The ZenFone 3 Deluxe is the flagship smartphone of the Taiwanese giant ASUS for 2016, it was annnounced last June 2016 at Computex Taiwan where the smartphone got the recognition due to its unique invisible antenna design.
Last December 2016, we unboxed the ZenFone 3 Deluxe and tested it for around 2 weeks including the Christmas season. Now that we are finished, here is our review of this smartphone.
Before we continue, here are the specifications of the ZenFone 3 Deluxe
ASUS Zenfone 3 Deluxe specs
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
- 6GB of RAM
- 5.7-inch full HD AMOLED display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- Gorilla Glass protection 4
- 64GB storage, expandable via microSD card
- 23-megapixe rear camera, Sony IMX318 sensor
- Laser AF, PDAF, Color correction sensor
- 8-megapixel front facing camera
- Dual SIM (Hybrid Tray)
- 3G, 4G LTE with 700MHz compatibility
- WiFi b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2,
- GPS, A-GPS, USB Type-C, Fingerprint scanner
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow, ZenUI 3.0
- 3000mAh battery
ASUS’ clean slate back is thanks to their Invisible Antenna design, the whole phone is made of metal and no plastic lines can be seen like with other smartphones like the iPhone 6/7.
It’s back is still convex similar to the ZenFone 2, it feels nice to hold especially with the rounded sides despite not having a curved screen. On the front is a 5.7″ AMOLED display that is bright, colorful and great against outdoors.
Signature concentric circle design of ASUS can be found at the front chin and top where it’s designed along with the headset and capacitive buttons. Finally, the capacitive buttons are now glowing, something we have been asking to ASUS for a long time.
So far this is the most prestige smartphone we have felt from ASUS, it reminded us with all metal PadFone Infinity smartphone 2 years ago. But this time, it’s more elegant and the AMOLED screen is something we really love.
Unfortunately, if you compare to other flagship smartphones in the market. The ZenFone 3 Deluxe doesn’t have that “Star Feature” like having water resistant rating, dual camera or even flexibility like the ones we’ve seen with LG, Samsung and Motorola.
The fingerprint sensor at the back is fast, it’s promised 0.02 seconds is met and similarly fast as the iPhone 7, ZenFone 3 or the fast Oppo F1s fingerprint sensors.
The ZenFone 3 Deluxe is also one of the 1st smartphone to be equipped with 6GB of RAM, this is a game rattler where ASUS is pushing the limit of flagship smartphones. Paired with a Snapdragon 820 processor, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is expected to be a monster and it is with its fluid smartphone experience, virtual zero-lag interface, and loading.
While benchmarks are just for display, our experience with the ZenFone 3 Deluxe was the closest we’ve got to the late Galaxy Note 7. It was fluid, the display was good and everything was just snappy including the camera.
We were amazed that we never have to close applications thanks to the 6GB RAM, the only time we must close our apps is when we need to record in 4K as it takes a great toll on the performance and storage.
Camera: The best on a ZenFone
The camera is one of the strengths of ASUS, it has a lot of features, presets and a quite friendly manual mode. Using the ZenFone 3 Deluxe’s 23MP rear camera was a delight as photos result to sharp output, fast AF and snappy capturing.
Modes such as Super Resolution (4x more pixels), low light, HDR Pro, Time Lapse and more are all present and ready to be explored by any user. We love this as it brings out the creative side of any user.
Camera results to excellent macro shots, great colors, and sharp focusing. Moving objects still have a few blur, but very acceptable. The ZenFone 3 Deluxe’s high dynamic range is also great, it was able to capture the beauty in very bright environments and even indoor lights like the Venice Cineplex’s gorgeous cinema lobby.
Selfie with ZenFone 3 Deluxe
Selfies are great thanks to its wide angle and proper lighting. Though because of the beautification mode, it sometimes struggles and results to blurry photos especially if the subject is moving. Beautification results is smooth with not much radical changes, just make sure to set it in a natural looking beautification.
Here is a video sample of the ZenFone 3 Deluxe
Interface: Nothing special to be “Deluxe”
While the ZenUI 3.0 has a lot of features, there are just too much going around. ASUS’ always promote their speed boost feature to speed up the phone, but honestly with a 6GB RAM phone it shouldn’t be an annoying feature that always notifies you.
We wished that ASUS could have made the UI more “Deluxe” by removing the unnecessary clutter in the ZenUI, as far as we see it’s still the same as the other ZenFone series.
If you compare the UI of ASUS versus flagship rivals, the competition’s UI is less “persuasive” as notification and guides are done in a more discreet level. But ZenUI’s methodology is still like treating smartphone users that it’s their first time to use a smartphone, well not anymore in this price range. So we wish ASUS do the necessary overhaul of their UI to make it more premium and less annoying.
Battery: Charming all day
Despite having the Snapdragon 820 processor with its no-so-good reputation in battery life, we love the ZenFone 3 Deluxe’s longer than expected battery life. Leaving at home 9am will get us around 6pm before charging the phone, plus since its Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 it only takes around 45 minutes to reach more than 70%.
Our usage is a single sim in LTE, usual social media apps, spotify for music, email, WordPress and casual camera and video recording.
Other worth mention
Is the Invisible Antenna design worth it? To be honest, it will depend on the user, we surely love the all-metal body of the ZenFone 3 Deluxe but it doesn’t have that factor to really shine among others in terms of the design division.
The speaker grill might be small, but it surely packs a punch with proper warmth and bass. Watching videos is really great using the 5.7″ AMOLED display. In fact, we even finished the whole season of The Crown just using the smartphone.
Versus the new ZenFone
A lot may ask that what will happen to the ZenFone 3 Deluxe now that the ZenFone 3 Zoom and ZenFone AR are approaching. To be honest, you don’t need to worry as the ZenFone 3 Zoom doesn’t match the processing power of the Deluxe, yes it may have Zoom lens but you still have a bigger screen, faster processor, more RAM and even quick-charging.
Against the ZenFone AR, the specifications differs at the processor, RAM, screen and AR capabilities. For sure the ZenFone AR is more expensive than the ZenFone 3 Deluxe, so they don’t match the same price range.
The ZenFone 3 Deluxe is a flagship class of its own, surely it may not have the radical features of other flagship phones but it surely packs a punch how it optimizes its performance, camera and still sleek design.
For a price tag of Php34,995, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe surely has the specifications for what it is asking for (AMOLED, 6GB RAM, 820 Processor, 64GB storage). But somehow, we don’t see something that stands out among the crowd as it’s just like a high-end ZenFone 3 in our experience.
For us, if only ASUS had this beast available during the fiasco of Note7 then it would have flourished as a great alternative to the Note7. It feels like it, it performs like it and even the camera shoots like the Note7. So that is why we also award the ZenFone 3 Deluxe our 100% Satisfying Premium Smartphone award.