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    Asus ZenFone Zoom Review – No DSLR, No Problem

    Ever think about zooming in on your subject when using a smartphone? Of course not. It has been proven that it destroys the quality of your loved images. For years, consumers are limited to the default focal length of their iPhones and Android handsets. We have been accustomed to the wide yet natural feeling of the lens.

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    But there are times when you can’t get near the subject and you must use the digital zoom as your last and final result. Obviously, it’s not effective, it’s the same as cropping the whole image on your photo editor and you’re stuck with a low-res photo. Sure, it’s not that badly need but Asus went ahead and offered a cheap pocket DSLR with the ZenFone Zoom.

    First announced at the CES 2015, the ZenFone Zoom is now making its way to the PH. Asus earned credit and online buzz with their popular ZenFone 2 because of competitive price paired with high-end specs. The ZenFone Zoom is no different than its older brother.

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    Design and Body

    If we’re going to talk about the ZenFone Zoom’s design and body, we’d say that this is hands down the most premium looking smartphone that Asus has to offer. Thanks to the leather rear cover and machined aluminum sides, it’s definitely an eye-catcher in public. The back of the phone is of course dominated by its special camera which is very similar to Nokia’s Lumia 1020. Remove the back cover and you’ll be greeted with SIM tray and a MicroSD card slot.

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    Performance

    The specifications of the Zoom is very similar to its sibling, the Zenfone 2. It has the same Intel Chip and paired with 4GB of RAM. The screen has the same 5.5 inches and a 1080p resolution. The software still takes a bad blow because of the numerous and crappy bloatware, but rest assured that it will not affect the overall performance and it will run smoothly most of the time. The Zoom uses by a 3,000mAh battery and supports Asus’ BoostMaster fast charging technology that can charge the phone from 0-60% in just 39 minutes, according to the company. And it does. Tests show that it has 6-7 hours of battery, but on normal use it can last the whole day with light to medium use.

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    Camera

    The ZenFone Zoom uses a Hoya-designed lens – if you’re not aware – Hoya is popular for making glass filters that protect other camera lenses. The camera has a 13-megapixel Panasonic sensor that has a f/2.7-4.8 aperture lens – an unusual combination for a smartphone. It has an optical image stabilization feature in case you have shaky hand and will definitely help once you go with the zooming part on your camera. Asus also took some notes from LG and Huawei by adding a laser autofocus for faster and more accurate focus on the subject.

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    If you’re going to ask us what’s the best feature for the camera, it’s definitely the dedicated shutter button which is located on the lower right side of the phone. It feels like an actual pocket camera and it does it’s job well. It’s clicky and tactile and works better than you’d expect. Just like a real camera, you hold it down halfway to focus and push further to take a photo. Besides the shutter button, you’ll be greeted with another button that takes you straight to video recording. Unfortunately, the ZenFone Zoom doesn’t have 4K recording capabilities making it lose behind other flagship smartphones like the iPhone 6S and LG G4.

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    The photo quality taken from the ZenFone Zoom is not that special – it falls short from our expectation on a phone that specializes on its camera. Asus even threw some special modes for us, including a very-well made manual options – a handy feature for photographers. Every shot I take with this phone looks a little too hazy and artifacted. Don’t get us wrong, it’s pretty good for a smartphone but given that it focuses on its camera you’d expect to have a feeling of “Hey, I just took that photo with a phone, but this is something else”. The Zoom lens pretty much did its job, I can take pictures from a very far position. But some software processing can be annoying because it constantly switches you to the low light mode even when you’re just shooting outside on a cloudy day. Also, the ZenFone Zoom can also be a little bit slow at capturing actual images, like a hiccup when you press the shutter button.

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    The optical zoom however, is a nifty and cool feature. You can use the volume buttons to zoom in and out like a point-and-shoot pocket camera. With its added stabilization, you’d be sure to capture close-up images without having to worry if it is blurry or poor. But do take note that having an optical zoom comes with a cost; zooming in and out will always be going to be a whole lot slower than pinching and cropping with the usual digital zoom.

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    Conclusion

    At the end of the day, the Asus ZenFone Zoom does its specific job – zooming. We now have entered a new world of Android cameras where it can take amazing and colorful shots that can stand up to a real camera. If you’re looking for a cameraphone, it would surely take the cake as it will surely be doing its primary jobs – taking good photos and being an overall fast smartphone.

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    The Asus ZenFone Zoom is priced at Php 26,995.

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