Asus Zenfone 3 Review (ZE552KL)

  • Build Quality

  • Specifications

  • Performance

  • Camera

  • Value for Money 4.5/5

Excellent 4.9

With Zenfone 2 series, Asus pretty much nailed the budget smartphones market in almost every price range, despite the consistent competition from Chinese manufacturers. This time around, Asus is looking to target the premium smartphone category with its new Zenfone 3 series and hopes to take on giants of that segment like Apple and Samsung. Today, I have with me the Asus Zenfone 3 (ZE552KL) with the shiny new design, let’s find out if it’s a worthy competitor to every other flagship out there!

Zenfone 3 Review

Build & Design

The Asus Zenfone 3 is one of the most beautiful smartphone I’ve seen so far. They’ve decided to go with 2.5D curved corning gorilla glass on both sided of the Zenfone 3 instead of metal and the result is quite remarkable. The smartphone looks stunning with its signature “Zen” design with rounded edges and diamond cut on the sides. Despite being a big 5.5-inch display, I could hold it in one hand, although I found myself using both my hands to use it on multiple occasions because it’s all glass design also makes it somewhat slippery.

Check out our video review of Zenfone 3 here.

On the front, there is the big 5.5-inch Super IPS+ display with standard sensors along with earpiece and the front camera. Below the display are the Back, Home and Recent apps buttons which are capacitive made with contrasting steel colour.  These buttons are not backlit, making it hard to use in darker surroundings. On the left side, there is the hybrid dual-sim and micro-sd slot whereas, on the right, there are the Volume and power buttons. On the bottom, there is the USB Type-C port and speaker grille and 3.5mm audio jack is on the top.

img_1339

On the rear side of the Zenfone 3, is the rear camera hump which has the laser auto-focus on one side and the dual tone LED flash on the other. Below the camera is the fingerprint sensor which is rectangular in design which I first thought was not the best design for it but on using it frequently, it seemed one of the fastest, as it unlocked the device in a split second without any hassle and I never encountered a moment where it didn’t sense my fingerprint even when my hand was wet. Below the fingerprint scanner, there is a shiny Asus logo at the bottom side.

Asus Zenfone 3 weighs 155 gms and has a 6.16mm still metal frame, surrounded by the glass which increases the thickness up to 7.69mm. Therefore, it is not one of the slimmest or lightest but the metal ring holds the glass firmly and it feels sturdy and premium in my hands.

ZenUI

The ZenUI in the Asus Zenfone 3 is significantly polished than the previous versions. It is a lot cleaner and all the apps and widgets are well-spaced so that they don’t feel crowded as it felt in the older versions. Yes, it still does have an excess of bloatware apps like the ZenTalk, ShareLink etc which users seldom use or need. They have removed many unnecessary apps but these should be optional installs.

I liked the fact that many frequently needed apps like Facebook, Whatsapp etc were being able to download with just one click. I also enjoyed watching the display getting blur every time I pulled the notifications bar down, and many nice little tweaks which stand out immediately with new UI.

All the other functions like managing the home screen, notifications bar etc are still the same as in they were in the older Zenfone’s. I love the Auto-start manager app as it gives me the power to control which apps can run in the background and use data etc. This is my favourite part of the ZenUI and I’m happy to see that they have improved it even more.

Display & Specs

Asus Zenfone 3 has a 5.5-inch Super IPS+ display with 1920 x 1080p resolution which is a just glorious to watch videos or play games on. It has a pixel density of 401ppi and brightness rating of up to 600 nits that makes this display offer rich colors and offer the splendid experience. Viewing angles are great, you can hold the smartphone at any angle, quite literally, and can see the display clearly without any loss or false colors. The blue light filter, which is a standard feature on all Asus smartphones, makes the display much more soothing to our eyes in low light conditions or during night time.

Under the hood, the Asus Zenfone 3 has Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 64-bit octa-core processor which has a clock speed of 2 GHz and integrated with Adreno 506 graphics and has 4GB LPDDR3 RAM. It has 64 GB internal storage which can be extended up to 2 TB via micro-sd card. It is powered by 3000 mAh li-po battery which supports fast charging.

The hybrid sim slot allows you to have two sim cards or one sim and micro sd card at a time. Both the sim cards allow you to use 4G/3G but you can use only one sim to access data at a time.

Camera

Asus Zenfone 3 has a 16-MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, Sony IMX 298 sensor and 6p Largan lens. The camera has a hump on the back which I was concerned of as it can easily get scratches when kept on the table or in the pocket of your jeans. But Asus says that the Sapphire lens will protect it from any scratches or damage.

Check out our exclsive coverage on Zenfone 3 Camera!

The rear camera uses the Asus’ new TriTech auto-focus technology which is a combination of laser, phase detection and continuous auto-focus modes. Asus claims that this helps the camera to focus within 0.03 seconds and while showing my photography skills with the Zenfone 3, as the camera focussed super quick in our tests, we can reassure this claim being true. You can the some of the amazing photos we have clicked here.

