Review: Asus ZenFone 3

Asus’ latest ZenFone delivers a consistent user experience

Asus ZenFone 3
Asus ZenFone 3

Two years ago, the original Asus ZenFone kicked off the trend of 4 GB RAM in smartphones. Now, the latest generation, Asus ZenFone 3 (Rs.27,999 (ZE552KL)) is focusing on user experience and slick design. But its rivals too are much stronger.

Asus has refreshed the design language—the phone is now a mix of straight lines and curved edges, and has a blend of glass and metal at the front and back. The concentric pattern on the back—a design element straight out of its laptop range—is visible clearly. The ZenFone 3 tips the scales at 155g, but what really stands out is the even weight distribution. The only shortcoming is that the glass at the back makes the ZenFone 3 slightly slippery.

The phone runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB storage. This configuration can easily run the latest games, such as Need For Speed: No Limits, without stutter.

In isolation, the ZenFone 3 doesn’t fall short on performance, but rivals such as the OnePlus 3 (Rs.27,999, and running the more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor) cannot be ignored. What Asus has managed to get spot on is the battery life—the 3,000 mAh battery charges quickly, and easily lasts a day and a half even with a fairly heavy workload. The primary reason for this is the optimization of hardware and software.

What still needs improvement, however, is the ZenUI interface over Android. While the latest version is slicker and the number of preloaded apps are significantly fewer, there are still quite a few apps. When you set up the phone for the first time, these apps start updating in the background automatically.

The 5.5-inch Super IPS+ display (1,920x1,080) is bright and crisp, and the text is easy to read. The viewing angles too are good. In the auto-brightness mode, the display remains usable even under bright sunlight. The only niggle is that the colours seem a bit oversaturated.

The 16-megapixel camera impresses and disappoints in equal measure—it locks focus very quickly, and fast shot processing and detailed daytime shots are the positives. It does, however, struggle a bit with low-light photography—the photos aren’t crisp or well detailed.

The Asus ZenFone 3 goes up against the OnePlus 3, and holds its own with a beautiful design, consistent battery life and good performance. The OnePlus 3, however, has a cleaner interface, a more powerful processor and a significantly better camera.

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