Flipping Out over the ASUS ZenFone 6 Camera and More

Hands-On Review: ASUS ZenFone 6

Smartphones are starting to get cool again. Sure, you can say smartphones are already cool. What’s not awesome about powerful pocket-sized computers that can do almost anything? Thing is, we pretty much all have one. Slabs of glass and metal that can generally do the same stuff. Now, there’s the ASUS ZenFone 6, with a camera on a motorized hinge that flips 180 degrees with a tap. That’s cool.

ASUS ZenFone 6
ASUS ZenFone 6

The motorized camera is ASUS’s solution to that bit of infamous smartphone design—the notch. If you don’t know, the notch is the area where the selfie camera is placed on the front of the phone, which prevents manufacturers from giving you a seamless display. By removing the camera and rotating it into position when needed, the ZenFone 6 finally gives you the opportunity to enjoy a true edge-to-edge display.

So, what’s it like to use a spinning camera? Is a notch-less display worth all the trouble? Keep reading to find out what that experience is like, and for a quick rundown of what else it has to offer.

More than Meets the Eye

On any other phone, when you tap to switch from the rear to front camera there’s a tiny bit of a wait. With the addition of a motor to spin the camera into position, I fully expected a longer delay. Imagine my surprise when I was ready to take a selfie in roughly 2 seconds. I couldn’t help but smile as the motor instantly engaged when I tapped the screen, transforming from rear to front camera. I tapped repeatedly, and the transition back-and-forth was always quick and smooth, with no delay.

One unique aspect of the motorized camera is that it can take photos and video as a rear camera, a front camera, and anywhere in between. This ability to use the full 0 to 180 degrees of movement made taking sweeping panoramas a breeze. On auto mode, a single tap of the screen is all it takes. You just hold still while the camera spins, doing all the work for you.

The rotating camera can take portrait or landscape-oriented panoramas, but when taking landscape shots, you’ll need to be mindful of the large 180-degree arc. The first couple of shots ended with my giant face at the end of the image. Holding the camera out to the left, or leaning right took care of the problem. It was a small adjustment that was a little awkward at first, but something I quickly got over after just a few pictures.

You can also use this feature in videos, but I would only suggest rotating the camera for capturing shots at odd angles, or for short, quick pans. The rotation is fast and can’t be adjusted, so once you reach the end the camera will start audibly clicking in your video. It’s like using a cordless screwdriver on a screw that’s already tightened all the way.

At the end of my hands-on with the ZenFone 6, I really wished that my phone had this kind of camera. It might have its quirks, but there’s no delay in selfies, automatic panoramas are awesome, and the ability to position the camera from 0 to 180 degrees is sure to open up some unique photo opportunities.

A Clean Slate

As I mentioned, the removal of the camera gives you an all-screen display from edge-to-edge. ASUS calls it a NanoEdge display, and for good reason—the lack of a notch gives the ZenFone 6 a 92% screen-to-body ratio. Honestly, the ratio may as well be 100%. Holding the 6.4" IPS display made it seem like that’s all I was holding. Not having a notch really did improve my feeling of immersion. Whether playing games or streaming videos, I can easily see myself becoming more engaged with the content. The display offers a total of 600 nits of brightness and features a blue light filter to help reduce eye strain. While I didn’t get a chance to view the display for an extended period, or outdoors, it’s nice to know those features are there.

With Great Power

ASUS didn’t create the ZenFone 6 to be all flash. The unique camera and NanoEdge display are impressive, but so is the technology you can’t see. At the heart of the ZenFone 6 is Qualcomm’s flagship processor—the Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform. Coupled with the Adreno 640 GPU and up to 8GB of RAM, you can enjoy the latest in mobile gaming, AI experiences, and more.

Powering all of the ZenFone 6’s cutting edge technology is a monstrously massive 5000mAh battery. This kind of power gives you up to two days of non-stop use and weeks of 4G standby time. Specifically, ASUS claims up to 26 days of standby. If you love to use Wi-Fi to save on data charges, 5000mAh can give you up to 21 hours of browsing. Thankfully, ASUS included Quick Charge 4.0 technology so you can quickly refill the large battery.

Final Thoughts

Manufacturers are seemingly starting to embrace out-of-the-box design concepts to not just do away with the notch for good, but to also set themselves apart from the competition. If the ZenFone 6 is any indication, we could be in for a crop of high-quality smartphones with never-before-seen features in the near future. I enjoyed my time with the ZenFone 6 and was impressed with the camera’s speed and unique capabilities. I was really surprised by how much a notch-less display made a difference in viewing content, too.

What do you think about the future of smartphones? We really would love to hear your feedback in the Comments section, below. Do you have an opinion on ASUS’s design choices for the ZenFone 6? What unique features would you love to see in the next generation of mobile phones? At B&H, you can be one of the first to grab a ZenFone 6, or feel free to browse our wide selection of unlocked smartphones to find your perfect phone.

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