Asus ZenFone Zoom hands-on: 3x optical zoom at your fingertips

Asus ZenFone Zoom hands-on: 3x optical zoom at your fingertips

The Asus ZenFone Zoom is an upcoming camera-centered smartphone, sporting a huge camera hump on its back, somewhat similar to the Nokia Lumia 1020. The former was announced way back in January 2015, but has yet to be given an accurate release date. Still, Asus does take every opportunity it can get to showcase prototypes of the device – this year's IFA included. Let's take a look!

Asus ZenFone Zoom hands-on: 3x optical zoom at your fingertips
Asus ZenFone Zoom hands-on: 3x optical zoom at your fingertips
Asus ZenFone Zoom hands-on: 3x optical zoom at your fingertips
Design


The ZenFone Zoom touts a large camera module, which houses a 3x optical zoom mechanism, and a 13 MP sensor. Understandably, the phone has a pronounced hump on its back, but its screen-to-body ration is less than flattering as well. Combined with a 5.5” diagonal for its screen, this all makes the ZenFone Zoom a bulky piece of hardware.

Of course, anyone in the market for a camera-centric smartphone is usually willing to overlook some extra girth. So, size aside, the ZenFone Zoom offers pleasing crafting materials, with an all-metal chassis and a chamfered frame. On the left side of the handset, we have the power button and volume rocker, as well as the camera shutter key and video record button – that's right, these are separate and we find it to be a neat idea, especially for a camera-phone.

Display


Asus outfitted the ZenFone Zoom with a 5.5”, 1080 x 1920 display (401 PPI), protected by Gorilla Glass 3. Unfortunately, we did not have extensive access to the device and were unable to draw adequate conclusions. From what we saw, the display looked noticeably bluish, with punchy colors popping out. In terms of detail – rest assured that the display is crisp and clear.

Interface


Asus' proprietary ZenUI makes an appearance here, laid on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop – though, that may or may not change by the time the ZenFone Zoom is released. The ZenUI is well-known for packing a bucketload of features and customization options, theme store and ZenMotion functions included. It's also nice to see an Asia-based manufacturer's UI actually have an app drawer.

The ZenUI definitely has a learning curve and casual users may feel a bit overwhelmed. However, if customization is your middle name, you will enjoy tinkering with it.

Processor and memory


The ZenFone Zoom is equipped with a 64-bit, quad-core, 2.3 GHz Intel Atom Z3580 – a high-performing SoC, which launched back in Q2 of 2014. It's coupled with the generous 4 GB of RAM, which should, hopefully, take care of all of the heavy-ish interface's processes with no issue. We weren't able to extensively test it just now, due to limited access.

Storage-wise, Asus was quite generous, and outfitted the ZenFone Zoom with 128 GB of internal memory, which the user can further expand via microSD card of up to 64 GB.

Asus ZenFone Zoom hands-on: 3x optical zoom at your fingertips
Asus ZenFone Zoom hands-on: 3x optical zoom at your fingertips
Camera


For this model, it's only natural that the camera is what should draw the most interest. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to spend time testing it, as the unit shown was apparently a prototype, still with some kinks in it. So, all we have to go on right now is promise:

Asus touts a 3x optical zoom on the camera module, which should let you magnify images without sacrificing detail and quality. The rather large hump on the back of the phone may lead some to believe that the sensor's resolution is something insane, but it is, in fact, 13 MP. This doesn't mean that the camera wouldn't be able to deliver in terms of quality – a 13 MP sensor can certainly make some seriously stunning shots, provided the software and hardware are working in unison, so it all depends on whether Asus pulls it off or not. Additionally, the snapper is assisted by a laser auto-focus and optical image stabilization – the ingredients needed for quick, guaranteed quality shots.

As mentioned earlier, there are two physical buttons dedicated to the camera – a shutter key and a video record button. We like that, as it frees us from fiddling with the software, should we want to switch between camera and camcorder. However, the shutter button is just a simple clicker, instead of a two-step key, which we found a bit of a disappointment for the type of phone the ZenFone Zoom is trying to be.

