Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
The mightiest performer with pocketable DSLR experience!
So many flagships being launched every second quarter, its becoming harder for the manufacturer to keep up with exclusive features. And the biggest benefit for us consumers is expecting some never seen before features. One of the most popular smartphone brands that sold over 3 million devices last year was Asus Zenfone, and apart from great build quality and performance, I was expecting a lot more from Zenfone Zoom. Being one of the marvels of design, that packs a one of a kind Hoya Lens, that delivers 3X optical zoom without any additional bulk, caught me by surprise, and trust me there is a lot more unique than just an exceptional Zoom to this device.
Since its official launch in January, I’ve used this device for over two weeks now, and following is my in-depth review of Asus Zenfone Zoom.
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Being the most expensive Zenfone ever, that packs most power and performance we can expect from next generation flagship, the Asus Zenfone Zoom also offer an exceptional craftsmanship with its build quality. It has a unibody metallic design with nice texture on the back thanks to the high-quality leather used. The metallic running through the edges also has a premium finishing and it feels pretty sturdy to hold in the hand. The big camera unit on the back consistently grabs the attention on streets, something you would expect when you carry around a mighty flagship device.
Sported 5.5-inch screen size you can definitely call it a big device, something I don’t personally prefer, but being a camera phone, it can be a great advantage.
The 3.5mm headphone jack is located on the top, power button and volume rockers on the right with a minor change that power button is below the volume buttons. Asus wanted to make this a great pocketable DSLR replacement, and that’s why they have provided a dedicated camera button along with a video recording button on the right. So you would be able to start recording a video with just a single click.
Like I have mentioned already Zenfone Zoom has a Full HD IPS display that gives 403 ppi at 1080p resolution. Viewing angles are quite good and color reproduction is brilliant.
Watching movies or viewing the high-resolution photos captured by the Zooms camera becomes a great visual experience thanks to its 1080P display. And the similar extends to gaming on the Zenfone Zoom, as you get bigger screen asset to play spaciously the high-end games with the multiplayer experience.
Will other leading smartphone manufacturer’s opting for Qualcomm’s processor’s, Asus decided to go with Intel, and the launch event was also actually to celebrate the partnership between the two hardware manufacturing giants. This special bond between the processor and the device itself avails a great opportunity for Asus Engineering team, as they can optimize the Android 5.0 and ZenUI experience to the next level, and the seamless performance shows it all. But more on that later.
So this device has an Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core processor with clock frequency of 2.5GHz and PowerVR G6430 GPU unit.
Zenfone Zoom packs the 4 GB of RAM and 128GB of internal memory that can be extended up to 128GB via microSD card. It has a 13 MP rear-facing camera with 3x optical zoom, laser autofocus, a DSLR like high-end Optical Image Stabilization, dual-LED (dual tone) flash and a 5 MP front camera. Both of these cameras are capable of recording 1080p video.
Performance & Benchmarks
It was touted as a flagship killer or more of an ‘iPhone Killer’, and considering more than twice as much specs at much lower price, I pulled up my sleeves to prove this right or wrong.
With over two weeks of using it as my personal phone, I did not encounter the lag, not even a single one. Pretty surprising as my experience with Android OS’s stability is pretty fluctuating. But despite the 30-40 apps being constantly running in the background, I still managed to play multiplayer FPS games like SG: Deadzone at impressively smooth frame rates.
The experience was similarly smooth with browsing while multi-tasking and watching 1080P videos. There was no doubt with the performance, but I still tested the pinch to zoom, kinetic scrolling, and multi-tabbed browsing for an extensive time and Zenfone Xoom kept impressing me with its fluid performance. With a premium leather cover on the pack, I still was expecting more than a warmth for prolonged usage for gaming and videos. but like I said, ASUS has optimized the operating system perfectly to keep the heating issues under a very good control.
Apart from our good real world experience will also do benchmark tests like 3DMark, AnTuTu, and Geekbench. Which showed us it’s not on the top 5 of the performance line, but it still kills, at least, 20+ flagships from many mainstream brands. We do not believe benchmarks are everything when you can actually use and put the device to an extensive test yourself, but Zenfone Zoom rendered some if the best figures in all three benchmark tests. The following video will show you the benchmarks in very detail.
For the sake of bug display and 1080P resolution, many flagship devices suffer a battery drain, as the device has to display more pixels per inch with maximum details. Yet, Zenfone Zoom delivered great battery life to last for a day. If not used frequently it can easily go up to two days, which signifies it has a great standby life.
If you have the mobile data always on and you keep capturing a lot of photos you can expect the battery life to lag significantly, I mean as less as 5-6 hours. But for gaming and videos, it doesn’t drop down as quickly.
Most important of all the fast charging technology can charge up to 70% of the device in just 25-30 minutes, which can again take you through the day long of usage. Quite amazing, isn’t it?
From the name itself you can expect that it should have a great camera. And considering that Asus praised it for being a pocket DSLR, let’s see what all settings does it’s camera app offers.
Manual settings are the highlight of Zenfone Zoom, as we get to tweak with white balance, ISO Exposure control, camera resolution and ton of more settings. Most of these setting also carry over to the front camera as well as the video recorder.
There are also loads of general settings like burst review, shutter animation, anti-flicker, power saving mode etc.
There is also a tutorial just in case you aren’t being able to use the camera properly.
There are different kinds of modes in which you can click pictures, most of them are quite normal as you can see like the HDR mode or Panorama or GIF animation.
The most interesting mode this Asus Zenfone Zoom camera prizes itself is the PanoSphere i.e 360-degree view image and the time lapse mode. Using the PanoSphere mode you can click a complete 360-degree image (I must tell you that it is a bit difficult to click this pic but after a few tries you would be able to use it properly). Another feature that is available only with a small number of phones is time-lapse, that can capture even a light streaks of moving the light.
For all the Photography enthusiasts, the is a manual mode which will let you adjust each and every setting manually as you want. You can adjust the autofocus, shutter speed, ISO setting, Exposure value and white balance. You can see these images we clicked based on different values of these settings.
If you make too many changes and want to return to the default settings, just click the reset button and all the values will be changed to default.
The front camera is also quite good, and you will see some samples of it in following detailed video review. The front camera also has a few modes including slow motion and time-lapse, which I think is quite unique. The 1080P and 720P videos recorded with the Zenfone Zoom are quite impressive, and with Image Stabilization and Anti-Shake technologies, we did not fear the general jitters that we can expect smartphone cameras.
Enough Talks, its time for some Zenfone Zoom Camera samples…
How about some optical zoom samples now?
Our following detailed gaming review on YouTube will say good enough to consider Zenfone Zoom as an ultimate gaming device, and one thing that we would like to focus more on is just gets warm, and no severe heating like in most mid-budget smartphones.
The frame rates were exceptionally consistent for multiplayer games like SG: Deadzone or Gun Bros 2, and even at demanding VFX like explosions, Zenfone Zoom delivered good performance.
With great speakers packed with a huge display, we enjoyed playing a lot of games frequently on Zoom without any issues. So great gaming performance overall.
Every one of us has a thirst for photography inside us. And to quench this thirst of photography we need something more than traditional smartphone cameras.
What we really need is ASUS Zenfone Zoom. Yes, it’s that impressive, and provides you a never seen before experience with the smartphone camera.
It’s definitely a pocketable DSLR, an engineering marvel and, more importantly, it is the greatest performer of 2016. At the price of Rs. 37999, its well worth recommending if you enjoy on-the-go photography and wants to take it to the next level.