The Taiwanese Smartphone Giant Asus has continuous improvement in their Smartphone line ups and the latest from their kitty is Asus Zenfone 3 series smartphones which have broken the barriers in design department and come up with totally revamped Smartphone series to attract the masses and classes. Asus launched the series of Zenfone series phones recently and we got an opportunity to review one of the device which is Zenfone 3 (ZE520KL) and here are our thoughts, opinions and review about this device.
The model which we have got for review is a ZE520KL which comes with a 5.2" display, Snapdragon 625 Octa-core processor with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage which is expandable upto 2TB using micro SD card. It houses a 16 MP rear camera and a 8 MP front camera, the battery capacity is 2650 mAH and the MRP on the device is Rs. 22,999/- .
The Asus Zenfone 3 comes with a 2.5D corning gorilla glass body on both the sides and with metallic finish around the body. The metal frame looks very slim with just 6.16 mm and the diamond cut bezel is just 0.18 mm. The device is a 5.2" and also there is a 5.5" variant available also. The device houses the volume rocker and power button on its left while a hybrid sim slot is located on the right side of it. There is a 3.5 mm audio jack on the top, next to that is a noise-cancellation microphone. At the bottom, there is a USB-C charging/data port along side is a speaker grill and microphone. On both top and bottom portions, the antenna strips are located. In the front there is 3 capacitive touch buttons and on the back there is a 16 MP camera located in between the dual tone LED Flash and laser focus sensor. Below the camera is a rectangular finger print scanner. Underneath the glass body at the bottom is ASUS branding which looks good.
While those are the aesthetics of the device, what I feel about the design is follows. At the first look of the device, it looks gorgeous and the Asus has really broken the barriers to come up with this design on their phones. Its light weight and attractive to the crowd. The only downside I feel is the damages to the glass body which might cause when it slips through the hands. I felt the device is slippery, blame on the over smoothness of the glass and the edges and one should be very careful while handling the device in one hand. Operating using one hand is bit tedious task due to the slipping nature of the design. Also, one should be very careful and watchful when they place this phone in their formal pant pockets and while driving, especially if you are biker. There are chances of losing the phone on road if you are not careful enough. There is a camera bump which is clearly visible, but I guess that makes sense as when an user puts a back cover or the protective cover, it will sync up with it and would be leveled when placed on a surface. I don't think its a deal breaker if we use it with a back cover protection. The fingerprint scanner is placed at the right place and its reachable very easily and thanks to the 0.2s quick unlock capability of the same, one need not have to put too much effort to unlock the phone and also thanks to Zen UI embedded features using which one can click pictures, double tap the fingerprint sensor to invoke camera app directly from the locked position. Though its decent thought, sometimes its an hindrance when you accidentally double tap the fingerprint while operating other applications. Disable that option if you really not a camera nerd who always wants to quickly access camera application. Overall, we liked the Zen design barring couple of downsides as mentioned above.
The device comes with a 5.2" Full HD IPS display comprising 75.6% screen to body ratio with 178 degree wide-viewing angle and protected with 2.5D Corning Gorilla 2.5D contoured glass. The 2.5D finish looks beautiful and the brightness level with 600nits really helps to view the content clearly and brightly even in the outdoors and under the sunlight. The touch is pretty responsive and smooth to use. Thanks to the bluelight filter feature in Zen UI which causes less stress when you are operating the mobile in dim light condition or while reading content in night with lights off. The company says the display has fingerprint and smudge-resistant oleophobic coating and that helps keeping the device clean. Overall, the display of the device is impressive.