  • Perfect Separation in Foreground & Object

The camera has both OIS and EIS enable us to take blur-free shots and videos, and other great features help the camera click excellent pictures in all conditions. As you can clearly see from the pictures, color reproduction is quite good, especially as I clicked them in low light. When it got really dark, there was a loss of detail and a lot of noise in the pictures. But after doing a couple of tweaks in the manual mode, I was able to click some spectacular images. It is one of the best camera smartphones which you can use for normal photography in all conditions.

When it got quite dark, I used a special camera mode called ‘Low Light’ and also clicked the same picture in auto mode with flash Off and later On, you can see the difference here clearly.

zenfone3_photography_low_light

The camera also lets us manually set the time of exposure for up to 32 secs, I tried it and this is what I was able to do with it.

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I also recorded some videos using this camera which you can see in following 4K video sample, recorded at the night time.

There is an 8 MP front camera takes incredible high-quality pictures which I didn’t expect from a front camera. In brightly lit conditions, the pictures were extremely good and no loss of detail or color was observed. However, in low-light conditions, the camera does suffer from noise and grain. The front camera can also record 1080p Full-HD videos.

zenfone3_photography_selfie

Performance

As the Asus Zenfone 3 looks great on the paper with amazing hardware specifications,  it didn’t let me down at any point during actual usage. As I’ve said the fingerprint sensor is quite fast, and unlocks the phone quickly every single time.

I played games like Asphalt 8 on this smartphone and I never encountered any lag or glitch during my gameplay. Games were loaded in a very short amount of time and ran seamlessly. The smartphone does get heated up after some time but it never got too uncomfortable to hold.

I watched videos and used Zenfone 3 for my routine tasks like reading, browsing & obviously multitasking between various apps. The network connectivity is quite good and I didn’t face any call drops due to smartphone issues. Using 4G, Zenfone 3 offered good download and browsing speeds. The Asus Zenfone 3 never ran out of its performance juice, and it impressed me all two weeks long.

Benchmarks

I ran benchmarks test using AnTuTu & Geekbench 4 and below are the results of those respectively.

antutu-benchmark-zenfone-3

The Antutu Score is 62294, whereas the Geekbench 4 single core score was 842 & 4073 for multi-core. The compute score on Geekbench 4 for gaming is 2499, which is just less than Samsung Galaxy S7 and Nexus 6P.

geek-benchjpg

Although these numbers don’t blow you right away compared to other flagships, there is nothing to complain about the performance of this smartphone in the real world tests.

Battery Life

All this performance is backed by a 3000 mAh li-po battery which lasted me for a full day even as I was constantly doing something like updating my social media websites, listening to music, playing videos and some games on the go, which I think is very good.

Another claim of Asus we could agree with, it the Zenfone 3 is 35% power efficient and therefore, the battery will last much longer. The battery support fast charging and Asus says that you will get 2 hours of talk time with just 5 minutes of charge. Well, I didn’t test this claim, but the battery charges really quickly from 0% to up to 80% in and hour but after that, the charging speed dropped dramatically as the last 20% i.e. from 80% to 100%, took around half an hour to charge.

Throughout my use, the battery backup always lasted me for more than a day, which is quite a good improvement in the much-neglected battery technology.

Sound

Asus Zenfone 3 boasts a 5-magnet speaker construction on the bottom side of the device, with SonicMaster and High-Res Audio certification. The speakers are quite loud and there was no distortion in the audio when played at full volume. Clarity is very good as you can hear all the beats clearly. Although the speakers being loud, they are not that good to play in a big surrounding or a small house party.

The white colored headphones provided are good as the nicely fit in your ear and offer good sound quality overall.

Video Review

Verdict

The Asus Zenfone 3 does hold its ground as Asus tries to take on the premium smartphone market with incredible storage capacity and new UI. It has a very beautiful design which is well accompanied by a powerful hardware. The camera is one of the best in this price segment and the display is up to the mark.

At Rs 28,000, the 64 GB Asus Zenfone 3 is definitely a strong contender and it remains to be seen how it competes with OnePlus 3 and other smartphones in this price segment in the real world. For those who are looking a device with premium design, performance & advanced ZenUI, Zenfone 3 is a clear winner in the segment.

Buy Online on Flipkart!: 64 GB Variant @ Rs. 27,999 | 32 GB Variant @ 21,999 

Related Article: Budget Smartphone- Moto G Turbo Detailed Review (2016)

 

Akshay Bhosale

Love exploring the latest technologies and share the best of 'em from my blog articles. At DigitalConqurer.com, I research on various new technologies, test smartphones and laptops, play games and write my experiences with these technologies. Connect with me on twitter @akshaybhosaleDC