ASUS ZenFone Zoom was launched in India on Jan 22nd 2016 for photography enthusiasts and Power users of smartphone. Asus Zenfone Zoom’s main attraction is the Camera which is the world’s thinnest 3X Optical Zoom 13 MP PixelMaster Camera with 10-element HOYA lens, laser auto focus and with a 5 MP Front camera. The device gives pocket-sized DSLR experience as per company claims with features like periscopic innovation, Smart FSI sensor, 52MP Super Resolution, 5 cm macro shots and pro-style Manual mode.  The Zenfone Zoom is powered by a 64-bit Quad-Core Intel Processor backed with 4 GB DDR3 RAM and has a storage capicity of 128 GB. The device houses a 5.5″ Full HD display with 403 ppi pixel density protected with Scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass 4 with Anti-finger coating. Zenfone Zoom can hold a single SIM card which supports different GSM networks upto LTE.  ZenFone Zoom’s dimensions measures 158.9 x 78.84 x 11.95 (Height x  Width x Depth) and weighs 185 grams.

We got an opportunity to try out the Zenfone Zoom for some days and here are our impressions and review on the same.
Design: In Design department, Asus has put a lot of efforts in improvising their design on their Zenfone series phones and this time around they have improved lot in terms of Design which earned them Good Design Award too. The devices comes with a diamond cutting edges with an aluminium unibody frame and with 5 mm ultra-thin edges which gives a premium look to the device. Though its a big device with 185 gms weight, It doesn’t look bulk and chunky.  The Zenfone zoom houses all the buttons on the right side of the device which includes volume rocker cum zoom buttons, power/unlock button and also comes with two unique buttons exclusively for starting the video recording and camera functions directly.  ASUS has put a real good thought in implementing these buttons on this camera centric smartphone which are absolutely useful. On the top side of the device there is a 3.5 MM audio jack alongside a noise cancellation mic. At the bottom there is a Micro-USB charging port cum data port. The same port supports OTG too using which one can plug in another external storage device too. I really don’t think anyone would use additional storage when device itself carries massive 128 GB storage and also supports Micro-SD card upto 128 GB. But still, its a good feature to have and useful in transferring the content from one to another without having to connect to the computer. The On the back, ASUS have give a leather like texture which gives a premium look to the device.  This design is amazing and one don’t have to worry about keeping their device on rough surfaces and on their table worrying about the scratches which might happen on their device. This back panel gives better support in hand, one can hold it comfortably and doesn’t slip at all. The Camera portion does look big and why not its a camera centric Smartphone which comes with a 3X optical zoom? The lens is well protected with top glass assembly and again one doesn’t have to worry about keeping their phone on the surfaces. On the back, there is a speaker located at the bottom of the smartphone. The device also comes with a Strap hole using which an user can insert the strap provided in the box so that they can save their phone from accidental fall while carrying the phone and clicking away pictures. We totally liked the design of the device and give a thumbs up for the same.

Display: Zenfone Zoom houses a 5.5″ IPS full HD display with a screen resolution of 1080×1920 pixels and 403 ppi pixel density. The display is protected using a Corning Gorilla Glass 4 which helps it protect from scratches and one can fearlessly slip in their pockets even with their key’s inside the pocket or with an additional smartphone if you carry  multiple devices. The display is clear and crisp with amazing viewing angle even at bright sunlight. Touch sensitivity of the display is good too and we didn’t face any issues with the same. Coming to the ruggedness of the display we did try to tap on the device hard with the keys, finger nails, and carried the phone in the same pocket with our keys inside that and also with other smartphone placing at the display side of this device, this device absolutely handled the pressure and no scratches on the same whatsover. We are totally impressed with the ruggedness of this display. One can forget shopping for screen-guards or Tampered displays for Zenfone Zoom. 
Hardware and Performance: The Zenfone Zoom is powered with a 64-bit Intel Atom Z3590 Quad- core processor clocked at 2.3 GHz backed with a 4 GB DDR3 RAM.  With the powerful hardware combination on Zenfone Zoom, we didn’t face sluggishness while doing multi-tasking on the device and at the same time playing the High-definition games also are super smooth on the same. We absolutely loved playing games such as Asphalt 8 Airborne, Nova 3, Kill shot etc., fastly and flawlessly. There are no major heating issues during prolonged game play, the device’s back gets little warmer but I think its the standard observation in any devices while playing resource intensive games or applications.  We didn’t observe any heating issues while watching full length Indian movies and it handled quite comfortably. Watching movies in HD is also good on the 5.5″ display.  Also, we did a test by filling up the entire 112 GB user space out of total 128 GB on device leaving out some 100 MB free space, to check if device slows down during IO operations or while performing some heavy apps, but the device handled it beautifully and we confidently say ‘go ahead and fill the space with all the videos and multimedia content you want’. Antutu benchmark tests shows this device performance ahead of Le 1S with score of 62303 and below than the other high performers like OnePlus two, HTC One M9, Nexus 6, LG G4 etc., The Zenfone zoom comes with NFC support too which is the first in ASUS Zenfone series, we tested transferring some files between two devices using NFC and it works effortlessly. Overall, performance wise this device doesn’t disappoint a power user and we are quite happy with it.

