Asus Zenfone Zoom Review

Introduction


Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus has found its niche in the mid-range segment, as opposed to trying to duke it out with the elites in the high-end space. From the looks of it, though, it's working out for the company, at least for the most part. Its Asus ZenFone 2, for instance, proved to be a rousing success, spurring countless variants in the process.

Now, a full year after its initial announcement, another ZenFone model is here in the flesh. The Asus ZenFone Zoom, as it is called, sports optical zoom with its camera – a feature that's few and far between in phones. Knowing that, the handset's aim is to specialize in photography, but is adding optical zoom adequate in defining it as a supreme camera phone?

The package contains:

  • Asus ZenFone Zoom
  • Wall Charger
  • microUSB cable
  • Lanyard
  • User guide

Design

Even with the internal camera gear, it's able to retain an impressively slim profile.

While we weren't particularly won over by the ZenFone 2's design, the ZenFone Zoom presents us with a slightly more refined look. From the front, it looks like all the other ZenFone 2 variants, but there's a dramatic shift everywhere else.

For starters, the Zoom features an aerospace-grade alloy trim that closely resembles the iPhone, adding a sense of strength and durability to its construction. And the rear employs a genuine leather finish with a raised stitching pattern on one side to mimic the look of a subtle handle.

Clearly, there's far more attention paid to every aspect of the phone's design, ensuring it doesn't go unnoticed. It's a bit of a top-heavy device, actually, and the raised area for its camera compartment makes holding it in the hand feel a bit unusual, as if we're accidentally touching the lens, but we suppose that one becomes used to that over time.

Catering as best it can in being a camera-centric device, the ZenFone Zoom comes with a practical set of buttons along its right edge. Specifically, it features a dedicated two-level shutter key, a tiny button strictly for video recording, and its volume controls adjust the zoom function within the camera interface. There's even a small nook along the right corner of the _phone_ to accommodate the included lanyard as well, showing us once again it's doing its best in being a capable camera phone.

 

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Front view | Side view
Asus ZenFone Zoom
Asus ZenFone Zoom
6.26 x 3.1 x 0.47 inches
158.9 x 78.84 x 11.95 mm
6.53 oz (185 g)

Asus ZenFone Zoom

Asus ZenFone 2
Asus ZenFone 2
6 x 3.04 x 0.43 inches
152.5 x 77.2 x 10.9 mm
6.00 oz (170 g)

Asus ZenFone 2

Samsung Galaxy K zoom
Samsung Galaxy K zoom
5.41 x 2.79 x 0.65 inches
137.5 x 70.8 x 16.6 mm
7.05 oz (200 g)

Samsung Galaxy K zoom

Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
5.13 x 2.81 x 0.41 inches
130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

Nokia Lumia 1020



Asus Zenfone Zoom Review

Display

By now, the display is beginning to come off as boring.

Sharing ties to the existing ZenFone line, it's no surprise that the Asus ZenFone Zoom is rocking the same 5.5-inch 1080 x 1920 IPS-LCD, protected by Gorilla Glass 4 this time. At the same time, there are no major changes with its quality. The display exhibits nearly the same characteristics as those on recent ZenFone models. From its detail, 440 nit brightness output, and overblown color reproduction, it's almost identical. Strangely, though, its color temperature runs extremely cold at ~9000K, which is a huge disparity from the 7200K – 7600K ranges we saw with the other phones in the series.

Generally speaking, the qualities of the display paint a modest picture. It's not really as exciting or attractive looking compared to other screens. In fact, it tends to appear a bit washed out at times, even when it's set to its highest brightness level.

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 2 442
(Good)
28
(Poor)
1:1336
(Excellent)
7622
(Average)
2.8
6.44
(Average)
6.16
(Average)
Asus ZenFone Zoom 440
(Good)
55
(Poor)
1:1296
(Excellent)
9082
(Poor)
2.68
6.21
(Average)
8.77
(Poor)
Nokia Lumia 1020 317
(Average)
15
(Poor)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6692
(Excellent)
2.06
4.26
(Average)
3.54
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 294
(Poor)
4
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
8397
(Poor)
2.03
6.93
(Average)
7.8
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Nokia Lumia 1020 50.8%
80%
unmeasurable
18.6%
0%
85.9%
273.7%
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 60.2%
75%
unmeasurable
10.6%
2%
37.2%
27.7%
Asus ZenFone 2 73.5%
71.4%
72%
19%
10%
3.4%
16.4%
Asus ZenFone Zoom 75.5%
96.4%
67.3%
20.4%
1.9%
30.8%
13.1%
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.

This 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.

This 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.

