What a time for those who love taking photos with their smartphones — and that’s almost everyone now. This year, we’ve seen phones coming out with multiple lenses, some doing startlingly well at zoom and macro, night photography, and most seeing a huge improvement in image quality. Well, now, we have Asus’ 6Z flagship turning up with a camera that flips around altogether, making for some interesting ways of shooting photos.
On the back of the Asus 6Z, you’ll immediately notice a different arrangement for the camera lenses. They look like they’re enclosed in a separate portion of the phone — and in fact, they more or less are. There’s no separate front camera on this smartphone: when you tap the front camera button, the portion that houses the camera angles up and flips and faces you. When taking a regular photo, it stays in place for the shot. This is an interesting alternative to the punch hole and the pop-up camera as workarounds to maximise screen space. The screen isn’t left with extremely thin, barely visible bezels, but the borders are narrow enough for you to get a good amount of the display free of distracting intrusions like ugly notches. The bottom bezel is just a bit thicker than the top one, but that is often the case with smartphones right now because of unavoidable components.
Companies have played around with a flip camera before, but not quite in the way that it is implemented on the Asus 6Z. Oppo long ago came out with a rotating camera but that was a component that had to be manually flipped into place. Although I don’t remember hearing of any broken camera parts on that phone, the idea was evidently abandoned and we didn’t see it develop on any subsequent Oppo phones. The camera on the 6Z flips on its own and should absolutely not be pushed about or resisted manually, which would really put it under stress. If you drop the phone when the camera is extended out, the module will quickly retract to protect itself though some reviewers observe that this doesn’t happen fast enough. Again, there are no reports of breakages so I wouldn’t worry about the ‘moving parts’ for now.
Increasing screen space isn’t the only job of the flip camera. It does some interesting stuff such as shooting some creative panorama shots. Instead of having to physically turn around and invariably messing up the connecting shots, you just have to tap the shutter button and stand still. The lens flips out and does the work. If you’re holding the phone in landscape, the lens will pan around the area and even include you in the shot. You can also press the shutter again to stop it at any particular spot. If you hold the phone in portrait, straight up, the lens will pan up and take a tall shot — unless again you stop it at some point. The amazing thing is that even when not shooting panoramas, you can shoot at interesting angles because using the volume button when the camera app is open allows you to raise the camera up and stop at whatever angle pleases you to take your shot — it can be angled as precisely as two-degree stops. The camera motor does sound a little alarmingly strained at this action, but well, there you have it.
As far as selfies with that 180-degree flipping camera go, they’re really pretty good and sharp, even in indoor light. You can use the standard as well as wide angle. The selfie camera, after all, is the primary camera: a 48MP Sony IMX586 (suddenly hugely popular on flagships and mid-rangers), which takes very good, clear, largely noise-free photos. It uses an f/1.7 aperture and combines pixels to result in a good 12 MP photo. The wide angle lens is a 13 MP one, which does about as well as on other phones. It also has the obligatory portrait mode that works quite well. The camera also has a pretty good night mode. It has video recording of 4K at 60 fps and electronic image stabilisation, which again works very well. The camera app is filled with shooting modes and options, and another is quite a unique feature: motion tracking. If you choose that option and you tap on the subject, the camera will follow it if it moves. What’s nice is that all these tricks don’t come at a compromise in actual image quality, which often happens with smartphones. The phone lacks optical zoom, though.
Packed with goodies
What this phone does compromise on a little is that it doesn’t have an OLED display but an LCD one that could have been a bit brighter. It still manages to be a good display. Other than that, the phone is filled to the brim with features users like, almost as if Asus were taking care not to give anyone a chance to complain. The headphone jack is very much there as is dual-SIM capability and a memory card slot, a huge 5,000 mAh battery and 18 W fast charging and reverse charging. Asus has actually worked carefully on the battery to make sure it’s long lasting. The fingerprint sensor is on the back and a little smaller than usual. The phone has an extra button that works with the Google Assistant in different ways but can also be set to a number of other tasks instead, though it can’t be mapped to specific apps. The phone has stereo speakers with support for hi-res audio and all the codecs audiophiles look for. The headset in the box is also of a quality that supports hi-res and has been tuned by 1More, whose products we’ve featured here.
The 6Z works on the latest Snapdragon 855 and you can’t get newer than that. The phone runs Android 9 Pie, which is free of ZenUI that used to be annoying and full of bloatware. It now sticks closer to just Android and is smooth and fast though it might warm up a little if you push it too hard for long. There are three variants. Because of its fat battery, the Asus 6Z is a bit heavier than most phones and also happens to be very slippery — a dangerous combination. A case is important, of course. But it is solidly built and protected by Gorilla Glass 6.
Price: ₹31,999 for 6 GB/64 GB, ₹34,999 for 6 GB/128 GB, ₹39,999 for 8 GB/256 GB
Pros: Very good price, innovative flip and angle camera with new creative photo possibilities, super night mode, distortion correction, works smooth and fast on Snapdragon 855, clean Android, fast and reverse charging, superior audio features
Cons: Display needed to be better
Source: The Hindu