Camera: As we mentioned earlier, Asus ZenFone Zoom is a camera centric smartphone and it totally lives upto its reputation. The device’s main attraction is the 3X Optical Zoom backed with a 13 MP resolution camera. With its improved OIS feature, the devices gives best and stable images. Supported by a laser focus technology which focuses an object as quickly as 0.03 seconds, its a pure bliss to click the images. With its improved camera sensor, the device gives a real good low light images too. The Zenfone Zoom has a 10 element HOYA lens with gives a crisp detail on the images. The 10 element lenses are arranged in such a manner that they function to arrange the maximum light and gives you the best photo quality. The device has a dual-LED Real Tone Flash at the rear that gives the best illumination and generates better pictures.  Zenfone Zoom transports their exclusive PixelMaster Technology to new realms, periscopic lens arrangement for incredible 3x optical zoom photography. Zoom functionality works absolutely fine and we could click some pretty decent  pictures which are far. Check out the picture samples in comparison with zoom and non-zoom.  The Camera software on Zenfone zoom offers lot of  features which includes different modes such as HDR, Beautification, Super Resolution, Low Light, Night mode, Depth of Field Mode, Selfie Mode, GIF Animation more, Panaroma, Miniature, Panosphere, Time Rewind mode, Smart Remove, Slow Motion and Time Lapse. One can shoot video upto Full HD using this device and picture quality upto 13 MP.   Even in front camera mode, there are features such as Beautification, Selfie Panaroma, Night Mode, HDR, Low Light, GIF Animation, Slow motion and Time Lapse. Camera interface is really good too with lot of options and features coming handy to click some amazing and creative pictures for photography enthusiasts. There is a Manual mode also for photography nerds. Sky is the limit to explore different functionalities of the camera on Zenfone Zoom. We totally liked the clarity of the images, videos shot using Zenfone Zoom. Some sample picture shot using Zenfone Zoom. Click on the images for full resolution picture.

Battery: For a performance oriented device, a better battery is must and Asus has kept that in mind and has included a competitive battery inside their Zenfone Zoom. The device  has a 3000mAH non-removable Li-Po batter with boost master technology. The boost master technology helps to charge the smartphone faster and one can talk uptp 4-hours with just 10 minutes charge.  We could charge the device to complete 100% from 0% in just under 2 hours. But, one has to make sure they use the charger provided inside the box of Zenfone zoom which has 2A output, we tried different chargers which took 5+ hours to completely charge it. The battery performance is decent enough and we got pretty good battery backup of around 32 hours out of which around 7 hours screen on time and with device on network with moderate use of social media applications, gaming etc.,  We give a thumbs up to the battery performance too on Zenfone Zoom.

Software and Features: Zenfone Zoom comes with an Android 5.0 Lollipop OS topped with Asus ZenUI. ZenUI comes with Plethora of features to satisfy the smartphone powers users. The UI is pretty decent and cool to operate with lot and lots of some nifty features for the users.  One can tune the UI as per their needs using the preferences available in the app drawer where in one can actually choose the grid size, Icon size and even fonts size.  The features like Applock mode is pretty decently thought which gives an opportunity for user to enable Intruder Selfie also when someone tries to access the locked app by entering wrong password or wrong protection pattern. It clicks the picture of any intruder silently without their notice. Once the owner types or swipes in write password on that locked app, it gives the notification to the owner of the device by showing the picture of the person who tried to access the locked app with the exact date and time. In app drawer, one can hide unwanted and unused apps also making your device’s home screen clutter free . There is a smart grouping feature which automatically groups the app icons inside the relevant folders such as Business, communication, social media, games, Media, Music, news etc., which is helpful and one don’t have to create manual folders based on the nature of the applications they have installed. The UI has features like Touch Gesture and Motion Gesture using which one can turn off or ON the screen using double tap. Also, can launch different applications from the lock screen itself by swiping gestures like ‘W’ , ‘S’, ‘e’, ‘C’, ‘Z’ and ‘V’. User can assign any application as per their wish to these gesture settings and launch them directly from lock screen without having to go to the actual UI and launching those applications. There is a pretty useful feature like ‘one hand mode’ which can be enabled and triggered by double tapping the home key, this is pretty useful when you are driving or want to use the phone quickly using one hand. It gives easy access to complete screen and window can be resized too as per the requirement.  One more feature which I want to highlight is teh power saver feature under battery settings using which an user can set their device to different modes like Performance mode, Normal mode, Power saving mode, Super saving mode or customized settings mode. And there is an option to Smart switch the modes too using which one can automatically switch to super saving mode when their battery reaches certain percentages and also one can use the smart switch so enable super saver between certain time of the day , say in night while sleeping when the device actually don’t have to stay in performance mode hogging the battery of the device. User can schedule the timings in the setting as per their requirement. These kind of features are very well thought from Asus UI department from end users point of view and have implemented in ZenUI.  There is a Kids Mode enabling that gives you an option to set and assign certain apps to that mode and allows your kids access to only to those applications without any worry.  There is an easy mode which can be enabled for non-power users or less smartphone savvy users which gives easy access to important applications with very large icon sets and clear visibility. Some other cool features include, one click power and boost button using which one can free up memory by cleaning up the background apps. Using Auto-Start manager one can restrict the applications starting automatically when device boots up. There is a glove mode using which one can operate the device using even the gloves ON. There are many more features to explore in Zen UI and I may need to create atleast 1 hour of Youtube video if I have to show it all to you 🙂 . But, to wind this up, overall, we totally like the features which Zen UI offers on Zenfone Zoom and we really appreciate the Company who thinks from users point of view and have implemented some pretty useful features in their day to day life.

Price:  Asus Zenfone Zoom is priced at Rs. 37,999/- INR . We honestly think, its slightly over-priced and could’ve been little lesser for the Indian Market. However, from a power user point of view, this device satiates all their needs and they may even ready to invest that much also.  And I am sure company also knows this and has put in a lot of thought while finalizing the price of this device by calculating their manufacturing cost and the components cost and quoted this as their best price. 

Verdict:  We are totally happy with the way device performed and the features it has and the exceptional camera. If this device becomes available somewhere in the range of 25 K to 30 K INR, this would be a best deal for a power hungry smartphone users. 
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