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

View all


Asus Zenfone Zoom Review

Introduction


Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus has found its niche in the mid-range segment, as opposed to trying to duke it out with the elites in the high-end space. From the looks of it, though, it's working out for the company, at least for the most part. Its Asus ZenFone 2, for instance, proved to be a rousing success, spurring countless variants in the process.

Now, a full year after its initial announcement, another ZenFone model is here in the flesh. The Asus ZenFone Zoom, as it is called, sports optical zoom with its camera – a feature that's few and far between in phones. Knowing that, the handset's aim is to specialize in photography, but is adding optical zoom adequate in defining it as a supreme camera phone?

The package contains:

  • Asus ZenFone Zoom
  • Wall Charger
  • microUSB cable
  • Lanyard
  • User guide

Design

Even with the internal camera gear, it's able to retain an impressively slim profile.

While we weren't particularly won over by the ZenFone 2's design, the ZenFone Zoom presents us with a slightly more refined look. From the front, it looks like all the other ZenFone 2 variants, but there's a dramatic shift everywhere else.

For starters, the Zoom features an aerospace-grade alloy trim that closely resembles the iPhone, adding a sense of strength and durability to its construction. And the rear employs a genuine leather finish with a raised stitching pattern on one side to mimic the look of a subtle handle.

Clearly, there's far more attention paid to every aspect of the phone's design, ensuring it doesn't go unnoticed. It's a bit of a top-heavy device, actually, and the raised area for its camera compartment makes holding it in the hand feel a bit unusual, as if we're accidentally touching the lens, but we suppose that one becomes used to that over time.

Catering as best it can in being a camera-centric device, the ZenFone Zoom comes with a practical set of buttons along its right edge. Specifically, it features a dedicated two-level shutter key, a tiny button strictly for video recording, and its volume controls adjust the zoom function within the camera interface. There's even a small nook along the right corner of the _phone_ to accommodate the included lanyard as well, showing us once again it's doing its best in being a capable camera phone.


Front view | Side view
Asus ZenFone Zoom
Asus ZenFone Zoom
6.26 x 3.1 x 0.47 inches
158.9 x 78.84 x 11.95 mm
6.53 oz (185 g)

Asus ZenFone Zoom

Asus ZenFone 2
Asus ZenFone 2
6 x 3.04 x 0.43 inches
152.5 x 77.2 x 10.9 mm
6.00 oz (170 g)

Asus ZenFone 2

Samsung Galaxy K zoom
Samsung Galaxy K zoom
5.41 x 2.79 x 0.65 inches
137.5 x 70.8 x 16.6 mm
7.05 oz (200 g)

Samsung Galaxy K zoom

Nokia Lumia 1020
Nokia Lumia 1020
5.13 x 2.81 x 0.41 inches
130.4 x 71.4 x 10.4 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

Nokia Lumia 1020



Asus Zenfone Zoom Review

Display

By now, the display is beginning to come off as boring.

Sharing ties to the existing ZenFone line, it's no surprise that the Asus ZenFone Zoom is rocking the same 5.5-inch 1080 x 1920 IPS-LCD, protected by Gorilla Glass 4 this time. At the same time, there are no major changes with its quality. The display exhibits nearly the same characteristics as those on recent ZenFone models. From its detail, 440 nit brightness output, and overblown color reproduction, it's almost identical. Strangely, though, its color temperature runs extremely cold at ~9000K, which is a huge disparity from the 7200K – 7600K ranges we saw with the other phones in the series.

Generally speaking, the qualities of the display paint a modest picture. It's not really as exciting or attractive looking compared to other screens. In fact, it tends to appear a bit washed out at times, even when it's set to its highest brightness level.

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 2 442
(Good)
28
(Poor)
1:1336
(Excellent)
7622
(Average)
2.8
6.44
(Average)
6.16
(Average)
Asus ZenFone Zoom 440
(Good)
55
(Poor)
1:1296
(Excellent)
9082
(Poor)
2.68
6.21
(Average)
8.77
(Poor)
Nokia Lumia 1020 317
(Average)
15
(Poor)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6692
(Excellent)
2.06
4.26
(Average)
3.54
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 294
(Poor)
4
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
8397
(Poor)
2.03
6.93
(Average)
7.8
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Nokia Lumia 1020 50.8%
80%
unmeasurable
18.6%
0%
85.9%
273.7%
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 60.2%
75%
unmeasurable
10.6%
2%
37.2%
27.7%
Asus ZenFone 2 73.5%
71.4%
72%
19%
10%
3.4%
16.4%
Asus ZenFone Zoom 75.5%
96.4%
67.3%
20.4%
1.9%
30.8%
13.1%
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.

This 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.

This 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.