Hardware and Performance:
Asus Zenfone 3 is powered by Qualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon 625 chipset with Octa-core processor clocked at 2.0 GHz with Adreno 506. This particular model ZE520KL comes with a 3 GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage. The device comprises different sensors like Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity and compass. The device comes with a 4G/VOLTE support and backed with a 3000 mAH battery. Performance wise I am don't see any lag or stutters while performing different functions on the device like switching between the screens, browsing, multi-tasking and even playing a high definition games also feels snappy on this device. Also, multimedia experience is pretty good on this and we could watch HD movies, on video sites etc., with breeze and there was no disappointment whatsoever. The audio output is loud and clear. Thanks to Zen UI feature again which gives an option to enable the outdoor mode when you press the volume rocker up or down which gives extra boost to the audio output. The voice and call clarity is good and nothing to complain about. The device doesn't heat up even after long hours of gaming and video playback which is really good. Fingerprint scanner is snappy and unlocks the device just under 0.2 seconds. Antutu benchmark records score of 59857 which is pretty decent. At this price range, though this device might not have highest specs in comparison with competitive brands in the market which provides Snapdragon 820 SOC and almost similar specs, but this fares well in all the operations and there performance wise we have no complaints too.
The ZF3 comes with a 16MP rear camera with Sony IMX 298 Sensor and a 8MP front camera with auto-focus. The rear camera supports 4K video recording, manual mode, video stabilization mode, and in the software features front it provides power saving mode, smart remove, miniature, time rewind, depth of fields, QR code, Super resolution, HDR pro, slow motion, time lapse, GIF animation, low light and night modes. The front camera also can record upto Full HD video and provides beautification modes, selfie panorama, HDR pro, different effects, low light, GIF animation, slow motion and time lapse features. The camera app is snappy and easy to use. Even a novice to photography can click some amazing pictures with the simple and easy use of the camera interface. Thanks to the TriTech auto-focus technology which is combination of 2nd Gen Laser AF, Advanced phase detection and continuous AF for any distance and lighting clarity in just 0.03 seconds. With both optical and electronic image stabilization, one can get blur-free shots and video. The pictures shot using Zenfone 3 camera is impressive and the device fares well even in low-light modes also. We are happy with the performance and output of the camera on ZF3.
Some sample pictures in low resolution below. Check out full resolution pictures here .
The ZF3 is backed with a 2650 mAH battery, it doesn't support quick charging, the device charges to 100% just under 2 hours of charging which is impressive. I could stay on for around 48 hours with 4G ON all the time and in auto-brightness mode and with heavy usage of social media and occasionally watching videos. The battery performance is impressive and thanks to Zen UI power saver feature again which gives different battery modes like performance, normal, power saving, super saving and customized settings for the battery. We got around 5 hours Screen on time on this device which is pretty good too. Though battery capacity might show low in number, this is decent enough battery capacity for day to day usage and for some heavy usage also.
Software and Features:
The ZF3 comes with an Android Marshamallow 6.0.1 topped with Zen UI ver 3.0. The main heart of the Zenfone series phones relies on the Zen UI which makes it attractive and sky is the limit to dig through the features and options given in Zen UI. Though the UI has lot of features which it supports, its easily understandable and operable by the end users. Also, there are modes like kids mode and easy mode which is pretty useful for the kids and elders at home. Some of the important features which I would like to highlight here is the way we can reduce the Icon sizes, fonts resizing, locking apps, hiding apps, changing grid sizes, mobile manage which helps tune data usage, power saver, manage notifications, clean up, tune privacy and security. The autostart manager is a master stroke which can be used to control which app to start automatically when you start the device. File manager features like Storage analyzer, PC file transfer, hidden cabinet etc., is an added advantage and one doesn't have to install third party file managers for this purpose. Apart from these, there are standard set of software which comes pre-installed with Zen UI like Audio wizard, truecaller, puffin browser, Asus MiniMovie maker, PhotoCollage, Do It lter, share link, web storage for cloud storage, Go2Pay for making payments, QuickMemo, ZenCircle, Zentalk etc., As I mentioned earlier, sky is the limit to explore the features on ZenUI and for a power user, he can tune a lot using the features provided and make the device a high performer. As always, we loved the features which Zen UI offers and no complaints about it.
Verdict: Priced at around 22,000/- INR, this particular model is definitely a good buy for the specs, durability, design/build quality and features it offers.