Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe Review

Introduction


What defines a flagship smartphone? More times than not, a flagship handset is defined by an incredibly high price. Devices such as Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S series are flagship product lines, and as such, they carry price tags of $600 and up. However, as recent times have shown, a flagship smartphone for a company doesn’t necessarily need to carry an enormous sticker price.

OnePlus first shook the industry in 2014 with the announcement of the OnePlus One - a smartphone with flagship specifications for a much cheaper price. This created for somewhat of an explosion in the smartphone industry, as we’ve been increasingly seeing more and more ‘flagship’ smartphones that cost less than similar products we’ve seen in the past.

The ZenFone 3 Deluxe is currently the highest-end smartphone that Asus is selling, resulting in it being the company’s flagship. The ZenFone 3 Deluxe has a lot to offer at a cost that’s very competitive when compared to similarly-speced devices, but does it bring enough to the table, or does it fall flat?

In the box
  • Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe
  • ZenEar earbuds
  • USB A to UBS C charging cable
  • AC adapter
  • Warranty and safety information

Design

A sophisticated and well thought-out design

On the design side of things, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is a very sophisticated and attractive slab of metal. The width of just 7.5-millimeters and weight of 170-grams keep the _phone_ both lightweight and thin, but not too much so that it feels cheaply made. The rounded corners both look and feel fantastic, and the metal finish on the top and bottom bezels around the screen display a circular pattern that looks quite stunning under the right lighting conditions.

Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe Review
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe Review
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe Review

Along with its good looks, the Deluxe’s hardware is also insanely well-built and thought out. The volume rocker and power/lock button on the right hand side are both incredibly tactile and feel great to press, the capacitive buttons on the front light up when pressed, and the fingerprint sensor on the back of the _phone_ features the same rectangular shape that’s seen with the flash and laser-assisted autofocus systems that flank the square-shaped camera.

That fingerprint sensor is a great addition to have, but it’s something that we’ve really come to expect with a phone in this price range. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that well. I often found that I needed to place my finger perfectly in the middle of the sensor in order for it to work, as having my fingerprint scanned at even a slight angle would prompt me with a message on the screen saying that the Deluxe couldn’t get an accurate reading. The sensor is incredibly fast when it works, but it fails more times than it should – especially for phone that’s being touted as Asus’s top-notch offering.

 

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Front view | Side view
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe
6.16 x 3.05 x 0.3 inches
156.4 x 77.4 x 7.5 mm
6.00 oz (170 g)

Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe

Asus ZenFone 3 Laser
Asus ZenFone 3 Laser
5.87 x 2.99 x 0.31 inches
149 x 76 x 7.9 mm
5.29 oz (150 g)

Asus ZenFone 3 Laser

OnePlus 3
OnePlus 3
6.01 x 2.94 x 0.29 inches
152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

OnePlus 3

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches
150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm
5.54 oz (157 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge



Display

The display isn’t necessarily bad, but we were expecting more from Asus’s cream of the crop

The front of the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is where you’ll find the handset’s massive 5.7-inch screen. Along with its beefy size, you’re also getting a Super AMOLED panel with a resolution of 1080 x 1920. The display as a whole looks fine and should get the job done for most people, but it’s definitely not the best we’ve ever seen either.

Colors are nice and bright thanks to the high-contrast nature of AMOLED technology, but they aren’t always the most accurate. The screen does a good job at getting very bright when faced with direct sunlight or other light sources, but the overall quality feels a bit lacking at times, mostly due to slightly colder than needed colors.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 494
(Good)
3
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7559
(Average)
2.4
2.76
(Good)
5.78
(Average)
OnePlus 3 409
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
8280
(Poor)
2.08
7.42
(Average)
6.84
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 493
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6586
(Excellent)
2.03
1.47
(Excellent)
2.62
(Good)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all

Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe Review

Introduction


What defines a flagship smartphone? More times than not, a flagship handset is defined by an incredibly high price. Devices such as Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S series are flagship product lines, and as such, they carry price tags of $600 and up. However, as recent times have shown, a flagship smartphone for a company doesn’t necessarily need to carry an enormous sticker price.

