Here comes the third generation of the Zenfone series, Zenfone 3 (or ZE552KL) and other flagship phones has been released this year and these devices made an impression to fans and critics alike as this time around ASUS has release an entirely different build and sleeker design of Zenfone devices unlike in the big & bulky phones in the past. I'm talking about the bold design of of the Zenfone 3 with an all glass body front & back and running a processor of Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 instead of the previous Intel which has issues on some apps. By the way, if you want to see a quick insight about the smartphone, the verdict, product score, pros and cons, you can jump right ahead at the bottom of the page.

ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Review

What's in the box?
If you're wondering/checking on what is the content of the box of the Zenfone 3 5.5, it contains the following:

  • 1 x Zenfone 3 5.5 (Sapphire Black)
  • 1 x Earphone
  • 1 x USB-C to USB-A data cable
  • 1 x USB-C 2.0A Charger
  • Product Manuals / Starter Guides

Build and Design
So far, this is one of the biggest changes in the Zenfone series, this time around it is now more thinner, sleeker and durable with its metal aluminum body. It's an overall makeover of the previous generation Zenfone 2 which feels a bit not much appealing to the sight, but now the Zenfone 3 is an eye candy (as well as fingerprint/oil magnet due to its front & back glass) which brings it to a whole new level.

ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Photos



I'm impressed with the screen as its super clear and vibrant although I would like it better if its an Super AMOLED release. The screen bezels are now much more slimmer with 2.1mm and has a 2.5D display which makes the edges to be circular which gives a more bezel less look.

ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Photos

Capacitive buttons do still exists today in Zenfones so touchscreen button fans would not uch like this part. The capacitive buttons works fine but sometime unreliable in the background light as it turns off when you need glance and if suddenly you forget the positioning of the icons, this will be a bit annoyance to new users.

ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Photos

The metallic volume rocker and power button are both located at the right side.

ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Photos

The back has the 16-megapixel rear camera with Laser Auto Focus and Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), triple LED flash and the fingerprint sensor. The bottom has the ASUS logo printed on it.

ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Photos

At the top part, the headset jack and microphone are located while down at the bottom are the loud speaker, micorphone and the USB Type-C. On the left hand side contains the compatment for the SIM card and memory expansion (for microSD) slot.


OS, UI & Apps
The Zenfone 3 5.5 is run default by the last year's Android Marshmallow (Nougat update coming soon!) with ZenUI 3.0. As for the UI, I personally like the new little tweaks of ASUS on some UI changes like a more cleaner, more material design look, vibrant colors and rounded icons on its stock apps. But again since this is Android, you can always download and change its UI by selecting pletora of launchers in the Play Store if you really want to change its appearance.

ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) UI

As for the pre-installed app (or bloatwares) for the Zenfone 3, there's a lot of apps which for me, some are not really neccessary after setting the device after starting it up. There are plenty of 3rd party apps like Amazon Kindle, Puffin, Instagram, Splendid, PhotoCollage, Lazada and others that you can download in the Play Store if you want it (or uninstall it), ASUS did the pre-installing but I think its better for these apps to be removed as it eats storage and sometimes not really used by other users, also it is a bit annoying especially after resetting the device to factory default, they come back. Besides, these apps gets outdated months after the launch, so most likely, you will need to update these app to fully use them.

ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) UI

The storage of Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) will give you about 52GB of usable storage of its 64GB internal storage, this includes the files for the OS and the pre-installed apps. 

The OS is perfect for this phone as it is currently still one update away to the latest Android OS called Nougat 7.0. Soon ASUS will release the Nougat Update so this is worth noting and if you're concerned if this device will recieve any future update/s. 

Camera Quality
The rear camera sticks a bit outside the back casing on the of the phone so it won't lay flat on a surface, although I worry a bit of scratching the camera because of this, but so far of my use it still didn't happen. It's an upgrade to the last Zenfone 2 version, it now features a 16 megapixel camera sensor which has Laser Phase-Detect Auto Focus (PDAF). There's also an Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) which means a better stabilization of videos and images taken as it prevents handsakes to blur or outfocus a picture. The front camera has 8 megapixel that has a wide lens that is perfect for people who do group or solo selfies which means you can rely less on your monopods.


The camera modes has Auto, Manual, HDR Pro, Beautification, Super Resolution, Children, Low Light, QR Code, Night, Depth of Field, Effect, Selfie, GIF, Panorama, Selfie Panorama, Miniature, Time, Smart Remove, All Smiles, Slow motion, and Time Lapse features.

