As OnePlus aims for the upper end of the premium smartphone segment, with the OnePlus 7 Pro rubbing shoulders with Samsung's Galaxy S series, its direct competitor, Asus is still fighting it out with the OnePlus 7.
While last year's >Asus 5z was an attractive option to the OnePlus 6 (and was even priced lower), it did have a few problems. The cameras were not up to the mark. The camera software needed plenty of work and Asus's ZenUI felt clunky and bloated. The 5z's design was also not exactly attractive.
The new Asus 6z fixes those pain points and delivers a smartphone that goes big on features. It even has its own pop-up camera implementation called the 'Flip Camera', which I honestly feel is the best implementation of a motorised camera till date.
The Asus Z6. Image: Tech2/Omkar P
Asus has even fixed its software with the latest ZenUI. It's bloatware-free, fluid, fast and almost stock.
But it's not a OnePlus.
And that's probably what most of you will want to know: Is it better than the OnePlus 7? Read on to find out!
What makes a OnePlus a OnePlus?
The core OnePlus experience comes from its software, which is OxygenOS. Owners and fans swear by it and I honestly feel (having used both the OnePlus 7 and the 7 Pro) that the software is better than what you get on Google's very own Pixel devices because it's not just stock Android, it's also highly customizable. More importantly, it's polished, appears smart and minimalist and it works with the brand's philosophy.
A smartphone's design speaks volumes about a brand and OnePlus despite having a rough start with design, has sort of mastered the art of great design, while keeping the price tags in check.
The OnePlus 7 Pro looks and feels like a premium device but is also distinctly OnePlus. Image: Tech2/Prannoy P
Then there are bragging rights about performance. How many smartphone manufacturers out there offer a 12 GB RAM option? Samsung does¦ but we haven't heard of the Galaxy Fold lately, have we?
One of the key feature that OnePlus fans love about OnePlus phones is the charging speed. OnePlus even improved on its Fast Charging with Warp Charge 30 on the OnePlus 7 Pro this year. And it's really fast!
What the Asus 6z lacks in comparison to a OnePlus 7?
What Asus clearly lacks in comparison to the OnePlus is the appeal. More people will know of Asus as a laptop/PC brand than a smartphone brand (or at least there was a brand >until about a few weeks ago).
Asus also lacks that spec-hungry, software-tweaking Android fan following, which is core to the OnePlus software experience.
The Asus 6z's glass back is a fingerprint magnet. Image: Tech2/Omkar P
The 6z's chubby design is quite practical in the sense that it has literally been designed around that Flip Camera and made to accommodate that massive 5,000 mAh battery.
There's plenty of path-breaking electronics inside as well, but most buyers would not be bothered by them so I won't bore you by getting into it either.
The Asus 6z's fast charging just isn't fast enough for 2019, but it makes up for the same with excellent battery life. Image: Tech2/Omkar P
While the Asus 6z features the biggest battery, you can get on a premium smartphone, that 5,000 mAh battery takes quite a while to charge despite having that bundled 18 W charger around. It's way slower than the OnePlus 7 (1 hours 10 minutes) and it will take up to 2 hours and 20 minutes to go from 0-100 percent (45 minutes to 50 percent), which is slow for a premium flagship smartphone in 2019.
If it's not a OnePlus, is it something better? (Cos it definitely isn't a Z&%F*^e anymore)
Design appeals to a different audience
The Asus 6z's design although leagues ahead of the 5Z, is still quite bulky when compared to the >OnePlus 7 or the 6T. It's chunky and it is quite large in comparison to the OnePlus 7. The >OnePlus 7 Pro though is still heavier. But that does not mean that the 6z is badly designed.
The Asus Z6 reminds us more of the ROG series of smartphones with its chunky looks and that cool blue accent around the power button and the ASUS branding at the back. Image: Tech2/Omkar P
The Asus 6z's design is quite the departure from the 5Z. The cool Blue accents around the power button and the ASUS branding on the back merge well with that metallic Midnight Black finish. In fact, the 6z's design reminds me more of the ROG Phone (Review) than any of Asus's previous smartphones. So it's a cool-looking design that will appeal more to the gaming audience than the casual buyer.
