ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom Unboxing and Initial Impressions

2017 is definitely the year of dual cameras, whether we are talking about the front or the back snappers of the phones. Almost all major players, except Samsung for some reason, have already jumped unto the bandwagon and even Apple has gone dual-barrel cameras as well already since last year with their iPhone 7 Plus variant. This year, yet another electronics giant from Taiwan is joining the party with their own version of dual-camera implementation. Today, the ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom is finally here in the Philippines. And I am happy to share with you my unboxing and initial review of this latest member of the growing Zenfone 3 series of smartphones from ASUS.

This Zenfone 3 Zoom was first announced early this year at Consumer Electronics Show in the US and then formally introduced in the Philippine market on April 6. As of right now, this device is now available at ASUS concept stores, kiosks, and authorized retail stores nationwide. What's more special about this newest smartphone from ASUS is that it comes with freebies worth over Php4,000 which if I remember right is the first time being done by the company. For every purchase of this phone, buyers will also get a JBL Clip 2 Bluetooth Speaker as well as a premium variant of ZenEar earphones.

Boxing and Packaging

Well at first look it already reminded me of the same packaging of the current Zenfone 3 devices. But according to what I am hearing this is not the final retail box yet for the Zenfone 3 Zoom. The retail versions will have different packaging and will possible in a bigger box as well since ASUS Philippines will also need to include the freebies mentioned with the unit itself. But whatever the real score is, this one I got here is already enough to provide me a nice unboxing experience.

What's in the Box

This is the most important part of the package, as important as the device itself, the accessories. What we can see inside the box of the device is pretty much what we can expect to greet us upon opening.  We have the unit itself, black, gorgeous, and more elegant in person, a pair of high-definition ZenEar earphones, USB to USB Type-C charging cable, a couple of spare earbuds, the wall charger with fast charge technology, SIM ejecting tool, and some paperwork.

For some reason I failed to take the SIM card ejecting tool and paperworks out of the black box (upper right of the above photo), but those are in there and should be part of every box. Also, the one I got here does not include the Limited Edition Zenfone 3 Zoom Clear Case, but the final retail version will definitely have one. I am not really sure about this but it looks that all of these accessories will come in white regardless of the actual device color you pick.

A Couple of Spare EarBuds
ZenEar Earphones
USB to USB Type-C Charger Cable
Wall Charger
JBL Clip 2 Bluetooth Speaker
The ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom and its Dual Rear Camera

This is the first smartphone made by ASUS that is equipped with two cameras on the back, hopefully this is not the last one as well. Why? Because this phone has improved astronomically compared to its 2016 predecessor Zenfone Zoom that from what I can see really did not make a big hit in the market as expected. So learning what this Zen 3 Zoom has in store for all Zen fans around the Philippines versus what we had with the original Zoom, is something that really made me excited to see what future plans does ASUS have especially in this particular camera and photography centric series of ZenFone.

The two cameras on the back are the main stars of the whole package. Both have the same 12MP calibration where the first one houses a SuperPixel technology that ASUS claims to be 2.5 times has more light sensitive than iPhone 7, and the second one being home to the 2.3x Optical Zoom. I can definitely tell you that it is not a gimmick here, as the Zenfone 3 Zoom is really capable of shooting images from afar in 2.3x optical zoom functionality without losing the image quality. Take a look at the images below which I took earlier today.

LEFT: 1x Zoom in Auto Mode, RIGHT: 2.3x Optical Zoom in Auto Mode
These photos were taken consecutively from the default 1x zoom in Auto Mode to 2.3x optical zoom with only a click of an on-screen button. You can see how well detailed the second image on the left reamains even after the zoom function was activated. And this just one of the things I love about this Zenfone 3 Zoom. I am seeing myself already using this feature a ton of times during its stay with me.

