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Asus Zenfone Zoom Review

The Good

  • Impressive camera
  • Massive internal storage

The Bad

  • Unconfirmed for the UK
  • Middling design

Asus Zenfone Zoom Hands-On Review at IFA 2015: Smartphone makers have been trying to offer phones with DSLR-like capabilities for a while now and the Zenfone Zoom is Asus’ latest attempt. We went hands-on.

Design

For a company that has a history of plastic-heavy smartphone designs, the Zenfone Zoom feels like a nice departure. The body boasts a metal frame with a white and gold colourway or a black/gunmetal grey option if you prefer. The rounding along its edges and the breaks for the different antennas also give a decidedly iPhone-like feel, but overall it retains enough Asus DNA to remain individual.

Similarly to the Lumia 1020, the gubbins for the phone’s substantial camera tech reside behind a circular bump on the phone’s back, but even with the extra bulk, the device still only measures in a 5mm thick, making it the slimmest phone of its kind.

The use of physical capacitive keys below the display in place of on-screen buttons will pose a love/hate scenario for potential buyers, but overall the Zoom feels well built and rather sleek, hiding its heft fairly well.

Screen

The 5.5-inch Full HD IPS screen is understandably serviceable for the tasks at hand and the interface appears clear and vibrant, however we can’t help but wonder what a 2K display would have done when used in conjunction with the phone’s massive camera.

Asus Zenfone Zoom has a 5.5 inch Full HD IPS screen

Bezels aren’t too broad, but the white version highlights a black band around the display that’s a little unsightly, so be advised.

OS

In its current incarnation, the Zoom sports Asus’ own ZenUI running atop Android 5.0 Lollipop, but a Marshmallow upgrade is unquestionably in the works for the near future and its eventual arrival in new markets.

Asus Zenfone Zoom has Asus' own ZenUI running atop the Android 5.0 Lollipop OS

Asus uses its own custom iconography, which features a clean, modern look and a simple colour theme as well as colour-coded apps for familiarity and easy navigation between different functions.

Performance

With a large camera sensor, you’d expect large amounts of storage and Asus has delivered with both 64GB and 128GB versions, depending on your market, both of which are expandable by an extra 64GB microSD card too.

Asus Zenfone Zoom Performance

To ensure the camera experience is low-latency too, the engineers have clearly spent time adapting Android to play as fluidly as possible with the 64-bit, 2.3 GHz Intel Atom quad-core chip and a massive 4GB of RAM. As such expect solid performance during general navigation of the interface and when taking serious snaps, which should fire off in a mere 0.2 seconds.

Camera

The whole point of this is phone is that it boasts a substantial imaging experience on its sizeable behind. There’s a 5-megapixel front-facer should you find the desire to snap a quick selfie, but you’re really considering the Zoom for its 13-megapixel rear camera.

Asus Zenfone Zoom Camera

The module boasts OIS (optical image stabilisation), laser autofocus, a dual-LED Real Tone flash and a 10-element lens that accommodates its signature 3x optical zoom, ensuring photos don’t lose quality (unless you push into the realms of digital zoom which maxes out at 12x). The system also lends itself well to more serious macro shots and even at distance we were able to pick out fine detail on a toy teddy bear Asus had kindly left out for us to sample.

Verdict

We don’t yet know whether the Zenfone Zoom is destined for the UK, but the continued dialogue Asus strikes up with such a standout device makes us think that it wants to be considered a serious player in the space of high-end camera phones, much like Microsoft’s top Lumias and to a degree, rivals like LG’s G4 and Samsung’s Galaxy S6/S6 Edge and Edge+.

Asus Zenfone Zoom verdict

We’ve reached out to Asus for word on UK availability and they presently maintain course by stating that, ‘unfortunately not all ZenFone 2 varieties are currently unconfirmed for UK.’ We’ll keeping hoping though.

Specification

Screen size5.5-inches
Screen resolutionFull HD (1920x1080)
Weight185 grams
OSAndroid 5.0 Lollipop
Rear Camera13-megapixel w/ OIS, laser autofocus and dual LED flash
Front camera5-megapixel
Processor2.3GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580
Memory4GB RAM
Storage64GB/128GB. Expandable via microSD up to 64GB
4G LTEYes
Bonus features3x optical zoom

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