ASUS first introduced this camera-centric smartphone back during CES 2015, but it wasn’t quite ready for launch at that time. ASUS took the opportunity to showcase this multi-faceted device once again at the ongoing IFA event in Berlin, and we got to spend some time with it. We go hands-on with the ASUS Zenfone Zoom!
It’s obvious right off the bat that the focus of this device is on the camera, and from the back, the camera optics of this device actually makes it look like a typical point-and-shoot camera, and only when you switch over to the front is when you get the feel of a standard, everyday smartphone. The phone features a mix of metal and plastic construction, with the metal frame giving the device some rigidity, while plastic can be found everywhere else.
The plastic back cover is removable as well, which allows for access to the microSD card slot and the SIM card slot. Taking a look around the device, the headphone jack and the microUSB port are at the top and bottom respectively, and the right side houses not only the volume rocker and the power button, but also a dedicated two-stage camera shutter button and a video record button.
Many of the specifications of the Zenfone Zoom are similar to the Zenfone 2 that was also first launched back in January, including a 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with a 1080p resolution, protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass 4 panel. If the display is anything like its counterpart, there may be some issues with outdoor visibility, but it should get the job done very well otherwise.
Under the hood, the Zenfone Zoom is packing the same processing package as the high-end version of the Zenfone 2, with its quad-core 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 processor, clocked at 2.3 GHz, and backed by the PowerVR G6430 GPU and 4 GB of RAM. The performance of the Zenfone 2 is fantastic, and that should continue to be the case with the Zenfone Zoom as well. 64 GB or 128 GB of internal storage can further expanded via microSD card by up to 64 GB, which will likely prove necessarily with the focus on taking a lot of pictures with this device. There is also a non-removable 3,000 mAh battery to be found, which should comfortably allow for a full day of use, if not more, assuming that ASUS has managed to fix some of the battery drain issues that plagued the Zenfone 2.
Of course, the big story here is the primary camera that the device packs. The Zenfone Zoom comes with a 13 MP rear shooter with a 3x optical zoom, with optical image stabilization, and a laser auto-focus system, all of which should allow for a great camera experience. The 10-element lens design also allows for 12x digital zoom. ASUS also claims that the Zenfone Zoom will offer a DSLR-like experience, courtesy of a new Super Resolution mode that can create shots up to 52 MP, along with a manual mode that allows for instant adjustment of the shutter speed, exposure, white balance, ISO, and many other Pro level grade settings. Whether it is good enough to replicate the quality of a DSLR however, remains to be seen.
While the camera unit does dominate the back, it isn’t as jarring as is the case with some other implementations out there, allowing for quite a good feel in the hand. ASUS is certainly quite proud of how thin they’ve managed to keep this phone, touting it as the world’s thinnest smartphone that features 3x optical zoom. All the zooming is done internally, so you won’t be seeing any physical movements on the outside either.
On the software side of things, the Zenfone Zoom is running Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, with ASUS’ Zen UI on top. You can expect to see a lot of the Zen UI features that were seen with the Zenfone 2 here as well, including a pretty solid amount of pre-installed applications that most people are going to consider bloatware.
So, there you have it for this quick look at the ASUS Zenfone Zoom! This device could well be the solution for anyone in the market for a smartphone that puts the camera at the forefront, and if ASUS continues to follow their great pricing strategy they used with the Zenfone 2, the Zoom may be quite affordable as well. Pricing information is still to be confirmed though, but as far as availability is concerned, the ASUS Zenfone Zoom will be coming to Europe by the end of the year, with the color options limited to black or ceramic white.