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Asus Zenfone 3 Hands-on and first impressions: Asus finally realizes it’s 2016!

The Asus Zenfone 3 is a serious upgrade over the Zenfone 2 series in terms of design, features and specifications. But will it manage to stand out in an already crowded smartphone market?

Asus Zenfone 3-1

You may hate Asus for its confusing nomenclature of its Zenfone smartphones. But, Asus did have a smartphone for almost all price categories, budget and mid-range in particular. After successful stint with the Zenfone 2 series, Asus is now betting on its Zenfone 3 series. The new series brings in a fresh design and inclusion of important features like fingerprint scanner, which is becoming a standard for the contemporary smartphones. The Zenfone 3 also marks Asus’ embracing Qualcomm and bidding adieu to Intel, which powered the predecessor series. I spent some time with the new Asus Zenfone 3 smartphone and here are my first impressions.

As mentioned earlier, the Asus Zenfone 3 range brings in a fresh design over the Zenfone 2. Asus has finally done away with plastic, embraced metal and glass. As far as the Zenfone 3 goes, this Rs 21,999 smartphone looks and feels premium with glass on both the sides. The back panel has Asus’ signature concentric-circle pattern, while the front has a 2.5D glass. The corners are neatly rounded and has metal frames on the sides. The smartphone feels pretty slim and light weight as well.

I am not very sure people will like the camera bump on the back. Of late we have seen companies making efforts to keep the camera flatter in order keep the design uniform. Also, as you can see in the image, the fingerprint scanner on the back is vertically oval-shaped. This is perhaps Asus’ unconventional take on the fingerprint scanner, but am not really sure how is it better than the circular fingerprint scanners. The bottom line is that now there is an Asus phone with a fingerprint scanner.

The Asus Zenfone 3 comes in two display sizes – 5.2-inch and 5.5-inch displays. Both the displays are full HD, and come with Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The Asus Zenfone 3 offers decent viewing angles outdoors and indoors. And yes, no matter how much you hate Asus’ naming formula, the two variants are called the ZE520KL and ZE552KL.

Asus Zenfone 3-2

Besides the difference in display, the ZE520KL comes with 32GB onboard storage, 3GB RAM and 2,650mAh battery whereas the ZE552KL comes with 5.5-inch display, 64GB onboard storage, 4GB RAM and a larger 3,000mAh battery.

Both the variants run Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor with Adreno 506 GPU. The Asus Zenfone 3 is among the first wave of smartphones to run Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 processor, which comes with 14 nm technology. The device runs on Android Marshmallow 6.0 wrapped under the ZenUI 3.0. During my brief usage, the smartphone ran fluidly with no signs of lag or stutter. But this is just my first impression, I’d like to reserve my verdict on performance until we have reviewed the device.

Asus Zenfone 3-3

For photography, the Zenfone 3 comes with 16-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, laser auto-focus, and support for PDAF and OIS. The camera looked alright during my brief usage. It quickly focused on the subjects and the image processing was quite zippy. On the front is an 8-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture, and 88 degrees wide-angle lens. The front camera takes pretty decent photos, and comes with beauty mode so that you can have better selfies. Other features of the smartphone include dual-SIM via hybrid SIM slot that houses a micro SIM and nano SIM/microSD.

Asus Zenfone 3-4

Overall, the Asus Zenfone 3 is a pleasant upgrade over the Zenfone 2, and it will be interesting to see if the new flagship leads Asus’ impactful return in an already crowded smartphone market. Stay tuned for our detailed review.

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  • Published Date: August 17, 2016 8:00 PM IST

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Asus ZenFone 3


Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 with ZenUI 3.0
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 MSM8953 octa-core 2GHz Processor
16 MP camera of aperture f/2.0, laser autofocus and OIS