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ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom Unboxing: Zooming In On Photography

We saw ASUS’ next generation optical zoom camera, the Zenfone 3 Zoom a few days after it was announced in CES, but after that initial meeting, we haven’t heard a peep from it since. We expected the phone to launch officially around Feb, but rumors circulated that the phone would be delayed until later this year. It looks like those rumors were unfounded however, since ASUS Philippines officially handed over our review unit of the device last night, which we’re now unboxing.

As a primer, the Zenfone 3 Zoom is ASUS’ first dual-camera smartphone, meant to replace their interesting but otherwise flawed motorozied, periscope-toting Zenfone Zoom. The new phone does away with the complicated periscope system and Hoya optics, and instead went with a dual-camera setup that mirrors the one found on the iPhone 7 Plus. Before we begin, let’s take a look at the specs of the phone:

ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom specifications

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 5.5-inch, full HD Super AMOLED display, Gorilla Glass 5 protection, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 64GB expandable storage
  • Twin 12-megapixel rear cameras, Sony IMX362 image sensor, f/1.7 aperture, 1x, 2.3x optical zoom, laser AF, PDAF, EIS, OIS, 4K video recording
  • 13-megapixel front camera, Sony IMX214, f/2.0 aperture
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C
  • 5000mAh battery
  • Android 6 Marshmallow, ZenUI

Packaging and contents:

The Zenfone 3 Zoom comes in a dark grey box that mirrors the presentation of the companie’s Zenfone 3 lineup. Inside the box is the charger for the phone, USB Type-C cable and a pair of headphones as well as the requisite documentation.

ASUS has also informed us that they’re throwin in quite a number of freebies with every purchase of the phone, which includes ZenEar high-definition earphones, a clear case as well as JBL’s Clip 2 portable Bluetooth speaker. ASUS says that the overall value of the bundle is around Php 4.5K.

Initial impressions: Still the same big-batteried, dual-cam phone we remember

We first glimpsed the Zenfone 3 Zoom back in January, a few days after its announcement in CES. We were informed back then that the Zenfone 3 Zoom that we tested was still an engineering unit and there was a big chance that ASUS may still tweak the overall design of the phone before launch. Fast forward to today and it looks like ASUS changed very little in the design and construction of the phone.

The body still looks a lot like a cross between the regular Zenfone 3 and the Zenfone 3 Max, with the phones 2.5D glass equipped front, metal back and plastic tips. The phone feels relatively nice in our hands, despite the fact that the rear of the device is flat and doesn’t curve outwards like most of its contemporaries do. There isn’t any sharp chamfering on the frame of the device as well, giving it a rounder, softer look on the edges.

On the upper left side of the device lies the dual-camera sensor, with the dual-tone LED flash below it. The fingerprint scanner is located where your fingers would naturally fall when you’re holding the phone one handed, and quickly and easily unlocks the phone in less than a second.

On the right side of the phone is the power and volume buttons, with the microSD/SIM slot resting on the opposite side. The 3.5mm jack, USB Type-C connector and single audio grille are all located on the bottom of the phone.

Despite having a meaty 5000mAh battery, ASUS’ Zenfone 3 Zoom is one of the thinnest in its class, and ASUS is proud of the fact that it’s the thinnest phone with a 5000mAh battery and dual camera.

As before ASUS has gone with two rear cameras set at different zoom levels this time around, and has abandoned that motorized, telescoping setup found on the original Zoom. As technically impressive as the original periscope design was, it was big, bulky and the sensors used in the setup was less than impressive.

ASUS has gone to great lengths this time around to ensure that the cameras on the new Zoom are capable of delivering superb snaps. The camera on the left, looking at the phone from the rear houses the regular, non-zoomed 12-megapixel camera, which has an aperture of f/1.9. The one on the right houses a similar Sony IMX362 image sensor but set at a 2.3x optical zoom. Both cameras are armed with PDAF, as well as 4K recording capability, OIS, EIS and a laser AF system for close in shots. ASUS really did not spare any expense in the camera of the new Zoom, and is taking steps to make the phone way better than the one that came before it.

Aside from being a camera powerhouse, the internals of the Zenfone 3 Zoom aren’t too shabby either. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor powers the device, which is, incidentally the same chipset used in the company’s Zenfone 3 smartphones and the smaller Zenfone 3 Deluxe. The phone will be available in two variants in other regions, but ASUS Philippines decided to bring the 4GB/64GB variant of the phone over first. We’re not sure if they’ll be offering the lower 3GB/32GB version over to the Philippines.

With the impressive internals comes our old nemesis, ASUS’ ZenUI. It’s still as bloated as ever, and despite the Zenfone 3 losing some of the bloatware that came with it with the Android Nougat update, the Zenfone 3 Zoom still has plenty of unnecessary and unwanted apps with it. The bloated UI is one of our main gripes with ASUS’ phones, and we won’t stop complaining about it until ASUS actually fixes it. File manager shows us 52.53GB of space is usable on the phone with a fresh start.

That’s it for this unboxing. Despite the launch of the phone being a month away, ASUS has still has not revealed pricing of the device. That’ll come later we assume as the company is trying to keep the pricing of the new device close it its chest.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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6 Comments

  1. Knowing Asus, with SD 625 chipset (big deal na sa Asus ang chipset na ito), this will be around 18k to 22k. lagyan nila ng SD630 ito, papalo na ito ng 30k pataas. Magkano na kaya kung gamitan ng SD821 at SD835?

    If Asus will not change their pricing scheme, sales will continue to dive down. I lost my interest on their super, outrageously overpriced ZF3 devices. Now with Nokia back in the game, balik Nokia na rin ako…

  2. Nokia has been in the game for a very long time and costumer services and product quality are high. But made a bad management decision and had to pay the price. Asus? Good luck with their warranty offerings.

    You said you noticed my flaws and yet you contradict your own statement by stating ZF3 with SD652 at 33k. Both SD430 and SD652 are for mid range phones with latter at a little higher speed.

    Lenovo k6 note uses SD430 at 12k. No need to say more.

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