Design and Build Quality
Looking at the edges, the top edge houses the 3.5 mm audio connector port, the Power/Sleep button and a tiny hole for microphone. The placement of the Power key is peculiar and if you have small to medium hands, you'l need to hold the device from the top to reach the Power key with your first finger. This even means you can lose the grip on the phone with the danger of dropping it. Moreover, the Power button is too recessed into the chassis and provides almost zero feedback. You'll need to look at the screen to make out whether you have successfully pressed it or not. Though Asus has tried to change the design philosophy here, we still feel the Power button on the side of the device is easier to reach with lesser chances of a slip up. The left edge and right edge have no buttons while the bottom edge houses the microUSB 2.0 connector for charging. The right edge also has the groove to remove the back cover which allows you access to SIM card and microSD card slots.
The back of the device has a lot of peculiarities too. Its made of plastic and has a diamond mosaic design which we have never seen before in any other phone by any other brand either. We find it a bit too flashy. The back also houses the dual-tone LED flash, the camera lens as well as the Volume rocker button. Again, the placement of the Volume rocker even though being different is very strange. We always needed to look at the back of the device to see if our finger is placed correctly to reach for the Volume rocker. The rocker is also completely recessed into the back but does provide ample feedback to know that the keys have been pressed. There is also an Asus logo as well a long row of holes for the speaker. After removing the back cover, we get access to the slots as mentioned above. The SIM cards and microSD card slot are all well-marked to see how you need to insert them.
Overall, we have not been able to get accustomed to the small changes like placement of Power and Volume rocker buttons and hence don't approve of the design much. Even the back is too flashy for our liking.
The home screens are infinitely scrollable which means you do not need to come back to the first screen to go in a backward position. We also found a new Bluelight Filter setting which further allows you to set Color temperature and also provides four screen color modes - Balance, Bluelight Filter, Vivid and Customized. These can be very handy for anyone who wants to tweak the display settings and wishes to customize it to his heart's content. The OS also has some inbuilt smart gestures which take you to the particular app without pressing the Power key, like if you draw 'C' on the display while the phone is in sleep mode, it would automatically take you to the camera, we found this to work very well and it never lagged. All in all, the new ZenUI is easy on the eyes as well as easy to use.
In both the pictures above, the post-processing has imparted a greyish-greenish tinge as you can easily make out in the sky in the first picture and the wall in the second picture. Even the yellow color of the lamp seems to be faded and slightly washed. Moreover, grain and noise is quite visible when clicking pictures in low light conditions. However, the details have been picked up nicely due to the high resolution of the camera. We feel the rear camera is just above average and can be improved upon specially in low light conditions and during the post-processing. The front camera has an inbuilt beautification mode and very strangely, there is lesser noise in front camera selfies than were produced by images from the rear camera. Overall, we would call the cameras usable but not the best that we have seen in smartphones.