Asus Zenfone 6 review

GSMArena team, 28 May 2019.

Android 9.0 with ZenUI bits hidden here and there

The Zenfone 6 boots Android 9.0 Pie in mostly stock attire, though there's a healthy helping of Asus ZenUI bits hidden underneath. Android Q is right around the corner and Asus is planning for the Zenfone 6 to be among the first devices to get it this fall. An update to the next OS version (Android R) is also promised, as are security patches for the next two years.

Asus Zenfone 6 review

The lockscreen and homescreen implementations are close to what you'd find on a Pixel, as is the app drawer. A minor difference is the folder view, where you'd get a full screen interface unlike the pop-up view in Google's implementation, but still the icons are conveniently placed in the bottom half of the screen (unlike, for example, Samsung's OneUI which pushes the icons high up).

The Zenfone 6 offers three types of navigation and the default is the classic three-button nav bar. There's a gesture based option that replaces the onscreen buttons with swipes where the buttons are. In those two scenarios you can assign a long press on the task switcher button (or a swipe and hold for the gesture) to capture a screenshot or take you to multi window (or, you know, do nothing other than open the task switcher). Then there's also the pill-based solution, if you're into the Pixel way of doing things.

Lockscreen - Asus Zenfone 6 review Homescreen - Asus Zenfone 6 review Folder view - Asus Zenfone 6 review Navigation options - Asus Zenfone 6 review Navigation options - Asus Zenfone 6 review Navigation options - Asus Zenfone 6 review
Lockscreen Homescreen Folder view Navigation options

To get to the navigation in the first place, you have the usual unlocking options - PIN, password, and pattern, and then fingerprint and face unlock. Fingerprint enrollment takes about a dozen taps including the peripheral ones. The sensor is always on and is quick to unlock - not the quickest around, but certainly not keeping you waiting. Repeated attempts were a rarity, the norm in our experience was unlocking on the first try.

Then there's face unlock, which is pretty fast all in itself. However, you need to wake the phone up first, then swipe on the homescreen to trigger the flip camera, which does slow down the entire process considerably. The reasoning behind this approach is obviously to prevent unnecessarily of the motor in a pocket, but perhaps a toggle to skip the swipe step will be appreciated - if you're waking the phone, you probably want to unlock it also and the proximity sensor should be able to handle the pocket scenario.

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Biometric security

The notification area is pretty standard. Asus has added a twist to the quick toggles, and it displays 4 icons per row instead of 3 for a total of 12 - there's room, why not. Another proprietary feature is the option to pick which icons to shows in the status bar - or, rather, which ones to hide. There's little to note when it comes to the multi window implementation - it's pretty basic, just as the task switcher - it gets the job done, but nothing more.

Notifications - Asus Zenfone 6 review A dozen toggles - Asus Zenfone 6 review Hide a bunch of status bar icons - Asus Zenfone 6 review Multi window - Asus Zenfone 6 review Multi window - Asus Zenfone 6 review
Notifications A dozen toggles Hide a bunch of status bar icons Multi window

Asus includes a bunch of in-house apps, which do try to stick with the stock Android aesthetic. The Clock, Dialer, Gallery and File manager have been tweaked by Asus, but won't have you scrambling to find what's where.

Clock - Asus Zenfone 6 review Dialer - Asus Zenfone 6 review File Manager - Asus Zenfone 6 review Gallery - Asus Zenfone 6 review Gallery - Asus Zenfone 6 review
Clock Dialer File Manager Gallery

Perhaps more interesting are Mobile Manager and Power Master utilities. The former lets you stay on top of data usage, memory utilization, and privacy. Power Master has the battery saving modes options, as well as a battery care function which monitors your charging habits and administers advice accordingly.

Asus also has a powerful screen recorder available. It's activated by a toggle in the notification shade, but a long press on the icon lets you tweak the resolution, quality, audio source, and other granular settings. You can also record calls with the built-in sound recorder.

Mobile Manager - Asus Zenfone 6 review Battery care - Asus Zenfone 6 review Screen recorder - Asus Zenfone 6 review Sound recorder - Asus Zenfone 6 review Sound recorder - Asus Zenfone 6 review Sound recorder - Asus Zenfone 6 review
Mobile Manager Battery care Screen recorder Sound recorder

Everyone and their grandmother has a gaming mode these days and the Zenfone 6 will not be left behind. It's called Game Genie, and offers the expected functionality, and then some. Sure, it keeps alerts at bay and can disable the navigation buttons, but also lets you stream directly to Twitch or YouTube and it can record macros to execute in-game.

Game Genie - Asus Zenfone 6 review Game Genie - Asus Zenfone 6 review Game Genie - Asus Zenfone 6 review Game Genie - Asus Zenfone 6 review Game Genie - Asus Zenfone 6 review Game Genie - Asus Zenfone 6 review
Game Genie

And we've kept the best for last. The hardware Smart Key is set up by default to activate Google Assistant. However, you can assign the three actions (press, double press, long press) to different tasks - toggle DND mode, toggle the sound mode, take a screenshot, or even turn on the flashlight. Quite useful, right, Bixby?

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Smart Key

Synthetic benchmarks

Power users demand performance, naturally, and the Zenfone 6 delivers. Looking at GeekBench first, we see that the Asus smartphone's numbers are among the highest in the Android world when it comes to the single-core test - effectively, only the Exynos 9810 powered Galaxy S10s can outperform the Zenfone. The Mi 9 is on par with the Asus offering, while the OnePlus 7 Pro's result is marginally lower. Of course, the per-core power of Apple's processors remains unmatched and the iPhone XR is way ahead.

