Asus Zenfone 3 vs Zenfone 2 Review

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Separated by more than a year, how far did the new Asus Zenfone 3 evolve compared to the Asus Zenfone 2? We put the two Zenfones to find out if the new Zenfone 3 is worth an upgrade.

Design and build

The design is a big improvement on the Asus Zenfone 3 and perhaps one of the best highlights in its specs. Both front and back are built from curved glass that provides better touch experience. But the downside is it is prone to cracking compared to the flat and plastic build of the Zenfone 2.

Handling is also much better on new mid-ranger with a thinner and lighter profile. Gone are the rear keys, these are replaced by a snappy fingerprint sensor while the buttons are repositioned on the left. The addition of USB Type-C is also first for the Taiwanese company.

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Unexpectedly, Asus still opted to use a non-backlit array of navigational keys at the bottom of the screen.

Available in more premium color variants, the Asus Zenfone 3 is totally a big upgrade in terms of design and build.

Display

The new Zenfone 3 has 2 sizes: the ZE552KL with 5.5-inch and the ZE520KL with 5.2-inch. Both panels are 1080p and covered by a curved Gorilla Glass 3. This time, we used the 5.5-inch in comparing to the Zenfone 2.

In terms of quality, the new panel produces brighter and more pleasing colors. Although it’s quite hard to notice the difference without putting them side-by-side.

Camera

From 13MP to 16MP, the new main camera has improved a lot in terms of color rendering, noise control, and a bit in detail handling. The addition of 4K video is also a big step from the 1080p of last year’s shooter.

The selfie camera has been treated too and upgraded to an 8MP f2.0. There’s very little visible changes over the 5MP selfie of its predecessor.

In video mode, the 4-axis OIS proves to be useful too even in low-light still photography.

Overall, the camera quality is impressive for these budget phones but we can’t deny that Zenfone 3’s dual-camera setup is really good.

Performance and benchmark

With Intel gone in mobile chipset industry, Asus chose to go with Qualcomm. Under the hood is a Snapdragon 625 octa-core chip paired with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. In terms of the benchmark test, it’s few thousands higher than the older chipset. Meanwhile, the new Adreno 506 graphics beats our expectations after handling NBA 2K16 in highest graphics settings.

Battery and charging

With the same 3000 mAh battery capacity, the overall endurance rating and screen on time is longer on Asus Zenfone, leaving you up to 2 days battery life with moderate use.

Charging time is still the same which is fast despite the new reversible USB type-c connector.

Audio and speaker

Asus include a high-res 24-bit audio feature on new Zenfone series. This built-in feature is paired with a noticeably crisper and stronger mono speaker at the bottom.

Price and verdict

There’s no official price yet for the Philippine market, but we expect that the smaller Asus Zenfone 3 will likely retail at P12k to 13K price or about $280 USD while the bigger and top-end model will be valued about P16,000 to P17,900 as an official price in pesos.

For all these improvements, we think the new Asus Zenfone 3 is the big upgrade we’ve been waiting for. But the question is how much will it cost over the launching price of Zenfone 2 of last year. Nonetheless, it seems the 5.2-inch ZE520KL with a lower pricing is more compelling to the ZE552KL.

Let’s know if you are planning on upgrading from Zenfone 6 or Zenfone 2 this year.

Specs, PH Price Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML
Display 5.5-inch Full HD 1080p LCD IPS+ (ZE552KL model), 5.2-inch 1080p (520KL model), Gorilla Glass 3 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD, Gorilla Glass 3
Size 152.6 x 77.4 x 7.7 mm, 155 g weight 152.5 x 77.2 x 10.9 mm thick, 170g weight
Design Curved Glass Removable plastic cover
Colors Sapphire Black, Moonlight White, Shimmer Gold Gold, Red, Dark Grey
Chipset & CPU Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor Intel Atom 3580 quad-core
GPU Adreno 506 graphics PowerVR G6430
Memory up to 4GB RAM, max 64GB internal, 128GB microSD up to 4GB RAM, max 64GB internal, 256GB microSD
Camera 16MP main f2.0, 4k video, dual-LED flash, HDR, OIS 13MP main, f2.0, 1080p video, dual-LED flash, HDR
Selfie 8MP f2.0 selfie front-facing 5MP ff2.0 selfie front-facing
Connectivity Dual SIM (hybrid), 4G LTE, WiFi a, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, FM Radio, NFC Dual SIM (dedicated), 4G LTE, WiFi n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, FM Radio, NFC
Software Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 5.1 Lollipop, up to Marshmallow
Battery 3000mAh 3000mAh
Fingerprint Back fingerprint scanner N/A
Release date August 2016 availability in the Philippines January 2015 global
Price estimated P12k to P18k or $280 to $400 depending on model P8k to 10k or $180 to $220

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avatar of jade bryan jardinico
Hi! I'm Jade, an Electronics and Communications Engineer and tech enthusiast. I am the editor-in-chief here at ManilaShaker and on our YouTube channel. If you have questions, suggestions or anything we could talk about you can find me Instagram and Twitter @jadejardinico.