The Asus ZenBook Flip S is what can be considered as one of the toughest competition to a MacBook, the device follows the same simplistic design of a MacBook and the overall build quality and design not just meets that of Apple but even surpasses it in several instances. The Asus ZenBook Flip S is a 2-in-1 laptop that has all the goods of a MacBook while losing out on the macOS and the Thunderbolt 3 compatibility for the USB Type-C ports. To compensate the loss of the above-said features, the Asus ZenBook Flip S adds an additional USB Type-C port building the count to two and also has a fingerprint sensor along with a touchscreen.
Despite the minor flaws in the Asus ZenBook Flip S, it might just be one of the best 2-in-1 laptops that are available in the market right now. It comes with the top-notch components and an extremely intricate design to match the components.
As we mentioned in the intro above, the Asus ZenBook Flip S draws major inspiration from the Apple 12-inch MacBook and this is evident at the first sight of the laptop, the lid of the laptop has a bold logo of Asus prominently placed in the center that is gold colored for a significant gain of attention. The Asus Zenbook Flip S unit we received for the review came in Royal Blue and had gold accents all over the device, the edges of the laptop were lined with the Gold accents in a subtle but noticeable manner. The device is mainly made up of aluminum which makes it a major fingerprint magnet in general while also adding a very premium feel for the device.
Asus has not just matched but outperformed a few design factors of the MacBook in terms of the weight and the thickness, the Asus ZenBook Flip S weighs in at 1.1KGs including the battery which is slightly heavier than the 0.92KG MacBook, but the thickness of the Asus ZenBook Flip S is where the positive difference is seen. The Asus ZenBook Flip S has a thickness of 11.2mm compared to the 13.1mm on the MacBook. This is especially praise-worthy considering the fact that the Asus ZenBook Flip S is a 2-in-one laptop that adds additional heft over the generic models.
The question of sacrificing the connectivity for a sleeker design comes into play as the device comes with just two USB Type-C 3.1 ports and an audio jack for headsets. While this is still double of the MacBook in terms of the USB Type-C ports, none of the two ports are Thunderbolt compatible and also, the HP Spectre clearly beats the device with two Thunderbolt 3 Ports and a USB Type-C 3.1 port along with support for microSD expansion.
The ZenBook Flip S, however, looks extremely pleasing to see and use, the aluminum frame on the lid and the anodized compound on the keyboard stays cool for the most time and is a very premium feel while using. There is literally no flex while using the device and the device is extremely rigid on the whole.
Coming to the keyboard on the device, it is a well-spaced chicklet-style keyboard that offers 1mm travel on the keys, while this is significantly lower than what most laptops offer these days, the feel isn’t that bad. The backlight on the keyboard is equally exciting with golden yellow characters that glow when the white backlight is turned on. Although when we first used the laptop, the one thing I ended up complaining was the keyboard, this quickly changed as I started using the device more and I finally got used to the smaller travel and slightly modified placement of the keys. This took about a week to get used to, but then it was extremely handy and typing on the device was a pleasure.
The touchpad on the Asus ZenBook Flip S has been built to meet the Microsoft’s Precision Touchpad spec and this helps it identify palm placement very accurately. The touchpad offers very good palm rejection to avoid erroneous cursor movement while typing as our hands accidentally glide into the touchpad region. The detection is excellent and the touchpad is extremely smooth and responsive. While we did find issues in the beginning wherein the mouse gestures were not being identified accurately, this vanished after some usage.
The Asus ZenBook Flip S pushes the 1080p display to its limits and the touchscreen panel looks amazing at all times. The display is incredibly vibrant and offers 100% sRGB color gamut, the colors are very accurate, vibrant and well saturated. The red colors pop out, the blue’s are extremely soothing and the blacks are pretty deep too. The only downside of the display is the chunky bezels that it comes with, while the bezels are not very different from the MacBook, we’ve seen much slimmer bezels on the Dell XPS series and the Huawei MateBook X Pro.
The display screen to body ratio still drops in at an acceptable 80%. the display is very bright and completely usable in almost all lighting conditions, the display maxes out at 300nits of brightness. The 13.3-inch FullHD display brings the pixel density to a crisp 330 pixel per inch which offers a sharp viewing experience. The beautiful display is viewable from most angles as the display is built with 178-degrees wide-view technology that maximizes viewing comfort. The company has also implemented their matte anti-glare technology called as the NanoEdge that helps reduce the reflections for the most optimal viewing experience.
The display panel on the Asus ZenBook Flip S supports the Asus TruVivid technology that helps improve the brightness and reduce the reflections in real-world scenarios that improve the viewing experience, to further enhance the colors, the device comes with Asus Tru2Life Video technology that optimizes individual pixels in each frame to render the best possible images thereby improving contrast by up to 150 percent. The touch screen display panel is also supported by the active stylus that comes with the package allowing for improved creativity and interactivity.
The beautiful touchscreen on the Asus ZenBook Flip S also supports the Asus Stylus which comes included in the package, the Asus Stylus is a high precision and supports 1024 pressure levels, the display has a force range of 10g to 300g from the Stylus tip. This can be a major advantage for artists and those who like to sketch, the Paint 3D application is fully compatible with the stylus as it offers Asus Pen and Windows Ink support. The active stylus comes with a slim and ergonomic design with a premium feel making it a perfect accessory for the intricately designed Asus ZenBook Flip S
Coming to the sound of output, the Asus ZenBook Flip S comes with a quad speaker setup, although the speakers aren’t the loudest, the audio experience is still pretty good. The speakers on the device are made by Harman/Kardon and the sound is extremely clear. Asus has done a lot and has worked to improve the sound quality on its thin and light laptops, we’ve previously observed this on the Asus laptops that we’ve tested in the recent past. The four distinct speakers in the Asus ZenBook Flip S come have the capacity for surround sound and we found the speaker quality to be acceptable considering the size of the laptop. The quad speaker setup might get you to think that the sound will be loud and warm, but the audio output is tiny and constrained so you might want to use the headphone jack.
