Asus surprised everyone when it first announced its Zenfone 3 series in Taiwan during the Computex 2016. The new Zenfones looked all new with major design changes and more. The other surprise came in to picture when these phones were brought to India. Like always, Asus fans were expecting the company to offer great phones at reasonable costs but this time Asus had different plans. It came up with some very premium stuff and the costs were unexpected as well.
I spent good amount of time with the Zenfone 3 4GB/64GB model. As I was keen to know why Asus is going with such a high price for its phones this time. When phones like OnePlus 3 are offering much better specs on paper, what makes it stand out at this price? Let’s find out.
Asus Zenfone 3 Full Specs
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What are Usage Reviews, Tests and Opinions?
This review is based on our quick tests and usage done with the phone, we try to push the device to its limits and find out the results which will matter if you plan to buy this phone. We hope this review helps you to get your queries answered about the device.
The Asus Zenfone 3 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 with an Octa-core processor clocked at 2.0 GHz and has Adreno 506 GPU. The device comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The storage on the device can be expanded up to 256GB via microSD card.
App Launch Speed
The app launch speed on the Asus Zenfone 3 is very quick and I did not see any delays in launching apps and folders.
Multitasking and RAM Management
The Asus Zenfone 3 comes with 4GB of RAM. Asus has done a great job with the RAM management on this phone, I am fully satisfied with the multitasking experience I had on this handset. You can run multiple number of apps at once but remember, if you are in between a game, do not expect it to continue from the same stage where you left it. In most of the cases, the game did restarted. Although, light games can be freezed without any loss.
I was using this device as my primary phone so there is no doubt that I left any chance to torture it. I have a habit of surfing through my Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn almost every time when I am free. The scrolling experience was smooth, there was no lags in scrolling the heavy pages filled up with multimedia until and unless there was an issue with the internet connection.
I did not experience any heating on this device. And I would like to give a special mention that I am more than impressed with the thermal management on this device. I am an aggressive user, and I have seen the nest of phones heating when I am on it, but Zenfone 3 did a quite impressive job in this area.
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The Asus Zenfone 3 comes with a 16MP, f/2.0, laser/phase detection autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash and 4-axiz OIS. On the front, Asus Zenfone 3 comes with 8MP camera with f/2.0 aperture.
As a user, I look for a UI that looks neat and is easy to use. It looks pretty neat this time, with the toggles properly placed on the sides. It gives a good view of the viewfinder so that you can have a look the complete image. There is no doubt that the camera UI offers variety of controls and offers different modes for creative photography. But I still feel some options look useless.
Day Light Photo Quality
Day light photos from this camera were very good, and the best part is the autofocus speed. It focuses on objects within no time, thanks to the Laser/PDAF. But the pictures showed a blue tint in most of the pictures. But you can still control the white balance with the manual control.
The camera is good on this phone but we have seen better cameras in the same price range. In short, you cannot call it extraordinary.
Low Light Photo Quality
Low light shots from Zenfone 3’s rear camera look decent till there is a minor source of light. But I would not rate this as a good camera for low light pictures. One can easily spot noise in the low light photos.
Selfie Photo Quality
Selfie quality is excellent on good lighting conditions; no matter it is natural light or artificial light. It has solid white balance even in artificial indoor lighting. It offers good in terms of details and handles light quite efficiently.
Zenfone 3 comes with a 3000 mAh battery that seems good on paper but in real life, it is even better. I use Zenfone 3 with two of my 4G SIMs resting in the dual SIM slots all the time. Being a heavy user I rarely find a phone that lasts the whole day for me. Zenfone 3 was good enough to last for a day with around 20-30% of power left in the phone.
It also comes with fast charging support that makes it more handy in the power department. Even if you run out of battery by the end of the day, you can easity get 40-45% of charge in just 20 minutes of charging.
We were able to charge the Asus Zenfone 3 from 0-100% in 90 minutes with the bundled charger.
Looks and Design
The Asus Zenfone 3 is the first Zenfone in which Asus has focused more on the design. It has a solid and smooth finish on both front and back. It is shielded by 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass on both the sides, which makes it look very elegant. Finishing is top notch, and the sides are rounded which make it easy to hold, but the glass makes it slippery at the same time. On the back, it has the trademark concentric-circle pattern at the rear which they call the “Zen design”. It looks really new and impressive, it adds multiple points to the looks of this phone.
Asus Zenfone 3 Photo Gallery
Quality of Material
Unlike most other phones in the market, the Asus Zenfone 3 comes packed in more glass and less metal. The quality and finishing of the build material is very nice, and I think that is the main reason Asus has priced the phones at more than usual price.
The Asus Zenfone 3 feels slightly big to hold and use with one hand. Most other 5.5 inch display phones have this issue in common. Other than that, you will not feel any discomfort in putting it in your jeans pocket.
Display Clarity, Colors and Viewing Angles
Zenfone 3 has a 5.5 inch full HD (1080p) display with a pixel density of 400ppi. Asus calls its display as a Super IPS+ display, which appears to be as a normal panel with extra brightness. The display is great in terms of brightness and clarity. The colours are are also good but we have seen better display on other phones of the same range. The viewing angles are also decent.
Outdoor Visibility (Full Brightness)
I had no issue at all while viewing the Zenfone 3 outdoors and even in bright sunlight despite the highly reflective nature of the glass covered display.
The Zenfone 3 still runs a very bloated version of Android 6.0 dubbed as Zen UI 3.0. You get tons of customization options right from the lock screen to the pre-installed apps. The homescreen can be customized using different icon packs, themes and more.
Something that I do not always like on Asus phones is the number of pre-installed apps, it comes with more than 25 pre-installed apps out of which only 2-3 can be removed. This needlessly eats up a lot of space on your phone.
Like most of the OEMs, Asus leaves no chance to include some really cool gestures in the UI. It has made a good use of fingerprint sensor, which can open the camera by tapping twice on it. There are some more useful additions to this UI and the best part is that all of them run smooth.
Overall, the software on Zenfone 3 is not something a stock Android lover will want. It has tons of modifications and features but I personally don’t prefer this UI because of the bloat. Otherwise the software feels smooth and gives a lot of options to play with.
It has a mono speaker on the bottom, and it was loud and offered less distortion compared to other smartphones. We also used the bundled headphones which offered decent bass with clear reproduction.
We tested the Asus Zenfone 3 with different network providers across 2G, 3G and 4G. In all our testing, the Asus Zenfone 3 performed very well.
The Asus Zenfone 3 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor and a Adreno 506 GPU. I installed around 7-8 games on this phone that include, NFS No Limits, Asphalt 8, Mini Militia, Color Switch, Modern Combat 5 and more. From lightweight games to heavy games, the Zenfone 3 handled each game with grace and ease. I did not get a chance to complain when it comes to lags or hiccups.
It did not heat up most of the times, in some cases it was slightly warm but it was easily bearable.
At 27,999, the Asus Zenfone 3 (4GB/64GB) stands against the very successful OnePlus 3 (Read Review). Looking at the specs on paper and the kind of real life performance OnePlus 3 has, that is the only reason which takes the limelight away from Zenfone 3. Individually, Zenfone 3 is a killer in terms of design and build but the price has been set slightly high looking at the current market.