Category Archives: Technology

Xiaomi Mi 3 – The Better in the Lesser

Xiaomi Mi 3 – The Better in the Lesser

 Xiaomi, a brand new and relatively unknown especially here in the Philippines, but as they released the monster Mi 3, they have taken over by storm, and amidst being a Chinese Company, some of our patriots continue to push boycotting china products, it has grown critical acclaim and their products are having great clamour.

Xiaomi Mi3 was sold out shortly after it became available and the Xiaomi Powerbank sale sold out in seconds! As much as we want to hate China, there is no denying that they are here to stay and here to challenge Rebranders, which, to the best of my knowledge are also Chinese made branded as a Philippine Product.

Today, we take a late look at the Xiaomi that started it all. Xiaomi Mi 3. Packed with Quad-Core 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 800, an Ardeno 330 GPU, 2GB of Ram and a surprising 5 Inch Full HD 1920×1080 Display, Xiaomi Mi3 is still an absolute beast 1 year upon its announcement and subsequent release.

With Monster Specs and a surprising price, does Xiaomi Mi 3 live up to the tremendous hype? Or is it another China Phone to avoid? Read on and Find out!

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  1. Design and Build



Xiaomi Mi 3 is a 5 Inch phone protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and Polycarbonate body. The choice of material used makes it feel premium to hold and unlike some plastic and/or glass enclosures, you can be sure that this phone will not get any fingerprints, keeping its premium feel intact even after continuous use. The phone looks rectangular but its top and bottom sides are curvy. Along with the 5 Inch Screen, the front houses the front camera, capacitive Menu-Home-Back buttons and the Mi Logo. One side both has the volume rocker and power button. The top has the 3.5mm jack, sim tray, a mini-speaker. The bottom has the speaker and the USB port. The back houses the 13MP camera and another Mi logo.

Xiaomi Mi 3 feels comfortable to hold, and, unlike its same priced rebranded competitors, it does not look cheap. Its look can even pass up for a higher tier device.

  1. Display


Sporting a 5 Inch Full HD 1920×1080 display, Xiaomi Mi 3 pushes its boundary further. Icons and text look vivid, crisp, vibrant and sharp. Viewing images, zooming in and out, watching Full HD movies will definitely be a pleasurable experience. One thing I did notice is the viewing angles. Tilt the device a little, even at maximum brightness, you will see deterioration of the screen. Sunlight contrast is also an issue as, again, even on maximum brightness, your screen will be hard to look at. This may be due to its highly reflective screen. It’s so reflective, you can use this as a faux mirror.


  1. Entertainment


After having an amazing body and display, one flaw Mi 3 has would be its speaker. They are not bad but they definitely do not perform as well as higher tier phones he hopes to challenge. Put it head to head with Rebranders, Xiaomi Mi 3 most definitely perform much better. Mi 3 offers ok loudspeakers, headsets attached, it has decent sound, though it is not as clean as its higher tiered competitors. It is not that noticeable but on max volume, there are some distortion. Again, they are rarely noticeable.

Sporting that beastly Full HD 1080p display, Xiaomi Mi 3 proves to be a very reliable video player. Partner it with Mx Player Pro and there is nothing that it can fit that it can’t play. Yes even 3GB 1080p Files will play smoothly. Your eyes are in for a treat!

Gaming is another strong suit of this Mammoth, NBA 2k14, Dead Trigger and Injustice are just some of the games which play smoothly. NBA 2k14’s multiplayer mode also plays smoothly. A truly amazing feat. Obviously, for non-HD Games, Xiaomi Mi 3 will breeze through them.

Web Browsing and Streaming is also a good experience on Mi 3 as its powerful specs makes the former and the latter an experience to be proud of on Mi 3.

  1. Camera


I may have finally found a flaw with Mi 3! It’s Camera! The Camera’s interface feels slow and laggy and focusing takes some time. Image quality on normal lighting conditions are ok, but throw in a little darkness and/or a little low light, images will result with some noise. Front camera also looks noisy and washed out. That’s not to say Mi 3’s camera is completely useless, it can be used on normal lighting and some selfies here and there, just don’t expect Super Brand (Sony, Samsung, Apple) Camera performance. The extras also feels like a toned down version from various camera apps.