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

View all


Interface and Functionality

Say hello to the same ZenUI experience we've handled countless times already.

Love it, or hate it, Asus' ZenUI running on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop comes with its perks. For being one regarded as a middle-of-the-road player, Asus invests a lot into its customized Android experience, which is rich with various features that can cater to users who crave for a balance between personalization and functionality. Well, to be frank, this is the same experience we've seen countless times already in the ZenFone line.

Sure, the visuals lean towards a cartoonish looking interface, but there's a sense of control because nearly everything can be customized – including the fonts, transition effects, and much more. Even better, if the default theme isn't to your liking, it can be swapped for any of the myriad in Asus' online store.

Functionally, ZenUI competes to the same degree as some other power-centric experiences, like Samsung and LG's custom skins, seeing that we have an abundance of tools and features at our disposal. On one hand, it's nice having such a comprehensive feature set, but it can come off as overcomplicated to some users.

System Performance

You'd think it'd get some upgrade, but it's the same hardware from before.

Strangely enough, the current ZenFone line doesn't necessarily have any allegiance to a particular chipmaker, flip-flopping between Qualcomm and Intel. However, for the Zoom, Asus goes back to where it started with the series – a quad-core 2.3GHz Intel Atom Z3580 processor accompanied with a generous 4GB of RAM and the PowerVR G6430 GPU. That's quite a wallop, and a testament to Intel's increasing presence, since it's equipped to produce buttery results with most operations.

Navigating across the interface is evident of that, but its performance is typical of most phones in its range. Even better, the PowerVR G6430 churns out favorable results with its graphics processing performance. In reality, though, what we see here in the Zoom is no different from the ZenFone 2 from almost a year ago, as they share the same internals.

Asus continues to show its generosity when it comes to internal storage, too, seeing that it's carrying around a 64GB capacity, which of course, can be supplemented by its microSD slot.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone Zoom 59386
Asus ZenFone 2 41442
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 32965
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone Zoom 1399
Asus ZenFone 2 1368
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 1305
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone Zoom 3294
Asus ZenFone 2 3407
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 2869
Sunspider
Lower is better
Asus ZenFone Zoom 731.6
Asus ZenFone 2 789.5
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 907.2
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone Zoom 26
Asus ZenFone 2 27.6
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 24.3
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone Zoom 12
Asus ZenFone 2 12.7
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 4.5
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone Zoom 1231
Asus ZenFone 2 1243
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 672
Geekbench 3 single-core
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone Zoom 911
Asus ZenFone 2 908
Geekbench 3 multi-core
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone Zoom 2910
Asus ZenFone 2 1938
View all


Camera

The 3x optical zoom gets us closer to the action, but there are no substantial improvements in image quality.

Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
There's no hiding the phone's camera-centric focus, evident in its main 13-megapixel rear camera sensor with its one-of-a-kind 10-element HOYA lens with 3X optical zoom. It's the culmination of everything Asus has fashioned together collectively in its ZenFone line, housing a Panasonic SmartFSI sensor, f/2.7 to f/4.8 aperture, OIS, laser auto-focus, and a dual-color Real Tone flash. As for the front-facing one, it's a wide-angle 5-megapixel sensor.

Beyond the hardware goodies, Asus has established one diverse camera shooting experience in its phones – and the Zoom capitalizes on that. Tons of shooting modes continue to exist with its experience, including a manual one that allows us to adjust many parameters on the fly, such as focus, ISO, white balance, and much more. You even get things like a histogram and gradienter, the kind of stuff reserved for standalone cameras.

Everything seems to point to the obvious here, but as we slowly try to uncover its potential, it dawns on us that it's not quite at the top of the game. Promising to be one of the ultimate shooters around, it beleaguers us that it doesn't come with 4K video recording or continuous focus. And while it offers some manual adjustments on the fly for video, the shutter speed isn't one of them.


Image Quality


We'll cut straight to the point: the quality of the photos taken with the ZenFone Zoom is acceptable, but won't blow you away. It's on par to what we've seen in the series, with the added bonus of 3x optical zoom to bring the subject closer. To that end, the camera composes defined snapshots with plenty of sharpness and overly warm color tones in the process. If you're a fan of artificiality, you'll find its HDR mode full of it – in how it boosts contrast, shadows, highlights, and color saturation.

While the ZenFone Zoom does decently for most situations, it comes with the same level of degradation under low light that we've seen in the series. Details are splotchy and softer looking, but noise is kept under wraps for the most part. There's a low-light mode specifically for this occasion, which downsizes the image to a 3-megapixel snapshot, but brightens up the shot to expose a little bit more details.

