Zenfone Zoom is the most expensive smartphone that is launched by Asus ever in India and in turn makes it their flagship device. Before Zenfone Zoom, Asus concentrated on entry level & mid range smartphone consumers and manage to churn out some popular devices such as Zenfone 5, Zenfone 2 (Read Review), Zenfone 2 Laser ZE550KL (Read Review), Zenfone Max ZC550KL (Read review) and few more.
Zenfone Zoom is targeted at high-end price segment and to users who want to click almost professional pictures using a smartphone camera. Zoom main selling point is going to be its main 13 MP camera with 3X optical Zoom. No OEM had ever tried to bring Optical zoom to smartphone cameras (only exception being the long forgotten Nokia N7). Let’s check out if it’s all worth the hype?
[su_box title=”FULL DISCLOSURE” style=”soft” box_color=”#688cdc”] ASUS Sponsored our trip to the launch event in Agra and also gifted this Zenfone Zoom Smartphone Unit.[/su_box]
The variant that we reviewed comes with Model No. ASUS_Z00XS( ZX551ML) Black color. Even though the retail box of the device mentions MRP of Rs. 40,999, it is available on Flipkart for Rs. 37,999 only.
- Display : 5.5 inch Full HD IPS display with a pixel density of 403 ppi & Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection
- OS : ZenUI based on Android 5.0 Lollipop
- CPU : 2.3 GHz Quad-core, 64-bit Intel Atom Z3590 Processor
- GPU : PowerVR G6430
- RAM : 4 GB
- Camera : 13 MP Primary with f/2.7- to 4.8-aperture, 10-element, 3X optical zoom lens, with optical image stabilization (OIS), laser autofocus and dual-color Real Tone flash
- Front Camera :5 MP, f/2.0-aperture, wide-angle 88-degree lens
- SIM : Single Sim (2G/3G/4G LTE)
- 128 GB ROM + Micro SD Card support up to 128 GB
- USB OTG Support
- Battery : 3000 mAh Lithium Polymer embedded
- Weight : 185 gms
- NFC : Yes
Design and Build Quality
Zenfone Zoom comes with hard plastic back cover with a leather texture finish & a small horizontal bump at the bottom near speakers (at left end) which lets you hold it better without slipping. Even though it is a plastic cover, it does give a premium feel but it feels hard instead of soft.
For placement of buttons, Zoom comes with conventional placement of Power & Volume rockers buttons on the right side place adjacent to each other (Zenfone laser and many other devices came with power button at top and volume rockers at the back). The device comes with two additional buttons at the bottom i.e. one for clicking pictures and 2nd for recording video. Both these buttons when pressed takes you directly to camera.
The Big bulky camera module placed at the back appears a bit bulged out, yet integrated well with the device.
The menu buttons at the bottom of the screen are not back-lit which makes it a bit uncomfortable to use it in dark surroundings. The back cover can be opened (quite hard to open though, bad for your nails), but the battery not removable.
It sports a 5.5-inch full HD IPS Display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels and Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection. Size of the screen may appear big for some people but for most users, 5.5 inch feels good after few days of usage. The display appears crisp & clear and auto brightness adjusts quite well even in full bright sunlights. It comes with great viewing angles letting you view the screen even at steep angles.
It also comes with a display tuning app from ASUS, letting you choose different screen modes like Standard, Reading, Vivid or Balanced or you can customize one for yourself. Using the Glove mode you can use it with your gloves on in winter.
Performance and Benchmarks
Zenfone Zoom is powered by a 64-bit Intel Atom Z3590 CPU processor clocked at 2.3 GHz with 4 GB RAM and PowerVR G6430 GPU. It runs everything that we could throw at it including heavy graphics intensive games, multitasking and what not. There was no issue in term of performance, heating or any kind of lag or crashes.You can call it a beast for sure.
The graphics details, colour reproduction in the games and HD videos was great. There was negligible heating of the device while playing intensive games, multitasking or using the device for too long or in any other scenario.
It comes with whopping 128 GB internal storage with support for expandable memory using Microsd card. The operating system and preloaded apps takes around 5 GB of storage and the end user gets the rest. Apart from Micro SD cards, it also supports OTG and hence you can use an external OTG USB storage also.
