Asus Zenfone Zoom Hands-on and First Impressions

It's Here!

Like what I have said in my previous posts about the new smartphones Asus was releasing in the Philippines, I was one of the invited attendees to its official launch event that was just held at the Marriott Hotel in Cebu over the weekend. And like what most of the bloggers from different parts of the country had been expecting, Asus Philippines has officially launched the ZenFone Zoom and ZenFone Max in the local market.

The Asus ZenFone Zoom is the most talked about and the most anticipated Android smartphone in the local tech scene (even abroad) since its first official announcement back in 2015 during the Consumer Electronics Conference or CES in the US. A lof my friends and followers had always been asking me when this photography-centric device would really hit the Philippine market, and now it's here!


Tech, lifestyle and travel bloggers from across the Philippines were brought by Asus Philippines to the beautiful city of Cebu on January 16 and 17 to personally witness the arrival of the ZenFone Zoom and Max and also at the same time to have a first-hand experience of what the Zoom and Max have in store for Pinoy users, especially the ZenFone Zoom's camera prowess and to experience the Sinulog 2016 in completely different perspective. Check out the #SeeSinulogUpclose hashtag on Instagram and see photos captured using the Zenfone Zoom.

Now See the World Up-close

As you may have already know, the Asus Zenfone Zoom is armed with up to 3X Optical Zoom with 10-element HOYA-made lens making it the world's thinnest optical zoom smartphone coming in at just 12mm at the center and 5mm at its edges . Also, Optical Image Stabilization or OIS is in action with this device as well making sure your captures are much less shaky. Capture photos of your favorite scenery, food or your cat with highly exceptional clarity and close-ups with up to 12 times magnification - Pinoys users is now finally enabled to see the world up-close and with a DSLR-like experience in the palm of their hands through Zenfone Zoom.

In addition to the 3x optical zoom with OIS system, the newest Asus smartphone is also equipped with a 13MP main camera, just like the previous Zenfones that it followed, as well as Real-tone Flash for the best color accuracy of photos when shot with flash and the Laser Autofocus that works as fast as 0.03seconds.

What's so unique about this Zenfone Zoom is how Asus have rotated the lens mechanism to create a compact, intricately-calibrated periscope-style layout. And then partnered this mechanism with a Panasonic SmartFSI image sensor, the result enables the Zoom to capture more light and color. So whether a photo is captured in a naturally lit environment or in low light condition, the outcome is still well-detailed and more accurately colored images - something I have not seen in other smartphones around.

Moreover, Asus stuffed the Zenfone Zoom with a suite of camera-related features and modes to cater to your photography needs, there's Automatic, HDR, Beautification, Selfie, Miniature and even Manual mode. One of things I like is the Super Resolution as this allows me to capture images up to 52MP, best for very close up shots, like "foodtography".  See a screenshot below.

asus zenfone zoom

asus zenfone zoom 2
Manual Mode

Some Unexpected Changes

Upon seeing the Asus Zenfone Zoom in the flesh, there are a couple of things that have changed. Some buttons have been relocated and some are even completely new to the Zenfone device. I have been using Zenfone devices for months now, have seen every successor to the original Zenfone 2 in person, and after personally encountering the Zoom, it was very hard for me not to like and love it.

First off on the rear panel, unlike previous Zenfones, the Zoom no longer has buttons on the back. Just the camera, the three-slit speaker holes on lower left and its genuine leather-clad back cover with Asus branding, it is available in premium Pure Black or sleek Ceramic White. It's just beautiful.

So where did the buttons go? Looking at the next image below will give you the answer.

These keys are now located at the right edges of the device. To be honest, I like them there better than situated on the back right below the camera. The longest key up above is the volume rocker and it acts as a zoom-in-zoom-out key as well when the camera is fired up, maybe that's the reason why Asus moved it here on the side. The next button below it is the power/lock key, again that's the sweet spot for me as it is much easier for me to wake and sleep the phone with my right thumb (double tap to sleep and wake is still on this device in case you prefer it that way), I am just not sure how that goes with a left-handed user.

On the lower part of that same side is where the new additions are found, the camera and the video keys. Thankfully Asus decided to add a dedicated physical camera key on the Zenfone Zoom together with a tiny circular video switch button, this is something I have been wanting to see on a Zenfone since camera is one of the most-loved features of the series.

The camera key can be used to launch the Zenfone Zoom camera (obviously) even the phone is locked. To launch simply press and hold the button and it takes about a second or two to have the camera fully launched and ready to capture. Then just click once to capture a still. Now if you want to record a video, this is where that small and round key is gonna come in, press it once and the record will start. You can also use the on-screen camera/record buttons if you like.

Can you launch the camera ready to record video by just long pressing the physical video key? That, I was not able to think and try.