Again, the 3x optical zoom is appreciative, reducing the distance between us and our intended target. In looking at some of the samples, it's true that the optical zoom is able to produce more definition and sharpness, but in the back of our mind, we wish it were longer. Sure, there's only a subtle protrusion on the back of the phone caused by the internal gear, but the zoom is only a fraction of what we've seen in previous phones – like the Samsung Galaxy K zoom, which features a far more reaching 10x zoom.


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
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 3.8
9.3
329
308
Asus ZenFone Zoom 4
No data
404
345
Asus ZenFone 2 6.2
No data
354
230
Nokia Lumia 1020 10
No data
191
188
View all

Video Quality


Unfortunately, its video capture performance isn't as desirable. For starters, it really irks us that it peaks at 1080p resolution, as opposed to 4K UHD. Well, it doesn't stop there because it lacks continuous auto-focus, and stabilization is only available in 720p mode. All of this is an outcry, mainly because for something so camera-centric, it doesn't have the modern conveniences we get in other phones. Worst yet, its quality isn't nothing worth writing home about – like its jittery exposure adjustment and weaker details capture.

Yes, the built-in stabilization kicks in for 720p capture, but it casts this distracting wobbly, jello-like effect when panning. And on top of that, we wish that the optical zoom were a bit faster and less jerky looking, just to get really up close and personal.


Multimedia

Same old, same old.

Choosing between the Google Play Music app and Asus' own music player is completely going to be up to you, seeing that functionally, there's not much separating them – albeit, Google's music player sports a more visually appealing interface.

Three small slits on the back of the phone comprise its speaker grill, which musters up a decent 74 dB of audio power – besting the ZenFone 2 and Laser before it. Everything sounds pretty robust, even when it's at the loudest volume. Better yet, the AudioWizard tool offers some useful equalizer settings to better tune its quality.

Watching videos on its screen is a likeable experience, thanks in part to its sharpness, effortless playback, and some punchy colors to retain our attention. The only thing missing here is a multi-tasking implementation of some kind.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone Zoom 0.503
Nokia Lumia 1020 0.43
Asus ZenFone 2 0.428
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 0.42
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone Zoom 74
Nokia Lumia 1020 77
Asus ZenFone 2 72.7
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 75
View all


Call Quality

While it's not perfect, it still suffices.

Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
Much like its siblings that we've reviewed, the Zoom follows accordingly by providing a tolerable in-call experience. The earpiece, as well as the speakerphone, produce sufficient volume to help us discern voices, which tend to have a bit of a robotic tone to them. Likewise, the same is said by our callers on the other end of the line as well.

Battery

Average-like battery life performance, but still incredibly fast charging.

Asus Zenfone Zoom Review
In its attempt to retain a relatively slim figure, Asus decided to not increase the battery capacity for the Zoom, but rather employs the same 3000 mAh capacity one as its siblings. Due to this, its on-screen time in our custom battery test delivers the lowest time out of the bunch – an average 6 hours and 12 minutes. That equates to at least a full day of normal usage in our real-world experience, which is acceptable for most users, but won't be enough to satisfy power users.

We will, however, continue to give Asus credit because of its lightning fast recharge time of 99 minutes courtesy of its BoostMaster charging technology. It's still short of the ZenFone 2's record time of 58 minutes, but it's definitely in the top 10% of the class.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 2 7h 34 min (Good)
Asus ZenFone Zoom 6h 12 min (Average)
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 6h 6 min (Average)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Asus ZenFone 2 58
Asus ZenFone Zoom 99
Samsung Galaxy K zoom 120
View all

Conclusion


Asus established itself as a formidable competitor in the mid-range segment with the introduction and release of its ZenFone 2 last year. Since that time, they've diversified its ZenFone line with an assortment of variants – including this latest one in the ZenFone Zoom. Despite the camera-centric approach, the phone feels a bit underwhelming at the end of the day, partially because it is launching a whole year after its announcement.

But without question, we appreciate the meticulous approach to its design and the added versatility brought on by its 3x optical zoom. And with a sticker price of $399, it definitely has the appeal to lure consumers who don't want to spend a fortune on a decently performing smartphone.

Ultimately, few phones, would give you the convenience of 3x optical zoom, allowing you to get closer to a particular shot without sacrificing image detail. On the other hand, the overall quality of the photos produced by the ZenFone Zoom isn't a huge departure from what we've seen already in its previous phones. Add to that, its lack of some modern conveniences we get in many smartphones, such as 4K video recording, doesn't really suggest that it's the top-of-the-line phone for hardcore shutterbugs.

Software version of the review unit:
Android Version: 5.0
Build Number: LRX20V.WW
Kernel Version: 3.10.20-x86_64_moor-265563-gf55c12f




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