Zenfone Zoom Review: Get optical zoom in a phone but at a price

  • Sanshey Biswas, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 01, 2016 15:14 IST
The Zenfone Zoom might just be the last in the short history of phones with an optical zoom and if you’re looking for the replacement for your Nokia PureView phone, the Asus Zenfone Zoom is a close as you get.

The Rs 37,999 photography-focused phone, Asus Zenfone Zoom is the most recent phone to feature a optical zoom. The feature adds bulk to the device, but that’s the trade you make for a feature so rare. It also features optical image stabilisation which tries to make sure that the pictures aren’t blurry. However, the 13-megapixel camera sensor isn’t the latest, but does a great job as you’ll see in the sample pictures.

An optical zoom means that instead of taking pictures using software to give you a closer look, the lenses of the camera move physically for a closer look. That means no loss in quality. It’s essentially is like a telescope. So, we took it out for a round and this is how it faired.

Remember the zoom feature on James Bond’s phone that could capture faces even though they were really far away, this phone goes somewhere close to that with the Air Asia text on the plane being barely visible without the 3x optical zoom.

Despite the optical image stabilisation, there will be shaky pictures, especially in the dark, but when you zoom in, the focus on the phone somehow seem to get better.

When you’re taking pictures in a place with less lighting, the phone captures decent detail. But when you tap on the owl icon that pops up when you’re in a low lit area, the night-mode gets activated to give you unbelievably bright photos with great colour reproduction but lesser sharpness which you don’t really mind.

The night mode is also available on other Zenfones, but it works like magic on the Zenfone Zoom. Add that to a list of features like optical image stabilisation, 3x optical zoom, 3,000 mAh battery, 128 GB inbuilt storage and the Zenfone Zoom seems like a really attractive option for someone who takes a lot of pictures.

Besides the camera goodness, it runs Android Lollipop with their ZenUI on top. The ZenUI is much better on this high-end device than on the Zenfone Laser. The body is clad in a nice leather-like back and metal rims all around. Yes, the phone feels heavy, but the weight is divided across the 5.5-inch full HD screen-bearing body and feels fine. This Zenfone has 128 GB inbuilt storage and is expandable via a microSD card. Powered by an Intel Atom and 4 GB RAM, it can match the performance of a netbook and sound too with the surprisingly loud built-in speakers. Above all, the phone’s all-day battery makes it one of the most desirable photography companion being sold.

Despite being a great package, the phone’s price makes it a hard sell since it misses out on a fingerprint sensor and great feel in the hand. For Rs 1,000 more, you can grab a Nexus 6p which has the latest Android OS, great performance, feels great in the hand, sports a fingerprint sensor and takes really good pictures. However, the Zenfone Zoom still manages to stay unique with the optical image stabilisation and optical zoom. The smartphone might just be the last in the short history of phones with an optical zoom and if you’re looking for a replacement for your Nokia PureView phone, the Asus Zenfone Zoom is as close as you get.

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