ASUS definitely had a good run last year, shipping over 8.4 million smartphones and obtaining 8.3 percent market share in Southeast Asia (SEA) alone; thanks to its Zenfone series smartphones lead by the flagship Zefone 2, heralded by many as one of the best flagship smartphones of 2015.
This year, ASUS attempts to trump its 2015 accomplishments with the introduction of a more premium and feature-packed iteration of the Zenfone series. Today we’ll take a quick look at the gorgeous 5.5-inch, Qualcomm Snapdragon 625-powered variant of the latest Zenfone collection, the ASUS Zenfone 3 (ZE552KL).
Right off the bat, the Zenfone 3 dazzles with its looks. ASUS abandoned the plastic and back button placements of its forerunner and reverted to a more traditional design, with the power and volume buttons on its side. Protecting the smartphone’s internals is an aluminum alloy frame and symmetrical front and rear Corning Gorilla Glass 3 panels.
For additional security and convenience, the ASUS Zenfone 3 now comes with a Fingerprint sensor which, aside from unlocking the smartphone, can also be used to answer calls, launch the camera and take photos.
Other improvements include a USB Type-C port for fast charging and a hybrid micro-SIM and nano-SIM/micro-SD combo slot, features which are now slowly becoming a standard among flagship and high-end smartphones.
Compared to its predecessor, the Zenfone 3 now sports a non-removable back cover. The speakers are also now located at the bottom of the smartphone. Quite noticeable is how the Zenfone 3’s camera is slightly extended compared to that of the Zenfone 2.
Overall, even with a size that falls under the phablet category, the Zenfone 3 sits comfortably and feels light in the hand, owing to its compact design and narrow bezel – the Zenfone 3 has a 77.3% screen-to-body-ratio.
Volume and Power keys
Speaking of size, the ASUS Zenfone 3 has a superb 5.5-inch Full HD Super IPS+ display which offers up to 600 nits brightness – higher than most flagship smartphones.
Now powering the Zenfone 3 is a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, Zenfone 3 is the first smartphone to implement such SOC. In case you’re wondering why ASUS used a different SOC this time, Intel earlier canceled its production of SOCs for smartphones and tablets.
Additionally, the Zenfone 3 is only being offered in 4GB (RAM) / 64 GB (ROM) configuration. You can now however expand the storage up to 2TB via microSD. The Zenfone 3 is also now loaded with the new ASUS ZenUI 3.0 on Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
With the above configuration, the Zenfone 3 is expected to run your favorite apps and games, from the basic to the resource-heavy ones with ease. We installed Pokemon Go and NBA 2K16 and encountered minimal (if not, zero) frame drops when playing.
Aside from the refreshed ZenUI, the Zenfone 3 also packs the latest PixelMaster 3.0, combining the 16MP Sony Exmor RS IMX298 camera with ASUS “TriTech” (three focus) technology to lock focus on subjects in just 0.03 seconds. The Zenfone 3’s camera boasts of a 4-axis photo OIS and 3-axis electronic image stabilizer (EIS) to minimize shakes and blurs when taking photos and videos. Moreover, it is now capable of recording 4K videos. We noticed a significant improvement on the shutter speed and quality of the photos (especially in low light) during our initial tests with the Zenfone 3’s camera.
Here are some photos we took using the ASUS Zenfone 3:
For those who are particular with benchmarks, Antutu gave us a benchmark score of 61,790. Take note however (as always) that benchmarks do not reflect real-world performance.
The ASUS Zenfone 3 is now available in the Philippines for Php 18,995. Do tune in for our full review of the Zenfone 3 in the coming days. Cheers!
Here are some more photos of the ASUS Zenfone 3 ZE552KL: