Asus ZenFone 3 review: Connectivity
The ZenFone 3 will appeal to UK users for its aforementioned dual-SIM functionality, though we must make it clear that this particular version of the ZenFone 3 (the one sold via GearBest) will not support 4G on O2 or GiffGaff because it doesn't support the 800MHz band. See How to tell whether a phone is supported by my network.
For all other UK users this dual-SIM functionality can be extremely useful if you have both personal and business mobile contracts but would rather carry just the one phone, or if you are going abroad and would like to use a local SIM to reduce costs. The ZenFone 3 is a dual-standby model, and we explain exactly what that means in our dual-SIM phone buying advice.
Asus covers most connectivity bases, though notably lacking is NFC - possibly not a worry for now, though it may be a feature you wish to use in the future. There's support for the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, GLONASS and OTG.
Asus ZenFone 3 review: Cameras
The ZenFone 3 is marketed as being built for photography, and Asus certainly seems to have put in a lot of effort on this front. Whereas previously the ZenFone 2 featured a 13Mp five-element Largan lens rear camera and an LED flash there is now a 16Mp six-element Largan lens with sapphire glass lens protection and a dual-LED real-tone flash. Also see: Best phone cameras 2016
This is what Asus terms a PixelMaster 3.0 camera. It sports an f/2.0 aperture, 1.12µm pixels, TriTech (laser-, phase detection- and continuous) autofocus, four-axis, four-stop optical image stabilisation, Deep Trench Isolation (which prevents light leakage between pixels), real-time HDR and 4K video recording at 30fps. You can also ramp up the resolution to 64Mp with a Super Resolution feature.
In our tests we found the ZenFone 3 was able to produce decent results in daylight settings with good detail and bright, natural colours, but it didn't fare as well in low-light and edges are a little fuzzy when zoomed in to full size.
You can see a couple of our test shots below, both with and without HDR on.
The Asus is also fitted with an 8Mp selfie camera, up from 5Mp in the ZenFone 2.
Asus ZenFone 3 review: Software
The ZenFone 3 runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, but overlaid with its own ZenUI. It's easy to use but feels very cluttered, with a lot of preinstalled bloatware (less than on the ZenFone 2 admittedly) and not a lot of free space. Even the drop-down notification bar is stuffed full of so many toggles it can be difficult to quickly find the one you need.
As well as the normal mode of operation there are easy and kid's modes, and you'll find an assortment of extras crowding the Settings menu. ZenMotion offers a variety of customisable touch- and motion gestures as well as One Hand Mode, which shrinks the display to a more manageable size. There are also Power management, Memory and Asus Customised settings menus, plus Themes, a separate menu for screenshot settings, and even two update offerings - system updates and ZenUI updates. There's just a lot of stuff going on here.
Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017
Asus ZenFone 3: Specs
- 5.5in full-HD (1920x1080, 401ppi) Super IPS+ display with Gorilla Glass 3
- 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor
- Adreno 506 graphics
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow with Asus Zen UI
- 4GB LPDDR3 RAM
- 64GB storage with microSD support up to 2TB and free 100GB Google Drive space for 2 years
- dual-SIM dual-standby (1x Nano + 1x Micro or 1x Micro + 1x microSD, both support 4G)
- 4G FDD-LTE 850/900/1800/1900/2100/2600MHz
- 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.2
- GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
- 16Mp Sony IMX298 rear camera with tri-LED flash, f/2.0 aperture, OIS (stills), EIS (video), TriTech AF, 4K video
- 8Mp front camera
- 24bit/192KHz high-res audio
- fingerprint scanner
- 3000mAh non-removable lithium-polymer battery, accelerated charging