ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe

ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe

HWM (Singapore) - - Contents - by James Lu

Af­ter a string of suc­cess­ful en­try and mid-range smart­phones, ASUS is set­ting its sights higher with the ZenFone 3 Deluxe, a $998 pre­mium smart­phone that ASUS be­lieves can chal­lenge the likes of Ap­ple and Sam­sung.

While the reg­u­lar ZenFone 3 is a mix of metal and glass, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is all metal, with a sleek uni­body de­sign that comes in ei­ther Shimmer Gold or Glacier Sil­ver (Ti­ta­nium Gray is not avail­able lo­cally). Like other ZenFones, the Deluxe has a slightly curved pro­file, which makes it com­fort­able to hold. At first glance, the de­sign looks quite sim­i­lar to many other An­droid ph­ablets out there, such as Huawei’s Mate 9, but upon closer

in­spec­tion you’ll no­tice it’s ac­tu­ally unique be­cause it has no vis­i­ble an­tenna bands on the back of the de­vice. If you look closely, you’ll spot three breaks in the front bezel where the an­tenna peeks out, sug­gest­ing that ASUS has man­aged to build the an­tenna into the frame of the de­vice. Ob­vi­ously, if you put your phone in a case, you won’t be able to ap­pre­ci­ate this, but it’s a nice feat of en­gi­neer­ing nev­er­the­less.

The Deluxe also fea­tures the sig­na­ture ASUS pat­tern of con­cen­tric cir­cles above and be­neath the dis­play, and also on the power but­ton and vol­ume rocker, which can both be found on the right-hand side. On the left, a dual nanoSIM card tray, with the se­cond SIM slot dou­bling up as a Mi­croSD slot.

On the back of the de­vice there’s a square cam­era mod­ule with a mod­er­ate-size cam­era bump and be­neath it an ob­long-shaped fin­ger­print scan­ner. The skinny fin­ger­print scan­ner is a strange bit of hard­ware. It’s sub­stan­tially nar­rower than cir­cu­lar fin­ger­print scan­ners and only scans about half the width of your fin­ger, which makes me won­der if it’s less se­cure than a full-size fin­ger­print scan­ner. It is longer than most fin­ger­print scan­ners, but that just means you have to line up your fin­ger per­fectly along its length to get it to scan cor­rectly.

The cam­era on the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is a 23-megapixel, f/2.0 Sony IMX318 cam­era with 3-axis op­ti­cal image sta­bi­liza­tion, and laser aut­o­fo­cus. Un­for­tu­nately, more megapix­els doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily trans­late to a bet­ter pic­ture and the cam­era on the ZenFone 3 Deluxe was a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ing. Color re­pro­duc­tion and dy­namic range are pretty good, but even in good light­ing con­di­tions at low ISO lev­els, there’s a lot of noise and no­tice­able smear­ing through­out the shot.

On the bot­tom of the phone there’s a USB 2.0 Type-C port, and on top there’s a head­phone port.

The phone has a 5.7-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 (386ppi) AMOLED dis­play. Other than the iPhone 7 Plus, most of the ph­ablets at this price level use QHD res­o­lu­tions. Ad­di­tion­ally, while col­ors on the dis­play are quite vivid, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe isn’t as bright as sim­i­lar sized ph­ablets and, as a re­sult, it’s not easy to see clearly un­der bright sun­light. There are ac­tu­ally two ver­sions of the ZenFone 3 Deluxe: one with Qual­comm’s newer Snap­dragon 821, and one with the older Snap­dragon 820. Un­for­tu­nately, only the 820 ver­sion is made avail­able in Sin­ga­pore. The Snap­dragon 820 is nearly a year old now, so it’s a bit dis­ap­point­ing to see ASUS launch such an ex­pen­sive phone with a pro­ces­sor at the end of its shelf life.

In­side the phone is a 3,000mAh bat­tery, which is rel­a­tively small for a 5.7-inch phone, and as a re­sult, the Deluxe fared quite poorly on our video loop­ing bat­tery life bench­mark, last­ing just un­der nine hours.

The ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe is an am­bi­tious phone, but it doesn’t quite de­liver ev­ery­thing you ex­pect at this price point. We like the an­tenna-less rear de­sign, but weren’t too keen on the ob­long-shape fin­ger­print scan­ner. Cam­era per­for­mance and bat­tery life - two of the most im­por­tant fea­tures of any smart­phone today - were also dis­ap­point­ing.

Fi­nally, it’s just too late to launch a Snap­dragon 820-pow­ered smart­phone. Not only has it al­ready been re­placed by the 821, once 2017’s flag­ship smart­phones hit the shelves with Qual­comm’s new 835 pro­ces­sor, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe will feel even more dated.

The first flag­ship ZenFone has a lovely, clean an­tenna-less de­sign, but way too pricey for its specs today.

The phone has an un­usual ob­long-shaped fin­ger­print scan­ner

There are no an­tenna lines on the back of the phone!

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