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  1. Software


As mentioned earlier, Mi3 comes packed with Quad-Core 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 800, an Ardeno 330 GPU, and 2GB of Ram. It runs Xiaomi’s custom Launcher MIUI is a mock of Apple’s OS. Unlike other custom skins, ehem TouchWiz, MIUI feels fast, smooth and very responsive, it’s a great feel to almost Apple. If you are an iOS launcher fan, MIUI will certainly appease to your taste. Even notifications feel vastly different from Android.


Even if Xiaomi feels like a hybrid of iOS and Android, it is still easy to use and very user-friendly. Functioning as a phone, call quality is ok. The SMS app runs fine but its keyboard is stock, which maybe good or bad depending on your preference. It has NFC Chip but no LTE. I don’t mind the lack of LTE as you wouldn’t enjoy it anyway here in Philippines.

As for software support, I hope Xiaomi continuous to give life to it by giving it the latest for as long as possible. A good sign maybe the increasing dev support as it finally has a page on xda forums!


  1. Battery

 A big question for power users. How is the battery life? Actually, I am very impressed as I expected bad battery life. Standby time is very long and on an average use it CAN PROBABLY last you two full days. As for heavy users, lasting through a typical 100% from house to after work to back to your house with a little battery life left is attainable on some occasions. A truly good, if not great, feat! Take note that continuous heavy use will result in heating up of your device.


Executive Summary



  • So-so camera
  • Non-expandable storage
  • No LTE Connectivity
  • Soft Loudspeakers
  • Distortions at Max Volume
  • Bad Sunlight Contrast and viewing Angles
  • Limited availability
  • Heating up on continuous heavy use


  • Feels and Looks expensive
  • 5 Inch Full 1920×1080 Display
  • MIUI Feels fast
  • Web Browsing and YouTube Streaming is Good
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • A Good Gaming Phone
  • Good Battery Life


No question. At P10, 599 SRP Xiaomi Mi 3 is the BEST and the PHONE TO OWN. Hate the Chinese all you want, they did an amazing job with Xiaomi Mi 3 and they did it without breaking the banks. The cons of so-so camera and bad viewing angles seem a pretty minor trade-off for a beautifully crafted device that offers buttery smooth performance, amazing display, and a good multimedia driver. Xiaomi may not be a well-known brand but it certainly is the better choice if you are on a budget. If you are on a budget and other choices in your list consists of Cherry, MyPhone or a crap-speced Branded phone, I would recommend getting the Xiaomi Mi 3 instead.

Xiaomi Mi 3 packs a enough specs to challenge High Tier Branded phone and makes Rebrander Kings Cherry and MyPhone look cheap, unimpressive and overpriced!

I am that impressed with this phone and very excited to compare it to a Branded Phone with similar specs. Can you guess what Phone I am referring it to? Well, Stay tuned to find out! 😛

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Motorola Xoom – Throwback to the First True Tablet

Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi – Throwback to the First True Tablet



Motorola, a company that temporarily died but is now at a revival stage and propelling itself back to the top. With hits like Moto X 2013, Moto G, Moto X 2014 and the recently announced Nexus 6, Motorola is doing it right by targeting budget consumer looking for the best and cheapest Android Experience.

Tablets are one of those device you probably don’t need but you have one anyways. Back in 2011, only the tablet most of us knew was iPad. Little did we know, me included, that Motorola released a competitor. Probably one of its downfall was the steep price, as admittedly back then iOS was far better.

During that time Motorola Xoom was hailed the first true tablet as it was the one who bore the first tablet oriented Android OS Honeycomb.

I recently got a hold of this device and, with respect to today, it is painstakingly slow, luckily, 3 years and counting, Xoom continues to get dev support and I bravely charged into the unknown to root my device and install a custom OS. After a few failures and more reading, I have successfully installed an Unofficial CyanogenMod 4.4.4 KitKat. So, with respect to 2014, and what can the Motorola Xoom actually offer you? Read on and find out!

