ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom Review: Great Dual Cameras with a Long Battery Life

The original Zenfone Zoom got great reception back when it was launched: For the first time, we have a dedicated cameraphone that didn't go over the PHP 30k barrier. It looked the look too, reminding you of the unfortunate Nokia Lumia 1020. Too bad the Zenfone 2 took all the spotlight back then; the Zenfone Zoom didn't take off as much as its more affordable siblings.

And naturally, ASUS of course provided a followup to this cameraphone, in the form of the Zenfone 3 Zoom. The Zenfone 3 Zoom in a nutshell is a hipper version of its predecessor, equipped with dual rear cameras while looking sexy in black aluminum. It's still priced at almost the same price point, but does its performance and build justify its price? Let's find out in this review.

Design

The ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom is a real looker, lifting a design language similar to contemporary devices such as the iPhone 7. In fact, it was mistaken for one while we were using it on our review phase.


The front sports a 5.5-inch display, a 13MP front-facing camera, a notification LED, a few sensors, and the usual earpiece placement. Right below the display is ASUS's trademark haptic buttons. All of these are wrapped in Gorilla Glass 5 protection.

The rear meanwhile carries the device's dual 12MP camera - just almost flush with the body, providing a very minimal bump, the Laser AF module and the dual tone flash right below it, and a strategically placed fingerprint sensor. There's also an antenna line aesthetic going on here, akin to the iPhone 7, adding a more premium look.


Wrapping up the placements are the volume rockers and the power button at the right side of the device, the hybrid SIM port on the left side, and the USB Type-C port, the device mic, and the external mono speaker at the bottom.


Let me just say that the Zenfone 3 Zoom is one of the most slippery smartphones I've held in a while. It's due to the metallic finish and thin profile that will make it slip out of your hand. Never have I been so careful as of late while handling this device - and we're serious about that.

Display

The ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom boasts a 5.5-inch FHD Super AMOLED display at a 1920x1080 display resolution and 401 ppi. It's capable of producing well-saturated, vibrant colors, with good viewing angles to boot.


As expected, the display reproduces warm, well-saturated images - just the right amount of reds, greens, and blues to reflect reality onscreen. The device's Super AMOLED display is also able to produce deep blacks. This is especially noticeable on black wallpapers; it looks you're looking at a single piece of display up front.


The ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom boasts multiple display features, such as touch gestures, themes, screen temperature adjustments, and a glove mode. Discussing the temperature adjustments, you'll be able to adjust your display temperature to Super Color, Bluelight Filter, Standard, and Customized. Although it's a welcome addition, there's nothing special since other temperatures look boring and to be honest, is quite useless. Of course almost everyone, if not all will be using the Super Color temperature option.


The ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with the ASUS ZenUI sitting on top. The company's UI have virtually remained unchanged since its first outing, though it's not necessarily a good or a bad thing. Consistency is definitely a plus, but it doesn't help that along with the UI is a boatload of unwanted bloatware, such as chat apps, taskers, community alerts, and whatnot. On a minor note, don't get us wrong: We sincerely appreciate the company's zealousness to keep every single one of its customers in the loop with their community alerts.

Other UI elements, such as the keyboard and option tabs remain mostly the same.

Performance

The ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom sports a 2.0GHz Snapdragon 625 octa-core CPU, paired with an Adreno 506 GPU, and 4GB of RAM. This combination of hardware usually guarantees for a fast device performance - and it is with the Zenfone 3 Zoom.

Benchmark-wise, the ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom scores 63036, just right for a device of this range. Its performance otherwise was fantastic on an experience-level. If not for the built-in ZenUI and ZenApps bloating up the smartphone, the experience would be so much better.

Here's the other benchmark scores we took:

3DMark Slingshot Extreme: 466
3DMark IceStorm Extreme: 8164
Geekbench Single-core Score: 847
Geekbench Multi-core Score: 4250

Just to throw it in there, there's no NFC on this device, which is unfortunate, but not a dealbreaker.

Audio and Video

The ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom's Full High Definition Super AMOLED display will be able to satisfy your video consumption needs, so long as you play the right conten (meaning you should play videos rated at 1080p as well). As mentioned previously, the device's display is able to reproduce vibrant colors and nice viewing angles to boot. Here's two 1080p showcase videos I found on YouTube:


See the clarity?

