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A quick look at the ZenFone Zoom

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ASUS Philippines took us and other members of the media and blogging community to Cebu over the weekend to experience the Sinulog Festival along with the highly anticipated launch of the ZenFone Zoom.

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I only spent a short time with the device but it was enough to leave a good impression. The specs are what you’ll find on the original ZenFone 2 or the Deluxe version, but this one comes with a slightly better Intel Atom processor, more internal storage, optical image stabilization (OIS) and the Hoya-made 3x optical zoom lens.

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ASUS Zenfone Zoom (ZX551ML) specs:

  • 5.5 inch Full HD IPS display (1920 x 1080; 403 ppi) with Gorilla Glass 4
  • 2.3 GHz quad-core 64-bit Intel Atom Z3590 CPU
  • PowerVR 6430 GPU
  • 4GB RAM / 64GB or 128GB storage  +microSD up to 128GB
  • 13MP PixelMaster main camera (Panasonic SmartFSI sensor) with 3x optical zoom, laser autofocus, OIS, dual LED flash
  • 5MP PixelMaster front camera
  • 4G, 3G, 2G
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth v4.0 +EDR, NFC
  • 3000 mAh non-removable battery
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop with ASUS ZenUI
  • Colors: Black, White
  • Price: PHP26,995

Quick look at the ZenFone Zoom

The ZenFone Zoom’s look does not stray too far from the original ZenFone 2. But the difference starts when you take a closer look at it’s new design elements. For starters, ASUS decided to add a touch of elegance to the phone by using a new Aluminum unibody frame and a burnished leather back panel. The move definitely gave the phone a more premium finish.

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The most notable design change that distinguishes the new ZenFone Zoom from the rest of the pack is the inclusion of a new round camera module found at the back. This houses ASUS’ periscope design for the zoom lens mechanism. To quote ASUS:

ASUS engineers have rotated ZenFone Zoom’s lens mechanism to create a compact, intricately-calibrated periscope-style layout. Coupled with a Panasonic SmartFSI image sensor, ZenFone Zoom captures more light and more color — revealing detail and beauty in both natural and low-light compositions that other smartphone cameras will never see.

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ASUS also added dedicated buttons for shooting, recording and telephoto, allowing for quicker and more convenient operation of the camera controls.

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Display and Performance

The ZenFone Zoom’s 5.5 inch display uses IPS technology with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a pixel density of 403 ppi. And just like the ZenFone 2, the Deluxe and the Selfie, it is bright and colorful, with crisp text and images.

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ASUS and Intel claim that the Intel Atom Z3590 is desktop grade. I wasn’t able to test or run benchmarks to verify, but performance wise, the ZenFone Zoom is fast and zippy. Navigating the apps and menus is a pleasant experience. It is smooth with little to no lag.

Camera Performance

The ZenFone Zoom uses a Panasonic SmartFSI image sensor and a Hoya-made 3x optical zoom lens assisted by a laser autofocus system and OIS. I wanted to see how well it performs so I set the camera on Auto mode and took some photos of the festival to see what it can do.

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ZenFone Zoom Camera UI

The resulting images are quite good. Colors are well saturated with good detail and clarity. Here are some of the shots I was able to take with the ZenFone Zoom. The images are resized for web using Photoshop with quality set at 60.

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Conclusion

I got to admit, the ZenFone Zoom is a very impressive smartphone. It is fast and zippy, while at the same time beautiful and elegant. What really impressed me was the camera performance. It is surprisingly good. In my opinion, it is ready to give (point-&-shoot) digital cameras a run for their money. The Panasonic images sensor, the Hoya-made 3x optical zoom lens, and the OIS made a lot of difference. I think I may have found my next daily driver.

There is no release date yet for the ZenFone Zoom, only that it is coming soon. Retails price is PHP26,995.

Special thanks to Bon of Taragis.com for some alone time with the ZenFone Zoom.

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Bryan is a tech and gadget enthusiast who spends his day blogging, writing fiction, and watching NBA clips on YouTube.

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