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Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Review - Big Battery And Awesome Cameras!

In an instant, the Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom was able to impress us on what it can offer right off the box. Why? It has all the right potential to be a game-changer on paper. As usual, to verify if our claims are correct, here's our full review!
Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Review
We reviewed the new Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom!

For our review part 1: Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Unboxing And First Impressions!

Display Quality

5.5 inch Full HD!
5.5 inch Full HD!

Equipped with a 5.5 Inch FHD AMOLED 2.5D LCD, the Zen 3 Zoom has the standard sharpness of upper-midrange devices at 401 pixels per inch. Colors are rich and extra vibrant as it offers an extra saturation that's even more than what we saw with the Samsung phones of the past.
Screen is sharp, but colors could be too saturated for photographers.
It could be a good thing if you want punchy colors right of the batt, but its too much for purist who wants better color accuracy. Color accuracy is something essential for a phone designed for photography. So, even if it has the ability to tweak the tones, color pop is simply too much.

Anyway, there's still some great things to write about the display of this device. It has a nice type of bluelight filter to lessen the stress in your eyes. Viewing angles are excellent too and it has 10 points of multitouch.


Audio Quality

The single loud speaker below
The single loud speaker below

For audio, fans of music would be mostly contented with this device. The speaker is loud, crisp, and has plenty of details. It is clean sounding even if you crank the volume all the way up as well. Very little noise (only the picky ears) would be noticeable. 

It is average in loudness, but there's "outdoor" mode option that will give an instant audio amplification. It'll add some noise, but it serves its purpose of being audible for outdoor usage.

For headphones / earphone fans, the Zen 3 Zoom is one of the very few phones in the world that has Hi-Res audio certification. Meaning, it can play most of your Hi-Fidelity lossless audio library up to 24 bit / 192 kHz with ease.
Audio quality is impressively on-par with most budget HiFi players!
Checking its quality, we enjoyed that it was able to provide a full bodied sound. Audio signature has slightly more bass than my liking, but details are on point and hissing is less. When we talk about details, this can even produce micro-details which is very impressive for a phone.

It can even make most of my earphones (even the bad ones) shine by having more depth and better soundstage presentation. It's still not LG V20 like in terms of audio reproduction, but this device cleaner sounding than at least 80% of the smartphones in the market out there.

For calls, the experience is great. In audio recording, the dual mic setup is enough to capture stereo audio with enough clarity and cleanliness.

Battery Life

15 hours and 41 mins score!
15 hours and 41 mins score!

Loaded with 5,000 mAh of juice, the Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom has one of the largest battery capacity in its class as of this writing. The company claimed that it can really last up to two days of use o a single charge.
It has more than double the battery performance against the old ZenFone Zoom!
In our PC Mark battery test, it recorded a score of 15 hours and 41 mins. That's more than double compared with the score that the original ZenFone Zoom got. In real life usage, it can truly last for two days on light to moderate use. Charging time is a little under 3 hours. Decent for a phone with big battery.

See also: Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom: Battery Test Results

Camera

A do it all type of dual camera setup!
A do it all type of dual camera setup!

On paper, the Zen 3 Zoom has one of the most advanced setup we ever saw. It includes a 12 MP f/1.7 Sony IMX362 w/ 25 mm wide angle lens + 12 MP Sony f/2.8 w/ 56 mm lens for 2.3x optical zoom w/ Tri-tech AF, 4 Axis OIS, 3 Axis EIS, 4K video recording and dual tone LED flash.
One of the very best smartphone camera setup on paper today!
To keep it simple, it means that the camera is as bright as the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and has a 0.3x better optical zoom against the Apple iPhone 7 Plus. On top of that, its complete with focusing tech like the Huawei P9, optical stabilization for videos with up to 4K in quality, wide angle lens, and can even create bokeh even without the use of a software trick.
Many modes inside!
Many modes inside!

Asus also completed its software with all the usual useful modes like the super resolution, HDR Pro, beautify, night, depth of field, and manual modes. It even now has an auto HDR feature which automatically detects whether your subject needs to use the power of HDR.
Manual or pro camera mode
Manual or pro camera mode

The manual mode has focus, shutter speed (up to 32 seconds) ISO (up to 3200), white balance, and EV. It even has metering, grids, and levels for picture guides.
2.3x optical zoom in action
2.3x optical zoom in action

Speaking of Zoom, we enjoyed the fact that this handset has that one touch 2.3x optical or real zoom. It'll retain the sharpness and brightness of your images as if you are using normal mode. If 2.3x zoom is not enough, you can do an up to 12x digital zoom which is still decent in quality.

Zoom works and useful for mobile photographers!
Focusing speed is outstanding, it can shoot even super close-up images, and shutter speed doesn't have the ZenFone 2 image saving delay anymore.

For the picture quality, this one is on par with most of the 2016 flagships which is definitely better than the ZenFone 3. It still has the same color profile, but its crispier, brighter, and has more details. Saturation is a bit louder this time, but dynamic range is a lot better. Grains, softness, and overexposure is rarely visible in daylight shots.

