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Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Review

Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom

Posted: , by Stephen S. Stephen S.




Annoying software hurts what could otherwise be a really satisfying camera

Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Review
Camera UI of the Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom - Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Review
Camera UI of the Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom - Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Review
Camera UI of the Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom - Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Review
Camera UI of the Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom - Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Review

Camera UI of the Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom

The ZenFone 3 Zoom wears its camera ambitions on its sleeve with that name, and indeed the phone's hardware is equipped to give you an optical zoom option: there's one 12-megapixel, optically stabilized main camera, and one 12MP telephoto lens that gives users an effective 2.3x zoom.

Asus also throws in tech like its “exclusive TriTech+ auto-focus system,” joining dual-pixel and laser-assisted auto-focus with a subject-tracking algorithm. Then there are claims of exceptional low-light performance, leveraging the main camera's OIS as well as its quite wide f/1.7 aperture. But talk is cheap; how does all this camera goodness actually perform?

Image quality

Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Review

Photos taken with the ZenFone 3 Zoom don't look too bad, not that we thought they would given the serious camera hardware present. Low-light quality isn't nearly as good as Asus is trying to convince us it is, and while serviceable, expect a fair amount of noise.

Maybe the more interesting story is what's going on with the camera software. On one hand, it offers a nice assortment of options, including a healthy mix of shooting modes. But we also have some serious concerns about the execution. Take the zoom mode, for instance: like you may be familiar with from other phones, there's a prominent 1.0x button you can tap to toggle to 2.3x mode – so far, so good.

But while those two are nice, optical options, you have to cycle through a 5.0x zoom mode to get back to 1.0x, and unlike the others, this one's software zoom – something purists would prefer to avoid. Worse still, quite often the camera gets confused about which mode it's in, and you may be seeing the 2.3x view, while the on-screen readout still says 1.0x. Ultimately, it gets the job done, but for a phone with its camera as its big selling point, we expected more polish.

Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom 2.52
Asus ZenFone AR 2.19
No data
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 2.1
No data
No data
OnePlus 5 1.1
View all

Video recording

On paper, the ZF3Z sounds like it should be well equipped for recording video, supporting resolutions up to 4K, and offering a mix of frame-rate and stabilization options. In reality, though, the experience doesn't quite live up to its promise.

Footage is a little on the dark side, and audio fidelity leaves something serious to be desired. But maybe the most confounding aspect of shooting video on the ZenFone 3 Zoom is that the camera doesn't adequately tap into its zoom-lens hardware.

While similarly outfitted smartphones let you toggle between wide-angle and telephoto cameras while recording, the ZF3Z doesn't let you jump between lenses in the middle of a video. You can choose the zoom mode you want in advance, or pinch-to-zoom for digital zoom, but the on-screen toggle to jump between 1.0x and 2.3x is not accessible while actively filming.


Forget software enhancements; just give us audio that naturally sounds good

The ZenFone 3 Zoom's speaker is suitably loud, though like a lot of other smartphone speakers it suffers from sub-par bass reproduction.

Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Review

Asus bundles a pair of headphones with a set of alternate tips, and plugging them into the phone automatically engages the DTS Headphone:X software. By default, that sounds really disappointing, with muddy, distant audio that lacks clarity and definition. That's the so-called “traditional” mode, and you also have access to some pseudo-3D positioning effects, as well as a “pure” setting, but even that left us seriously wanting.

Once again, we're looking at a phone that feels like it's leaning far too heavily on software fanciness when it would benefit much more from just some well-executed speaker and headset hardware.

Audio output

Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom 73.4
Asus ZenFone AR 82.6
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 74.9
OnePlus 5 77
View all

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Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom

Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom

OS: Android 7.1 6.0
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
Display5.5 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels (404 ppi) AMOLED
Camera12 megapixels
Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, Octa-core, 2000 MHz, ARM Cortex-A53 processor
Size6.07 x 3.03 x 0.31 inches
(154.3 x 77 x 7.99 mm)
6.00 oz  (170 g)

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