The call quality during voice calls was pretty clear without any issues. The dialer app also gives you an option to record calls without installing any additional app or rooting the device. By default, this feature is turned off and you need to enable it if you need to record your calls.
The Antutu benchmark score for Zenfone Zoom comes out to be 65,600+ which is a great score.
This is where Asus Zenfone makes the real difference. Optical zoom is usually found in digital cameras and are not considered fit for smartphones due to their bulky size of the lenses that need to be fitted in the camera module & the mechanism to operate those lenses to achieve optical zoom. Asus has tried to change that with Zenfone Zoom by putting in a a 10 element HOYA lens with optical image stabilization (4 stop OIS) and 3x optical Zoom.
It comes with 13MP main rear camera with f/2.7- to 4.8-aperture with laser auto-focus and dual-color Real Tone flash and a front 5 MP front camera. We took the camera to test with different lighting conditions. We did clicked some amazing pictures of the great Tajmahal during the launch event at Agra using the 3X optical zoom under fog and normal light conditions. Check them out in the Flickr gallery below.
The pictures turned out to be great with good color reproduction, saturation and exposure even after using the optical zoom. The camera app comes with loads of modes such as Low Light mode, Backlight (Super HDR) mode, Beautification mode, Professional (manual-settings) mode and more, just like most of the ASUS smartphones.
The Professional (manual-settings) mode though is an exception and comes with whole lot of options that you can adjust based on the surrounding and your own requirement. But unless you are aware of how to manage those settings, you should stay away from it and stick to the default mode. The default mode can click some amazing pictures.
But under low lighting, you can find lot of noise in the images shot. Even though they appear better, yet the noise is too much.
The front 5 MP camera though performed great and produced some good pictures. It’s more than good enough to click some good selfies with wide viewing angle.
Checkout the images below taken under different light conditions and different modes. Click on the images to enlarge to original full size image. Click for full resolution images on Flickr.
Apart from these, check out the images below that are shot past midnight in dark from same place in three different modes without using the optical zoom i.e in Low Light Mode, Super resolution Mode and HDR Mode.
Zenfone Zoom is backed by 3000 mAh Lithium Polymer non removable battery. ZenUI comes with custom modes for battery performance such as Performance mode, Normal, Power Saving, Super Saving and customised mode. Under normal mode, the battery performs above average and the device lasts for full day with moderate use with a 4G SIM. If you are a heavy user or you use the camera to click too much shots, you will end to charge it before the end of the day. We used it to click 100+ shots in one hour continuously with screen on almost all the time and optical zoom being used often, the battery was still left at 20-25% when we finished clicking pictures.
The battery will last much less if you switch to Performance but for bette battery performance without compromising much of the smartphone features, you can use the Power saving mode to get more than a day battery life. This mode basically switches off the data networks when the screen is off.
One good thing about Zenfone zoom though is, it comes with fast battery charging which charges 60% in just 40 mins using the original charger that is bundled with. We were able to charge smartphone from 0 to 75% in approximately 1 hour 5 minutes.
Operating System and UI
Zenfone Zoom is powered by Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system with ZenUI on top. It comes with support for gestures using which you can open applications without even unlocking the device. You can customize the gestures as per your need quite easily. You can customize the toggles in the notification area as per your needs.
The interface is same as any other ASUS smartphone and we have talked about it much detail in our reviews. Check those posts linked at the start of this post to know more.
ASUS needs to get rid of pre-loaded bloatware in their smartphones. The device came with loads of pre-installed apps and even installs few on its own the moment you connect to a Wifi network. There is no way to stop those apps from getting installed. It may irk many consumers like us. The good thing though, you can uninstall any or all the bloatware without rooting the device.
Zenfone Zoom turns out to be a great device in almost all aspects except the price of Rs. 37,999. If you want a great smartphone with a optical Zoom camera, this is for you if you are willing to spend the money. We feel it is too overpriced for the Indian smartphone consumers. Here is a small advice to ASUS, instead of this 128 GB variant, please launch a low storage variant of the Zoom i.e. 16 GB or 32 GB and bring the price of the device in the order of Rs. 25,000. If Asus does that, then we will have a killer device.