It’s no doubt that Asus made a big buzz when it announced the Zenfone 2 series last year. And after more than a year, the Taiwanese company is ready to set the world ablaze again with their Asus Zenfone 3 lineup. Covering all important areas of the phone, here’s our Asus Zenfone 3 full and in-depth review of the 4GB RAM model ZE552KL.
- Asus Zenfone 3 Unboxing
- Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL vs ZE520KL model
- Asus Zenfone 3 vs Deluxe vs Ultra Specs and Price
Both boxes came in black with the unit in Sapphire Black color. Usual suspects can be found in the box including the starter guides, 2.0A wall charger, stereo earphones, and the Type-C USB data cable.
Design and build
Stepping aside this time is the polycarbonate build from the Zenfone 2. Though the frame is still made of plastic on Zenfone 3, the overall build of the device is dominated by curved glass and sleeker profile. This surely makes a big improvement just in design and build alone.
Almost all things are new on the Zenfone 3 and make up for a really worth upgrade including the reversible USB Type-C port, the fast and accurate fingerprint scanner on the back replacing the rear buttons, and the repositioned mono speaker at the bottom.
Meanwhile, things that are coming back are the LED Notification and non-backlit capacitive navigation keys.
All Zenfone 3 models come in a hybrid card slot. You get to choose between a 2nd SIM and a microSD card up to 200GB of storage.
With the removable plastic cover gone, the bevelled glass on the Zenfone 3’s back is perhaps the main attraction with color variants of Sapphire Black, Shimmer Gold, and Moonlight White.
In terms of overall build and design, the Asus Zenfone 3 is undoubtedly the upgrade that Asus fans have been waiting for.
While the Zenfone 2 was stuck with one screen size, the Zenfone 3 will have two sizes including the 5.2-inch ZE550KL base model and the bigger 5.5-inch ZE552KL.
Technically, the 5.2-inch gets extra pixel density for the cost of lower screen-to-body ratio while the 5.5-inch remains sharp as the Zenfone 2. The display quality on Zenfone 3 has improved with a brighter output and better sunlight legibility and viewing angles. Thick bezels remain with an overall STB ratio at 70%.
Providing more seamless touch experience on Zenfone 3 is the 2.5D curved or bevelled Gorilla Glass 3 on top.
Both cameras have been improved on Zenfone 3 with the 16MP f2.0 main sensor getting 4-axis OIS, laser focus, and 4K video recording. In terms of actual quality, we really see the still photos improved in details, dynamic range handling, color accuracy, and focus speed. The noise level is also noticeably better in low light shooting.
Sample Shots / Photos of Zenfone 3 16MP camera in HDR, low light
For the 8MP selfie camera, there’re not much of improvements except on an increase in preserved details.
The addition of 4K video is also a step up along a better stabilization and color reproduction. The camera overall is a moderate upgrade over the older shooter.
OS and Software
Running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and streamlined ZenUI, there’s very little of visible changes as most of the improvements are under the hood. Of course, there’s a handful of themes and animated background wallpapers added. Bloatware apps are still present too but were moderately trimmed down.
Performance and benchmark
Both Zenfone 3 models are equipped with an octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor clocked at 2.0GHz speed and up to 4GB RAM and 64GB expandable storage for the bigger model. The built-in graphics is the highlight here and produces a reliable performance in terms of gaming. We tested by playing NBA 2K16 at the highest graphics settings without experiencing hiccups or lags.
Antutu benchmarks scored above 60,000 compared to about 50,000 of the Zenfone 2.
Battery and charging
Packing the same 3000mAh battery, battery life has improved a few hours in endurance and screen on time. Moderate usage yields up to 2 days battery life while the overall screen on time is about 4 to 5 hours.
The type-C USB reversible cable charges the phone from 0% to 100% in about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Audio and speaker
Paired with FM Radio is a 24-bit high-res audio thru headset support. The repositioned mono speaker produces crisper and more solid output with an average loudness on each speaker.
Pricing and verdict
Asus Philippines is yet to reveal the official local pricing in the coming weeks, but based from the global SRP, we may see the top-end 5.5-inch model with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage to be valued from P16k to P18k price. Meanwhile, the 5.2-inch model with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage may retail from P12k to 13k price based on its global SRP.
With an improved camera, longer battery life, an addition of high-res audio, and new premium design and build, the Asus Zenfone 3 is definitely the upgrade we’ve been waiting for. But the question is how much these changes will cost? We will only find out in the coming weeks.
Zenfone 3 Pros
- Premium glass design and build
- Fast and accurate fingerprint scanner
- Reliable cameras
- Decent performance
- High-res audio
Zenfone 3 Cons
- Bloatware apps are still present
- Non-backlit navigation keys
- A bit pricey for the top-end model
Asus Zenfone 3 Full specs, Official price, Release date in the Philippines
- Display: 5.5-inch Full HD 1080p LCD IPS+ (ZE552KL model), 5.2-inch 1080p (550KL model), Gorilla Glass 3
- Design: Metal frame, curved Gorilla Glass 3
- CPU: Snapdragon 625 octa-core
- CPU: Octa-core 2.0GHz processor
- GPU: Adreno 506 graphics
- RAM: 3GB or 4GB
- Memory: 32GB or 64GB internal storage, microSD up to 200GB
- Camera: 16MP PixelMaster, f2.0 aperture, 4K video, dual-LED flash, laser focus, phase detection, OIS, HDR
- Selfie: 8MP f2.0, wide-angle, 1080p video
- Connectivity: 4G LTE dual-SIM, GPS, WiFi ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC
- Ports: USB type-C
- Security: Fingerprint scanner
- Battery: 3000mAh for ZE552KL, 2600 for ZE550KL
- OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Zen UI 3.0
- Colors: Shimmer Gold, Aqua Blue, Moonlight White, Sapphire Black, Special: Nebula, Crystal Frost, Glaze
- Price: estimated at $300 / P12k-13k for ZE550KL, $380 / P16k-18k for ZE552KL with 4GB RAM, 64GB model
- Release date: August 2016 availability in the Philippines