OnePlus first shook the industry in 2014 with the announcement of the OnePlus One - a smartphone with flagship specifications for a much cheaper price. This created for somewhat of an explosion in the smartphone industry, as we’ve been increasingly seeing more and more ‘flagship’ smartphones that cost less than similar products we’ve seen in the past.

The ZenFone 3 Deluxe is currently the highest-end smartphone that Asus is selling, resulting in it being the company’s flagship. The ZenFone 3 Deluxe has a lot to offer at a cost that’s very competitive when compared to similarly-speced devices, but does it bring enough to the table, or does it fall flat?

In the box
  • Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe
  • ZenEar earbuds
  • USB A to UBS C charging cable
  • AC adapter
  • Warranty and safety information

Design

A sophisticated and well thought-out design

On the design side of things, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is a very sophisticated and attractive slab of metal. The width of just 7.5-millimeters and weight of 170-grams keep the phone both lightweight and thin, but not too much so that it feels cheaply made. The rounded corners both look and feel fantastic, and the metal finish on the top and bottom bezels around the screen display a circular pattern that looks quite stunning under the right lighting conditions.

Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe Review
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe Review
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe Review

Along with its good looks, the Deluxe’s hardware is also insanely well-built and thought out. The volume rocker and power/lock button on the right hand side are both incredibly tactile and feel great to press, the capacitive buttons on the front light up when pressed, and the fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone features the same rectangular shape that’s seen with the flash and laser-assisted autofocus systems that flank the square-shaped camera.

That fingerprint sensor is a great addition to have, but it’s something that we’ve really come to expect with a phone in this price range. And, unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that well. I often found that I needed to place my finger perfectly in the middle of the sensor in order for it to work, as having my fingerprint scanned at even a slight angle would prompt me with a message on the screen saying that the Deluxe couldn’t get an accurate reading. The sensor is incredibly fast when it works, but it fails more times than it should – especially for phone that’s being touted as Asus’s top-notch offering.


Front view | Side view
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe
6.16 x 3.05 x 0.3 inches
156.4 x 77.4 x 7.5 mm
6.00 oz (170 g)

Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe

Asus ZenFone 3 Laser
Asus ZenFone 3 Laser
5.87 x 2.99 x 0.31 inches
149 x 76 x 7.9 mm
5.29 oz (150 g)

Asus ZenFone 3 Laser

OnePlus 3
OnePlus 3
6.01 x 2.94 x 0.29 inches
152.7 x 74.7 x 7.35 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

OnePlus 3

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
5.94 x 2.86 x 0.3 inches
150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm
5.54 oz (157 g)

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge



Display

The display isn’t necessarily bad, but we were expecting more from Asus’s cream of the crop

The front of the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is where you’ll find the handset’s massive 5.7-inch screen. Along with its beefy size, you’re also getting a Super AMOLED panel with a resolution of 1080 x 1920. The display as a whole looks fine and should get the job done for most people, but it’s definitely not the best we’ve ever seen either.

Colors are nice and bright thanks to the high-contrast nature of AMOLED technology, but they aren’t always the most accurate. The screen does a good job at getting very bright when faced with direct sunlight or other light sources, but the overall quality feels a bit lacking at times, mostly due to slightly colder than needed colors.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 494
(Good)
3
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7559
(Average)
2.4
2.76
(Good)
5.78
(Average)
OnePlus 3 409
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
8280
(Poor)
2.08
7.42
(Average)
6.84
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 493
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6586
(Excellent)
2.03
1.47
(Excellent)
2.62
(Good)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all

Interface and Functionality

Lots of added features help to even out a lackluster appearance

Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe Review

In regards to the software the Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe is running, you’ll find Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and Asus’s custom software experience. I’ve stated numerous times that I’m not the biggest fan of Asus’s take on Android, but the more I use it, the more I come to appreciate it for what it is.

Asus’s skin certainly isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but what it lacks here it makes up for in sheer functionality. Asus’s built-in launcher is one of the most customizable ones that you can get, offering the ability to customize the grid size of your app drawer and home screens, the option to completely get rid of the app drawer if you’d rather not deal with it, a complete theme engine, and so much more.