Overall the image quality is real good especially in bright places. You can check out our sample camera shots below:

Outdoor Shots / Well Lighted
ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Camera Sample


ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Camera Sample


ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Camera Sample


ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Camera Sample

Indoor Shots
ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Camera Sample


ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Camera Sample


ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Camera Sample


ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Camera Sample

Low Light Shots
ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Camera Sample


ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Camera Sample

ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Camera Sample

As you can see in the above photos (low light, 100% crop), the rear camera excels in well lighted places / environments while it produces a lot of noise in low light scenarios as the camera tries to brigthen up the image. HDR mode can atleast fix this but it darkens the image. You can try the manual mode, but it will still produce some image noises.


ASUS Zenfone 3 (ZE552KL) Specifications
  • Rear Camera: 16MP w/ Laser & PDAF AF, 4-axis OIS, dual-LED flash
  • Front Camera: 8MP
  • Display: 5.5-inch Full HD Super IPS+ display, 401ppi
  • Glass: Corning Gorilla Glass 3, 2.5D
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 2.0GHz octa-core CPU
  • CPU: Octa-core 2.0 GHz ARM Cortex-A53
  • Graphics: Adreno 506 GPU
  • Memory: 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage
  • up to 128GB via microSD (SIM 2 slot)
  • Network: 4G LTE Cat.6
  • SIM: Dual-SIM
  • WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth: 4.2, A2DP
  • GPS: Yes with aGPS, GLONASS
  • USB Type-C: Yes
  • Fingerprint scanner: Yes
  • Battery: 3,000mAh
  • OS: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow w/ ZenUI 3.0
  • Dimension: 152.6 x 77.4 x 7.7 mm, 155 g (ZE552KL)
  • Colors: Sapphire Black, Moonlight White, Shimmer Gold


Performance & Benchmark
In terms of the performance, the Zenfone 3 5.5 is powered by an all new octa-core Snapdragon 625 chipset, Adreno 506 with an up to 4GB RAM and 64GB (in our demo unit provided by ASUS). In theory this is an overall good spec for this phone. 

As for the tests and benchmark scores of the phone, please see the list and images below:

ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Benchmark Scores

The ZE552KL scored a total 62,416 in the ANTUTU benchmark, Geekbench gave a score of 834 on a single-core score and a 4,085 multi-core score while Vellamo gave a 1,588 metal score and 2,415 multi-core score. Nenamark 2 gave a 49.9fps for its gaming performance. Overall, the score performance has been improved since the Zenfone 2.

ASUS Zenfone 3 5.5 (ZE552KL) Benchmark Scores

You can see above that it supports up to 10 multitouch and features 8 CPU cores with 1843MHz each with a clock speed of up to 2.02GHz which is powerd by ARM Cortex-A53 along with the Snapdragon 625 chipset.


Battery Life
Talking about the 3000mAh Li-Po non-removable battery of the Zenfone 3 5.5, its an improvement considering the phone is very thin compared with Zenfone 2. The battery also benefits on the Snapdragon 625 and Android 6.0 Marshamallow Project Volta power saving features. Upon running a battery performance benchmark software call PC Mark, the phone lasted average 13 hours and 38 minutes. In our personal testing, the Zenfone 3 can last one to two days of light to casual daily usage. Fully charging the phone takes about 1 hour and 48 minutes (+/-). Thanks to its included fast charging charger and USB Type-C, it enables fast charging and can accept higher power input. Overall this is a huge leap from the previous generation Zenfone 2.


Verdict
The Zenfone 3 is a result of a new hardware tweak and more mature smartphone design that's decided by ASUS and it's good as the company is evolving to provide better phones to the consumers. Companies should not always stick to their usual smartphone formulas, ASUS has leveled-up for trying out new builds for its Zenfone 3 series. The Zenfone 3 has it all -- a larger screen, big battery & RAM, larger internal storage and a better Snapdragon processor than the previous versions. It's a pocket friendly smartphone but a bit more pricier (Php18,995 on its first release) than the previous generation since it packs more features and specs. You can purchase one via Lazada here.


Pros
  • Overall new design improvement from previous Zenfones
  • Very premium build (full glass front & back, metal frame)
  • Big battery capacity
  • New USB Type-C Standard
  • 4K video recording

Cons
  • Camera can still be improved
  • Plenty of bloatware apps (Some are useful, depends on the user)
  • No NFC (This is pretty standard nowadays for flagship smartphones)
  • USB Type-C (it means that you'll have a different cable to charge or transfer data)
  • Notifications can be improve for less annoyance


Full Disclosure: We are not paid in doing this review, we always try to provide unbiased reviews to everyone, the review unit came from ASUS Philippines.
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