ASUS unveils new ZenFone 3 smartphone line -- here is everything you need to know
If you are looking for a smartphone that offers great value for money, the ZenFone family includes some of the nicest Android handsets that you can get today. The devices are attractively priced and offer specs that can appeal to just about anyone shopping in their segment. However, a lot has happened since the introduction of the second generation, so now it is time for ASUS to take the wraps off the ZenFone 3 line.
ASUS has chosen Computex 2016 to unveil three new ZenFone 3 devices: the ZenFone 3, which is the base model featuring mid-range specs, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe, the flagship in the family, and the ZenFone 3 Ultra, a massive phablet which borrows features from the other two handsets.
Let's start with the ZenFone 3, which is going to give lots of mid-rangers a run for their money. The device (featured in the center in the photo above) features a 5.5-inch Super IPS+ display with a resolution of 1,080 by 1,920 and maximum brightness of 500 nits. ASUS says that it has a screen-to-body ratio of 77.3 percent, thanks to narrow bezels. On the front and back there is 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass.
Powering the smartphone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, which is an octa-core processor, with up to 4GB of RAM. The chip has an integrated X9 LTE modem and Wi-Fi 802.11ac with MU-MIMO technology, which translate into very fast download and upload speeds on both cellular and wireless networks.
The ZenFone 3 packs a 16 MP camera on the back with what ASUS calls second-generation laser, phase detection and continuous autofocus. It is claimed to produce "sharp images in any condition", and focus in as low as 0.03 seconds, which is impressive for a device in this segment.
And if that is not enough, ASUS has also placed a fingerprint sensor on the back of the device, a position now favored by many other smartphone vendors. There are capacitive buttons on the front of the device.
The ZenFone 3 Deluxe (shown to the left in the image above) is even more impressive still. It packs a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a gamut that exceeds the NTSC color space, and is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with a whopping 6GB of RAM. That is a lot of memory for a phone, but it should translate into great multitasking performance.
The smartphone features a 23 MP camera on the back, which uses a Sony IMX318 sensor, f/2.0 lens and four-axis optical image stabilization. It has the same autofocus technology as the ZenFone 3, and it adds 4K video recording to the mix.
As you might expect, it also has a fingerprint sensor, again positioned on the back of the device, but also Quick Charge 3.0 technology, courtesy of the Qualcomm-made chip, USB Type-C port on the bottom, and a powerful speaker and amp that promises great audio performance.
The smartphone features an aluminum unibody design, and no "unsightly antenna lines" on the back. It comes in at just 4.2 mm thick at the edge.
However, it is the ZenFone 3 Ultra which will make your jaw drop. In the second paragraph I said that it is a massive phablet because this smartphone comes with a 6.8-inch display. Yes, there is no mistake there, that is a 6.8-inch panel. The resolution is 1,080 by 1,920, which is not as impressive as the diagonal, but it should do fine considering what this device will be used for -- enjoying multimedia content. The panel has a 95 percent NTSC color gamut and inside there is a 4K UHD TV-grade image processor. It has two "powerful" speakers and a "smart" amp, that are also promised to offer great audio quality. In fact, ZenFone 3 Ultra is said to be the world's first smartphone with virtual 7.1 channel surround sound thanks to DTS Headphone:X.
The rear-facing camera on the ZenFone 3 Ultra is the same as on the ZenFone 3 Deluxe, but the processor is not as ASUS has opted for a Snapdragon 652 coupled with up to 4GB of RAM. The device is powered by a 4,600 mAh battery and features Quick Charge 3.0 technology, and there is an interesting added bonus -- it can serve as a power bank for other devices.
Because it is such a big device, the fingerprint sensor is now embedded in the home button below the screen instead of being placed on the back of the device as is the case with its smaller siblings.
ASUS has not talked much about the software, but I assume that all smartphones will ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box. There is no word on availability yet, but here are the official prices.
The ZenFone 3 kicks off at $249 for the base model, which gives you 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The ZenFone 3 Deluxe flagship kicks off at $499 for the version with 64GB of internal storage; there will also be a 128GB model. And, finally, the ZenFone 3 Ultra will cost $479; for the price you get 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage.