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Asus Zenfone 3 Review – A Premium Midrange Flagship!

by Linus 2

People usually associate the brand Asus with computers or related accessories but the company has already proven that it is capable of producing some top quality phones. The Zenfone 3 is one of their latest models and it costs about $370. Is it worth the price? Learn more if this phone is any good in the full review.

Thanks to Gearbest for sending the Asus Zenfone 3 for a review.

Asus Zenfone 3 Review: VIDEO REVIEW

Asus Zenfone 3 Review: UNBOXING

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The phone ships with all the usual stuff and some extras include a pair of earphones.

Asus Zenfone 3 Review: DESIGN and DISPLAY

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The Zenfone 3 is a nice looking phone and it uses some premium materials like Gorilla Glass on the front and rear and a metal chassis.

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Obviously, using glass has its tradeoffs as the phone is a huge fingerprint magnet.

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However, the buttons are made of plastic and the hybrid dual SIM card tray rattles quite a bit.

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On a positive note, the 5.5” 1080p display is just beautiful to look at. It is sharp, vibrant and bright both for indoor and outdoor use.

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It’s great that we have an 8MP camera and the notification LED light but I don’t understand why Asus thinks that implementing the non-backlit capacitive buttons is okay. Also, I always love the back button on the right side.

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The Zenfone 3 has a pretty powerful camera setup that includes a high-end 16MP Sony IMX298 sensor, 4-axis OIS, 6-axis EIS, hybrid laser/phase/contrast detection autofocus system and dual tone dual-LED flash. The fingerprint scanner is one of the best. It’s fast, accurate and it allows you to unlock the phone straight from the standby mode.

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As far as audio, I love the quality of sound via the headset jack. Also, the loudspeaker is great. The volume output is good and the sound is crisp, and balanced.

Asus Zenfone 3 Review: HARDWARE and PERFORMANCE, BATTERY LIFE

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When it comes to hardware, the Zenfone 3 ships with the midrange-level Snapdragon 625 chip, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage.

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The sheers specs may suggest the midrange nature of the phone but the Zenfone 3 is an excellent performer when it comes to 3D gaming. There are no skipped frames or stutter and the phone stays absolutely cold to the touch even after 30 mins of gaming. That’s really impressive.

In addition, I just love the Snapdragon 625 chip due to its power efficiency. The phone ships with the 3000mAh battery, which does not look impressive on paper but I could constantly get over 5 hours of screen-on time with the max. auto-brightness, using the phone quite heavily and having installed a lot of apps and 4 Google accounts.

Finally, the phone supports the Quick Charge 3.0 feature but it ships with a regular charger, so it takes about 2 hours to fully charge the phone.

Asus Zenfone 3 Review: BENCHMARKS

Asus Zenfone 3 Review: USER INTERFACE

The user interface is what makes the Asus phones unique. The phone runs on the Android 6.0 but we have a heavily customized ZenUI skin on top of it. Honestly, I didn’t like it at first but it started growing on me after 2 weeks of using this phone.

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There are so many features, customization options and some little tweaks to make the phone look your own. Just to name a few, you can choose from a huge collection of themes, select from different icons packs and so on. Also, you can use some gesture and motion controls that work well. I’m not sure if you are going to use all the customization options since there are many more features to choose from.

Most importantly, the user interface performance is good on the daily basis. There is no stutter or lag despite all those extra features.

Asus Zenfone 3 Review: CAMERA

The camera app is a good example of how Asus looks into their smartphones. There are just so many shooting modes to choose from and I’m not really sure if an average user would use them all.

Firstly, you can tweak the image settings using the manual mode. Other modes that I found useful are super resolution mode that takes images at a whopping resolution of 66MP. Finally, I loved using the low-light and night modes.

Asus Zenfone 3 Review: IMAGE QUALITY

IT IS HIGHLY-RECOMMENDED TO DOWNLOAD FULL RESOLUTION CAMERA SAMPLES TO SEE THE ACTUAL IMAGE QUALITY. THE PICTURES UPLOADED ON THE WEBSITE ARE 50% SMALLER IN RESOLUTION.

When it comes to the actual image quality, the Asus Zenfone 3 can take some nice-looking photos that are pretty sharp, have a good amount of detail and accurate colors. Also, the white balance is usually spot on. My only complaint would be that some of the images look underexposed. Anyway, I tested the camera in the cloudy day.

As for low-light camera performance, it is actually very good. Sure, there is more noise but the camera takes some flagship-worthy night photos. The dedicated night mode will brighten up the image by lowering the shutter speed but the images usually turn out softer. The low-light mode takes 4MP images that have less noise but there is less detail too.

The selfie camera is usually good but the selfies I took came out slightly soft, so I may not have held my hand steadily.

The 4k video looks sharp and detailed, the color reproduction is accurate and the sound recording quality is decent. Also, the video stabilization works pretty well reducing the shakiness. A few complaints would be that there were a few noticeable video artefacts and the auto-exposure feature could work more gracefully.

Download full resolution camera samples

Asus Zenfone 3 Review: CONNECTIVITY

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When it comes to connectivity, I have zero complaints. The signal reception and the call quality are great using either SIM card as the phone comes with a hybrid dual SIM card tray.

Also, the GPS is very accurate, Bluetooth 4.2 and dual-band Wifi work absolutely fine.

Asus Zenfone 3 Review: CONCLUSIONS

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The Asus Zenfone 3 is quite an interesting phone since it has a midrange-level chipset but the flagship-grade real life performance.

Also, the phone has a nice and premium-looking design, excellent display, great audio quality and a very capable camera

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Even though the Snapdragon 625 chip is not as powerful as the 820-series processors, there is plenty of power under the hood to handle anything you throw at it. Also, a great power management of this chip leads to a good battery life.

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I love that the user interface performance is great too. However, you may love it or hate it since you may not really need all those extra features, so you may end up using a third-party launcher.

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Some more serious complaints would be the non-backlit capacitive keys, the SIM card tray rattles quite a bit and finally, the phone is an enormous fingerprint magnet.

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At the end of the day, I still love the Asus Zenfone 3 after using it for a couple of weeks but it is up to you to decide if the midrange-level chip and the previously mentioned shortcomings are important to you or not.

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4.5

Design and Build
Display
Hardware
User Interface
Camera
Connectivity
Battery Life
3D Gaming Performance
Value for Money
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  • Jh1

    Qualcomm made an excellent SoC in the SD 625. Adequate power with incredible efficiency. Sounds like Asus has done a great job of optimizing the phone as well, though I still feel it’s overpriced. Thanks for the review, Linus.

  • Pal

    Midrange flagship? I’ll wait for a lowend flagship:)

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