On the other side, nothing to be found but the smooth metallic finish frame.

Underneath is where you can find the microphone and the multi-functional microUSB port. OTG ready? Yes is the answer. Also on the left is something unique to this Zenfone Zoom where you can attach the Asus-branded real leather wrist strap to add security to the phone while you take your photos confidently and comfortably.

On my Asus Zenfone 2 and Laser, the top section of the phone houses the audio jack port, another mic and the power/lock key, but on this new Zoom (and Zenfone Max), the power key is no more.

Having the Asus Zenfone Zoom facing you makes you really feel that you are still using a smartphone (with just super powered camera capabilities) which is not bad at all. The face still measures at 5.5 inches, it's the same IPS screen with Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080), letting you enjoy the digital content you are looking at with full clarity, especially those photos and videos you have captured using the phone. The display also equates to a hefty 403 pixel-per-inc (PPI) ratio across the screen rendering every image in eye-popping detail. On top of that is the inclusion of Asus-exclusive TruVivid technology, which seamlessly transforms the conventional four-layer design into an innovative two-layer construction with full lamination.

And of course, the screen is protected by an extra strong Corning Gorilla Glass 4. Gorilla Glass 4 provides two times the drop-damage resistance of its predecessor. So you don't have to worry about scratching or breaking your phone's screen when dropped.

Then we also see here the secondary camera which sports a 5MP resolution with PixelMaster (also an Asus-exclusive technology), 88-degree wide-angle lens and f/2.0 aperture. Through the PixelMaster, photos or selfies are up to 400% brighter than most of the phones around. Even in extremely poorly-lit places, you are assured that you photos won't be as dark as the actual scene.

At the bottom are the three familiar-looking capacitive keys, Back, Home and Multitask.

A  Beast that Packs a Real Punch

On the inside of this smart-cameraphone are also high-calibrated specs. Like the original Zenfone 2, the Zoom is also powered by a much-improved Intel Z3590 chip, it is PC-grade and 64-bit four-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz. Working alongside it is 4GB of RAM, so big and spacious that you won't remember the feel of using a laggy device anymore.

For storage purposes, Asus made sure that every owner will have more than enough room for all of their music, videos, photos and files by stuffing in a 128GB storage right out of the box, and in case that's not enough users can also slip in a microSD card up to another 128GB. Not only that, users will also be able to take advantage of free 100GB of cloud strorage from Google Drive for 2 years.

The Asus Zenfone Zoom runs on the Android 5.0 Lollipop, but an update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow is definitely going to arrive in the not-so-far future.

One of the most important parts of the whole of Zenfone Zoom, the battery. Without it the device will be just a premium and good looking paperweight. Sitting inside the phone is a 3,000mAh battery pack with BoostMaster technology. This is a fast-charge version of Asus, where it charges the Zoom up to 60% (from 0%) in just 39 minutes.

Connectivities and Stuff

Talking about the phone capability to connect and communicate with other devices and connect to the internet, the Asus Zenfone Zoom if fully equipped to the brim. 3G, Dual-SIM, NFC, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, LTE, etc are all in. LTE inside this device is a Category 4 meaning it can support up to 250mbps download speed.
"We are thrilled to finally bring the Zenfone Zoom to Filipinos. The Zenfone Zoom revolutionizes smartphone photography in a way that cannot be matched by any other smartphone currently in the market. It puts professional, DSLR-quality photography within easier reach - so that Filipinos can all the more enjoy and indulge in the experience of taking photos with their mobile phones," said Asus Philippines Marketing Manager Jamie Zaldivar.
Asus ZenFone Zoom (ZX551ML) specs:

  • 5.5-inch Full HD Display
  • 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • 2.5GHz Super quad-core 64-bit Intel Z3590 processor (PC-grade)
  • 4GB RAM
  • 128GB internal storage
  • Supports microSD card up to 128GB
  • 13MP Pixel Master rear camera with 3X Optical ZOOM (HOYA lens), Laser Autofocus, Level 4 Optical Image Satbilization (OIS) system, Dual-Tone LED flash
  • 5MP Pixel Master front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture and 88-degree wide angle lens
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop OS with ZenUI 2.0
  • Sonic Master 2.o (Audio quality)
  • Fast Charge technology
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS
  • 3G
  • 4G LTE
  • NFC
  • Dual-SIM
  • Black/White (optional orange back cover)
  • 158.9 x 78.8 x 12mm
  • 185 grams
  • 3,000mAh battery (Li-Polymer)
  • Php26,995
Availability and Price

The Asus Zenfone Zoom is now available nationwide for a price tag of Php26,995. Simply visit the nearest Asus-authorized stores near you. The Zenfone Max with 5000mAh battery for Php8,495 is also now available for purchase.

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