The engineers somehow managed to squeeze in the sensors and made place for an LED indicator in the top right bezel which is already razor thin. Image: Tech2/Omkar P
The Asus 6z's FHD+ display sticks to neutral colour tones but gets noticeably dimmer when viewed at an angle. Image: Tech2/Omkar P
Excellent battery life and performance
Talking about gaming, performance is top notch although the phone did heat up quite a bit while playing Shadowgun: Legends at Ultra graphics and 60 fps. This oddly did not happen on the OnePlus 7 or the 7 Pro. The rest of the games ran buttery smooth and without any heating problems.
Gaming performance is top notch for a premium smartphone. Image: Tech2/Omkar P
Adding to that gaming experience is that 5,000 mAh battery that easily gets you two-day battery life. Indeed, that battery can take quite a beating and during the testing period, I often found myself gaming even with 10 percent battery life just to deplete the battery so that I could charge it overnight.
Asus' ZenUI has improved by leaps and bounds and feels almost stock on the 6z. Image: Tech2/Omkar P
ZenUI adds to the fluid user experience thanks to its almost stock-looking interface that just works no matter how many apps you have opened in the background. To make things interesting (and more 2019) there's even a system-wide dark mode, but it needs a bit of polish in some places and is not as well-rounded as OxygenOS.
A fun camera that shoots great video
The Flip Camera is really fun to use. While it will wow most people with its image quality, it will also turn heads when it flips to click selfies.
What I really liked about the flip camera is the fact that you can slide the flip button in the camera interface to manually tilt the camera.
The Asus 6z's party trick is that fun Flip Camera. Image: Tech2/Omkar P
Because you can control the tilt instead of just flipping it over, you can do some other stuff that's not possible on regular smartphones.
Taking Panoramas was my favourite as I did not need to twist the upper half of my body to click one. Simply tap the auto panorama button and the camera will swivel 180 degrees and click the entire panorama and even included me at the end because it flips over all the way to the back! Easy peasy!
Great for shooting kids
Being able to manually control the tilt also makes this camera quite useful when you have kids as you don't need to bend down or squat to frame the perfect photo. One detail that kind of makes this manual control a bit gimmicky is that there is a certain amount of lag which makes it hard to lock the camera down in the right position.
The best part? It also clicks equally good selfies, because the same 48 MP (wide) + 13 MP (ultrawide) cameras are also available on the front.
What I also fell in love with was the video. Despite lacking the OIS the Asus 6z does an amazing job at keeping the video super steady with just EIS. You can shoot really steady video that does not lose focus (thanks to the laser assist) both in the standard mode and the ultra-wide mode and the footage is silky smooth and loaded with detail. This is one of those smartphones that is ideal for vloggers because the same 48 MP rear camera flips to the front.
More storage and two SIM cards?
While OnePlus has upgraded to a dual SIM setup, it still does not offer the flexibility of additional storage using microSD cards. Asus being the more practical one out here, get three slots in its SIM tray with space for two Nano SIM cards and an additional one for a microSD card as well. And if you were wondering, it supports 2 TB microSD cards.
Buy the Asus 6z
With price tags starting from Rs 31,999 for the 6 GB/64 GB variant the smartphone does offer great value for money, considering how much hardware it packs in.
Buy the Asus 6z over the OnePlus 7, if you are looking for a great smartphone camera in the sub Rs 35,000 price range.
Buy the Asus 6z if you are looking for a solid two-day battery life. That 5,000 mAh battery will not disappoint.
The Asus 6z is the best Z$#@one in years and definitely good enough to take the crown from the OnePlus 7 this year. But let me remind you that it's no OnePlus!
Don't buy the Asus 6z if you like the charm and the appeal of a OnePlus smartphone. It's anything but that. Buy the OnePlus 7 or the even the 6T if a clean stock Android interface and software updates matter to you. Asus is a bit slow with them.
Look out for my sub Rs 40,000 camera smartphone shootout if you can stretch your budget to Rs 40,000.