ASUS ZenFone 3, ZenFone 3 Deluxe & ZenFone 3 Ultra Hands on

Fans on the ZenFone 2 have been waiting 18 months for an update and after going hands on with the entire ZenFone 3 family we can say that it was worth the wait.  At Computex 2016 in Taipei ASUS launched the ZenFone 3, ZenFone 3 Deluxe and the ZenFone Ultra.

Let’s take a closer look at the new Zen family of Smartphones.

asus-zenfone-series-1

The first thing you’ll notice about the three phones above are that they all have either a fingerprint scanner or a volume rocker on the back of the handset, this is single unifying design feature.  The three handsets are actually quite different in terms of design language, the ZenFone 3 is two layers of gorilla glass with a metal bumper and the Deluxe and Ultra are unibody metal in their finish.

asus-zenfone-series-4

The fronts of the handsets also lack a cohesive design story, the Deluxe sporting a metallic spun metal finish on the front while the ZenFone 3 has curved 2.5D glass and the Ultra lies flat with no sparkle.

If this all sounds like a complaint, it’s not, I think as a stand alone device they look great, it’s just a family they might be brothers from another mother.

ZenFone Deluxe

The ZenFone 3 Deluxe is the new flagship smartphone from ASUS and it’s unibody metal design with design details reminiscent of the Zenbook. With a 5.7 inch Super AMOLED FHD display with a screen to body ratio of 79% it feels sleek in hand with it’s unibody aluminum design with invisible antenna’s. Under the hood we have the premium Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 6GB or RAM and 64-256GB of internal storage with UFS 2.0 and an Adreno 530 GPU.  The reason we’re seeing such high options for internal storage is that even though we have the option to add a MicroSD card the second SIM card slot to expand memory, many want to actually use the 2nd SIM card slot and 8 or 16GB just won’t cut it. Starting at 64GB of internal memory ensures that even if you can’t use the MicroSD card slot you’ll be able to have enough room on your phone for all your photos or movies.

asus-zenfone-deluxe-1

The back of the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is curved and feels very comfortable to hold, the way the metal chassis curves up to meet the display seamlessly is beautiful. We’re a bit fan of the ergonomics of this devices, ASUS even mentioned that they revised the handset 20 time around the thickness alone, which is why they’ve got a 7.69mm profile which tapers down to 4.2mm at its edge.  ASUS is also quite proud of the Invisible Antenna meaning that there aren’t big lines across the body of the phone like say on the HTC 10 or iPhone. If you know where to look you can actually find the antenna and they are placed evenly on the bottom on the phone (many companies have just placed them haphazardly so the OCD in me loves this!).  The bezel itself if also quite thin at 1.3mm and the internal black boarder which is a classic in the Zenfone line is also pretty discreet. The actually construction of the  3 Deluxe takes 240 steps which include CNC, sandblasting and surface anodizing.

asus-zenfone-deluxe-2

The camera sports a very good sensor, the Sony IMX318 which is the latest camera sensor from Sony, camera sensor the camera with a f/2.0 6 element largan lens, 0.03 TriTech Autofocus, 4 Axis OIS, 3 axis EIS, a color correction sensor and Dual tone LED flash. On the front we have a 8MP shooter with an 85 degree wide view. The laser auto focus helps to take faster photos especially at night and has a reach of 1.2m. The thinness of the device means that the camera module will overlap with the LCD causing it to protrude, it has a square lens cover which is made of sapphire glass so it will not scratch (or at least it will take a pretty big impact to scratch the glass).  The Tri-tech auto focus is capable of 0.03 second responsiveness, which means that in video it responds like Samsung’s focus pixel when taking video, when throwing my hand rapidly in front of the camera it would respond instantly.

asus-zenfone-deluxe-3

Keeping in mind that Sony is using the same sensor in their current line up of Smartphones. During the event I noticed that one of the Mobile Nations fellas had a Sony Xperia X, the obvious thing to do was put the Zenfone 3 Deluxe through the paces and take a few comparison shots. Sadly I don’t have any side by side photos to share, regardless it appears that ASUS has done a better job with Sony’s hardware than Sony! The Xperia X has noticeable shutter lag and the Deluxe was snappy and responsive. We took a few shots of a cup across the tablet and when we zoomed into compare the text the Deluxe seemed a little crisper.  This is pretty impressive and really makes us drool to get our hands on for a review unit to really put the camera through it’s paces.

asus-zenfone-deluxe-4

As the new flagship smartphone from ASUS it comes with a high end features like USB Type C with USB 3.0 and a dual 5 magnet speaker (which we have to admit was very loud and quite clear).

Game Genie is a feature that will help you stream your games live to platforms like Twitch or Facebook, ASUS has partnered with EA’s Need for Speed No Limit.

