Asus surprised the entire tech fraternity when it announced Zenfone 3 Deluxe with Snapdragon 821 at Rs 62,999. While Asus has complete independence when it comes to choosing a price point, this price seemed to go against the concept of Zenfone as people had come to understand. The Zenfone was introduced in the wake of growing popularity of budget devices that offered great value for the money. The first generation Zenfone 5 and second generation Zenfone 2 paired great hardware, beautiful design with low cost. Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe, on the other hand, comes at a premium.
Asus Zenfone 3
The latest Zenfone 3 stays true to its name – offers serious value for money hardware specifications and a really stunning design. Asus being Asus announced multiple variants of Zenfone 3, which looks confusing at first and becomes more complex later.
Asus Zenfone 3 is also different in number of ways this time. The first generation Zenfone series and Zenfone 2 were launched with Intel chipsets while the Zenfone 3 favours an all new Qualcomm SoC.
At Rs 27,999, Asus Zenfone 3 is taking on the likes of OnePlus 3 and Xiaomi Mi 5. So how does it fare? Here is our review.
Specs: 5.5-inch (1080x1920p, ~401 ppi) IPS LCD display | Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor | 4GB RAM | 32/64GB storage | 16MP rear camera + 8MP front | Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery | Android Marshmallow OS | Asus Zenfone 3 full specs
Price: Rs 27,999
What is good?
If you are buying the Zenfone 3 then it has to be for its battery. Agreed, reviews don’t start with battery part, but this review is different. With Zenfone 3, Asus has somewhat mastered the art of tying software and hardware together, which ensures better battery performance. Asus Zenfone 3 lasted me nearly a day and a half despite the relatively small 3,000mAh battery.
On a very busy day when I was tweeting from an event, writing a copy on my phone and clicking some random pictures with 4G on, I managed a screen on time of 5 hours 27 minutes, which puts Asus Zenfone 3 right on top in terms of battery backup. Most smartphone OEMs have failed miserably when it comes to delivering on battery life and have often resorted to options like Quick Charging to compensate. Asus Zenfone 3 also supports quick charge 2.0, but I found myself charging this phone only once in two days which isn’t bad at all.
I believe Asus Zenfone 3’s USP is its battery, but design is an equally strong point. The smartphone is built with metal and glass and looks very similar to Samsung’s 2016 Galaxy lineups. The rear of Zenfone 3 features metal reinforced with glass which is a serious fingerprint magnet (keep those wet wipes handy). Asus Zenfone 3 is wide, but not tall making it easier to hold in one hand. This is definitely one of the best designed smartphone of this year.
A good smartphone’s primary component is the display, that’s how we interact with the device. Asus Zenfone 3 features a 5.5-inch Full HD display and it’s adequately bright. The auto brightness setting works accurately and the display is viewable even under the harsh sunlight of Delhi. But is this the best in the price range? Certainly not.
Asus Zenfone 3 also comes with a very decent camera. It is not extremely capable like Huawei P9 or colour accurate like the OnePlus 3, it rather turns out to be a fast and potent smartphone camera. It comes with a variety of modes and tweaks, but I was mostly shooting in auto mode. Also the camera shoots in 12MP resolution with an aspect ratio of 16:9.
I was not really impressed with the low light mode or the super resolution mode but I did end up using HDR Pro which offered greater detail while shooting the sky. In the case of a leaf or flower, I found Zenfone 3 handling highlights well, but failed with the edges. For Rs 27,999, this is one smartphone camera I can easily count on.
Asus Zenfone 3 is powered by a relatively new Snapdragon 625 chipset and it is pretty fast. Things like opening and closing apps, multitasking work extremely well. It easily manages basic games like Crossy Road and Dots, but graphics were smooth even with heavy games like Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 8: Airborne. Asus Zenfone 3 may not have the high-end Snapdragon 820 chip, but it holds its ground really well with performance.
What is not good?
Asus Zenfone 3’s display is bright but not very accurate with colour saturation and contrast. Since it is LCD, the blacks mirror grey tone at times. If display is your priority, OnePlus 3 is your best bet.
Asus Zenfone 3, in my opinion, is just full of bloatware. The moment I set up the device, there were several Asus branded apps updating in the background – some of them you will never even open in your lifetime.
Asus Zenfone 3 comes with Chrome browser out of the box but also has another browser called Puffin. Yes, you read that right – Puffin is a browser. There is Asus branded app replacement for ShareIt, Weather, Do It Later. There is also a handy tool to speed up the phone. I am not convinced about this UI, which takes up nearly 12GB out of the 64GB storage.
Asus could streamline its Android UI by following on the leads of Samsung and HTC, both known for significantly heavy Android skin. The simplest step could be to get rid of duplicate apps.
Asus Zenfone 3 features a rear fingerprint scanner which is really odd in terms of design. It has a really small area and it’s not easy to rest your finger completely. It supports 360 degree recognition but the results are mixed.
Should you buy?
Any smartphone’s five basic pillars include design and display, performance, battery life, camera and software. Asus Zenfone 3 does well in three of those department while it’s camera is a passable one. It’s UI is something which may not appeal to everyone, especially if you have used a stock Android or Moto product.
Asus Zenfone 3’s biggest competition is the OnePlus 3, which is an excellent smartphone in its own respect. OnePlus 3 offers great display and an extremely speedy processor, Zenfone 3 makes up for it with a beautiful design and strong battery life.