Hands on with the ASUS ZenFone 4, ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 6

ASUS is playing it straight for once, offering a new line of no-transforming, just plain smartphones. Their new ZenFone line will come in three sizes and even more colors, and specs vary between the three models. So, you’re going to have lots of choices, that’s for sure.

The ZenFone 4 is the smallest of the three, a 4” phone (funny how that seems almost shockingly small now) with an 800 x 480 resolution display, running on a 1.2 GHz Intel Atom Z2520 processor (part of Intel’s last-gen Clover Trail line) and 1 GB of RAM. There will be front and rear cameras, the latter having a 5 MP sensor, and the whole thing weighs only 115 grams – probably the strongest argument for the ZenFone 4. When it does hit shelves, it’ll be available in charcoal black, pearl white, cherry red, sky blue, and solar yellow.

The ZenFone is a 5” phone with an HD IPS display in 1280 x 720 resolution. A nice addition to the display is ASUS’ PenTouch and GloveTouch, allowing you to easily use the phone with a stylus or with gloves on. It’ll run on a more powerful last-gen Intel processor – the 2 GHz Intel Atom Z2580 – with 1 GB of RAM. The cameras have also received a bump from the ZenFone 4, including an 8 MP rear camera with image stabilization, a BSI sensor, and a wide-aperture f/2.0 lens and a 2 MP front camera. PixelMaster technology in the rear camera can enlarge pixels in low-light environments to help improve photo quality, too. The ZenFone 5 still keeps a slim profile, despite the bump in specs, at 5.5 mm thick at its thinnest edge. This one will come in charcoal black, pearl white, cherry red, and, jumping on Apple’s turf a little, champagne gold.

Finally, there’s the 6” ZenFone 6. Not much is different besides size between the 5 and the 6, except for the rear camera, which receives a bump to 13 MP. The ZenFone 6 also features ASUS’ SonicMaster sound technology. It’ll be available in the same four colors as the ZenFone 5.

Tying the whole line together will be the introduction of ASUS’ own Android UI, the ZenUI. Some tweaks will include the presence of Omlet Chat, an instant messaging service, and enhanced web browser, email, and gallery apps. Unfortunately, the proprietary UI means that the ZenFone line will only be running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean out of the box, but upgrades to 4.4 KitKat are planned for all three phones.

ASUS has not yet released pricing and availability information for any phone in the ZenFone line. At the right price, the line could be a decent choice for anyone looking for a low-cost, mid-to-low tier smartphone.