals larger ISO noise ranges, and tremendous particulars typically look smudged and undefined. It simply doesn’t play effectively with Asus’ overzealous processing.

I additionally took some movies whereas using the bike, and due to OIS and EIS, the clips had been easy regardless of my unstable one-handed operation.

The digital camera app has some methods up its sleeve. You should utilize the amount buttons to maneuver the flip cameras into any place you want or choose one in every of three predefined ones, and the Zenfone will use the distinctive flip mechanism to routinely shoot panoramas and Movement Movies, monitoring the place the topic you need to movie goes.

Asus additionally tries to forestall any injury to the digital camera after they’re flipped to selfie mode. As quickly as you begin dropping the cellphone, the module routinely retracts. One of many included instances even contains a bodily toggle that forestalls the digital camera from flipping within the first place, which is nice whenever you’re out and about.

Whereas the Zenfone 7 Professional typically outperforms the Pixel relating to compositions with sophisticated lighting, the latter typically feels extra dependable relating to post-processing. However after all, the Zenfone crushes another cellphone within the selfie division.

Must you purchase it?

Sure, although at €799 for the Professional variant, Asus’ pricing is not as aggressive because it was once. It is nonetheless cheaper than the Galaxy lineup this yr, however it’s now not the clear cut price final yr’s $500/€500 Zenfone 6 was. We in all probability have 5G assist to thank for the value hike.

Nonetheless, for those who’re searching for a singular cellphone with unbeatable selfies, the Zenfone remains to be the one to decide on. Is it price importing to the US, the place the Zenfone does not assist 5G? In all probability not—you’ve many different nice choices at that value level that work with the brand new community normal.

Purchase it if:

  • You need an all-screen 90Hz AMOLED show.
  • You need to take tons of high-quality selfies.

Do not buy it if:

  • You do not need to fear about breaking the flip mechanism.
  • You desire a smaller or better-balanced cellphone.
  • You are within the US and need to use 5G.

One month later

It has been a couple of month because the preliminary evaluation, and I have been carrying the Zenfone 7 Professional with me on and off since then. It is nonetheless blazing quick, and I have never run into any deal-breaking points that might change my verdict. There are some things price including, although.

After my preliminary battery issues as a result of pre-release firmware bugs, I can now verify that the Zenfone 7 Professional simply lasts you a day after which some following a post-launch replace. I have never managed to run down the battery earlier than going to mattress anymore, and that is with greater than 5 hours of screen-on time some days. The battery is even stable after I activated scheduled charging, which triggered my preliminary battery issues.

Following that system replace, I’ve but to run into any extra points with burst pictures — taking pictures images feels rather more constant and predictable now. Nonetheless, I’ve grown extra anxious relating to the digital camera hardware. The hinge has hassle holding the array in place whenever you shake the cellphone or transfer it too shortly, however at the very least the motor jumps in to retract the array as quick as attainable. That may be why Asus features a case within the field with a change that fully stops the hinge from shifting.

When switching forwards and backwards between telephones (the Pixel three and the OnePlus Nord, to be particular), it is unbelievable how big and top-heavy the Zenfone 7 Professional feels. As soon as once more, this can be a cellphone for people who find themselves okay with carrying a cumbersome package deal with them.

All of that is nitpicking, although: You continue to get a cellphone with a flagship processor and a singular digital camera setup for €799. However remember, this is not the identical screaming deal it was only a month in the past. Samsung launched the Galaxy S20 Fan Version within the meantime, and it beats the Zenfone in some key areas: Its Snapdragon 865 5G variant is barely €730 in Europe, it has a 120Hz display screen, IP68 water and dirt resistance, wi-fi charging, and fewer top-heavy hardware. There is a motive we are saying it might be one of the best cellphone of 2020 in our evaluation. However for those who worth a singular digital camera, an uninterrupted show, and stock-ish Android over the FE’s traits, the Zenfone 7 Professional may nonetheless be for you.