Asus Zenfone 6 in-depth review - Big screen blower on a budget

 Asus Zenfone 6 Review - Big screen blower on a budget

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,9/11/2014 4:44:59 PM


out of 10



out of 5

Look and feel


out of 5

Ease of use


out of 5



out of 5

Battery life


Full HD screen | Nicely designed | Premium feel | Solid performance


Screen too big for some | Average cameras | Few unique features |

There are big phones, and big phones - this is the latter. It measures six inches from corner to corner, making it almost twice as large as the original iPhone and a full inch bigger than the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8).

So can you really live with a phone closer in size to an iPad mini than an iPhone, and - crucially for Asus - should you consider the huge Zenfone 6 when it’s priced at just £250?

Asus Zenfone 6: Look and Feel

Yes, it’s massive and no, I never felt particularly comfortable using the Fonepad 6 in public. As an executive from a phone company told me recently, Dom Joly has a lot to answer for when it comes to holding big phones to your face in public.

Continuing the theme laid down by the entry-level Zenfone 4 (reviewed here) and the mid-range 5, the 6 has squared edges, a soft rubberised plastic back when curved slightly from edge to edge, small bezels, and a shiny panel below the display with the texture of a vinyl record.

Like the Nokia Lumia 1520 and Sony Xperia Z1 Ultra before it, the size of the Fonepad 6 means it demands attention. I was constantly picking up the phone just to hold and examine it; a handset of this size is a curiosity to be pored over.

That curved back and enormous footprint both help to make the Zenfone 6 feel thinner than you’d expect; it’s 9.9mm at its thickest and tapers down to about six at either edge. At 196g the phone will never feel light, but I’ve always found I get used to massive phones after a week or so.

Asus Zenfone 6: Screen

And when you get used to the size, you’ve got that lovely big screen to enjoy. The six inch display has a resolution of  720 x 1280 which, although not Full-HD like many phone this size, the Zenfone 6 still looks sharp and crisp. A very close look at small fonts will show up some fuzziness and jagged edges, but honestly I found this impossible to spot during regular use.

Brightness is good, although not a match for more expensive handsets, and colour balance is also impressive. It’s slightly on the warm side, meaning white appears a shade closer to yellow than blue, but this only really shows up when compared side-by-side with my HTC One (M8) - and obviously that’s a much more expensive handset.

The size will be completely unsuitable for some, but for those who want a big phone the extra space really does bring a the cinema to your pocket - perfect for Netflix binges in bed.

Asus Zenfone 6: Software and Performance

Featuring the same Zen UI as the four- and five-inch versions of the Zenfone, the 6 has a slightly modified version of Google’s Android 4.2.2 KitKat. Asus includes a homescreen folder housing 12 of its own applications; these include a calendar, to-do list, image gallery, clock, calculator and more. Some are unique, like Splendid, a way to quickly adjust the colour temperature of the display, but most are duplicates of apps already offered by Android.

The Zenfone 6 is powered by a 2GHz, dual-core Intel Atom processor with 2GB of RAM and, while this might not match some of the quad-core Snapdragon processors used to power rivals by Samsung and Sony, the Asus flies along nicely. The interface feels responsive and sharp, while games play smoothly, web browsing is snappy and the phone doesn’t ever feel like you’re taxing it particularly hard.

Storage is just 16GB on our review sample, but this can be increased by up to 64GB thanks to a microSD card slot hidden beneath the removable plastic rear cover.

It may not have the bells and whistles of a Samsung Galaxy S5, or the refined design of an iPhone 6 or Sony Xperia Z3, but the Zenfone 6 packs a lot of bang for very little buck - just £249 in fact.

Asus Zenfone 6: Camera

The Zenfone’s rear camera has a 13-megapixel sensor with autofocus and LED flash, while the front-facer is two megapixels. Asus has tweed the layout and design of the Android camera app, but much of the filters and shooting modes remain intact - there’s full auto, panorama, night, selfie, (using the rear camera and face detection to get the perfect shot), and a mode called Time Rewind, which lets you pick a frame from a couple of seconds before or after you press the shutter button.

Despite a ‘Turbo’ button speeding things up, the Zenfone’s camera app is fairly slow, taking a good couple of seconds to shoot and process each photo before it’s ready to go again. There’s also a lengthy pause when opening the gallery of taken photos.

Image quality is good, but nothing to write home about - especially indoors, where noise and grain becomes a problem in photos taken without the flash. Outside the Zenfone fares better, but image quality is roughly what you’d expect for the mid-range price.

Asus Zenfone 6: The Verdict

A massive, pocket-stretcher of a phone, the Zenfone 6 will appeal strongly to those who want a 6-inch screen on a budget. It’s full-HD, has a powerful and efficient Intel processor, expandable storage and an attractive user interface on top of the latest version of Android.

The Asus loses a few points for having a fairly average pair of cameras, but otherwise we’re struggling to find any major faults - especially when you remember it costs just £249, less than half the price of the (much smaller) iPhone 6.