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Asus Zenfone 3 hands-on review: Style, substance and affordability

Asus Zenfone 3 hands-on review: Despite being unveiled earlier in the year, we thought we’d get some get some hands-on time with Zenfone 3 at IFA 2016, following rumours of a UK release.

Asus Zenfone 3: Specs at a glance

Screen size 5.5-inches
Screen resolution Full HD (1920x1080)
Weight 155 grams
OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow w/ ZenUI 3.0
Front camera 8-megapixel
Rear camera 16-megapixel w/ OIS, EIS, laser autofocus, PDAF, dual-tone LED flash
Processor 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
Memory 4GB RAM
Storage 32GB. Expandable via microSD up to 2TB
Battery 3000mAh non-removable w/ fast charging

Asus Zenfone 3: Hands-on review

Like the new ZenWatch 3 it looks as though Asus has placed a greater focus on materials and design with this year's mobile portfolio and the Zenfone 3 is the perfect example of this. It offers the same fit and finish as the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7, the Honor 8 and the myriad of other glass-backed flagships arriving in 2016.

On the front and back it sports pillowed 2.5D Gorilla Glass, covering a 5.5-inch display on the front and the company’s signature concentric circle Zen etched patterning on the back. It looks great against the light and feels pleasant to hold and swipe across.

Asus Zenfone 3 hands-on review: back

The 7.69mm thick aluminium frame features diamond-cut chamfers, whilst the inlaid hardware controls are lightly textured for tactile feedback. The Zenfone 3 is the first of Asus’ handsets to join the Type-C USB camp for added convenience and the SIM tray follows Huawei’s hybrid approach, accommodating two nanoSIM cards or a SIM card and a microSD card for expansion up to an impressive 2TB.

That 5.5-inch screen sports Full HD resolution and uses the company’s Super IPS+ technology, which in real-world use offers accurate colour reproduction, strong overall brightness (up to 600nits) and respectable viewing angles (there’s also a blue light filter).

Asus has opted for capacitive navigation keys below the display in place of on-screen buttons, which leaves more room for the company’s own ZenUI 3.0 (running atop Android 6.0) to take centre stage. The user experience is, as with previous iterations of the interface, exceptionally heavy, so steer clear or be prepared to install a launcher if you’re more a fan of stock Android.

The Zenfone 3 is the first of its family to integrate a fingerprint sensor for added security and convenience. It also happens to be positioned under an impressive new camera module – a 16-megapixel sensor protected by a sapphire crystal coating. It uses both optical image stabilisation (OIS) and electronic image stabilisation (EIS) as well as laser autofocus and phase detection (PDAF) to snap sharp images quickly. There’s also a dual-tone LED for low light environments and a large 8-megapixel front-facer backed up by a ton of shooting modes.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 2GHz octa-core processor is more of an upper-tier mid-range chipset on paper but offers plenty of performance in this instance, supported by 4GB of RAM and capable of doling out 4K video recording to the camera experience.

In the UK the Zenfone 3 is expected to launch with 32GB of storage, whilst other markets will be able to get ahold of a 64GB option, but expandability negates many of the shortcomings of the smaller capacity anyway.

There’s a fast-charging 3000mAh non-removable battery, which the company says will give you two hours of talk time from just five minutes charge. Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology should allow the Zenfone 3 to go from empty to 60 per cent in just under 40 minutes too.

What really makes the Zenfone 3 such an enticing offering, however, is its rumoured price, which is expected to hit the market between £260 and £290 later this year.

You can watch our hands-on review of the Asus Zenfone 3 right here:

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