Processor and Performance

Plenty of horsepower

Packed inside of the Deluxe is the Snapdragon 821 processor and 6GB of RAM. That’s some serious power, and as such, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is absolute joy to use in regards to sheer performance. Never once did I find myself running into a hangup with the phone, and multitasking and graphically intense games all run like butter.

Running the Geekbench 4 test on the Deluxe, we got a single core score of 1490 and a multi-core reading of 3953. That puts the Deluxe on comparable performance levels with the Google Pixel XL, and in other words, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe should be able to handle pretty much anything that you throw at it.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 139735
Asus ZenFone 3 Laser 43722
OnePlus 3 140007.66
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 128191
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 3153
Asus ZenFone 3 Laser 1129
OnePlus 3 3678.66
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 3198
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 4413
Asus ZenFone 3 Laser 2144
OnePlus 3 4936.66
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 4840
JetStream
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 46.431
Asus ZenFone 3 Laser 21.347
OnePlus 3 46.685
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 60.315
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 59
Asus ZenFone 3 Laser 15
OnePlus 3 59
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 52
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 47
Asus ZenFone 3 Laser 6.9
OnePlus 3 30
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 28
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 2278
Asus ZenFone 3 Laser 289
OnePlus 3 2118
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 1761
Geekbench 4 single-core
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 1490
Asus ZenFone 3 Laser 636
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 1857
Geekbench 4 multi-core
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 3953
Asus ZenFone 3 Laser 1903
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 5569
View all

Connectivity


As for the ZenFone 3 Deluxe’s connectivity options, you’ve got quite a lot of solid options to play around with. For staters, the ZenFone 3’s GSM bands mean that it’ll work on AT&T and T-Mobile for calls/texts and LTE data. What’s unique here is the fact that the Deluxe features Asus’s very own PureMetal technology. Unlike most other smartphones that feature a metal design, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe doesn’t have any visible antenna bands anywhere on its body. This isn’t a huge deal, but it does make the phone look more refined and polished when compared to competing offerings.

When connecting to AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks, you’ll equip your SIM card in the tray that’s present on the left side of the phone. Similar to many other phones we’ve been seeing lately, the SIM tray on the Deluxe allows you to add either two SIM cards or one SIM card and a microSD card to expand on the included 64GB of on-board storage.

Something else that’s great to see here is the addition of USB Type-C. USB-C is one of the most versatile and powerful ports that currently exist in the consumer market, and along with all of that power, the reversible nature of the port makes plugging in and charging the phone much more convenient.

Cameras

Lots of megapixels to play around with

Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe Review

Taking a look at the camera package that’s present here, the Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe delivers a 23MP camera on the back and an 8MP selfie-camera. There’s not much going on with the selfie cam, but Asus packed in quite a bit of tech with the rear-facing shooter. Along with the high megapixel count, you’re also scoring laser-assisted and phase detection autofocus, a Sony IMX813 sensor, f/2.0 aperture, optical image stabilization, and a layer of sapphire over the camera to securely protect it from the real world.

Asus’s camera app, just like the rest of its Android skin, offers a lot of functionality but won’t win any awards for its looks. You’ve got your standard array of manual shooting controls, beauty mode for capturing the perfect selfie, the ability to stitch together multiple shots for a single 92MP image, and a ton more. Most folks probably won’t mess around with everything that Asus has included here, but it’s nice to know that it’s there if you ever want to tinker with it.

Image Quality

Photos look good, just make sure you don't turn the lights down too much

With all of that tech packed inside of the rear-camera, how does it perform in real world use? Images taken with ample lighting can turn out looking very, very good. That 23MP resolution helps to capture quite a lot of detail, and the IMX813 sensor allows you to get some nice portrait/bokeh shots even when shooting on normal auto mode. The sensor does have some trouble balancing out highlights at times, and shooting in dimly-lit areas will cause you to lose a bit of detail and see some digital noise. There’s definitely a lot to like with photos that the ZenFone 3 Deluxe captures in well-lit scenarios, but it still falls a bit flat when compared to more refined camera like the Galaxy S7 or iPhone 7.

