ASUS has always been trying to make a mark in the global smartphone market (and yes, even in the Philippines) with their very impressive release of the Zenfone series. These ASUS smartphones have made the online/offline media and the netizens to talk about their products. Every new smartphone they release makes us excited as the company always offers good price and hardware specs with their different phone releases. Now, they are trying to step up the game with the Zenfone Zoom and they have a specific niche in mind - to attract people who loves photography and to provide a smartphone capable of a true optical zoom that's offered by point-and-shoot cameras and DSLRs.
ASUS Zenfone Zoom (ZX551ML) Review
ASUS Zenfone Zoom (ZX551ML)
The Zenfone Zoom was introduced in the country last January during the official launch at the Sinulog Festival in Cebu. The Zenfone Zoom is the company's latest high-end camera-centric smartphone release. Let us see what their new smartphone has to offer and will it meet our expectations?

What's inside the box?
ASUS Philippines has finally sent us this ASUS Zenfone Zoom media kit that comes with a letter, Zencredible Photocards, Zenny toy figure (ASUS' new mascot), the Zenfone Zoom itself and its accessories. 

ASUS Zenfone Zoom (ZX551ML) Media Kit

 While the regular Zenfone Zoom that you can buy in the market contains the following: 

ASUS Zenfone Zoom (ZX551ML) package

  • 1 x ASUS Zenfone Zoom Unit
  • 1 x smartphone strap
  • 1 x earphones
  • 4 x ear
  • 1 x Charger
  • 1 x USB data transfer and charging cable

Build & Design
The ASUS Zenfone Zoom has a very similar design in front with the Zenfone 2 when you compare them. The display is a 5.5-inch IPS LCD screen at 1920 x 1080 resolution which makes it nice to look at, as you can't see any pixels in the screen. The phone has a Corning Gorilla Glass 4 to stronger against moderate scratches. Unfortunately the physical navigation keys don't have led lights so it's easy to use them in the dark.
ASUS Zenfone Zoom (ZX551ML) screen
Zenny said to Darth Vader, "No, you're not my dad!"
Zenfone Zoom has a premium looking faux-leather back with a large round plastic disk that houses the camera, dual-flash LEDs and Infrared sensor, seriously the back is beautiful and you will not easily notice that the back is made of a hard plastic casing.
ASUS Zenfone Zoom (ZX551ML) back cover
I really liked the design at the back, it feels premium
The top side of the phone has the ASUS logo, front camera, ear speaker, ambient light sensor, audio jack, power button and the volume rocker.
ASUS Zenfone Zoom (ZX551ML) side view

The top side has the audio jack and a microphone hole. The bottom side has the micro-USB for charging and transferring data to any of your devices.

ASUS Zenfone Zoom (ZX551ML) top and bottom view

The right side has the volume rocker, power button, video record button and the camera easy shot button while the other side has nothing.

ASUS Zenfone Zoom (ZX551ML) left and right view

Upon opening the back casing, you can see the micro-SD slot and the SIM slot, unfortunately the battery non-removable. 

ASUS Zenfone Zoom (ZX551ML) inside the phone

UI, OS & Apps
The ASUS Zenfone Zoom has an eye-candy user interface (UI) which is also similar in the classic themes and icons that you can find in any Zenfone series. The OS is a modified version of Android 5.0 Lollipop (or the Zen UI) and hopefully the Marshmallow update will be released soon.

ASUS Zenfone Zoom User Interface

There are pre-installed apps (or bloatwares), they are useful if you are about to use them, personally I like the Power Saver and Quick booster app as it can help boost your phone's performance.

ASUS Zenfone Zoom User Interface

Camera Quality
ASUS Zenfone Zoom (ZX551ML) optics

As for the camera, ASUS has packed it with 3x optical zoom, 10-piece lens (that's made by Japanese optics expert HOYA), dual-tone LED flash, laser autofocus and four (4) stops OIS. Check out the sample shots below:


As for the photos produced of the Zenfone Zoom, the colors has a closer to reality saturation, it doesn't over saturate the images unlike other competitor phones. Images are sharp and vivid with daylight shots but starts to decline once its low-light. Zooming is definitely great with the 3x optical zoom feature, you never have to be so close to you subject to capture a nice shot. The dedicated camera shutter button is a pretty great feature, as it makes it easy to point-and-shoot.

