Exactly a year ago, we tested Asus’ 2018 flagship – the ZenFone 5Z. This device was one of last year’s best all-round devices that delivered great bang for its asking price. Asus priced this device cleverly, just a shade cheaper than the OnePlus 6 – its primary rival, but packed the same firepower and a dependable camera. It’s almost the same story one year later. There’s one big difference though. OnePlus now has two devices including the pricier 7 Pro but it’s the OnePlus 7 that the Asus 6Z will face off against.

The other thing that you might have noticed is that Asus has ditched the ZenFone suffix for India. It’s not the only thing the 6Z has shed. The first thing we noticed is that the 6Z delivers a skinnier version of Asus’ ZenUI. It’s almost stock Android now, except for a few useful gestures and a small bunch of pre-loaded Apps (not significant enough for us to deem it as bloatware). That’s a welcome change that many users who seek pure-play Android will appreciate.

The minimalist approach isn’t just restricted to the UI. The 6Z is an elegant device with clean lines. It feels good in your hands despite its 190 gm footprint and a massive 5000 mAh battery under the hood. The only bling is the bright blue Asus branding on the rear of the device that we approve of. The 6.4-inch display (1080 x 2340 pixels / 19.5:9 aspect ratio / 403 PPI) is remarkably similar to the OnePlus 7. The stereo speaker and the presence of a 3.5 mm audio jack (it’s almost a relief to see this in premium devices in 2019) adds to its entertainment prowess.

The 6Z is good looking but it might appear a tad staid for attention seekers. That’s until you switch to selfie mode. Almost every premium phone needs a trick, a selling point to grab eyeballs and chatter in social media. The 6Z’s cool trick is its motorised flip cam that also keeps the display immersive and almost bezel-less. While a rotating or swivel cam isn’t a completely new idea, Asus takes a novel approach in its execution. In effect your primary cam is also the selfie cam. It’s a move that should excite selfie finds.

The 6Z blends a 48MP (f/1.8) primary cam with a 13MP ultra-wide lens. It’s a dependable cam just like its predecessor with decent results in multiple scenarios. The wide-angle lens is more than handy but the night mode isn’t quite in the same league as the Google Pixel 3a that gets a boost from Google’s innovative Night Sight. The Rs 30,000 – 40,000 price band has some capable shooters including OPPO’s Reno 10X Zoom, but the 6Z manages to hold its own.

The one reason that OnePlus and Asus end up in the same showdown is the choice of processor. The Asus 6Z is powered by Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 855 Processor that aced our AnTuTu benchmark test (355006 in our test). It’s mighty quick and in the same league as the OnePlus 7 as our test validated. There’s a choice of 6GB and 8GB RAM versions but it’s Asus’ choice of three internal storage versions – including a 64GB variant that is quite clever. 64GB might be enough space for a whole bunch of users, given the device’s support for Micro SD cards (up to 2TB) via a dedicated slot.   

The Asus 6Z gets a lot of the basics right including battery life, the camera and a hardware spec sheet that is 2019 proof. It misses out some of the features found in premium devices like wireless charging despite its all-glass form. But these are not deal breakers for buyers in this price band. The Asus 6Z is just the sort of follow up we expected to last year’s 5Z and just like its predecessor, this one’s a compelling value proposition too.

The Asus 6Z is available in three variants – 6GB/64GB (Rs 31,999), 8GB/128GB (Rs 34,999) and 8GB/256GB (Rs 39,999) .