With the Zenfone 3, ASUS has a new smartphone in its portfolio, which is available at a competitive price and features a good camera. Overall we're curious to find out whether the Zenfone 3 is capable of convincing in our review. The Zenfone 3 offers a few interesting features like for example a fingerprint reader and an aluminum frame.
With the Zenfone 3, ASUS offers a high-end smartphone equipped with all the bells and whistles. There is a Qualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon 625 octa-core CPU, an Adreno 506 GPU and 4GB of memory. The internal storage space is 64GB and expandable via micro-SD by up to 256GB. On the connectivity side you get the traditional WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS as well as LTE Cat 4 and two nano-SIM slots. The display measures 5.2 inches with SuperIPS+ technology and offers 1080 x 1920 resolution.
As we already mentioned, ASUS decided to use a SuperIPS+ panel measuring 5.2-inch diagonally with Gorilla Glass protection. The pixel density is 401 ppi which is what you get in the case of FHD resolution. Color reproduction of this display is great and only in the case of black we'd wish for it to be darker, since there is a grey tint to it. The brightness is high enough to use the Zenfone 3 outdoors, when the sun is directly shining on the panel. Looking for the backlight sensor, which is crucial for quick brightness changes, we find it in the upper part of the frame and the response time for automatic adjustments is average compared to other products we’ve tested. Apart from that the feedback by the touch screen is perfect, which makes the Zenfone 3 feel very responsive. The graphics chip inside the SoC is an Adreno 506, which is pretty quick.
Audio and Reception
The sound quality of the Zenfone 3 is not on the same level as the display. While the audio from the speaker was as expected, the same can't be said for the headpiece but at least it's comfortable. The speaker is placed in the back part of the device next to the fingerprint reader, perfectly integrated into the design of the phone. The Zenfone 3 features LTE, A-GPS, GLONASS, WiFi and more. Also the accuracy of the GPS signal is good, finding a location is done quickly.
The ASUS Zenfone 3 uses a meanwhile classic shape, which is common with all touch screen devices available on the market. Overall the Zenfone 3 measures 152.6 x 77.4 x 7.7 mm weighing in at 155 grams. Given the size and the 5.2-inch display it's quite hard use the device with one hand. On the right hand side of the device you can change the volume and there is also the power button. At the top and bottom we find the audio connector and the USB Type-C port. On the other side there is the fingerprint scanner and the rear camera, with a huge bump, and LED flash. Overall the build quality is on a very good level; like other models of the same line, the Zenfone 3 offers a chassis made from solid aluminum with plastic elements.
The Zenfone 3 comes with a 16-megapixel camera on the back and a 8 megapixel one at the front. The rear camera features a dualLED flash, which allows you to take pictures with decent quality even in the dark. A closer look at the sensor reveals that it’s the same model that can be found with the Xiaomi Mi5 e OnePlus 3, while being a Sony IMX298 F2.0. However, we want to make it clear that the sensor is only a small part of the camera module, and sharing the same sensor does not necessarily mean that you will get pictures of the same quality like with other smartphones or phablets.
In our opinion color reproduction is on a good level and so is field of view. Apart from that the shutter releases almost immediately thanks also to the laser autofocus. In addition on this device there is an optical stabilization system on four axes and digital on three axes. The supplied application includes numerous camera modes and settings, and while using the menu you can adjust almost every aspect of the camera, which includes ISO and white balance. We’ve also shot a few videos at the highest possible quality and we can say that the video quality is on the same level as the picture quality. It appears there are some software issues causing an aliasing effecty. The audio sounds surprisingly good and the overall quality is good as well.
ASUS ships the Zenfone 3 with Android 6.0 Marshmallow and a extensively customized ROM. It features the classic ZenUI which can be found on all ASUS smartphones. As you can see from the screenshots, there are many shortcuts that make the usage of the Zenfone 3 easy and intuitive. Like many other devices on the market, you also get a small themes menu where you can change the main looks of your Zenfone 3. On the official store you can download or even purchase new themes. Amongst the various features of this ROM, you can also draw on the screen to start a certain application. The performance of the ROM is overall good, the device is fast in most scenarios even if they are micro-lags.
The battery is probably one of the best parts of this device as the Zenfone 3 ships with a non-removable 2650mAh model. It makes the devices run for a full day easily even if you’re working with the Zenfone 3 heavily. The Qualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon 625 SoC does a great job, when it comes to power consumption. A power user will still be able to get 24 hours out of the 2650 mAh battery pack. Luckily the Zenfone 3 is compatible with fast-chargers and one is also inside the package, pumping out 2 Ampere. The charging time is average compared to other products we’ve tested.
With the Zenfone 3, ASUS created a solid device that is quick and it can be found with a price of 360 Euros on Geizhals.eu.
Apart from that there are a few minor flaws which are mainly linked to the design of the smartphone. We liked for instance that the color reproduction of the display is on a very good level and the cameras shutter releases quickly. Regarding battery life the Qualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon 625 SoC performs very well and in combination with the big 2650 mAh battery.
- Available in three colors
No backlight on buttons
Design / Bild Quality
ASUS decided to go for a proven classic "bar" design on the Zenfone 3 and it includes rounded corners as well as a slim profile, similar to the latest iPhone. The Zenfone 3 is mainly made in aluminum with a solid Gorilla Glass back cover. The display is protected by a slim, pre-applied film but if you want a tempered glass protection we suggest to use an aftermarket product. In combination with the very high build quality the Zenfone 3 feels great. Despite the size of the ASUS Zenfone 3 it fits perfectly in every pocket. The fingerprint reader works good but could be faster.
- LCD Protection preapplied
- Fingerprint reader not always fast
Performance / Battery
Inside the Zenfone 3 we find a Qualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon 625 octa-core SoC with Adreno 506 GPU. We tested the performance of this device and the results are usually average, while our comparison list includes mid-range and high-end smartphones. During the tests, we haven't detected any overheating/throttling issues. The 2650mAh battery on the Zenfone 3 is not removable and in our opinion battery life is excellent. Also the charging time is reasonably quick.
- Battery life
Display / Camera
The ASUS Zenfone 3 is equipped with a 5.2-inch display panel which provides life-like colors while both contrast and brightness are really good. Only the reproduction of black could be better since it looks greyish way too often. The 16-megapixel rear camera is doing a decent job. The quality of the pictures, including macro shots, is decent even in low light conditions. Good is also the software that offers a ton of settings including manual mode for video and pictures. In addition we like also the front camera, with 8-megapixel, since it's able to shoot very nice selfies.
- Life-like colors
- Sharp images
- Front camera good for selfie
- 2160p @ 30fps
The ASUS Zenfone 3 is a
pretty decent device perfect for those looking for a smartphone with a nice design. Also on the connectivity side there is nothing to complain, since there is for example support for LTE and WiFi. The performance are on a good level despite the Snapdragon 625 is actually a mid-range SoC. Both cameras are quite able to convince and we especially appreciated focusing speed. The ROM is packed with a lot of settings and options allowing you can change almost everything on this device.
The Zenfone 3 from ASUS receives very good 4 out of 5 stars.