At its keynote event in the opening of Computex 2016, Asus introduced the third generation of the ZenFone series, and it looks like the long wait was worth it.
The new ZenFone 3, ZenFone 3 Deluxe, and ZenFone 3 Ultra bring beautiful designs and attractive features, without breaking the bank. Starting prices range from $249 to $499, and considering what these phones bring to the table, we’re inclined to bet on their success in the market.
Asus ZenFone 3
The entry in the range is the eponymous ZenFone 3, but this is no entry-level device, despite what the $249 price tag would have you believe. The good impression starts with the design, which graduated from plastic to a luxurious-looking brushed metal and glass combination. Asus’ trademark circular brush pattern is present, but it’s encased under a layer of Gorilla glass with curved edges that should make for a very nice feel in the hand.
Perhaps following LG’s lead, Asus replaced the rear mounted volume rocker with a simple fingerprint reader, while volume controls now accompany the power button on the phone’s metallic frame.
If you like the ZenFone 3’s looks, its brains won’t disappoint. You get a Snapdragon 625 processor – the chip that emerged as a popular second option for flagship devices from LG and HTC – coupled with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. A higher-end version features 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage respectively.
The display is a 5.5-inch IPS LCD (no change here from the ZenFone 2), but the other half of the media stack, audio, has received a nice boost thanks to a loud 5-magnet speaker and a NXP smart amp. You also get a USB Type C port (USB 2.0 connectivity though), 16MP and 8MP cameras, a fingerprint scanner on the back, and a 3,000 mAh battery. Camera features include laser-assisted autofocus, phase-detection autofocus, 4-axis OIS, a dual-tone flash, and super resolution mode (64MP).
ZenFone 3 Deluxe
ZenFone 3 Deluxe swaps the glass back for a metallic one with curved sides that are just 4.2 millimeters thick. There’s no visible antenna lines on the back, with the plastic bits cleverly hidden in the bezels. The brushed metal finish will be available in three color options – black, gold, and a sexy electric blue called Chi.
The display is AMOLED and 5.7 inches in size, but resolution remains Full HD. Asus boasts that the ZenFone 3 Deluxe offers 100% off the NTSC color space, which means color accuracy should be excellent. The phone features Always On mode, similar to the LG G5 and Galaxy S7.
As the top of the range, the ZenFone 3 combines a Snapdragon 820 processor with a whopping 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (UFS 2.0). The USB Type C port now gives access to USB 3.0 connectivity with Quick Charge 3.0 in tow.
The camera uses a 23MP IMX318 sensor from Sony and the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is the first on the market with this sensor. Save for the enhanced super resolution mode (96MP), camera features remain similar to the ZenFone 3.
The ZenFone 3 starts from $499 for the 64GB model.
ZenFone 3 Ultra
Like Sony, Asus uses the term Ultra to differentiate its extra-large devices. But at 6.8 inches, the ZenFone 3 Ultra is bigger than any Xperia Ultra out there. This near-tablet goes back to LCD for its panel, but resolution stays at 1080p. Other specs include Snapdragon 652, 4GB of RAM, Quick Charge 3.0, USB 2.0, the same cameras as the ZenFone 3 Deluxe, and a hefty 4,600 mAh power bank. There’s a heavy multimedia focus here, with a “TV grade” PixelWorks iris2+, dual speakers, and DTS Headphone: X 7.1 surround sound.
The ZenFone 3 Ultra will start from $479.
As usual, Asus refused to reveal the release date and exact availability of the new ZenFone 3, ZenFone 3 Deluxe, and ZenFone 3 Ultra, but from what we’ve seen so far we think that a lot of people will be anxiously looking forward to their arrival.
We’ll bring you our hands-on impressions of these three beasts live from Computex 2016 a bit later, so check back soon!