What newly launched smartphone has a dual-camera setup, hefty 5000mAh battery, and one of the most efficient processors out there? Sounds like a lot, but ASUS somehow crammed all that into the ZenFone 3 Zoom.

Something new, something old

Even though the cat got out of the bag early, ASUS’ latest addition to the Zoom series is still impressive in person. The dark metallic body and cleaner-than-usual backside are distinct from any ZenFone we’ve used before. Notice how different it looks compared to the 5.5-inch ZenFone 3 and 5.5-inch ZenFone 3 Max.

ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom

(L-R) ASUS ZenFone 3 5.5, ZenFone 3 Zoom, ZenFone 3 Max 5.5

The front still takes after every ZenFone already out there

ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom

Here’s a GIF showing off more angles

ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom

Zoom in a little closer, and you’ll see the most important feature

ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom

But enough of the design; what you should be after is the 12-megapixel twin-lens setup at the back. They function just like the ones found in the LG G5, V20, and iPhone 7 Plus, wherein one unit handles regular wide-angle photos, while the other has a longer 2.3x focal length (equivalent to 59mm) and bright f/1.7 aperture. And we’re talking about actual optical zoom, and not just some pixelated digital zoom.

Unfortunately, longer zooms cause instability and slower focusing. ASUS counters those issues by equipping the ZenFone 3 Zoom with 4-axis optical image stabilization and 3-axis electronic image stabilization, plus an autofocus system packing a second-generation laser focusing mechanism, subject tracking, and Dual Pixel phase detection (like what you’d find on advanced DSLR cameras).

This is how much optical zoom you get

And these were taken in the evening

The front camera has a higher resolution of 13 megapixels

There’s more than enough power in here

Going back to opening statement, the ZenFone 3 Zoom also comes with a large battery and Qualcomm’s highly efficient Snapdragon 625 processor — the same chip found in the original ZenFone 3. Along with the 5.5-inch Full HD display, you should get close to two whole days of usage without having to recharge.

Memory and storage options depend on what’s available in your region. The engineering sample we tested came with 4GB of memory and 64GB of internal storage that you can expand using the hybrid SIM card tray (the second slot can be used for either a second SIM or microSD card).

As for how it fares in actual usage, it’s on par with the equivalent ZenFone 3 configuration. Despite all the usual bloatware in its Android Marshmallow-based ZenUI, gaming performance and multitasking are still top-notch, even when playing heavy games like Asphalt 8 or the NBA 2K series. That’s pretty much what you’d expect from the do-it-all Snapdragon 625 chipset.

After our short time with the ZenFone 3 Zoom, we’re confident calling it a metal-bodied version of the ZenFone 3 with the generous battery of the ZenFone Max and ASUS’ best camera implementation to date. We’ll delve into these aspects more in our full review.

You won’t have to wait too long

The price is currently pegged at around the same level as the 5.5-inch ZenFone 3, or about $380. As for availability, shipments will begin between February and early March, depending again on where you reside. We’ll update this space as soon as we receive the exact dates and numbers.

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