As for the front-facing camera, I really don’t have anything to complain about here. The 8MP resolution allows you to capture a good bit of detail, and the wide-angle lens is also a very-welcome touch.

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 Deluxe 2.1
2.8
No data
No data
OnePlus 3 1.7
2.2
682
688
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 1.5
1.6
283
261
View all

Video Quality

1080p @ 60 FPS and 4K when you want your videos to look extra crispy

When it comes to shooting video on the ZenFone 3 Deluxe, you can choose to record in 1080p at 30 or 60 FPS and 4K at 30 FPS. Being able to capture 4K video is a great feature to have, and while the overall quality is pretty decent, there's a bit of noticeable motion blur occurring when moving the camera around. The Deluxe is also often slow to recapture focus and adjust for bright white highlights (such as the sky on a cloudy day).

Multimedia

A loud, yet soulless external speaker

The screen on the ZenFone 3 Deluxe, although not the most impressive panel around, should still prove a worthy component for playing games and watching your favorite shows. However, how does the display work in conjunction with the Deluxe’s speaker setup?

Externally, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe does manage to sound fairly loud. However, the mono speaker that’s present on the bottom side of the phone delivers ho-hum quality.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 0.21
OnePlus 3 0.82
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 0.707
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 74.9
OnePlus 3 74
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 72.9
View all

Battery

Fast recharge times are the only saving grace for offensively weak battery performance

Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe Review

Powering the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is a 3,000 mAh battery, and paired with a Full HD panel, I was expecting to get some really solid usage time with the phone. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case at all. In my personal experience, I barely made it to 9:20 PM after first turning the phone on around 6:30 AM that morning. This included 3 hours and 44 minutes of screen on time, and compared to the 5 hours and 13 minutes of SOT I got out of the ZenFone 3 Laser, this resulted in a lot of disappointment.

On our battery test, the Zenfone 3 Deluxe scored 5 hours 26 mins, which is on the lower end of the ranking.

You do have access to QuickCharge 3.0 technology when it comes to topping up the Deluxe, and going from 0 to 100% took just 84 minutes. That’s some seriously fast speed right there, and it helps to alleviate some of the pain you’ll feel from the lackluster endurance of the phone.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 5h 27 min (Poor)
OnePlus 3 5h 53 min (Average)
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 7h 18 min (Good)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe 84
Asus ZenFone 3 Laser 205
OnePlus 3 74
Samsung Galaxy S7 edge 99
View all

Conclusion

The ZenFone 3 Deluxe is a good purchase in a bubble, but that isn’t the case here

Overall, Asus has crafted a very good smartphone with the ZenFone 3 Deluxe. Here we have a phone with an all-aluminum construction, decent display, an extremely fast processing package, good cameras, 64GB of expandable storage, and a ton more for just $499 completely unlocked.

In a bubble, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is a fantastic purchase. Unfortunately for the phone though, that isn’t the case. The sub $500 price range is extremely competitive right now, and because of that, a few small issues here and there can make or break one’s decision to purchase a phone.

Weak battery life, an unattractive software skin, and wonky fingerprint sensor wouldn’t be enough to have us outright advise against purchasing the phone if it stood alone in this price bracket, but that isn't the case.

Not only that, but Asus’s own ZenFone 3 Laser features a similar design, exact same screen resolution, and considerably better battery life for just $200 – that’s $300 less than what Asus is asking for the Deluxe.

Add all of that together, and it becomes increasingly more difficult to advise that you go out and purchase this handset. There are some very strong pros that the ZenFone 3 Deluxe has going for it, but the various cons it also brings to the table - coupled with all of the competition it’s currently facing - make this a purchase that I would advise against. I do think that you’d enjoy the ZenFone 3 Deluxe if you made the decision to buy it, but you cannot ignore the fact that you can simply make smarter use of your money if you’re looking to buy a new sub $500 smartphone.