During night or low-light shots, the images are prone to blur as in Night Mode the shutter speed drops and we recommend if possible to use the LED flash or if you have a phone tripod shots will be better. There are occasional lags and times that the auto-focusing is slow to detect the subject. The images are starting to loose some details as the software polishes the image noise to compromise.

As for the built-in 13-megapixel Panasonic sensor with a f/2.7-4.8 aperture lens, the photos are very well produced but the company could have picked a better image sensor as the photos generated are not as impressive as the other flagship smartphones today like the Nexus 6P & Samsung Galaxy S7. While I very liked the 3x optical zoom (wish it would be standard on other phones too), I've expected more of image quality the Zenfone Zoom can produce as it is an almost perfect camera-centric smartphone.

Video Quality
As for the video recording, the ASUS Zenfone Zoom can only capture up to 1080p videos. You could also use manual settings while taking a video. There are occasional lags in the manual focusing and it's a bit of disappointment for this camera-centric smartphone. You can check out the sample auto-mode 1080p video/s below:

ASUS ZenFone Zoom (ZX551ML) Specifications
  • Display: 5.5 inch IPS LCD display @ 1920×1080 pixels, 401ppi
  • Glass: Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Rear Camera: 13-megapixel with 3x optical zoom, dual-tone LED flash
  • Front Camera: 5-megapixel
  • Processor: 2.5GHz Intel Atom Z3590 64-bit quad-core CPU
  • GPU: PowerVR 6430
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128GB internal storage, up to 128GB via microSD card
  • SIM: Dual-SIM
  • Connectivity: LTE Cat4+
  • Wi-Fi: Yes, 802.11ac
  • Bluetooth: Yes, 4.0
  • GPS: Yes with A-GPS support
  • Battery: 3,000mAh Li-Po
  • OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop w/ Zen UI

Performance & Benchmark Scores
ASUS Zenfone Zoom Benchmark Tests

The Zenfone Zoom can accept heavy resource tasks, it is packed with a 64-bit 2.5GHz Intel Z3590 processor, 6430 PowerVR GPU and 4GB RAM. There were almost no lags, freezing and app crashes upon using the device for weeks. The phone is good in mobile gaming too.

To measure the phone's performance, here are the result of the benchmark tests:
  • Antutu: 68,187
  • Geekbench 3
    • Singe-Core: 967
    • Multi-Score: 2,833
  • Quadrant Standard: 23,344
  • Vellamo
    • Muti-Core: 1,526
    • Metal: 1,540
    • Chrome Browser: 3,378
  • NenaMark: 59.7fps

Battery Life
ASUS Zenfone Zoom Battery Life

As for the non-removable 3,000mAh Li-Po battery, it is above average and it can last about 7 hours upon using a battery benchmarking tool. On our daily casual use of the device (WiFi, media, music, etc.), it can last about a whole day in usage but you will still need to charge it at night. What I like the most is the battery saving feature, the Zenfone Zoom will last in standby-mode in a couple of days.

The ASUS Zenfone Zoom is a great smartphone with its premium design, processing power, storage, HD screen, optical zoom, LTE connectivity, you name it. The phone is a solid performer for everyday tasks.

The only downside of this smartphone is the built-in camera sensor, don't get me wrong, the 3x optical zoom and pictures you can capture were really good but the sensor could be better as you would expect more in this camera-centric smartphone release and versus to other competitors in the market.

The Zenfone Zoom is good overall specially when ASUS tried a different approach to the smartphone and pricing an almost-flagship device that's cheaper than other brand's front line smartphones with the SRP of Php26,995 or at discounted price of Php21,599 via Lazada.

Overall Score: 4 / 5

  • Premium look & feel
  • Great performance
  • Huge 128GB internal storage
  • 3x optical zooming lens
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS)
  • Vivid & Clear HD screen
  • Dedicated camera shutter button

  • Auto focusing is not fully refined (can be improved via software)
  • Suffers in low-light shoots
  • Too many bloatwares
  • Camera sensor could be better

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