The 6z has its task cut out, to put Asus in the consideration set of flagship phone buyers
When you think of flagship phones, you think the latest Samsung Galaxy, the newest iPhone and, of late, phones such as the 7 Pro by OnePlus. You don’t really think Asus. But this Taiwanese electronics company—more famous for laptops—makes some decent smartphones, too, including the 5z and Max Pro.
Its latest, and the best it has ever made, is the 6z. This top-end phone gets a notchless display, Snapdragon 855 mobile platform, 5000mAh battery with quick-charging ability, and a unique rotating flip camera.
Industry experts argue, perhaps rightly so, that a lot of people buy flagship phones to flaunt them, rather than to actually use the hundreds of features these are equipped with. And because these phones have so many features, which need a strong support system, there are accompanying pain-points: such as low battery anxiety, bloated user interface (UI), front and rear camera performance isn’t the same, etc. Having studied these pain-points, Asus has designed its own solutions: most powerful battery for a phone, a UI that is similar to stock Android, and a swivelling camera that acts both as front and rear unit.
It’s got the essentials, too: FM radio, triple card slot for SIM and memory, good quality earphone, and a 3.5-mm headphone jack.
The defining feature of the 6z is its rotating flip camera. But why do you need one? The primary reason, it appears, is to maximise the display area.
Companies keep innovating to achieve the maximum display area on a smartphone, but on the top of the screen you just cannot escape the notch—the black void that houses a speaker, the front camera and certain sensors. You can, however, reduce its size.
Apple iPhone X has a noticeable notch. Certain Huawei and OnePlus phones have a wide notch. Some other phones have a water-drop notch—which is minimalistic and only houses the selfie camera. And then some companies, such as Oppo and Vivo, use motorised selfie cameras that, when not in use, are hidden inside the body.
Asus has found a unique way to do away with the space for the front camera, by using a rotating module that rotates upwards from the backside to the front, allowing the 6z to have an edge-to-edge screen. The rear camera also works as the front camera—and there is no need for either a notch or a punch-hole (like in the Samsung S10+) to house the front camera.
Asus calls it the world’s first controllable motorised camera system. It comprises a 48 mega-pixel main camera with IMX856 flagship Sony sensor, and the secondary camera is the ultrawide 13 mega-pixel unit.
This way, the space given to the camera system has been increased, and so has quality and utility. It shoots exceptionally good photos and videos, and you can also do ‘magical’ things such as shooting videos of moving objects without having to manually turn the camera towards the object—as the object moves, the camera changes angles automatically so that the object remains in the centre of the frame. The 6z is perhaps the only phone in the world that, even when steady, can take a 180-degree panorama shot.
Any motorised system has its limitations—moving parts wear out over time, and their life can be further shortened by dust and grime—but Asus claims this system has been tested to last over a lakh rotations, which implies a few years of average phone usage.
UI and battery
Certain phones suffer from a condition called bloatware—they don’t run stock Android and instead have their own UI with preloaded apps that might not be of any use to you. Because you cannot remove these apps, they keep using a large amount of memory and RAM. The 6z has Asus UI—called ZenUI 6—but it’s so similar to stock Android that it’s tough to tell one from the other. To make matters simpler, the ZenUI 6 has a physical smart key on the right side of the unit, which by default takes you to call up the Google Assistant, but you can configure it to have multiple functionalities.
At 5000mAh, the 6z has the biggest battery for a flagship smartphone. It easily lasts more than a day and you don’t need to carry a power bank all the time. It supports quick-charging function.
The audio experience it delivers is neat, both via speakers and earphones.
Pricing and omissions
For Rs 31,999 (6GB RAM; 64GB storage), Rs 34,999 (6GB/128GB) and Rs 39,999 (8GB/256GB), Asus 6z undercuts its competitors. For example, the 7 Pro is priced Rs 48,999 to Rs 52,999, and the under-specced OnePlus 7 is priced Rs 32,999. Similarly, features-to-features, the 6z appears more cost-competitive than Oppo Reno. Its major competitor should be the upcoming Redmi K20 Pro. The 6z, in a number of ways, is also as good as the Galaxy S10+, but at half its price.
The 6z, therefore, comes across as a value-for-money flagship that is high on functionality, but there are notable omissions. Flagship-level features you don’t get are wireless charging, water resistance, in-screen fingerprint sensor, and its face unlock takes longer time than usual because of the flip camera.