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Xoom is a 10.1 Inch Giant with a resolution of 12800×800 this is probably one of the first tablet to sport an HD display. Even though its sports an HD Display the 10.1 inch screen is just too big, sometimes, it doesn’t look like its HD. Kind of like an 800×480 on a 5 inch screen.

Consumers generally buy tablet for one purpose. Their multimedia driver, for music, on loudspeaker and headsets attached, it’s surprisingly good, and the two speakers at the back is an ok choice for a big tablet. Today, front speakers should be the norm but back then, when tablets were just starting, the back was the obvious way to go. Headsets attached, Xoom offers great audio output with loudness reaching high levels.

Video playback takes a hit on large videos, it can play some 720p ok but 1080p is a big no-no. Again, use MX Player Pro for maximum satisfaction and be sure to enable Software Decoding. Otherwise, other videos will play fine.

For Gaming, Xoom understandably has lags, but I asked some of my colleagues to play with it, Contra and Dead Trigger and most of them seem to give a positive feedback.

If you have been with Android since time immemorial, you would know that Web Browsing feels slow and half-baked, certainly was the case in Honeycomb. KitKat showed improvements, but given the hardware’s age, you will notice some delays opening and loading pages.

YouTube streaming has been significantly improved by KitKat in Xoom, I actually use it more than I expected.




Xoom also features a 5MP Rear Camera, 2MP Front Camera, and a micro-HDMI port. Nothing can be expected from the camera, it has a relatively small Field-of-View and pictures are easily blurred front or rear. The micro-HDMI port still works with the KitKat update but it seems to stretch the picture more on a bigger screen.

The battery life has also been improved by KitKat and it actually performs as well as other tablets today with typical 3-4 hours of screen on time and crazy standby-time. It can last you a week when you don’t use it. I’m not kidding.



By today, Motorola Xoom is way past its prime, even KitKat could not save it and I believed it has reached its full potential. Still, with the prices of 10 inch tablets relatively steep, Xoom may still be a good choice if you need basic tasks to be done. It functions fine as a YouTube streamer, Music Player, non-HD video player and a so-so browser. Ultimately, it rests on you, the consumer if you want to pick this up.

For more news and updates head on also to Norman3000 on Facebook

LG NEXUS 5 – A Year of Pure Stock



Nexus 6, Nexus 9, Android L. Android’s future is coming up to be a pretty exciting one. Rumours have spread out that these three next gen stuvves are coming this October 2014.

As Google’s next flagship arrive, their Nexus 5’s, current flagship, prices have been going down. With the trend of the Smartphone’s lifespan of only about 6 months, should this 1 year old product even still be in your list if you want an upgrade? Read on and Find out!

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  1. Design and Build


For the past year or two, Q4 of the year always seem to be the time for Bigger phone, Note 3, Note 2, One Max, etc. Last year, Google launched Nexus 5 with a 5 Inch screen, considerably smaller than its competitors. The front of Nexus 5 sports an all touch interface, no hardware buttons can be found here, as well as the front Camera, earpiece and a sensor with the screen with relatively thin bezel. The sides offer the volume rocker and the power button. The top and bottom houses the 3.5mm jack and speakers, respectively, both with mic. The back has the kind-of protruding camera with the Nexus and LG logo in a plastic covering.

Nexus 5 feels light and comfortable to hold, due to its matte-ish back, it doesn’t feel it will slip when you hold it.

Overall, the Phone feels ok but it does not exude an aura of appeal. I would often get asked, what phone is that? Is that China-phone? Also, Nexus 5 is not widely available in the Philippine Market, it can be bought on Grey Market, but I am still to find a store like Abensons to sell it. #TrueStory

  1. Display


Nexus 5 sports a 5-inch 1920×1080 Full HD Display. This is the first Nexus Smartphone to come in Full HD and Nexus did it right. Texts look sharp, zooming in and out of webpage is crisp, and watching movies is amazing. With regards to sunlight contrast, it takes a huge hit in direct sunlight. I can’t remember the number of times I had to maximize brightness under the sun just so I can read a text message. I live in a tropical country so, yeah, that is a lot of times. On ok lighting conditions, it has ok viewing angles too. My tip? In a snatcher infested country, thank God I work in Taguig, where most, if not all people, are richer than me, DO NOT WHIP OUT YOUR PHONE in Sunlight/Public.

  1. Entertainment


Functioning as a daily driver, Nexus 5 is still one of the best out there. Loudspeaker, understandably, suffers due to the poor speaker positioning, but nobody should use a smartphone for loudspeaker anyway. Plug in your headsets, LG Nexus 5 offers clean output, your music and sound stay faithful, no added bass, trebles or low. It has the right amount of loudness but compared to its competitors Note 3, S5, G3, etc. it is not as loud.

Being the Stock Harbinger, you can expect Nexus to slack on something, and I found 2! First one is the undying, never resolved, stock video codec. The codec included is extremely limited, it can play some of your files with the question mark of it playing fine, lagging, muting and worst of all, it transforms your 2GB movie file into Mp3. Nice work, Google! Fortunately, a quick download of MX Player Pro keeps you up to speed.

For Gaming, Nexus 5 does amazingly well! All non-HD Games opens and runs smoothly. Go into higher end games like NOVA 3, Real Steel, Dark Knight, and Captain America, it plays them smoothly, this is an amazing feat. If a 2013 phone can perform and play these games on such a high level, just imagine how well its competitor’s and its own successor will be able to play them!

Web Browsing has seen a continuous improvement from past iterations of Android, and coupled with powerful specs, Web Browsing on Nexus 5 is mighty fine. Video Streaming, is also a joy, as videos load fast and can now play Full 1080p! These two maybe internet dependent, but Nexus 5’s KitKat has certainly helped improving it.

  1. Camera


Remember when I said Nexus 5 has 2 super flaws? Here is the second one! Nexus 5 has an 8MP rear camera. As with any other phone in its price range, it performs ok, take note, ok not great, but throw in a little darkness, use flash, and results come in as disappointing. As for its front camera, it performs ok too at good lighting condition. Finally, the camera experience is bare, you don’t get any gimmicky stuff here compared to HTC and Samsung. Lesson of the day? Don’t expect super camera performance from stock.

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  1. Software


Nexus 5 is powered by Quad-Core 2.3GHZ Snapdragon 800 Processor with Ardeno 330 GPU with 2GB of Ram. Throw in the stock vanilla android and you have yourself, even up to today, yes today (October 2014), it performs at buttery smoothness, rare to none lags, and a powerful multitasker.

If you love stock, Nexus is obviously the one for you. The straight up no gimik approach with little to no bloatwares help aids its quick performance. Google Now is now shaping up to be a very respectable launcher. Sadly, this is Philippines so you can’t fully maximize its functions unless you are on an unlimited plan. Actually even if you are on UnliData plan, you will either get cut-off with cap or get garbage reception amidst telecommunication companies’ insistence that they have 5G or 100% 3G reception.


Being a SmartPhone, Nexus 5 has shown that it can be Smart. Can it be a phone? Of course yes! Call quality, both as a receiver and a transmitter is ok, clear but sometimes, I can come up as soft. Dialer and Contacts are stock, and Hangouts is slowly shaping up to be the SMS app of choice. GoSMS is debatable as the best.

Another feature which catapults Nexus 5 with the best of today is the amazing number of custom roms and dev support.

Software-wise Nexus 5 offers top-of-the-line performance despite being a year old, and being a Nexus line, you can be sure it can be updated to the next 2 iterations of Android. Android L will definitely available and I have high hopes it will get Android M.

  1. Battery

 There is no doubt Nexus 5 is amazing but I did mention it has 2 super flaws. Well this is a major flaw. Battery life. Before Nexus 5, I was using Galaxy Note 2 as my daily driver, and I also tinker with it and sometimes, it was able to last me 2 days with 4-5 hours screen on time. With the Nexus 5, overnight charging is a must and before the day ends, my battery struggles. I average about 2.5 Hours of screen on time. Sadness.