Audio-wise, the Zenfone 3 Zoom comes equipped with an NXP Smart AMP that enhances the smartphone's sound output - which is also adjustable the Audio Wizard app. Yep, you can adjust the output to specific audio scenarios (movie, gaming, music, etc.), and even adjust it manually. Combine these assets all together and you have a pocket machine can keep you entertained for hours.

Gaming

With a Snapdragon 625 and 4GB RAM onboard, you'll be able to run heavy games on the ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom definitely. One game we tested was an online RPG called Crusaders of Light, and boy did it operate smoothly, albeit the PC-quality graphics packed on a small screen. Another was N.O.V.A. Legacy - an offshoot of the original N.O.V.A. from Google Play - which also played smoothly.



One thing though is that playing for long periods of time will make the Zenfone 3 Zoom heat up to uncomfortable levels, so you either should let it cool down, or have very heat-resistant hands.

Camera

The crowning glory of the ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom is its camera. It has dual 12MP that independently function from each other. One sensor is the Sony IMX362, supporting the 4-axis OIS + 3-axis EIS and 4K video recording, while the other one is a Samsung 3M3, that supports the 2.3x optical zoom, and up to 12x digital zoom. Both sensors deploy different kinds of autofocus technology as well, such as Laser AF, Dual Pixel PDAF, and Contrast Detect AF.


Images reproduced by the Zenfone 3 Zoom are mostly temperature-accurate and detailed (up to the 2.3x optical zoom), but those captured at the 12x digital zoom were already very grainy. To be fair, digital zoom really behaves this way, and the device's maximum digital zoom is almost equivalent to an interpolated 8MP default zoom of a cheap Chinese mid-ranger.

Here's some sample photos from the device:

1) Here's a panorama


2) Notice the focus shift in between these two similar photos


3) Look for Ann Mateo


4) Normal zoom, 1.5x zoom, and 2.3x zoom




And here's some more shots:


Optical zoom is accessible by just tapping the "2.3x zoom" button just right beside the main snapper button. Meanwhile, you can enter manual mode by tapping that huge "M" button also beside the main snapper - which photography enthusiasts would definitely appreciate.


There are also other standard and non-standard offerings for the camera, such as GIFs, panoramas, filters, Depth of Field, Time Lapse, and HDR.

Battery

As thin as it is, the ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom boasts a 5000mAh battery that can last you easily a whole day of moderate use: data connectivity, browsing, light boughts of gaming. It also charges as long as you'd expect it, which is more or less three hours. It could've been faster if only the device supported Quick Charge 3.0.

Verdict

The ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom is a device that brings you all the basics, but multiplies it a few times. Good design? Here's a better design. Fantastic camera? Here's two, one with optical zoom even. Long-lived battery? Here's 5000mAh for both casual and power users. And the list goes on and on. What ASUS did here is not to throw in a fancy gimmick (that admittedly everyone loves to ride on, just for the sake of, under the guise of innovation), but improve on something that already works, and make it even better.


There's not much more to say about the ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom aside that it delivers to expectations. I'd go as far as saying that it's the most affordable pocketknife of the smartphone industry. Lastly, it's definitely something to consider even in this age of "hyperphones" that bring lots of features that only a few will really ever use.

The ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom is priced at at PHP 23,995 and comes in Navy Black, Glacier Silver, and Rose Gold colors. You can get one at ASUS stores and major retailers nationwide.

ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom (ZE553KL) Specifications

OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow w/ Zen UI 3.0
Processor: 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core CPU, Adreno 506 GPU
Memory: 4GB RAM, 32GB/64GB/128GB internl storage variations, microSD expandable up to 2TB (uses SIM 2 slot)
Display: 5.5-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display, 1920 x 1080 display resolution
Camera: Dual 12MP laser AF rear camera (2.3x optical zoom) w/ dual-LED flash, EIS, OIS; 13-megapixel front-facing camera
Connectivity: Up to 4G LTE support; WiFi 802.11 b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.2; GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDSS; USB-C, USB OTG
SIM: Hybrid dual SIM
Security: Fingerprint scanner
Battery: 5000mAh Li-ion battery, non-removable
Dimensions: 154.3 x 77 x 7.99 mm, 170 g
Colors: Navy Black, Glacier Silver, Rose Gold
Price: P23,990

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