The Good The latest ZenFone 3 from Asus is a premium design and materials in a shiny, affordable phone.
The Bad Its cluttered user interface throws you notifications until you turn them off. Rear glass is also a fingerprint magnet.
The Bottom Line ZenFone 3’s beautiful appearance, premium build and camera enjoyment give it an edge over other affordable phones – worth your time and attention.
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After two generations of plastic phones, Asus has finally returned to its first-class roots. ZenFone 3 features mid-range features in a beautiful body that’s surprisingly affordable. With a starting price of $ 249 per model with 32GB of storage – around £ 170 or $ 350 – this handset is a fantastic deal for markets in Asia such as India and Singapore. Unfortunately, those in the US and the UK will have to wait until the fourth quarter before the phone launches.
ZenFone 3 is similar to a hybrid of iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S7 and feels a special premium over other phones that come in contact with metal or even plastic structures. And its USB Type-C port brings the handset to a growing number of phones that have moved to the new standard.
Asus ZenFone 3 gets a beautiful new glass design
The 5.5-inch full-screen display is bright and bright and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor is smart. Of course, it’s not as powerful as the flagship phones packing the Snapdragon 820 chip, but it’s powerful enough to play Asphalt 8 and Pokemon Go without any problems. The phone scored well in the diagnostic test results, easily confirming its choice as the midrange. The battery life was excellent, lasting about 16.5 hours in our loop tests. Most phones can last about 11 to 12 hours, while phones with larger batteries can easily last up to 20 hours or more.
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Camera-wise, a 16MP rear lens and 4-axis optical image stabilization handle low light shots. Check out the gallery below for some of the photos I took. If you have shaky hands, this feature will definitely come in handy. On the front, the 8-megapixel shooter features an Asus beauty mode, which, while using me, isn’t really that strong, but selfie addicts can enjoy controls that can shrink their faces and enlarge their eyes.
Despite the strengths of ZenFone 3, I have a big complaint. Zen UI, the special skin that Asus uses over Android software, is a cluttered kitchen wash feature that overwhelms you the first time you use it. You will have to spend some effort to curb the chaos, turning off the annoying ugly notifications that keep you moving before ZenFone 3 is in a pleasant place to live. I like some of the new features, such as the blue light filter for use at night (it gives the screen a softer orange flare), as well as a feature that takes a photo when you touch the fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone.
Camera test shots from the Asus ZenFone 3
Finally, Asus is a winner to compete with competing Chinese phones, especially in emerging markets with a penchant for cheap but good phones. Like previous ZenFone models, the 3 will probably sell unlocked in the US when it finally comes out – you just need to run your SIM card. As for pennies, it fights with the Motorola Moto G4 and G4 Plus, and comes even cheaper than the most popular OnePlus 3.
Comparison of equipment specifications
|Asus ZenFone 3||Motorola Moto G4||Motorola Moto G4 Plus|
|Display size, resolution||5.5-inch; 1,920×1,080 pixels||5.5-inch; 1,920×1,080 pixels||5.5-inch; 1,920×1,080 pixels|
|Dimensions (Inches)||6.01×3.05×0.3 inches||6.0×3.0x0.39 in||6x3x0.39 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||152.6×77.4×7.7mm||153×76.6×9.8 mm||153×76.6×9.8 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||5.47 oz; 155g||5.47 oz; 155 g||5.47 oz; 155 g|
|Mobile software||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow||Android 6.0 Marshmallow||Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
|Video capture||8-megapixel||1,080p HD||1,080p HD|
|Processor||2Ghz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625||1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617||1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617|
|Expandable storage||Up to 256GB||Up to 128GB||Up to 128GB|
|Battery||3,000mAh (nonremovable)||3,000mAh (removable)||3,000mAh (removable)|
|Fingerprint sensor||Back cover||None||Below screen|
|Special features||Laser/phase detection autofocus, OIS (4-axis), fingerprint doubles as shutter button||Water-resistant||Water-resistant|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$249||$199||$249|
|Price (GBP)||converts to converts to £170||£169||£229|
|Price (AUD)||converts to AU$350||Converts to AU$260||16GB: AU$399; 32GB: AU$449|