Now if you ask, can I still zoom beyond 2.3x? The answer is of course, in fact you can do up to 12x zoom. Just take note that anything beyond the 2.3x is digital zoom which may reduce the quality of the photo depending on the amount of light that you are getting in the scene. But do not worry though when trying to capture images in low light environment, this phone has a large f/1.7 aperture and since being equipped with SuperPixel and has greater photosensitivity, it still performs really good with much less noise and brighter images taken in low light scenes. Below is one of the indoor photos I have taken, it was a very dim place and the not-so-bright light was only coming from the outside and some from the 42-inch flatscreen TV a few feet away from the man.

In addition to the Auto Mode for the camera, below are the other modes that you can also use in this device.

Manual, HDR Pro, Beautification, Super Resolution, Children, QA Code, Night Mode, Depth of Field, Effects (filters), Selfie, GIF Animation, Panorama, Miniature, Time Rewind, Smart Remove, All Smiles, Slow Motion, and Time Lapse.

For video recording needs, it can capture up to 4K format. And also the cameras have OIS and EIS which means you don't need to worry about getting shakey videos and photos.

Design, Display, and Software

Just like other Zenfone 3 devices, this new Zoom is still an all-metal smartphone with outside appearance closely similar to the Zenfone 3 Max. And for the record, it has a bigger battery size coming in at 5,000mAh and yet ASUS managed to make it thinner, at 7.95mm, than the Zenfone 3 Max 5.2 and 5.5 variants which are both over 8mm and have a little over 4000mAh battery pack. And it's lighter too.

The display is also another thing I love about this smartphone, it's 5.5-inch Full HD AMOLED Display. Yes it is AMOLED, same type of display found on Samsung devices. And to be honest, I like Super AMOLED and AMOLED displays the most, colors are more vibrant and alive and more pleasing to my eyes, plus it's not energy hungry so you know with its massive 5000mAh battery, it is secured to be up and running all throughout the day.

The unit that I got here still runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow but according to ASUS an update to Android 7.0 Nougat is definitely coming to this device plus some more cool features. But I have heard another story, and that's the final retail versions will be running on Nougat out the box already and that this was one of the reasons why the official release was pushed back to April (from a rumored February release). Also, like the previous Zenfone devices that I have used and reviewed, this one here still has a ton of pre-installed apps of which most of them I really do not use or do not see being used in the future. But the good thing is, I can just either uninstall or disable them whenever I want.

Final Thoughts

So far I am definitely enjoying the ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom despite only having it for a couple of days now. I am gonna have this for a few more days to explore it more and try to discover some features and functions that I haven't used yet, and then finally provide you my full review of this device. Though this is priced a little bit higher than I expected (but definitely lower than the original Zenfone Zoom when launched), this is still where I would spend my money on if I had the chance.

Below are some of the photos I managed to capture while I was at one of the malls here in Davao City. All of them were captured in Auto Mode and no edits, filters nor modifications were applied to them. I just launched the camera and started shooting. This maybe too early to tell but I think this Zenfone 3 Zoom is really worth the tagline "built for photography" that ASUS is claiming. I feel like I am a real professional shooter now by just having this device.

Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom specs:
  • 5.5-inch Full HD AMOLED Display
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 5
  • 2.5D Curved Glass
  • 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 2.0GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor
  • Adreno 506 GPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB internal storage
  • Supports microSD card up to 128GB
  • 12MP SuperPixel rear camera with, Sony IMX362 sensor,  f/1.7 aperture, Dual-Pixel PDAF, OIS and EIS
  • 12MP Secondary rear camera with 2.3x Optical Zoom
  • 13MP front camera with Sony IMX214 sensor
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS,
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow with ZenUI 3.0
  • 4G LTE
  • Dual-SIM (hybrid type)
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, GLONASS
  • 3.5mm jack
  • FM Radio
  • USB Type-C
  • Fingerprint Scanner
  • Fast Charge
  • 7.95mm 
  • Reverse Charging Tech
  • 5,000mAh battery
The ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom is now available nationwide for a retail price of Php23,995, plus of course the aforementioned free bundles. 



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DUGOMPINOY: ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom Unboxing and Initial Impressions
ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom Unboxing and Initial Impressions
Asus Philippines sent me a review unit of the ZenFone 3 Zoom. And here is my unboxing and initial impressions of the dual real camera phone. Read here.
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