Executive Summary



  • Disappointing Camera especially on low-light and flash photography without extra features
  • Non-expandable storage
  • Crappy out of the box video codec
  • Soft Loudspeakers
  • Some Bloatwares
  • Horrendous Battery Life
  • Does not look like a premium device (Applicable on in PH)
  • Bad Sunlight Contrast


  • 5 Inch Full 1920×1080 Display
  • Great headset audio output
  • Stock Android
  • LTE Connectivity
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • Tons of Developer Support and Customization available


I feel like I may have strayed from the original point of this article which is to answer if this phone is still a good choice with the upcoming of a successor. For me, Nexus 5 is still one of the best out there and its price drop is definitely something to consider. Branded phone is ALWAYS, ALWAYS better than rebranded phones. At most, I will probably still use it for the next 6 months unless Nexus 6 will be that good. The Nexus line is a line of premium Google device which does its best to give you the BEST value for money for the LONGEST amount of time. Other flagships releases twice a year, but Nexus releases once. This is a nice strategy to give consumers peace of mind and actually have something to look at least in terms of specs when looking to upgrade Z2 to Z3 anyone? Nexus also looks to have almost infinite dev support. Google may have stopped support on earlier Nexus like Galaxy Nexus Prime and below but all of them has gotten KitKat. Even my Nexus One runs KitKat, albeit laggy. Nexus 5, at least for the foreseeable 6 months, imho, will continue to breathe life support with Google, and if Google decides to pull the plug, Devs will be there to support. Just be sure to take note of the major cons before buying, otherwise, for those looking for a cheap bang for the buck, Nexus 5 is a safe and great choice.

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THL T6S Review



 Today, there are a lot of China Smartphone makers in the country. From MyPhone and Cherry as Dual King of Rebranded Smartphones comes creeping other companies like SKK, Torque, Kata, THL etc. The craze for sub-10k phones is amazing. Whenever a company releases one, you can be sure that it will have a group on Facebook with fan base reaching thousands before the actual release!

Today, I decided to get back on the sub-10k range and try one from a well-known company in China which is trying to creep into Philippine Market. The one I bought is none other than the spec heavy, light priced THL T6S. Priced relatively cheaply at about Php 4,000. T6s packs 5 Inches of 854×480 JDI TFT Screen, Quad core MT6582M Chipset, 1GB Ram, and Kitkat out of the box. Does the China Made China released ‘Technology Happy Life (THL)’ phone pack a significant punch, or does it perform similar to pseudo rebranders king Cherry Mobile? Read on and find out!

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Contents other than the standard is present on T6S.  It contains the Manuals, USB Cable, charger and a headset. Nothing special.

  1. Design and Build


THL T6S sets itself apart by not going with curved edges. Instead it takes an Xperia-ish square edge, which, in my opinion, is a better choice with respect to looks. The button layout is pretty much the same, with Capacitive touch buttons below, volume rockers on the left side and power button on the right. Depending on your preference, the ‘Menu, Home, Back’ capacitive layout maybe good or bad. The back consist of a protruding camera, speakers and THL logos. It’s made with plastic Matte back which may or may not make you cringe when you scratch it.

Overall, the Phone feels and looks ok but it does not stand out. You won’t have any friends asking you ‘Wow, ang ganda! Ano to?’ (Wow this looks great! What is it?)

  1. Display


T6S sports a 5-inch JDI 854×480 screen. At this point in time, anything below 720p will probably get an eye-lash bat, but considering its price point and competitor (Flare 3 has 960×540 qHD display), this one is just about right.

The screen boasts good viewing angles and adequate brightness. Though if you are tight about display, you would undoubtedly notice some pixels here and there.

  1. Entertainment


Performing as your Multimedia Driver, THL performs ok with some great hits and so-so miss.

On loudspeaker, T6S performs ok especially for bedroom use, it gets bad outdoors, well why would you use a phone loudspeaker on public. Attach your head/earset/bud/phone (I use JVC FX3X), it has good performance, great amount of loudness, but not too much bass considering I use a bassy in-ear plugs.

