25001178806_0e343c6e60_k-01ASUS has taken the already impressive ZenFone 2 Lazer and turned it into something fun for anyone who enjoys the control of a DSLR camera but isn’t planning on walking around with one every day. The Asus ZenFone Zoom is basically an iteration of Zenfone 2 with a bigger camera for serious photographers.

Design

The design language of Zoom is relatively different from Zenfone series as here you won’t find the power button and volume rocker at the back. Zenfone Zoom has significantly improved in terms of design and build quality. The Zenfone Zoom has rounded edges which makes it easier to hold than the Zenfone 2. Also there is a faux leather back that adds to the grip. Like its predecessors, this phone has a 5.5 inch display, but in a 6+ inch frame. The capacitive navigation buttons are not backlit but thankfully, the notification LED was not left out. At the bottom we have a standard Micro-USB 2.0 port along with a lanyard loop to its left. On the right side, we have the two-step camera shutter button and a dedicated button for video recording. Pressing either one for a few seconds will fire up the camera app. The volume and power buttons are placed further up and have good tactile feedback. The back cover is removable and is made up of faux leather. At the middle there lies a massive disc that holds the camera module and this is where Asus has managed to fit in the zoom lens in a sideways fashion thus no protruding lens. The device can host a single Micro-SIM and the 128 GB of internal storage can be further expanded via a microSD card. The battery is non-removable.

Display

The ZenFone Zoom comes with a 5.5-inch FullHD IPS display with a 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution and 401ppi pixel density. It is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4. The display doesn’t looks bright enough at medium brightness unlike other phones, though Asus claims it has 400cd/m2 of brightness level. Due to low brightness, we often had to manually adjust and raise up the brightness for proper visibility. The color saturation and viewing angles are good but visibility under direct sunlight isn’t promising unless you tone up the brightness and the screen appears reflective too.

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Software

The Zenfone Zoom runs on company’s proprietary Zen UI based on Android 5.0 Lollipop. The ASUS ZenUI 2.0 offers tons of customization.zen-ui-things

Here’s a quick rundown of Zen UI 2.0 Features –

  • Productivity apps like Splendid, for adjusting the colour temperature and toggling the blue light filter.
  • AudioWizard, which lets you fine tune sound profiles for movie, music, gaming, or voice calls.
  • Auto-Start Manager – Deny/Allow specific apps from launching at startup to save memory and extend battery life.
  • Asus Mobile Manager – Boosts the system operations by freeing up RAM.
  • 5 Power saving modes for setting your power profile depending on your usage type.
  • Do it Later, a task manager that can sync with Google Tasks.
  • Blue light Filter‘ option accessible from quick settings that reduces blue light from screen and thus reduces the strain on your eyes during night-time.
  • Allow/Deny App Notifications – Block all or specific apps from showing any notifications.
  • ZenMotion – Double tap to unlock, Customizable gestures to launch apps when screen is off.
  • Kids Mode – Set parental control by setting a PIN.
  • Easy Mode, One-Hand Operation Mode, Do Not Disturb mode, Call Recording, Apps movable to SD card.

We did get a software update which added a new feature called Quick Find, which can be accessed by swiping downwards from the home screen. It isn’t a universal search tool since you can’t access files from your phone, but more of a quick way to search the Web and launch frequently used apps.
Overall there are a hell lot of apps pre-installed onto this device out of which most of the apps can be just categorised as bloatware and tend to hinder the performance of the device. Although most of the apps can be uninstalled or disabled. Apart from this the UI is intuitive and functional but looks overdone at times. There’s also a Themes store as well with a collection of Free and Paid themes that you can instantly apply to freshen up the look of your phone.

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Performance and Battery Life

24659947616_302fd6708c_k-01Asus Zenfone Zoom is powered by an Intel Atom Z3590 64-bit Quad-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz coupled with PowerVR 6430 GPU clocked at 640MHz. The device has 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM up its sleeve that is capable of heavy multitasking and smooth operations. In terms of performance, the ZenFone Zoom is like any other high-end Android phone and Apps run without a hitch. The gaming performance is impressive as we had no issues playing graphic intensive games like Asphalt 8, Riptide GP2 and Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. Though the phone tends to run a bit warm while gaming, and this also makes a dent in the battery life. In case the device feels short on performance, you can always switch to “Performance mode” that delivers highest CPU performance and makes a noticeable difference during resource hungry tasks but this surely consumes more battery. Overall we are impressed with the fluid experience on Zoom in terms of system performance, web browsing, video playback and gaming.
The phone comes with a 3000mAh non-removable battery with ‘Boost Master technology’. It supports fast charging and took 75 minutes to charge fully with the supplied 2A fast charger. While reviewing the device for a few days we noticed that there was no battery drain overnight when the device was set to Normal mode and we tested this couple of times. But when we switched to Performance mode, there was 15%-20% of battery drain overnight. Thankfully, the phone supports fast charging and will get you up to 40 percent capacity in half an hour. The battery conked out after 6-7hrs of continuous usage with a screen-on time of less than 4 hours. The high battery drain is perhaps due to the large 5.5 inch FHD display, Intel processor and the optical camera mechanism seems to be power-hungry. Thankfully, the phone supports fast charging and will get you up to 40 percent capacity in half an hour.

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Final Verdict

The Asus ZenFone Zoom comes at a premium price of INR 37999 which cannot be justified and is certainly pricey if we compare it with other offerings in the market that offer powerful specs despite being reasonably priced such as Oneplus Two, Moto X Style, QiKU Q Terra etc. Asus unfortunately tends not to check all the boxes this time. The relatively low-resolution display, the older version of Android, weak battery life, and lack of 4K recording are also factors that work against the ZenFone Zoom.
But this phone is all about the camera, we wish we could say that things turn around once you start taking photos, but they really don’t. The camera module captures beautiful pictures in bright daylight and no device can withstand the image quality of pictures taken from Zenfone Zoom in bright daylight. But when the sun sets the camera struggles a lot and tends to capture noise in low light conditions. The phone might be a weak contender at its high launch price but it won’t seem so bad when it drops to more reasonable level hopefully under 30k.

24059322973_9fb1a46961_k-01PROS

  • Good design and build
  • Impressive Daylight camera performance with 3X Optical Zoom
  • 128GB (Expandable up to 128GB)
  • Dedicated shutter key for camera
  • Fast Charging

CONS

  • No 4K video recording
  • Average display quality
  • Average battery life
  • Massive Bloatware
  • Average Performance
  • Terribly expensive
  • No Fingerprint sensor
  • Android 5.0 in 2016 is unacceptable