- Slow, finicky camera
- Poor camera performance in low light
- Performance concerns
- Bloated UI
- Minor build quality issues
As the big brother to the Asus ZenFone 3, the Deluxe offers an impressive array of improvements over the base model. The spec list puts it on par with best of 2016’s mid-tier phones. But does this all line up to make for a great experience?
Reviews for this much-touted release are rolling. Keep reading to see what everyone is saying!
NOTE: Before we get started, it’s important to note the sheer army of variations available for the ZenFone 3. For this summary, we’re focusing on the Deluxe model. The entire ZenFone 3 series is a bit confusing and specs differ greatly between each. If you're not sure which is best for you, the link above offers an easy way to compare the different models before researching!
The seamless all-metal design of the ZenFone 3 Deluxe uses exclusive tricks to hide the antenna lines and create a solid appearance. Unfortunately, the design featured little else to make reviewers excited. Many called the design bland and boring. Also, despite the obvious effort to wrangle the phone’s size, PC Magazine said, “For the most part you'll need to use the phone with two hands, despite the fact that it's relatively thin and the bezel is practically non-existent.”
On the rear cover, you’ll find a rectangular fingerprint scanner. While it can launch the camera, answer calls and perform other common functions, reviewers had a few issues. NDTV noted, “The sensor works well in terms of authenticating you, but its awkward shape causes occasional failed attempts if your finger isn’t aligned well.”
The 5.7-inch 1080p display is the first AMOLED screen for Asus. Reviewers loved it. NDTV said, “Colours are nicely saturated and brightness is very good. You also have an option to tweak the colours and the colour temperature in the Settings app.” Tech 2 noted, “The viewing angles are great and the display maintains brightness even at the steepest of angles which is commendable.”
Performance reviews were hit or miss. The phone offers two processor options: the Snapdragon 820 or 821. Both options see similar review concerns. While pairing the processors with 6GB of RAM should offer beastly performance, many reviewers experienced small delays and stutters. CNet said, “While the diagnostic benchmark scores were pretty good actual day-to-day performance can be laggy.” Tech 2 experienced similar issues, saying, “It is blazing fast! In a side-by-side comparison it opened apps faster than the OnePlus 3, but it general usage, it could not maintain that momentum and showcased micro-stutters, in short, not buttery smooth as I expected it to be.”
This might be caused in part by Asus’ choice of Android skin. Though the phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, their ZenUI makes significant changes and additions to the stock Android experience. NDTV said, “As we’ve stated countless times, ZenUI simply feels too cluttered, and might be overwhelming for first-time Asus users. We appreciate the amount of customisation available but it also feels a bit unnecessary.” Many reviewers attributed much of this to the slowness and delays experienced during daily use.
Depending on the model you choose, you’ll find either 64GB or an insane 256GB of internal storage. Both offer more than enough for average users. If that’s still not enough space, you can use a microSD card up to 2TB in capacity. However, this means you can’t take advantage of the dual SIM feature.
Unfortunately, camera reviews weren’t much better. While a 23MP rear camera with optical image stabilization, phase detection autofocus and laser-assisted focus sounds great on paper, it didn't wow reviewers in real-world use. ChipChick put the camera through its paces and declared, “Photos taken outdoors in adequate light came out fine, but low-light photos and photos taken indoors struggled with blurriness. The camera is also slower than average when it comes to snapping photos.” Other reviewers noticed this slowness both in response times and shutter times—often complaining of blurry photos of action shots.
Opinions get better for battery life. Most reviewers had no trouble making it a full day on the 3,000mAh battery. Thanks to an USB Type-C charger and Quick Charge 3.0 support, the phone also tops off from empty in just over an hour.
Ultimately, reviews were slightly down on the Zenfone 3 Deluxe—though few failed to recommend it without some qualifications. ChipChick offered a good summary, saying, “The Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe is a solid smartphone that manages to pack in a large display without feeling clunky. It’s also got lots of pep and performance underneath. However, if photography is important to you, its camera isn’t going to satisfy.”
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