The handset's selfie snapper doesn't try to be anything out-of-the ordinary, however. It packs a 5 MP sensor, which should be quite enough for quality mugshots.

Expectations


From our limited time with the phone, we can say that it looks like a promising camera phone – especially since we haven't seen anything like the Galaxy K Zoom or the Lumia 1020 in quite a while. The hardware looks like it can carry some weight, and the phone doesn't look bad, girth aside. The ZenFone Zoom definitely has its niche to fill and all that is left for Asus is to deliver on the promises of superb pictures.


Related phones

ZenFone Zoom
  • Display 5.5" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Intel Atom, Quad-core, 2330 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3000 mAh

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10 Comments

1. rsiders

Posts: 1810; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

They really need to stop. How has the phone been in prototype mode with no ability to test it since January? This is a joke!

9. JonHolstein

Posts: 43; Member since: Aug 20, 2015

The one they first showed was locked inside a glass monter. So it might not even had proper hardware inside. So we dont know how long there has actually been a prototype. But for us that have been waiting to see what it can deliver, the wait certainly has been long. But a the wide end it has less wide-angle than most current phones. It has a smaller aperture. And the sensor, is pretty standard. So don't expect it to be the best cameraphone ever made. The Panasonic CM1, seems to have a lot of dynamic in the sensor compared to other mobiles, if you use RAW. It probably is also the mobile with highest actual captured detail amount (captured resolution). It has even less wide-angle than this one. It's not the most pocket friendly phone either. And as a smartphone, it's way behind, but priced like a flagship.

2. ABC_123

Posts: 49; Member since: Jul 11, 2014

Did they make some changes on the front?

3. kent-gaga

Posts: 609; Member since: Apr 10, 2012

i dont think this phone's ever going to be on the market

8. JonHolstein

Posts: 43; Member since: Aug 20, 2015

I kinda get that feeling as well. But if it means that they develop the whole thing in to something better, I would just be glad if they cancelled it. That screen to surface ratio, is really bad for a device this big. And it doesnt have large front stereo speakers or anything, Also higher res display would be nice. And I would like updated looks. A round large hump around the camera, that has no reason to be round. And the optics are off center too (that is due to the zoom inside, but if you are going to make the hump round, the optics should at least be centered. It makes it look like a device that is pretending to have a good camera, when it really doesn't. And this should have a pretty good camera, so the looks really doesn't match.

4. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

no information update from january, and its getting old now.. they need to use 2k display and 23MP sensor from sony.

7. JonHolstein

Posts: 43; Member since: Aug 20, 2015

I however strongly doubt that the actual captured resolution from the Z5, will be anywhere near 23MP. Not that I think this would actually capture 13MP of details, either. But the Sony sensor just has too many pixels for todays mobile tech, neither optics, nor sensorperformance can live up to it. And low light photography would have been better, with bigger pixels. The Sony sensor is bigger than this used by Asus, so if they wanted to fit that inside, they would have needed to make the device even bigger. Higher resolution display, I would agree... in a camera centric device, it's nice to be able to see as much details as possible, without zooming. It also needs much less bezels. I mean my K Zoom has about the same front/display ratio, and that is a much smaller devices, generally those are worse in that term. This one is just too clunky.

5. BOS74

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Sony's new 23MP shooter has 5x zoom. So the ZenFone Zoom = fail

6. JonHolstein

Posts: 43; Member since: Aug 20, 2015

It doesnt have optical zoom, and zooming 5 times on the 23MP Sony will mean you either end up wth much less than 13MP. Or you end up with a image that has heavy upscaling (with made up pixels).

10. Avenger337

Posts: 92; Member since: Apr 14, 2013

I liked that a lot zenfone zoom. The sensor optical zoom is the difference, very careful with him. I hope to see a comparison between the sensor hybrid approach Z5 against asus zoom.

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