Asus of Taiwan has been quite successful with its earlier iteration of ZenFone 2 series in affordable segment. After getting good response in the Indian and other markets, Asus has knocked at the door of mid and high-end segment of smartphones with Elan. The ZenFone 3 series come with beautiful metal and glass design and have all the trapppings of flagship phones. We got the opportunity to review ZenFone 3 smartphone which comes in two variants of 5.2 inch and 5.5 inch Display. We got ZenFone 3 with 5.2 inch Display with 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage which is priced Rs. 22,000. Here are our observations of this phone:
Asus has jumped from plastic body of previous ZenFones to completely refreshed look of metal and glass both on the front and rear with a 2.5D curved Corning Gorilla Glass protection on both the sides. This phone gives you faint resemblance of Galaxy S7 and overall looks quite impressvie with its design added with Asus’s signature concentric-circle on the bottom of the front. Despite the fact that the phone is little bit slippery because of glass on the back and also attracts smudges but the saving grace is that very sturdy and solid metal has been used to prevent it from being scratched against accidental falls. During my usage, the phone slipped from my hand two times and fortunately it remained unscathed and this speaks volumes for its rock-solid build quality. But it is advisable to use the cover for avoiding slippage from your hand as you may not be lucky all the time.
The rear camera with LED flash is little bit protruding but their are no chances of getting scratches on the lens as Sapphire lens has been used on the camera. The vertically-shaped Fingerprint scanner which has been provided behind the rear camera is quite fast and responds very quickly. The power button and volume rockers are on the right side whereas the hybrid SIM tray is on the left side of the device. Asus has used USB Type-C port at the bottom which is now becoming industry standard and speaker grille and microphone are also placed at the bottom. The 3.5mm audio jack has been put on the top. This phone has weight of 142g and with its thickness of 7.69mm, this phone is comfortable to hold and you can easily tuck it in your pocket. The navigation key are at the metal frame on the front which are not back lit.
This phone has display of 5.2 inch which in our opinion is an ideal size for a smartphone with resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. The display of this phone is vibrant and produces rich color. Moreover, the display provide good viewing experience even under the sunlight. The display has good viewing angles and to enable you to view the display comfortably at night, the blue filter has been provided. This display is ideal for your media consumption and if you are used to bigger display then you can opt for 5.5 inch variant which is priced Rs. 28,000.
On the performance front, this phone competed with any mid-range smartphones as it is packed with Snapdragon 625 64-bit octa-core processor clocked at 2GHz with an Adreno 506 GPU. It comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of inbuilt storage, which can be expanded upto 2TB. These power-packed features make it workhorse and during our usage, this phone performed very well as switching between the apps was smooth. Their was no lags or stutter even if you play heavy games such as Asphalt 8 and surprisingly, the phone did not heat up despite our continuous usage for playing games, video streaming and watching other media content. Full marks to the device for trouble free performance without any hiccups.
Despite the fact that this phone has lone 5 magnet speaker yet it is quite loud but when you use the earphones which come in the box, you would enjoy the audio quality more as it has no distortion and reproduction of audio is clear. This phone supports 4G VoLTE and its network connectivity is excellent. The call quality of this phone is also very good and we could get audible reception even in basement.
This is the first time Asus has provided fingerprint sensor on its ZenFone 3 and it is placed vertically behind the rear camera on the back panel. After using so many fingerprint sensors on budget, mid-range and flagship phones, we have observed that this is also one of the fastest and quickest sensor experienced by us. The positioning of the fingerprint sensor is perfect and during our repeated usage, it has never failed to unlock the phone.
Asus has been very particular about the photographic aspects on its phones and in ZenFone 3, they have taken this feature a notch ahead by equipping this phone with 16MP Sony IMX298 Sensor, ASUS TriTech autofocus that automatically selects 2nd generation laser phase detection and continuous auto focus to achieve precise focus in less than 0.03 seconds. This camera has 6P Largan lens setup and aperture of f/2.0 with Dual tone LED flash, OIS and EIS which are quite useful when shooting videos or when you can’t hold the phone properly for capturing an image. The camera comes with host of modes such as HDR pPro, Super resolution, Depth of field, GIF, Panorama, All smiles, Slow motion and Time lapse for video etc. These features enhance the capability of the camera.
As far as performance of the camera is concerned, it is almost at par with flagship phones and reproduces images with good details and sharpness. When you shoot the images in daylight or indoors, it comes out very well with superb colour and depth in the reproductions. Even in low-light, this phone does not disappoint as the images turn out to be little bit grainy but we do not complain as this happens even with high-end phones also. We are reproducing below few images clicked with this phone in broad day light and see for yourself how vibrant and sharp they look despite the fact that these have been compressed:
For selfie lovers, the front camera has an 8MP sensor with f/2.0 aperture which has 85-degree wide-angle. Combined with this is Panorama Selfie Mode which enable you to capture more people in your selfies and with Beautification Mode, you can easily enhance the quality of the images to some extent. Overall, the quality of selfie camera has impressed us which come out with good details and the front camera is also capable of recording videos with full HD resolution. This phone can take head-on with camera focussed phones.
As they say, nothing is perfect in this world, this phone is also little bit low on few features. This phone is packed with 2650mAh battery which hardly go through the full day if you are heavy users of the phone with playing games, watching videos and repeatedly checking your social profiles and listening to music. We had to charge our phone before end of the day when we used it heavily and with moderate usage, it can easily lasted for upto seven hours. But the saving grace is that the battery gets charged very fast and we observed that the full battery was charged from zero in approximately 60 minutes. It would have been better if this phone also had 3000mAh battery which is available on 5.5 inch variant and which has become a norm now.
This phone also has hybrid SIM slot which means either you can use two Nano SIM cards or one SIM and one microSD card.
We are not fans of custom UI and the ZenFone 3 runs on ZenUI 3.0, which is based on Android Marshmallow 6.0.1. This UI has loads of features but as experienced by us earlier in previous generation of ZenFones , it comes with loads of bloatwares as well. Some of the apps which are of no use can be uninstalled and some of them can be disabled. Some of these apps are quite useful also but overall the UI is quite clean and provides ease of operation.
To sum up, the ZenFone 3 is attractively designed device and comes with powerful cameras, fingerprint scanner and renders very smooth performance. If you are planning to buy a phone in the range of Rs. 20,000 then you can certainly consider this seriously it for its all round performance and if your liking is for a shining device. The nearest competition for this phone could be Xiaomi Mi 5 but this variant (5.2 inch) of ZenFone 3 is far ahead in design and look. This phone is available in Gold, Black and White colors.