Product Listing

ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe review: The first flagship ZenFone

By James Lu - 20 Jan 2017
Launch SRP: S$998

Benchmark Performance, Imaging, Battery life, and Conclusion

Benchmark Performance

As previously mentioned there are actually two versions of the ZenFone 3 Deluxe: one with Qualcomm's newer Snapdragon 821 processor, and one with the older Snapdragon 820 processor. Unfortunately, only the 820 version is available in Singapore. The Snapdragon 820 is nearly a year old now, and with Qualcomm announcing the Snapdragon 835 at CES, it's a bit disappointing to see ASUS launch such an expensive phone with a processor that's nearly at the end of its life.

  ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe OnePlus 3T Huawei Mate 9 LG V20 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Apple iPhone 7 Plus
  ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe OnePlus 3T Huawei Mate 9 LG V20 Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Launch SRP
  • From S$998
  • From S$799
  • From S$898
  • From S$998
  • From S$1098
  • From S$1248
Operating system
  • Android 6.0 with ASUS ZenUI 3.0
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Oxygen OS 3.2.4
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with EMUI 5.0
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with LG UX 5.0+
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • iOS 10
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core (2x2.15 GHz Kryo & 2x1.6 GHz Kryo)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 (dual-core 2.35GHz Kryo & dual-core 1.6GHz Kryo)
  • Hisilicon Kirin 960 Octa-core (4x 2.4GHz Cortex-A73 & 4x 1.8GHz Cortex-A53)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core (dual-core 2.15GHz Kyro & dual-core 1.59GHz Kyro), 14nm process
  • Samsung Exynos 8890 octa-core (quad-core 2.3GHz Cortex- M1 & quad-core 1.6GHz Cortex-A53), 14nm process
  • Apple A10 Fusion quad-core 2.33GHz processor
Built-in Memory
  • 6GB RAM
  • 6GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 3GB RAM
Display
  • 5.7-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (386 ppi) / Super AMOLED
  • 5.5-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401 ppi) / Optic AMOLED
  • 5.9-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (373ppi) / IPS LCD
  • 5.7-inch Main / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (513ppi) / IPS Quantum Display
  • 2.1-inch Secondary / 160 x 1,040 (513ppi) / IPS Quantum Display
  • 5.5-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (534 ppi) / Super AMOLED
  • Always-On Display
  • Edge Screen
  • 5.5-inch Retina HD / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401ppi) / IPS
Camera
  • Rear: 23-megapixel, f/2.0, laser/phase detection autofocus, 1/2.6" sensor size, 1 µm pixel size, OIS (4-axis), dual-LED (dual tone) flash
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/2.0
  • Rear: 16-megapixel, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus, OIS, LED flash, 1/2.8" sensor size, 1.12 µm pixel size
  • Front: 16-megapixel, f/2.0, 1.0 µm pixel size
  • Rear: Dual 20-megapixel (monochrome) + 12-megapixel (RGB), f/2.2, OIS, Leica optics, phase detection, laser autofocus, dual-LED flash
  • Front: 8-megapixel, f/1.9
  • Rear (Standard): 16-megapixel, f/1.8, optical image stabilization, laser autofocus, 75-degree field of view
  • Rear (Wide): 8-megapixel, f/2.4, laser autofocus, 135-degree field of view
  • Front: 5-megapixel, f/1.9, 120-degree field of view
  • Rear: 12-megapixel with f/1.7 aperture and smart OIS
  • Front: 5-megapixel with f/1.7 aperture
  • Rear: Dual 12-megapixel, (f/1.8, 28mm & f/2.8, 56mm) with phase detection autofocus, OIS, and quad LED (dual-tone) flash
  • Front: 7-megapixel, f/2.2 FaceTime HD camera
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, USB 2.0 Type-C, Wi-Fi Direct
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, DLNA, USB Type-C, USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth v4.2
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, A-GPS, GLONASS, LTE CAT 9/3G/2G
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 9 (up to 450Mbps), Bluetooth 4.1, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, hotspot, Bluetooth v4.2, A2DP, LE, GPS, GLONASS, Lightning connector
Storage Type
  • 64GB storage (expandable via microSD to 128GB)
  • 64GB internal storage
  • 64GB internal storage
  • Expandable up to 256GB via microSD
  • 64GB internal storage (UFS)
  • 2TB (MicroSD)
  • 32GB internal storage (UFS 2.0)
  • 200GB (MicroSD)
  • 32 / 128 / 256GB internal storage
Battery
  • 3,000 mAh
  • 3,400mAh
  • Dash Charge
  • 4,000mAh
  • 3,200mAh
  • Removable
  • 3,600mAh
  • Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging
  • 2,900mAh
Dimensions
  • 156.4 x 77.4 x 7.5mm
  • 152.7 x 74.7 x 7.4 mm
  • 156.9 x 78.9 x 7.9mm
  • 159.7 x 78.1 x 7.6mm
  • 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7mm
  • 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm
Weight
  • 170g
  • 158g
  • 190g
  • 174g
  • 157g
  • 188g


Sunspider Javascript

SunSpider JavaScript measures the browsing performance of a device when processing JavaScript. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance, but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is at delivering a high-speed web browsing experience. 