In lowlight, the f/1.7 bright and wide aperture size rocks. Dynamic range is still decent, and brightness even in the dark is okay. The pro mode and night mode will even make your shooting in the dark experience better. The flash is a bit too bright on close-ups though.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight auto HDR
Daylight auto HDR
Normal, 2.3x zoom, and 12x zoom!
Normal, 2.3x zoom, and 12x zoom!
Normal and 2x zoom in daylight
Normal and 2x zoom in daylight
Zoom in dimlight
Zoom in dimlight
DOF mode
DOF mode
Auto HDR at night
Auto HDR at night
ISO 50, 10 secs exposure time, auto WB
ISO 50, 10 secs exposure time, auto WB
ISO 50, 10 secs exposure time, 3,500K
ISO 50, 10 secs exposure time, 3,500K
Flash test
Flash test

For selfies, the Zen 3 Zoom has a good camera sensor that's commonly found in the main camera of most midrange phones! That's the 13 MP f/2.0 Sony IMX214 w/ wide angle lens and screen flash.
Selfie interface
Selfie interface

We liked that it has different levels of beautification and screen flash to make your self-portrait visible even in the dark. There's grids, HDR Pro, selfie panorama, night, filters, and lowlight modes too. Face detection and shooting speed is fast as well.

In terms of quality, it is decent, but I expected more from the IMX214 lens. It is sharp in details, but most of our selfies are darker than our liking. We hope that a software update can fix its exposure. 

Selfie Samples

Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie
Indoor selfie in bright lights
Indoor selfie in bright lights
Indoor dim-light selfie
Indoor dim-light selfie
Decent night selfie
Decent night selfie

One of the highlights of the Zen 3 Zoom is its video shooting capabilities. This is one of the very few phones in the market that can shoot up to 4K in quality w/ stabilization for less shakes.
The 1080p at 30 fps mode is arguably the best and most stable we ever saw on smartphone!
However, the 1080p at 60 fps is a bit too shaky. Again, maybe a software update can fix that. For selfies, it can record up to 1080p with decent stabilization as well. Great enough for video calls and Instagram stories. By the way, this device has time-lapse and slow motion modes too.

Video Samples


Performance

Antutu and Geekbench benchmarks results
Antutu and Geekbench benchmarks results

Like the regular Asus ZenFone 3, the ZenFone 3 Zoom that we have comes with the same configuration. It includes the Snapdragon 625 octa core processor, Adreno 506 graphics, 4 GB RAM, and 64 GB of expandable internal storage.

In general, the device feels as fast and as snappy compared with the first ZenFone 3. Every task you throw at it will work, performance is speedy, multitasking is smooth, and you won't have a problem at all in multimedia even when playing heavy lossless tracks or full HD movies.

For gaming, running heavy games like Asphalt 8, Modern Combat, and NBA 2K17 even on all high settings is playable. It is mostly smooth (not the smoothest though), but it doesn't have annoying frame drops even after prolonged use. Thermal management of this phone is decent, but you should not turn on LTE data, GPS, and WiFi all at the same time.
ZenUI 3.0!
ZenUI 3.0!

The phone loads on Android 6.0 Marshmallow w/ ZenUI skin. Like the ZenFone 3, it is feature packed and transition is smooth.
Mobile manager for tune-up and gestures for shortcuts
Mobile manager for tune-up and gestures for shortcuts

The usual gestures, theme manager, kids mode, and mobile manager are still there. The fingerprint scanner is snappy and accurate. There's a new It can also be used for unlocking your device, incoming calls, launch the camera app, and as a shutter button.
There's a health hub for fitness and health monitoring too
There's a health hub for fitness and health monitoring too

However, most of the unnecessary (mostly) bloatware are still there. Hope that its upcoming Nougat update will make the UI of this phone cleaner.

In terms of software, the improvement coming from the ZenFone 2 is evident. It now has a more vanilla Android approach that's now has better looking icons and feels snappier than ever. Apart from that it still has the popular ZenUI features such as ZenMotion (gestures and double tap), theme manager, power manager (battery saving), easy mode, and kids mode.

However, there's still unnecessary apps included here that's still many to mention. Plus, they update regularly that eats your mobile data if you're not connected to WiFi.

We also never had a problem with the connectivity features of this device. WiFi has good range, LTE is stable as long as you have a good signal, and has the newer Bluetooth 4.2. It's also complete with FM Radio, GPS, and dual SIM card support.

Pros - Minimalist aesthetics, enough power, very long battery life, fantastic headphone audio output, outstanding 1080p 30fps video recordings, and close to flagship-grade cameras
Cons - Screen is sharp but too saturated, the usual Asus bloatwares, 1080p 60 fps recording is unstable, selfie camera needs software improvement

Verdict

If Asus can provide the tempting under PHP 25k price tag, then the Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom would do very well. Why? Despite of its few shortcomings, this device is a capable piece of hardware that can compete that price segment well.

Slimness is on point even if it has a legit 5,000 mAh HUGE type of battery, photography and video performance is great and the zoom is no gimmick, and performance is stable where it can run even some heavy task or games properly.

However, if Asus will give this a higher SRP than expected, they will have a problem. Why? It'll be under-powered compared with the still capable flagships of yesteryear like the Huawei P9 and LG G5.


Update: The ZenFone 3 Zoom is still a decent buy at PHP 23,990. The cameras are good to great and the battery life is extremely long. However, specs just lags behind most of its competitors at this price point.

We are expecting a price cut soon. Under PHP 20K please.

Build / Design - 4.25
Display - 4
Audio - 4.5
Battery - 4.75
Camera - 4.5
Performance - 4
Average - 4.33 / 5
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