ASUS ZenFone Zoom Review: An Android With True 3X Optical Zoom

ZenFone Zoom Intro and Specifications

At a glance, you may assume the phone we're testing here is one you've seen before -- a Nokia Lumia 1020 clone perhaps? Despite having a similar circular camera fixture on the handset's back side, suggesting a strong focus on photography, this is actually a newly released phone produced by ASUS. The ASUS ZenFone Zoom is an interesting beast. Though it was initially released for a more international audience, ASUS has since seen fit to bring the device to North American shores.
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It makes sense, though. Other than calling or texting, cameras have long been a key smartphone feature that gets used most frequently and many consumers will tell you that photo image quality is paramount when it comes to choosing a phone. The ZenFone Zoom is a test to see how willing users are to put their money where their mouth is. At $399 unlocked, this phone is certainly more affordable than the newest iPhone or flagship device from HTC, Sony, Samsung or LG. Internally, the Intel Atom-powered phone is very similar to the ZenFone 2 we reviewed last year, save for one major item: the camera.

Let's take you on the nickel video tour first, then we'll dive in deep with more detail...

ASUS ZenFone Zoom
Specifications & Features
Android 5.0 (Lollipop) 
64-bit 2.3 GHz Intel Z3580 Quad-Core CPU
PowerVR G6430
64GB eMMC Flash
128GB eMCP Flash
5GB free lifetime ASUS WebStorage
64GB eMMC Flash
128GB eMCP Flash
5GB free lifetime ASUS WebStorage
64GB eMMC Flash
128GB eMCP Flash
5GB free lifetime ASUS WebStorage
5.5-inch Full HD (1920x1080 pixels)
Corning Gorilla Glass 4
Rear Camera
13 MP Rear-facing Camera
3X optical zoom / 12X total zoom
4 Stop OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)
10P HOYA lens
0.03 second laser auto-focus
32 second long exposure
Close-up macro photography (5 cm)
dual-color Real Tone flash
Back Light (HDR) mode with ASUS PixelEnhancing Technology for up to 400% brighter , and evenly exposed photos
Low Light mode with ASUS PIxelMaseter Technology for up to 400% brighter photos and videos
Manual Mode for DSLR-like camera detail settings
Super resolution mode for up to 52 X resolution photos
Real Time Beautification
Auto Focus
LED Flash
10-element lens
Front Camera
5 MP Front-facing camera 
Wide View
GSM / HSPA / LTE Cat 6 Capable  WCDMA; nano-SIM card slot
NFC, Bluetooth 4.0+EDR, Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz), GPS/GLONASS/QZSS/SBAS/BDS
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1700 (AWS),1900, 2100 MHz)
CDMA (800, 850, 1900 MHz)
4G LTE† (B1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 38, 41)
Ports & Sensors
3.5 mm stereo audio jack
microSD slot
Accelerator/E-Compass/Gyroscope/Proximity/Ambient Light Sensor/Hall Sensor 
185 grams
159.9 x 78.84 x 5 ~ 11.95 mm 
3000 mAh Li-Polymer (non-removeable) 
$399 MSRP unlocked via B&H Photo, $449 at Amazon

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We had mostly positive things to say about the ZenFone 2 back in June of last year, particularly when its $299 price tag was taken into account. However, perhaps at this point its internal processing engine might be getting a bit long in tooth for a new product in 2016. What's clear is that this phone is aimed at a very specific niche -- those who want manual camera control and top-notch image quality in a an Android phone that won't break the bank. In the pages ahead, we'll see how close ASUS comes to hitting that mark.

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