First impressions review: The Asus ZenFone Zoom
New Asus ZenFone Zoom
Asus, known for its competitively priced handsets, recently launched its most expensive phone to date. Dubbed as the Asus ZenFone Zoom, the handset is said to be a trailblazer in the smartphone market.
Given its hefty price tag, one might assume that the Asus ZenFone Zoom is a high-end smartphone featuring top-notch specs, but let me tell you it is one of the select few handsets of its kind currently available in the market today. What sets this Asus handset apart from the competition is the kind of technology used in its rear shooter. Unlike other phones, and this includes flagship devices of the competition, that feature digital zoom, the camera of the Asus ZenFone Zoom boasts of optical zoom abilities.
Samsung is another smartphone manufacturer that came up with handsets with optical zoom, but the said devices seem more like cameras that have smartphone capabilities. The Asus ZenFone Zoom on the other hand can be considered as the first smartphone featuring optical zoom that actually looks like a phone.
Given the short span of time we spent with the Asus ZenFone Zoom, we haven’t had the opportunity yet to ascertain if the handset has what it takes to take advantage of being a first-mover or it is worth the price. Again, this is just a first impressions review and gives you, our dear readers, an overview of the handset’s design, specs, display, and most importantly, its camera.
Looking at its front panel, the Asus ZenFone Zoom looks like any other handset in the ZenFone family. The handset has dimensions of 158.9 x 78.8 x 12 mm and tips the scales at 185 grams. What’s new and different can be seen once you turn the handset around. The rear panel of the handset is an indicator of the high-end capabilities of its rear camera.
The Asus ZenFone Zoom features a big camera module that houses the handset’s 13-megapixel sensor and 3x optical zoom mechanism. There may be a slight bump at its rear panel, but the Asus ZenFone Zoom was designed in such a way that the bump isn’t too noticeable. Once you remove the back panel, that’s when the camera module becomes obtrusive.
Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom and Galaxy K Zoom which both feature 10x optical zoom but has a zoom lens that protrudes from the rear panel, the Asus ZenFone Zoom was designed so that all the zooming in and out happens inside the housing of the device. This makes the handset look more like a smartphone. With a waist line of 12 mm, the Asus ZenFone Zoom may not be as slim as other devices but considering the fact that it features an optical zoom lens, the profile of the handset is as sexy as it can be and is actually light as a feather.
Another interesting thing about the design of the Asus ZenFone Zoom is that it has physical buttons for zoom and recording. Its retail package also comes with bundled strap to allow users to handle the phone more securely.
The whole design of the Asus ZenFone Zoom may look clever but the handset is a bit lacking when it comes to the look and feel department. Though the metallic frame of the phone gives it a premium touch, the rear panel with its faux leather design looks rather average.
The key highlight of the Asus ZenFone Zoom is its 13-megapixel camera with optical zoom capabilities. In brightly-lit situations, the handset is just impressive. It raises the bar for smartphone camera performance higher by coming up with bright and detailed images while outdoors. Going indoors in soft-light and low-light conditions, the handset was unable to come up with really impressive images. Although the pictures had details in them, there was also quite a bit of noise. Furthermore, the camera struggles to capture true-to-life colours when images are taken in low-light situations. In the same vein, the 5-megapixel front shooter of the handset performs well in properly lit areas but delivers grainy results in low-light situations.
The Asus ZenFone Zoom not only boasts of optical zoom and features that are usually found in a DSLR camera, the handset also comes with a myriad of options that allow users to customise settings. Unfortunately, we haven’t enough time to really test the full potential of the Asus ZenFone Zoom’s camera but we will surely give you an update once we are able to.
Available in only one variant, the Asus ZenFone Zoom is a godsend to users who need a lot of storage. The handset features a gigantic 128 GB of internal storage, and if that is not enough, it also comes with a microSD card slot for memory expansion of up to another 128 GB.
Similar to other handsets in the ZenFone lineup, the Asus ZenFone Zoom runs Android 5.0 overlaid with ZenUI for its operating system. The speaker at its rear panel is also capable of producing loud results but is a bit lacking in the audio quality department. Its 5.5-inch HD display on the other hand is protected by Gorilla Glass 4 and can come up with great colours and impressive viewing angles.
At the heart of the Asus ZenFone Zoom’s operation is a 64-bit Intel Z3590 quad-core processor and 4 GB of RAM for serious multitasking power. Powered by a 3,000 mAh non-removable LiPo (lithium-polymer) battery, the handset also features BoostMaster technology that delivers turbo-speed charging that charges the phone from 0 to 60 percent in just 39 minutes.
At this point, with us spending a limited time with the Asus ZenFone Zoom, we can only say that the handset is a mix of good and not so good. It has more than enough firepower under the hood to handle even the most demanding tasks and its camera with innovative optical zoom capabilities just looks good on paper. Real-world results though are not too conclusive at this time but if you want a powerful smartphone with an impressive camera to boot, the Asus ZenFone Zoom definitely fits the bill.