Asus Zenfone 3 Series First Impression – An Ambitious Attempt

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Finally, Asus has launched its much awaited and talked about Zenfone 3 Series smartphones in India at its “Z3NEVOLUTION” event held in New Delhi. With this launch, Asus has tried to shed its ‘budget smartphone maker’ image and has tried to step up as a premium player.

Also read: Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime Frequently Asked Questions, Benchmark Scores, Pros and Cons

Asus witnessed decent success and consumer appreciation with its Zenfone 2 Series smartphones despite having a dud design. However, this time, Asus makes an audacious attempt to introduce a new design along with updated specs and modern elements like fingerprint sensor and USB type C port in its new smartphones. At the launch event we got to spend some time with Asus Zenfone 3, Zenfone 3 Deluxe and Zenfone Ultra and here are our first impressions of this new Zenfone 3 Series.

zenfone 3 lineup

Zenfone 3 Series Specifications and Features 

Model Asus Zenfone 3 Asus Zenfone 3 Ultra Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe
Display 5.5-inch/5.2 inch IPS+ LCD, Full HD, 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3 6.8-inch, Full HD 5.7-inch, Super AMOLED, Full HD, Gorilla Glass 4
Processor 2GHz Snapdragon 625 octa-core based on 14nm process with 506 GPU 1.2GHz Snapdragon 652 octa-core with 510 GPU 2GHz Snapdragon 820/Snapdragon 821 quad-core with 530 GPU
Internal Storage 32GB/64GB(expandable via microSD card) 64GB(expandable via microSD card) 64GB/256GB(expandable via microSD card)
Rear Camera 16MP, dual LED flash, Sony IMX318 sensor, f/2.0 aperture, 4-axis OIS, 3-axis EIS, Laser AF,PDAF,6P Largan lens 23MP, dual LED Flash, Sony IMX318 sensor, f/2.0 aperture, 4-axis OIS, 3-axis EIS, Laser AF 23MP,dual LED Flash, Sony IMX318 sensor/2.0 aperture,4-axis OIS,3-axis EIS
Front Camera 8MP, F/2.0 aperture 8MP,F/2.0 aperture 8 MP,F/2.0 aperture
Software Android marshmallow based Zen UI 3.0 Android Marshmallow based Zen UI 3.0 Android marshmallow based Zen UI 3.0
Battery 3000 mAh 4600 mAh, Quick Charge 3.0 3000 mAh, Quick Charge 3.0, Boost Master Fast Charging
Others 4G LTE, Fingerprint sensor, dual SIM (Hybrid) 4G LTE, Fingerprint sensor, dual SIM (Hybrid) 4G LTE, fingerprint sensor, Dual SIM(Hybrid)
Price 5.5 inch-27,999 INR and 5.2 inch 21,999 INR 49,999 INR S820 SoC-49,999 INR and S821 Soc-62,999 INR

Much-Needed Design Revamp

As it is evident from the images, Asus for its Zenfone 3 Series has gone back to the sketch board and has come up with a new refreshing design. Asus bid adieus to plastic construnction and embraces metal and glass. All three of them come with a full-metal design. The Zenfone 3 bears a 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and rear surfaces.

Asus Zenfone 3 (25)

The front is dominated by a 5.2/5.5-inch full HD IPS display. It features its concentric circle pattern at the back which adds to aesthetics. On the sides, it has a metal frame which is 6.16mm slim and rounded for better grip. There is a primary camera with a slight hump, laser autofocus, dual-tone LED flash and a vertical oval shape fingerprint scanner set at the back with close proximity to each other.

Asus Zenfone 3 (27)

The most premium of the lot is Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe that gets a sandblasted aluminum alloy outfit with chamfered edges. The company proudly states that there is no visible antenna in Zenfone 3 Deluxe. It comes with a 5.7-inch Super-AMOLED full HD display layered with a Corning Gorilla Glass 4 up front. The edges are well rounded and the curved back ensures a firm grip. Overall, it not just looks premium, but also feels premium when held in hands.

Asus Zenfone 3 (11)

Design wise, the Zenfone 3 Ultra is more or less a scaled variant of Zenfone 3 Deluxe. This one too sticks to the invisible antenna design and has a body cut out of sandblasted aluminum alloy. However, since it has a near-tablet 6.8-inch IPS full HD display, using it with one hand is almost next to impossible. In Zenfone 3 Ultra, Asus has thoughtfully embedded fingerprint sensor in the home button at the front.

Finally Asus Meets Qualcomm

With Intel wrapping up its mobile chipset business, Asus had to look beyond Intel and, finally it has embraced Qualcomm for the new Zenfone 3 Series. All of them are now powered by Qualcomm’s new line of Snapdragon chipsets. The top of the line Zenfone 3 Deluxe gets the flagship chipset Snapdragon 820/821 (depending upon the variant) coupled with 6GB RAM and 256GB ROM. On the other hand, the Zenfone 3 has to settle with octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, 3GB/4GB RAM, and 32GB/64GB storage. The Zenfone Ultra is powered by Snapdragon 652 chipset coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB ROM.

Asus Zenfone 3 (6)

Slightly Streamlined UI

With the Zenfone 3 series smartphones come running on ZenUI 3.0 which is running on Android Marshmallow 6.0. During the hands-on experience, ZenUI 3.0 felt a lot more refined. There was no visible lag in UI transitions.Asus Zenfone 3 (7)

Asus has cut down on the bloatware apps and focused on offering a better user experience. It comes loaded with new theme store and new features.  We look forward to spending some more time with ZenUI 3.0.

Power packed Camera (at least on paper)

Asus has been promoting camera as one of the highlights of Zenfone 3 Series smartphones. The Zenfone 3 Deluxe and Zenfone 3 Ultra both features a 23-megapixel primary camera with Sony IMX 318 sensor, 4-axis optical Image stabilization and electronic image stabilization. On the other hand, The Zenfone 3 boasts a 16-megapixel rear camera with Sony sensor, laser auto-focus, and 4-axis optical Image stabilization. All of them features an 8-megapixel front facing cameras and Asus’s proprietary PixelMaster 3.0 technology.

Asus Zenfone 3 (18)

The Camera app is more or less similar to what we have experienced on Zenfone Zoom and offers tons of options along with a ‘pro mode’ for photography enthusiasts. In out limited hands on, camera off three new Zenfones gave us the glimpse of its capabilities as all of them were quick to lock focus even in low light.  The first impression of Zenfone 3 Series camera has been positive but we reserve our verdict till we get to play explore more with camera in different lighting conditions.

Asus Zenfone 3 (17)


Ever since, its debut at Computex 2016, the Zenfone 3 series has been making headlines all over the world and for all the right reasons. The Zenfone 3 Series smartphones do brings a lot to the table but do they really justify the price tag…well…I am not sure at this time point of time. We will know for sure after our full review.

Deepak RajawatDeepak Rajawat
Experienced technology journalist with over 7-years of experience. Before embracing online journalism, he has worked with several legacy publications including print editions at Hindustan Times and The Statesman. He also has a keen interest in Sports, which he used to cover with equal enthusiasm in his early career.

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