As expected from a China made generic android, the codec for videos is extremely bad. Luckily, MX Player Pro will easily solve this problem. Speaking of media playing, it runs 1080p videos but it does not seem to run perfectly as it shows stutters. Small sized 720p videos will work fine.

For Gaming, THL holds itself well, playing non-HD mainstream games with relative smoothness. For HD games, I expected it to perform badly but it surprised me! Don’t get me wrong, this thing is not made for such as there is presence of extremely long loading times but it did play Vice City, Asphalt 8, Gangster 4. It played them but expect long loading times and lags. Again, I know this is not made for such games, I’m actually praising THL for the fact that it opens the aforementioned games.


Web Browsing and YouTube streaming is not that of a strong suit. Don’t use for heavy browsing. And take note of the fact that it only plays up to 480p on YouTube. Yes, I am aware of the phone’s resolution at 480p.

Also note that, unlike high end phones today, this phone does not default to MTP, it uses USB Mass Storage Mode, which I think is less efficient than the former.

  1. Camera


For the camera, the box says it has 5MP, surprisingly you can capture pictures at 13MP! Amazing? No not really. As most of you may know, quality does not depend on Pixels. This is certainly true for T6S. Pictures look washed out especially indoors and low light. If you are looking for a camera phone with a cheap price tag, better stay clear of this one.

  1. Software


T6S is powered by a quadcore MT6582M processor partnered with 1GB Ram. Initially, it seems to be a very snappy phone, but open a few apps, it shows slowdowns. I don’t know if this is unit dependent but I sometimes encounter random reboot of the phone. Sometimes it becomes painstakingly slow, what I must do is reboot it and it runs fine again. It is also powered by Kitkat for those who have ‘latest always’ syndrome.

T6S’ interface is named Launcher3, which just looks and feels like a gimmicked version of Stock. I would have preferred the latter as I see no advantages on using this Launcher3.


Functioning as a phone, T6S does well, call quality is okay at best and SMS/Keyboard/Phonebook is all stock.

Being a China phone, expect some Bloatwares, you can easily uninstall them, though.

  1. Battery


Same as with every other P4, 000 phone, and battery takes a huge hit. I don’t think you should expect great battery life from this phone, as it is average at best. It CAN last you through your work, but overnight charging is a definite must. Expect standby time of 12 hours and on screen time of about 2 and a half hours.

Executive Summary



  • Crappy out of the box video codec
  • Unimpressive Camera
  • Lags and stuttering on HD Games
  • Some Bloatwares
  • Disappointing Battery Life
  • Random reboots
  • Lags


  • Ok headset audio output
  • Ok loudspeaker output
  • Ok Display for a 480p phone
  • Ok looking phone


Honestly, I am not impressed with this phone. For a P4, 000 phone, I know I should not expect much. I can’t pinpoint it exactly but I feel there is something missing here. It has been a very long time since I reviewed a phone on this area so I can’t exactly tell you how it performs with others of the same price range. But if you are going to ask me if I can recommend this? I guess I can say it’s ok just be aware of the cons listed. With the way Asus Zenfone hit the market, other phones will have a hard time competing, Asus Zenfone 4 review will come up soon so stay tuned 😉

For more news and updates head on also to Norman3000 on Facebook

Asus Zenfone 5 – The Rebrander Killer




Most, if not all Filipinos, are easily impressed by specs. Barring build quality and other factors, as soon as we see high-end specs on paper on any rebranded phone, most will drool and marvel at it and some end up impulsively buying it. I would not blame my fellow countrymen as I too am a sucker for such phones and with the steep price of high-end phones, this addiction is understandable.

As Samsung and Apple continue to dominate the high-end smartphone battleground, one international brand has slowly but surely been making its way up by going down. Let’s face it, anyone who dares to compete with monotonous looking Samsung and size growing Apple would probably end up losing in the long run.

