The Asus Zenfone 3 is the destination of the company’s “pursuit of superior function” combined with love for design and craftsmanship. Lofty goals for sure, but this isn’t your typical flagship or mid-range phone.
The Zenfone 3 is a photography buff, it adores music and puts visuals on a pedestal. Really, there are pages of features of the PixelMaster 3.0 that drives the 16MP camera (loaded with OIS and a ton of focus assistants), the SonicMaster 3.0 that pushes 24-bit Hi-Res audio to the dual speakers and DTS sound to headphones, then there’s VisualMaster 3.0 that drives the High Gamut screen.
Before we’re pulled into three directions at once, let’s try to summarize and not miss the potential Achilles heel of the Zenfone 3 – the Snapdragon 625 chipset. We’d love to see it ace the battery test (it’s the first 6-series chipset built on a 14nm process), but neither the CPU nor the GPU as good as the Snapdragon 650, for example.
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL key features
- Metal frame, Gorilla Glass front and back
- Dual-SIM, Dual Standby capability, VoLTE
- 5.5-inch Super IPS+ capacitive touchscreen with 1080p resolution and 401ppi density, Gorilla Glass protection
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset; octa-core 2 GHz Cortex-A53 (14nm CPU); Adreno 506 GPU
- 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage or 4GB RAM and 64GB storage; a microSD slot (uses SIM 2 slot)
- 16MP main camera with f/2.0 lens, OIS, laser and phase autofocus, dual-LED dual-tone flash, 2160p@30fps video recording
- 8MP front camera with f/2.0 lens (85°), 1080p@30fps video recording
- Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Asus ZenUI 3.0 overlay
- LTE Cat.7 (300Mbps), Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; Bluetooth; GPS with A-GPS; GLONASS; USB Type-C
- 3,000mAh battery, fast charging
- Fingerprint reader
- 24-bit Hi-Res audio, NXP smart amp
- Mid-range chipset with a high price tag
- Non-removable battery
- Keys below the screen lack backlighting
- Hybrid DualSIM/microSD card slot limits options
- Asus tends to preinstall lots of third-party software on its phones
If you need something more powerful, the Zenfone 3 Deluxe offers Snapdragon 820 (even 821), but this ZE552KL model has to make do with a mid-range chipset. That said, the Snapdragon 625 handles 2160p video capture, it offers a fast LTE modem and comes paired with up to 4GB of RAM too. With that in mind, it feels unfair to knock the chipset.
The camera has a laundry list of features – we alluded to some, but it has rare things like a color correction sensor and a triple autofocus system that can get a lock in as little as 0.03s. The image sensors is built to limit light bleeding and along with the dedicated hardware offers goodies like 4x Super Resolution and long exposures (up to 32s).
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL official images
The 5.5″ Super IPS+ screen boasts a Tru2Life+ processor that borrows tech from 4K TVs. The Zenfone 3 is made for high contrast scenes – both being in them (the screen’s 600 nits of brightness promise great visibility) and showing them (intelligent contrast control delivers real-time HDR imagery on screen). The screen is as colorful as it is bright too with 100% NTSC color coverage (30% wider than sRGB).
The Asus Zenfone 3 ZTE552KL has a five magnet speaker hooked up to the smart amp. Overall they promise to be louder without distorting sound and thumping low frequencies too.
The Zenfone 3 has been available in Europe and Asia for quite a while now, but it was very expensive. However, Asus is launching it in the US soon and the base model (3GB/32GB) will cost $250 – a killer price for this screen and camera.