While the ZenFone 3 Deluxe performed the worst in this benchmark, I didn't notice any lag or slow loading when I was actually using the phone for Internet browsing.

 

Quadrant

Quadrant is an Android benchmark that evaluates a device's CPU, memory, I/O and 3D graphics performances. As this is an Android benchmark, the Apple iPhone 7 Plus is not included. As expected, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe's older 820 processor couldn't keep up with the OnePlus 3T's 821 and also lagged way behind Samsung's Exynos 8890-powered Galaxy S7 Edge.  It did however perform to expectations for this processor model as referenced against LG V20.


 

 

3DMark Sling Shot

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes impressive volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. We're running this benchmark in Unlimited mode, which ignores screen resolutions.

Once again, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe couldn't match up with the performance leaders like OnePlus 3T, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and iPhone 7 Plus. It did however rank up on par with Hauwei's Mate 9 and LG's V20, but as you can tell, we expected better from a thousand-dollar phone at this point of time.



 

Imaging

On the back of the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is a 23-megapixel, f/2.0 Sony IMX318 camera with 3-axis optical image stabilization, and laser autofocus. 

ASUS' default camera app is packed with a variety of features, and comes with no less than 20 different shooting modes, including beautification, low light, depth of field, timelapse, and more. Manual mode offers contorl over white balance, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, and focus, and you even get a built-in histogram and a horizontal level so you can get a perfectly straight shot every time.

Unfortunately, more megapixels doesn't necessarily translate to a better picture and the camera on the ZenFone 3 Deluxe was a little disappointing. Color reproduction and dynamic range are pretty good, but even in good lighting conditions at low ISO levels, there's a lot of noise and noticeable smearing throughout the shot. Detail in the middle of the frame looks okay, but anything towards the edge is soft, and there's some obvious jitteriness around the edges of objects (it's particularly obvious around the vodka bottle on the left). Low light performance is even worse, with the camera taking about two or three seconds to capture a shot, which is then blurry as a result.

Click for full-size image

 

 

Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

The ZenFone 3 Deluxe has a 3,000mAh battery, which is relatively small for a 5.7-inch phone. Even with expectations tempered, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe was still quite disappointing in our video looping battery life benchmark, lasting just under nine hours before dying.

On the plus side, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe is armed with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, so at least it doesn’t take a long time get it back to a full charge. You can expect 60 percent charge in about 30 minutes.

 

Conclusion

The ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe is an ambitious phone, but it doesn't quite deliver everything you expect at this price point. We liked the antenna-less rear design, but weren't too keen on the oblong-shape fingerprint scanner, and the rest of the design is quite derivative without any fresh elements that we haven't seen before.

Camera performance and battery life - two of the most important features of any smartphone today - were also disappointing, with the 23-megapixel Sony IMX318 camera showing some noticeable flaws, and the relatively small 3,000mAh battery insufficient for a phone of this size.

Finally, it's just too late to launch a Snapdragon 820-powered smartphone. The 820 is almost a year old and has already been replaced by the 821. Once 2017's flagship smartphones hit the shelves with Qualcomm's new 835 processor, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe will be even more out of date.

Looking at ASUS' other product lines (like the Zenbook range or its graphics cards) we know that ASUS has what it takes to compete at the highest levels, but the ZenFone 3 Deluxe isn't there yet. For what it offers, the ZenFone 3 Deluxe feels more like a S$600 phone, and if it was priced around this level, it would be a competitive choice against other affordable flagships like the OnePlus 3T and Xiaomi Mi5. But at S$998, there's no compelling reason to buy it when for S$400 less you can buy the more powerful, longer lasting OnePlus 3T, or for around the same price, you can get the LG V20 with its audiophile features, higher resolution display, always-on second display, and excellent camera/microphone features. Samsung's Galaxy S7, despite being a year old, is better than the ZenFone 3 Deluxe in every aspect, and can now be had for much less than its original S$998 launch price.

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6.5
  • Design 7.5
  • Features 7
  • User-Friendliness 7
  • Performance 6.5
  • Value 5.5
The Good
Clean antenna-less rear design
The Bad
Expensive
Below average battery life
Older processor
Disappointing camera
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