Asus Zenfone Series has been disrupting the Android smartphone market for a long time. They have given us a vast majority of good smartphones that always brought something new to the table like the Zenfone 2, Zenfone Zoom and Zenfone Max. Their phone always had well balanced specs with good design and a specific focus area for a particular phone. This was they case for all their phones until recently when they brought the Zenfone 3 to the Indian market. This time the major focus was on design and user experience with high end material and major focus on design and build quality. This resulted in Higher prices than your usual phone and lets find out if its worth your money with our Asus Zenfone 3 ZE520KL Review.
Asus released multiple variants of the Zenfone 3 this year, there are two variants of Zenfone 3, then another two of Zenfone 3 Deluxe and then there is Zenfone 3 Ultra. You get a vast number of devices to chose from which on you want to buy. The One I have with me is the Zenfone 3 ZE520KL which is the 5.2 inch variant of the device and comes with 3 GB Ram and 32 GB of internal storage.
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE520KL Specifications
- 5.2-inch (1920 x 1080 pixels) Full HD Super IPS+ display with up to 500cd/m2 brightness, 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection
- 2GHz Octa-Core Snapdragon 625 14nm processor with Adreno 506 GPU
- 3GB RAM with 32GB storage (ZE550KL), expandable memory with microSD
- Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) with Zen UI 3.0
- Hybrid Dual SIM (micro+nano/microSD)
- 16MP rear camera with dual-tone LED Flash, PDAF, Laser AF, f/2.0 aperture, 6P Largan lens, 4 Stop OIS
- 8MP front-facing camera, f/2.0 aperture, 88-degree wide-angle lens
- Fingerprint sensor
- Dimensions: 152.59 x 77.38 x 7.69mm; Weight:155g
- 4G LTE with VoLTE, WiFi 802.11ac (2.4 and 5GHz) MU-MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, USB Type-C
- 3000mAh battery
Earlier all the Zenfone that we have seen has either been made out of plastic, leather, metal or a mix of all three. Asus took a different approach this time with the Zenfone 3 and its a beauty to look at. The Glass and Metal Body of the Phone with its new design looks excellent and its a major improvement in terms of build quality of the phone.
The Front and Rear of the Zenfone 3 is covered with Gorilla Glass 3 underneath which Asus has added a hairline spun metal concentric circle pattern which they called is a reminiscent of the water ripples of a pond, indicating the focus on the Zen Design elements of the device. It looks great under certain lighting and is quite different from what we have seen in any other phones yet. Both front and back have a curved glass panel that blends in with the frame of the device giving it nice smooth finish.
The Frame of the device is made out of aluminum alloy and has finely sandblasted surface finish with the Gorilla Glass edges blending in with the curve of the frame. On the front, there is a 5.2-inch 1080p display which gives the screen a Screen to body ratio of 77.3 %. The phone is compact and easy to hold and I didn’t think at first if the 5.2-inch screen would suite my style but after a while, I felt more comfortable with its size.
Just above the screen of the Zenfone 3, their is a 8 MP front facing camera along with the proximity sensor. Just like earlier Zenfone, there are 3 capacitive buttons at the bottom of the phone for controlling the phone, and just like older models they are not backlit. I really wished that the buttons were backlit but its not a deal breaker any way. The volume rocker and the power buttons are placed on the right hand side and offer a great feedback while using them. They also have a nice texture to them which helps with the overall design of the phone and improves the buttons usability.
On the left side of the device, their is a hybrid sim card tray that can take either two sim card or a micro SD card along with a sim card. On the bottom of the device, their is a USB C port for charging and data syncing. This is the first Zenfone to come with a USB C port and it is good that Asus jumped on board with the upgraded USB standard.
The only down side of the design is the glossy back of the phone with is Zen design. Its is no doubtly one of the best-designed smartphones we have ever seen but there is a downside of its glossy glass back and that is the phone is a fingerprint magnet. You can easily see fingerprints on the back of the phone with a few minutes of use in your hand. The other thing on the back of the phone is its primary 16 MP camera. The camera sits on the top of the phone and is coved with Sapphire glass. Alongside the camera, there are LED flash and the laser autofocus and just underneath it is the Fingerprint sensor.
The phone measures at 146.87 x 73.98 x 7.69 making it a slim phone for its segment. The phone weights in at 144 gram which along with its design and build quality makes the phone both look and fell premium and well built.
Asus Zenfone 3 ZE520KL comes with Asus ZenUI 3.0 which runs on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow and features many custom Asus features over the vanilla version of Android. Some might like the added feature and UI changes and some might not, it really depends on how you use the device. I personally did enjoy most part of ZenUI and like some of its added features such as Touch gestures and Asus Mobile Manager. Its makes using the device easy for most people.
The phone does come with some bloat ware installed which can easily be removed if you want to. Asus added a bunch of features to change the look of UI according to what you might prefer with custom icon packs , wallpapers, themes and much more all of which can be downloaded from their store. There is a full range of gestures and shortcuts built into the device that includes drawing letters to quickly launch apps to double tapping to go into one hand mode.