Zenfone-3-deluxe-16

Connectivity wise we’ve got WiFi 802.11ac %g/2.4G, MiMo WiFi and up to Cat 6 LTE. bluetooth 4.2 and type C UsB 2.0 along with dual Micro SIM (one 4G the other 3G), GPS, AGPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU and Android M with ZenUI 3.0.

The fingerprint sensor on the rear is capable of 360 degree recognition and you can register 5 fingers. When it comes to audio you have high rez options a new 5 magnet speaker and NXP Smart AMP.

The ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe will cost you $499 which when you put it up against Flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S7 or the iPhone 6 is a steal.  It’s going to be interesting to put the Deluxe through the paces.

ZenFone 3

The ASUS Zenfone 3 (ZE552KL) comes to market with a 5.5 inch Super IPS+ LCD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a screen to body ratio of 77.3%. With gorilla glass on the front and back we’ve got a smoother aesthetic on the front with the 2.5D contoured edges and a metal frame.  Under the hood we have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 with is a 14nm Octa-Core processor with 8 x 1.4Ghz ARM cortex A53 with an Adreno 506 GPU and 4GB of RAM and upto 64GB of memory.

DSC04654

Connectivity wise we’ve got WiFi 802.11ac %g/2.4G, MiMo WiFi and up to Cat 6 LTE. bluetooth 4.2 and type C UsB 2.0 along with dual Micro SIM (one 4G the other 3G), GPS, AGPS, GLONASS, BEIDOU and Android M with ZenUI 3.0.

asus-zenfone-3-4

The fingerprint sensor on the rear is capable of 360 degree recognition and you can register 5 fingers. When it comes to audio you have high rez options a new 5 magnet speaker and NXP Smart AMP.

asus-zenfone-3-1

The camera sports a 23MP ASUS PixelMaster 3.0 and a Sony IMX298 camera sensor the camera with a f/2.0 6 element largan lens, 0.03 TriTech Autofocus, 4 Axis OIS, 3 axis EIS, a color correction sensor and Dual tone LED flash. On the front we have a 8MP shooter with an 85 degree wide view. While technically the Zenfone 3 does not have the the latest sensor like it’s more sophisticated bigger brothers this doesn’t mean that we’re experiencing a notable difference in camera quality. Admittedly it’s hard to judge the camera at a launch event, especially since ASUS has shown us with the Zoom that they can really improve photo quality with camera updates further down the line.  So far we’re cautiously optimistic that we’d even be happy with the Camera on the Zenfone 3.

asus-zenfone-3-2

The metal edges of the Zenfone 3 are sandblasted which makes them feel almost velvety to the touch. The fingerprint sensor is well positioned on the back and was easy enough to reach.

The ASUS ZenFone 3 will run you $249 which is extremely price competitive!

ZenFone 3 Ultra

The ZenFone 3 Ultra has a 6.8 inch FHD which seems massive and to be honest it is, it’s massive in hand and you’ll want to wield it with two.  The volume button is toward the top of the handset dead center.  It’s a little bit high if you want to use it in portrait mode, in landscape it sits perfectly.

asus-zenfone-3-ultra-4

What sets the ZenFone 3 Ultra apart is its massive side, if you remember the 7 inch tablet phase it’s back with this 6.8 inch beauty.  I personally like this device a lot, but it is niche, think of someone who wants to use their phone to play 4K videos on their TV because the  ZenFone 3 Ultra comes with a 4K TV processor which is powered by the ASUS True2Life+ video enhancements.

asus-zenfone-3-ultra-2

When it comes to the camera it’s running the exactly same specification and feature set as the ZenFone 3 Deluxe with the latest Sony sensor, EIS & OIS.  The camera is set on the top left hand side and does have the same square protruding module as it’s smaller brothers.

asus-zenfone-3-ultra-1

Sound quality is top notch with Dual 5 magnet stereo speakers and an NXP SmartAMP, it has the clearest audio and the semblance of Bass. FFor those who love listening to music through their headphones, you’ll have Hi-Rez Audrio and DTX Headphone Audio.This is something that you really just have to hear, which is why you should really check out our hands on video.

  • 6.8 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel IPS LCD display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor
  • Up to 4GB of RAM
  • Up to 128GB of storage
  • 23MP rear camera with Sony IMX318 sensor
  • 802.11ac WiFi
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Up to Cat 6 LTE
  • 4,600 mAH battery with Quick Charge 3.0
  • USB 3.0 Type-C connector
  • Gray, silver, and pink color options

The ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra will cost you $479.

We’re going hands on with the special edition finishes as well as the plethora of products, so be sure to hit up our YouTube channel where we get our videos up first and wordsmith a little later.

Photo Credit – Myriam Joire