Talking about the headphone jack, its pretty good, the output was very satisfying when we tested it out with Bose headsets. The headphone jack delivers very detailed output and the device also comes preinstalled with ICE Audio Wizard app that allows you to shift between Music, Recording, Game, Movie and Speech mode. This quickly adapts the sound signature to suite the genre of audio that is being output. There is also an advanced mode in the app if you want to get your hands dirty. This gives you an option to control the Bass, Treble, Loudness and the wideness of the sound. We found this tool to be extremely useful and the sound output vastly changes with a change in the different options of the app.
This is perhaps the most important aspect taken into consideration alongside the battery life when buying an ultra-book. Unsurprisingly, the performance is not very different from what other other 2-in-1 laptops in the same segment have to offer. The device stacks up very well against the HP Spectre x360 that comes with the same 8th-gen Intel Core i7 chip. Going by our format in comparing the device with the 12-inch MacBook as we’ve been doing from the very beginning of the review, the Asus FlipBook S clearly defeats the Apple MacBook by a huge margin in terms of raw specs but this might not be very noticeable in terms of daily usage given the optimizations and the lightweight nature of the Apple macOS.
We ran a few benchmarks on the device to test its performance and the device did stack up pretty well with the competition. The Geekbench 4 returned a score of 4482 and a multi-core score of 9326 this is a major improvement over the previous generation Asus ZenBook Flip S with the 7th generation i7 processor that scored Single-Core score of 4,314 and a Multi-Core score of 8,479. Talking about the Cinebench CPU score, we got a 356 point and the Graphics returned 54FPS which were pretty good for a laptop this size.
Coming to the real world usage, we were able to have over 32 tabs open on chrome while streaming an episode of 2 Broke Girls on the Amazon Prime at FullHD without any issues. The 16GB RAM on the device handles all the tasks very well. We were also able to use Android Studio which is one of the very processor and RAM intensive software, the app ran without any issues and the compilation was extremely quick too.
The boot speeds are very quick and the Windows operating system works very snappily, thanks to the 512GB m.2 SSD on board. Talking about the SSD on board, we ran the AS SSD test which resulted in pretty satisfying results. We ran the test using a 5GB test file and the Seq read speed was at 432.17MB/s while the write was significantly slower at 254.5MB/s, talking about the ACC time which is yet another important factor taken into consideration to assess the SSD performance, the AS SSD Software returned 0.084ms for reading and 0.086 for write which is pretty good.
Battery Life was of our major concern as the device comes in a very slim form factor, excellent specs, and a touchscreen. However, the device did stack up pretty well from our usage test. The device initially had issues with charging and battery life and we then realized that the Asus Health Battery Charging was set to Maximum Life Span Mode which reduces the charging capacity to 70% and greatly slows down the charging at the same time. This option is more suitable for users who have the luxury of keeping their devices plugged in for the most time.
Once we reverted the device to the stock configuration on settings, the battery charging speed saw a huge spike and the battery life also improved significantly. The company claims an absurd 11hrs battery life from the 39Wh battery on the device, from our usage we got a more realistic 7:30 hours of usage on an average. The battery is charged using the Type-C adapter which supports multiple modes of power output ranging from 5V/3A to 20V/2.25A which helps the charger quick charge the laptop. The Asus ZenBook Flip S charges to a capacity o g 60% in just 49 minutes which is very helpful when needed. The battery is completely concealed and cannot be replaced easily in case of a failure, this is common in most 2-in-1 laptops.
The Asus ZenBook Flip S comes with a fingerprint sensor which is a very welcomed addition. The fingerprint sensor is placed at the right edge of the laptop and is just 16mm wide and 3.6mm tall giving it a very minimal profile. The sensor is very quick and can even register partial fingerprint readings which allows it to recognize the fingerprints with lesser failures, this is extremely helpful while using it to log into Windows 10 via the Windows Hello feature that is compatible with the fingerprint sensor. This is yet another addon when comparing it with the 12-inch Apple MacBook that skips the fingerprint sensor and reserves it for the more expensive Apple MacBook Pro.
The Asus ZenBook Flip S is a very well designed luxury 2-in-1 laptop for a buyer who prioritizes style, design and looks over other details like the camera. The front camera is perhaps the most disappointing feature of the laptop, the 480p camera gives out utterly disappointing results to say the least and it is one place where the MacBook hugely out beats the ZenBook Flip S.
The laptop comes with included Asus Stylus and connector dock that adds HDMI and USB functionality to the laptop, this is very handy considering that the same costs about $100 extra if you were to opt for the Apple laptop. The Asus ZenBook Flip S, on the whole, is a complete laptop with excellent specifications and comes in a very light and thin form factor.
We feel that Asus has taken some obvious inspiration in terms of design and build from the big fruit company which is not necessarily a bad thing, the Asus ZenBook Flip S might be one of the best overall competitors to the Apple MacBook lineup, costing about the same while offering a huge bump in terms of specifications.
The Asus ZenBook Flip S comes with the 8th Generation i7-8550u Processor, 16GB RAM at 3122MHz, 512GB m.2SSD and Windows 10 Home operating system. The splendid touchscreen is compatible with the included Asus Stylus and offers functionality for possible use cases. If you are ready to let go of Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and compromise with the VGA front camera then this laptop might be one of the best options in the market.