Asus added a new app this time with the Zenfone 3 called Game Genie which as the name suggest is designed to help while you are playing games.It allows you to boost the game you are playing and even record the screen to capture the gameplay, you can even live stream the gameplay to your YouTube or Twitch accounts.
Overall the software of phone adds more and more features that some people might not need or there might be a google alternative of it, but for most of the people these features makes it easier to use the device and the overall UI doesn’t feel heavy at all.
The Asus Zenfone 3 ZE520KL is packed with a Snapdragon 625 Octa-core processor running at 2 GHz along with Adreno 506 GPU. Asus took a more balanced approach with the processor this time and instead of going with the much more powerfull Snapdragon 820 they went with the 625 which consumes less battery and doesn’t heat up compared to 820. The processor is paired with 3 GB of Ram and it does very well on regular use. The phone feels nice and responsive for the most part and I haven’t had any lag while using the device, multitasking app switching all were great and Zenfone 3 handled it very well.
We ran a couple of benchmark on the device and noticed that the phone didn’t scored well and the benchmark was similar to the Redmi Note 3 and other phones in the category.On Antutu the Zenfone 3 ZE520KL score around 62000, while in the Vellamo Multicore benchmark it scored around 2240.
We than ran the Geekbench test to see if the processor of the phone is really lacking the much needed performance it should have shown in the benchmark and were surprised to see that while the phone scored just around 800 in single core performance but a good 4055 in multi-core. Comparing that to LeEco Le2 which scored 1465 in Single core but just 2564 in Multicore, proves one thing with this phone and that is its have a good multicore performance when you need it while it will save battery while you are not using it.
All games and apps that I tested with this device ran great and there were no issues in terms of performance of the device. It did not heat while playing games for longer hours although you might find the phone a little slippery for a prolonged period of gaming.
Asus Primary advertised the Phone as ” Built for Photography ” making the camera a major highlight of the device. The Zenfone 3 ZE520KL is equipped with 16 MP Sony Exmor RS IMX298 sensor with 6 elements Largan Lens along with Sapphire glass cover. The Pixel size is at 1.12 um and the sensor size comes in at 1/2.8″.
The camera has a maximum aperture of f2.0 and comes with both OIS for Photos and ESI for Video. There is a laser auto focus along the side of the camera which a response time of 0.03 sec and has both Phase detection as well as Contrast Detection for autofocus. The Field of View of the Camera is at 77 degrees. We would be doing a separate in depth camera review of the phone so do check that out.
The overall camera performance will not only depend on its well-packed camera hardware but the Asus camera software that is used to capture those images. Images that came out of the camera are excellent most of the times but some times the camera prefers to shoot into a cooler tone. Although Asus do provide a full manual mode for the camera, we tried using it in Auto most of the times just to see how it performs.
One thing that really impressed me in the camera was the Autofocus speeds this phone is about to pull. The phone almost never lost focus of the subject and the time it takes to get them is excellent and a great job from Asus end. Low lights shots aren’t too bad with the Zenfone 3 camera.
Asus Zenfone 3 has one the best display I have used in any phones yet, specially outdoors. The phone comes with a 5.2 inch 1920 X 1080p screen which gives it a pixel density of around 424 ppi. The panel is extremely sharp and vivid. It is one of brightest displays you can find in any smartphone. The viewing angles and colours are excellent and I didn’t had any issues with the phones display what so ever.
Being a 5.2 inch device means that using the phone with one hand is pretty easy and comfortable.Its easier to slip into pockets and much more easier to hold and use.If you want a bigger size then you can go with the 5.5 inch variant of the device.
Connectivity & Battery Life
The Zenfone 3 come well equipped with the latest connectivity hardware inside the device. It has 4G LTE support with VoLTE, Wifi 802.11 ac(2.4 and 5GHz) MU-MIMO as well as Bluetooth 4.2 and GPS. It also has USB type C port and a headphone/mic in port on the top. The phone also has a hybrid sim slot and can support micro SD card up to 2 TB.
In terms of battery life the phone surprises a lot as I wasent expecting much from the built in 3000 mAh battery. The phone lasted a full day on my use of testing and casual gaming and 2 days while using the phone on regular basis. This is all done from Asus choice of going with the Snapdragon 625 processor which gives the phone a good overall battery life. If you still run out of juice you can easily charge the device as it support fast charging that can give you 2 hrs of talktime in just 5 min of charging.
The Zenfone 3 ZE520KL is one of the best phone we have seen from Asus in their Zenfone series so far. Its great that the company focused more toward design and making premium device and rather than focusing on just putting the latest and greatest processor inside the phones body. Although most people will still make their decision on what processor the phone has and how much it scores it the benchmark, we should sometime admire the beauty and design of the device and how premium it feels while using it. The Zenfone 3 is a excellent phone with a great battery life and a wonder full camera.
If you want a premium device under the 23000 price bracket you should definitely check this one out. It not only features the latest hardware but packs it in a well-crafted body that makes it a premium device that will stand out of the crowd.