Asus Zenfone 6 review

It's worth pointing out here, that the Zenfone's software recognizes benchmarking apps and offers to go in a performance boost mode - it's not cheating, if you're aware, right? The results we got out of it, however, weren't markedly better than the regular ones, and with the abundance of power the Snapdragon 855 has, an extra couple of percent improvement is mostly irrelevant.

GeekBench 4.1 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XR
    4818
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    4518
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    3505
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    3503
  • Asus Zenfone 6 (Zen Power Boost)
    3499
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    3419
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    3402
  • Huawei P30 (perf. mode)
    3351
  • Huawei P30
    3295
  • Honor View 20
    3211
  • OnePlus 6T
    2431
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    2429
  • Nokia 9 PureView
    2405
  • Samsung Galaxy A70
    2391
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    2363
  • Google Pixel 3a XL
    1615
  • Oppo F11 Pro
    1560

In the multi-core test, the Zenfone 6 puts out some of the highest scores as well, even though it's bested by both the 7 Pro and the Mi 9 by a thin margin. For what it's worth, the Zenfone outperforms the S10e, while the XR's CPU advantage isn't as pronounced here - it still takes the top spot, of course.

GeekBench 4.1 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XR
    11437
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    11181
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    10943
  • Asus Zenfone 6 (Zen Power Boost)
    10800
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    10735
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    10721
  • Huawei P30 (perf. mode)
    10114
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    10081
  • Huawei P30
    9789
  • Honor View 20
    9530
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    9065
  • Nokia 9 PureView
    8986
  • OnePlus 6T
    8977
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    8088
  • Samsung Galaxy A70
    6584
  • Oppo F11 Pro
    6020
  • Google Pixel 3a XL
    5176

In Antutu is where we got the biggest difference from the Zenfone 6's boost mode. The 4% increase allowed it to inch ahead of the Mi 9 and OnePlus 7 Pro, whereas it's slightly behind in the regular mode. Obviously, that's splitting hairs and these marginal difference have few real-world implications.

AnTuTu 7

Higher is better

  • Asus Zenfone 6 (Zen Power Boost)
    377024
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    372006
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    364025
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    361679
  • Apple iPhone XR
    341196
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    331537
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    325192
  • Huawei P30 (perf. mode)
    314595
  • OnePlus 6T
    293994
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    292353
  • Nokia 9 PureView
    288473
  • Huawei P30
    287960
  • Honor View 20
    275413
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    258244
  • Samsung Galaxy A70
    167750
  • Google Pixel 3a XL
    159110
  • Oppo F11 Pro
    150218

In graphics benchmarks, the Zenfone 6 continues its excellent streak, matching or outperforming competitors.

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XR
    97
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    71
  • Asus Zenfone 6 (Zen Power Boost)
    71
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    70
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    68
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    67
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    65
  • OnePlus 6T
    60
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    60
  • Nokia 9 PureView
    60
  • Huawei P30 (perf. mode)
    56
  • Huawei P30
    54
  • Honor View 20
    53
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    44
  • Google Pixel 3a XL
    20
  • Samsung Galaxy A70
    15
  • Oppo F11 Pro
    14

GFX 3.1 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XR
    60
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    57
  • Asus Zenfone 6 (Zen Power Boost)
    57
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    57
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    56
  • OnePlus 6T
    53
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    52
  • Honor View 20
    50
  • Huawei P30
    48
  • Huawei P30 (perf. mode)
    48
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    33
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    33
  • Nokia 9 PureView
    33
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    24
  • Google Pixel 3a XL
    19
  • Samsung Galaxy A70
    13
  • Oppo F11 Pro
    12

GFX 3.1 Car scene (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XR
    60
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    42
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    42
  • Asus Zenfone 6 (Zen Power Boost)
    42
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    42
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    41
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    40
  • OnePlus 6T
    35
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    35
  • Nokia 9 PureView
    35
  • Huawei P30 (perf. mode)
    33
  • Honor View 20
    30
  • Huawei P30
    29
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    28
  • Google Pixel 3a XL
    11
  • Oppo F11 Pro
    8.5
  • Samsung Galaxy A70
    8

GFX 3.1 Car scene (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone XR
    58
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e
    40
  • Asus Zenfone 6
    36
  • Asus Zenfone 6 (Zen Power Boost)
    36
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
    35
  • OnePlus 6T
    31
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
    30
  • Huawei P30 (perf. mode)
    28
  • Honor View 20
    28
  • Huawei P30
    26
  • LG G8 ThinQ
    20
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
    19
  • Nokia 9 PureView
    19
  • Google Pixel 3 XL
    12
  • Google Pixel 3a XL
    11
  • Oppo F11 Pro
    7.4
  • Samsung Galaxy A70
    7

We should also point out here, that the Zenfone does heat up substantially under load - the area up top where the mother board is, but also the rest of the body. That's good, because heat is inevitably generated, and the fact that the whole phone warms up, means it's being dissipated. However, it's not enough, and the performance does drop after sustained load due to thermal throttling. A quantitative measurement is the Antutu score which dips by up to 12% after 5-6 runs, but no more. In any case, the Zenfone 6 has raw power to spare, so it will rarely make you wait in day to day usage.

Reader comments

  • Rhishi

Sept update has rectified this issue.

Definitely a much more premium phone compared to Xiaomi Pocophone F1. Undoubtedly my choice for affordable flagship.

  • Anonymous

One of the excellent feature in Zenfone 2 was PC link, is it still there in 6? The bad thing in 2 was only one SIM use mobile dad's, hopefully this corrected now.