My first encounter with the ZenFone Zoom was just last month at the Sinulog Festival in Cebu, which helped set expectations for what this camera-centric smartphone can do. But spending just a couple of hours with it won’t help me form a proper impression of this smartphone. Now, we’ve been handed a unit to spend more quality time with. You can expect a longer review from me in the near future but for now, let’s just try to dissect the ASUS ZenFone Zoom.
The ZenFone Zoom veers away from plastic to give this smartphone a more high-end feel. ASUS takes its cue from LG and wraps the device’s back with burnished leather. It adds a nice texture to it and somehow gives a better grip but it does have a slight plastic feel to it still. It provides a contrast as well with the metal frame. The Zoom isn’t exactly slim at around 12mm but it needs to be that way to house that 3X HOYA lens at the back. And unlike other camera-centric phones, this can be considered rather slim (ASUS claims it’s the world’s thinnest optical zoom smartphone). Even with its optical zoom capabilities, the lens doesn’t jut out of the back of the device. You could be zooming in on something and no one would be the wiser.
Looking at it from behind you would think I was lugging around a camera, especially since you can even attach a leather strap to it to keep the device secure on your wrist. It’s a good thing the lens is recessed into the back cover, too, lessening the likelihood of scratching the lens when you put the phone down on its back.
And yes, the Zoom is still a phone. When you turn it over, you see the familiar shape and look of a ZenFone device. Unlike the old ZenFone 2 and its ilk the power button and volume rocker that also doubles as the zoom toggle are no longer at the back of the device. These are now relegated to the right side along with a dedicated camera button and video recorder button. The 3.5mm audio port is on top and the microUSB port is at the bottom. There are mics at the top and bottom of the device.
You can open the back of the device with a bit of difficulty (it doesn’t pry off easily) to put in your SIM and microSD card. But no, it doesn’t look like you can replace the battery.
When you power on the device, you are greeted by the familiar ASUS ZenUI interface, which is unfortunately littered with tons of bloatware still. You can uninstall these but I don’t appreciate the extra step.
Running on a 64-bit Intel Atom Z3590 2.5GHz quad-core processor, Android 5.0 Lollipop, and 4GB of RAM you get a smooth experience from the get-go. There are no heating issues so far even when used for continuous shooting. I have to see though how it’ll be once I use it more. So far, I have no complaints.
Of course, the main focus of this device is its camera. You also get the familiar ASUS camera app with loads of features to tinker around with. If you loved tinkering with your camera’s settings, you’ll like playing around with this device. You have a Manual mode to fully customize your images and videos (except video recording doesn’t give you the ability to tinker with shutter speed), but if that isn’t your cup of tea, you can also just opt to use the preset settings.
I’d have to spend amount of time with the ZenFone Zoom to get more out of it. But I still think we’re getting off on the right foot.
Here’s a quick rundown of the specs:
ASUS ZenFone Zoom
|Display||5.5" Full HD IPS with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection & anti-fingerprint coating (1,920 x 1,080 resolution, 403ppi)|
|Operating system||Android 5.0 Lollipop with ASUS ZenUI|
|Processor||64-bit Intel Atom Z3590 2.5GHz quad-core|
|Storage||128GB internal, expandable up to 128GB via microSD|
|Connectivity & I/O ports||GSM/GPRS/EDGE; WCDMA/HSPA+/DC-HSPA+; FDD-LTE; Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0; 3.5mm audio jack; GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS|
|Battery||Non-removable Li-Po 3,000mAh|
|Dimensions & weight||158.9 x 78.84 x 11.95~5mm, 185g|
The ASUS ZenFone Zoom retails for P26,995.