Last updated on July 11th, 2017 at 06:06 pm
Seven days to the much-awaited Zenvolution where the Zenfone 3 and other new stuff from ASUS will be revealed in the Philippines, we now have the Zenfone 3 Review.
Back in the Philippines, we are expecting at least five models. The three above-mentioned plus the budget-friendly Zenfone 3 Max and Zenfone 3 Laser.
- First Impressions
- Inside The Box
- Watch: Unboxing the Zenfone 3
- New Build and Design
- Software and UI
- Security: Pattern, passphrase, and fingerprint sensor
- Loudspeaker and audio playback quality
- PixelMaster and samples
- Zenfone 3 4K video footage
- Synthetic benchmarks & battery test
- Hybrid SIM Tray
When the Zenfone 3 was revealed in Computex 2016, we only had a chance to see it in the flesh during the exclusive event by ASUS. We had no idea how is it going to look like.
So we were caught by surprise when a whole new design was implemented by ASUS. We were like, ASUS is leveling up the game and moving into the premium space.
We immediately noticed how dazzling the new Zenfone is.
Also, the important buttons are back in what we call the standard positioning, which is on the right side of the device.
The glass-and-metal mix resulted to an alluring device which makes you want to hold it as soon as possible.
There are four Zenfone 3 colors: sapphire black, shimmer gold, moonlight white, and aqua blue.
Inside The Box
We’ve been unboxing Zenfones in the past, so we are quite familiar with what’s inside the box. But Let us share with you that the even packaging of the Zenfone has leveled up. You’ll see the Zenfone 3 branding printed in gold letters on a dark gray box, nothing more.
While what we got is the sapphire black version, the accessories that came with the package are all colored white.
Watch: Unboxing the Zenfone 3
New Build and Design
Exquisite design, check. Fine craftsmanship, check.
Let us start from the glass-and-metal relationship enabled on the Zenfone 3.
There is a contoured Gorilla Glass is hugging the metal body of the device.
The power button and volume rocker are moved to the right side of the device which we think is more appealing to users.
At the bottom, the quick-charging enabled USB Type C is flanked by the speaker grill where the SonicMaster high-res audio performs its job and a noise-cancelling mic.
On the opposite side are the 3.5mm audio port and another mic. And right at the back is the 16MP PixelMaster camera with is sandwiched by the laser AF and dual LED flash. Below the camera is the rectangular-shaped 360-degrees recognition fingerprint sensor.
Instead of utilizing on-screen buttons, ASUS continued the previous ritual of having no backlight capacitive buttons below the full HD display of the Zenfone 3.
There is also the LED notification on top of the device which is essential especially when your device is few meters away from you. During the charging, the green light signals you that the battery is already full. A nice little feature.
Software and UI
Now this is the part that love and hate relationship with the Zenfone 3 happens. The all-gorgeous design should go hand-in-hand with the smooth UI and a snappy software.
Out of the box, the Zenfone 3 has Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow while the entire front-end operation is handled of by the new ZenUI 3.0.
The already cute ZenUI is reinforced by themes ready to download. Most of them are free unless you want to spend USD.199 per theme.
Now, let’s talk about the love-hate relationship. Don’t get us wrong, but we appreciate ASUS by putting up a huge internal storage of 64Gb in the Zenfone 3. The entire 64Gb can be filled with 11,444 photos using the 16MP resolution camera. That’s too big!
Our dissatisfaction is on the pre-installed apps. Without your favorite apps yet, the device is already filled with apps that are mostly not used.
We would appreciate a toned down pre-installed apps in the future version of the Zenfone. 🙂
Partnership with Google. If you are eligible, you can get an additional cloud storage from Google Drive worth 100G for two (2) years. This is automatically achieved during the initial setup of the device.
Security: Pattern, passphrase, and fingerprint sensor
Aside from the standard passphrase and pattern for the usual security for unlocking the device, ASUS has put up a fingerprint sensor at the back of the Zenfone 3.
You can enroll up to five fingerprints alright and it will remember them in every possible position.
The fingerprint sensor works really fast and accurate in unlocking the phone. We became used to it and it has become natural when unlocking the device. It worked 8 out 10 tries.
Note that if fingerprint scanning fails, your backup security can be the pattern or passphrase. You assign this option during the enrollment of the fingerprint.
Loudspeaker and audio playback quality
The Zenfone 3 has SonicMaster and High-Resolution audio built-in to the device. It uses advanced five-magnet speaker construction, metal voice coil and expansive sound chamber. All these resulted to an outstanding sound quality. Not so loud, not so low.
But do take note that the loudspeaker of the Zenfone 3 is inferior to that of the Vivo V3 Max and LG G5.
If you created a beautiful piece of hardware, it must match the performance otherwise, it will end up as a paperweight.
That’s not the case with the Zenfone 3. Let us give credit to the Snapdragon 625 with 64-bit 2.0Ghz octa-core CPU with Adreno 506 onboard and a 4Gb of RAM to complement the mutual partnership.
You can watch YouTube clip, switch to NetFlix, check & post Facebook stats, update your Instagram and take photos in between. All these can be done even if Spotify is playing in the background.
PixelMaster and samples
We already loved the 13MP PixelMaster on the Zenfone 2 Laser 5.5S. The Zenfone 3 has 16MP is armed with 4-axis OIS, phase detection, laser autofocus, and a lens with F/2.0 opening for optimal low-light shooting.
Super fast autofocus can be credited to the laser AF which never fails.
On low-light condition, the 16MP PixelMaster is kind of struggling to generate real colors.
Zenfone 3 4K video footage
The Zenfone 3 can record a 4K video, that’s an improvement with the 16MP PixelMaster camera. Although, a 4K video sounds like it will eat lots of storage, in our short clips it shows that the file of the 4K videos is optimized.
The 64MP super resolution feature creates a huge photo having 9312 x 5240 pixels. The usual file size when using the 16MP is only 4mb, but with super resolution enabled, the file size balooned to 7mb.
Here’s a sample of the super resolution shot.
For shots that require a depth of field, the Zenfone 3 did not disappoint. Here are two sample images.
Synthetic benchmarks & battery test
Some people don’t really believe with benchmarks, more specifically on battery test. Actual performance is better although measuring it is not an exact science.
The Zenfone 3 Antutu benchmark score is 62,330. This score is at the tail-end of LG V10 and iPhone 5S. PC Mark reported 6 hours and 22 minutes of battery life.
In my actual usage, the Zenfone 3 gave me an average of 10 – 12 hours of usage. This is a mix of mobile data turned on with an average usage of 4 hours.
If you just rely on WiFi connectivity, Zenfone 3’s 3,00mAH battery can sustain 24 hours of usage.
The fast charging feature of the Zenfone 3 will charge the device from zero to 100% in two hours. We’ve tested this using both the ASUS wall charger and the third-party quick charger by Tronsmart.
Hybrid SIM Tray
The Zenfone 3 use dual micro SIM and is hybrid. You have to decide if you are going to use both SIM that is 4G/LTE enabled, or add up to 128Gb of micro SD card to the second slot.
If you are going to use the Zenfone 3 as a camera I would recommend utilizing the second slot of the SIM tray as external storage support.
Zenfone 3 is the best Zenfone as of today. The improvement in the design and construction is immensely noted. It presented a new look, therefore it excites new would-be owners. You can’t discount the performance given that ASUS has stuffed high-performance CPU and super generous 4Gb of RAM plus a large storage.
If there is one thing that is missing in this review is the price. We will get back to you on August 14 when ASUS Philippines launches the Zenfone 3.