So instead of taking a dip in the high-end wars, Asus is taking its talent through the budget-phone arena. Announced last January 2014 and released a few weeks ago in the Philippine Market. Asus Zenfone 5 has become a phenomenal hit that its Philippine Facebook pages has grown to a full thousand and more in a short span of time.

Priced at a very competitive P6, 495, Asus Zenfone 5 Sports a 5-Inch HD Display protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and encased beautifully. Will the Zenfone 5 punch a hole big enough to scar the rebranded market? Does it live up to the tremendous hype? Read on and find out! 

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Asus Zenfone 5’s box looks like any other you have seen.  It contains the standard package consisting of Manuals, USB Cable, charger and a relatively good headset. Nothing special.

  1. Design and Build


Asus Zenfone 5 is undoubtedly one of the best looking budget phone to date. It is so good it can even pass as a high-end smartphone. The front houses a 2MP camera, capacitive touch buttons and good, but not quite thin, bezels. The lower part of the front adds to the high end appeal as it does look like last year’s HTC One. The volume rocker and power button are silver   and gorgeous. The back is protected by a plastic matte-back with the 8MP Camera, ASUS, Intel, Zenfone logo, and speakers.

Overall, the Phone feels and looks expensive and high class. It definitely screams PREMIUM.

  1. Display


Zenfone 5 sports a 5-inch 1280×720 HD display. As far as displays goes today, 720p displays feels a bit dated but looking at its price point, and from a trusted brander, it still can be categorized as a win.

Looking at the screen, it’s actually nice to look at, it is has the right amount of brightness, the text is sharp and crisp, and it has good viewing angles. Pic browsing and movie playback will definitely be and enjoyable experience with this phone.

One complaint I have would be why is there no backlight in the capacitive touch buttons? Sure you can easily memorize 3 keys but I Zenfone 5 actually sports a different button layout. For the past 3 years I have been using Android, I have always had Menu-Home-Back format. Now I am treated into a Back-Home-Recent buttons. The former configuration has been in my heart with me too much, I constantly make the same mistake especially when I am on a dimly lit room.

  1. Entertainment

One of the most important factor for a phone today is to function as your daily multimedia driver. For Zenfone 5, it functions amazingly well in that aspect.

On loudspeaker, Zenfone 5 sits with those in the poor category as it has a very disappointing loudspeaker. As far as listening with headsets go, it jumps as one of the best performers. It has clean audio output, respectable bass and right amount of loudness. To standardize my review, and for the upcoming reviews I will be using JVC FX3X (Review coming soon).


Another minor disappointment is the device limited codec. You wouldn’t be able to play all your videos out of the box. But as soon as you download a reliable video player, MX Player (recommended), you can fully enjoy your movies with this beautiful 5-Inch 720p device. Also, Zenfone 5 can play 1080p videos (tested 2GB movies).


For Gaming, Asus was able to play all non-HD mainstream games. However playing games such as NBA 2k14, Dead Trigger, Dark Knight, it has shown some stutter and lags.



Web Browsing and YouTube streaming is another strong suit of Zenfone. I have had no problems in opening web pages and streaming videos.

  1. Camera


Asus Zenfone 5 sports an 8MP Main Camera and a 2MP front camera. As far as smartphone imaging is concerned, Asus does not have a good and strong reputation. As for this one, though, it has a good Main Camera which has TONS of features including the Famous Selfie Mode. Modes include Time Rewind, HDR, Panorama, Night etc. There is too much modes here I will make a separate review for it. So stay tuned! For Selfie addicts, the front-facing camera is not much to be excited about, it is a standard 2MP camera good enough for video calling, but it is nothing special.  See the pictures and judge for yourself.

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  1. Software

Asus Zenfone 5 is powered by a Dual Core 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 Processor. I have to admit, this is my first Intel device, I was sceptical at first seeing, as I was one of those who thought cores are everything, but when I tried it, it was actually amazingly quick and responsive. Swiping between screens showed no significant lags and partner it with a 2GB Ram, opening apps and multi-tasking feels breezy. The device has an 8GB Internal memory 5GB useable. It is good enough for all your apps and one or two HD games.

Features 2

The phone also sports ZenUI, a custom skin from Asus. Android lovers have always loved the stock Android experience and ZenUI tries to mimic the simplicity of stock while adding some niche features and Asus’ own personality. The interface feels like stock and it is snappy, unlike other brand’s skin (ehem TouchWiz). A feature which is kind of cool is when you are on your lockscreen and your finger on it, a spotlight appears. Cool but pointless. It also has a Smartcover notification screen which is a useful one.

Functioning as a phone, Zenfone 5 has a clean stock SMS and a custom Asus Keyboard which looks and feels like a lovechild of Swiftkey and Android’s stock keyboard. It functions very similarly to Android’s stock rather than Swiftkey, though. Call quality both as a receiver and transmitter, is good.


As far as being an international Brand, Zenfone 5 also has preinstalled apps, bloatware to some, these apps include:

  • Amazon Kindle Fire – EBook Reader
  • Audio Wizard – Adjusts your audio depending on what you want to use your device (Bluetooth not supported)
  • Do It Later – To do task bar
  • Mirror – Basically a front cam without shutter
  • MyASUS – Asus tech support and self-promotion app
  • Omlet Chat – Viber-ish app, stick to your preferred social messaging app
  • Party Link – Connects and shares pictures automatically to nearby devices. Security!
  • PC Link – Connects to your PC
  • Quick Memo – Kind of like Do it Later
  • Remote Link – Bluetooth remote
  • Share Link – Shares files between two Share Link enabled devices
  • Splendid – Changes the colour of your phone (actually cool)
  • Sound Recorder – Good voice recorder
  • Super Note – Like Galaxy Note’s Note minus the SPen
  • What’s Next – I don’t know

Some of the aforementioned apps are actually quite useful.

  1. Battery


Battery is probably the lowest point of Zenfone 5. I am a medium-heavy battery user and this one is just not made for a full day at the office. On a day, I average about two hours of video, 15-30 minutes of games and about 3 hours of music. I also enable Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Mobile Data all the time. By the time its 6pm (5AM-2PM Work shift), I will have only about 10-15% battery life and I would have had to turn off everything except my 2G function to avoid full discharge. Also, I have noticed that the device starts to heats up while playing after 10 minutes. If you will look at the battery life when the device starts to heat up and you keep on playing, it burns through it like a hot knife through butter. A sad fact for Gamers. Well this device is not made for gaming anyway.

Executive Summary



  • No Capacitive Touch Button Back Light
  • Crappy out of the box video codec
  • Soft Loudspeakers
  • Lags and stuttering on HD Games
  • Some Bloatwares
  • Disappointing Battery Life
  • Narrow Bezel


  • As beautiful as that hot officemate/classmate from the other class
  • 5 Inch Vivid, Crisp HD Display
  • Great headset audio output
  • Smooth and Fast response even with a custom Skin
  • Good camera with shitloads of features
  • Gorilla Glass 3
  • Did I mention how beautiful this device looks?


As much cons as Zenfone 5 has, some of them can easily be fixed by third party apps. No Capacitive Touch Backlight? Install a menu bar (probably needs root). Bad codec? Download MX Player Pro. Soft loudspeakers? Why will you use a smartphone on loudspeaker? Bloatwares? Root and remove. That leaves only HD Game stutter, battery life and narrow bezel but these are things you need to compromise for the competitive price tag.

Zenfone 5 is an amazing phone to have, I would recommend this phone for those curious and for those looking at a budget phone. Asus is a far better choice than rebranders. I don’t hate rebranders, I actually had fun reviewing them some 2 years ago. But as I started to work and value money more, I don’t think it is wise to spend cash on a device you know will inevitably break and have to endure garbage after sales or inability to receive software updates. Granted that rebranders have consistently tried to make better built devices, it’s just not the same comfort you have with a branded one.

Steering into the budget-minded market, Asus has made a premium device well worth over the hype and maybe made a device which gives rebranders a run for their money. Priced at P6, 495, this is very competitively priced and brings competitive pleasure to any user who will have it.

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