If you feel that ASUS’s ZenFones are too plain and too ordinary for your taste, ASUS has something with more flair to meet your expectation. The ZenFone Zoom is a camera-centric phone where a lot of effort has been placed into it so that users can have a better shooting experience with a smartphone. The major attraction of this phone would be the 3X optical zoom, which is quite uncommon, despite the advancement of photography capability in these few years.
Like we have mentioned, optical zoom is not totally a new thing but it can only be found on camera-phone hybrid like the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom previously. What makes the ZenFone Zoom more appealing than other smart devices with optical zoom is that ASUS manages to place the hardware in a smaller chassis, which is much, much closer to a phone than a camera. Credits should be given to ASUS for making this possible, even though the optical zoom is only 3X. At first glance, the ASUS ZenFone Zoom looks a lot like the Nokia Lumia 1020 except the corners are rounded. It has the protruding “oreo” on the back.
Of course, the optical zoom alone is not enough to capture good photos. ASUS has packed in a 13 megapixel sensor and a laser autofocus like the one found on LG G3 to ensure that the autofocus can be achieved almost instantly. The camera equipped with optical image stabilization where it can cancel out small motion when we are taking photos. Photos and videos can be less blurry and low light shooting should be improved as longer exposure time is possible. A dual-colour Xenon flash is present too.
On the front, there is a 5MP shooter with 88 degrees wide angle lens and it should be great for selfies. 5.5″ 1080p display is included, which is great for day-to-day use and also as the camera viewfinder. Gorilla Glass 3 is here to protect the screen. ASUS has no word on the chipset used but LTE will be present. As the camera plays such a big role in the ZenFone Zoom, the storage will be a concern for most people. Fortunately, the storage available will be up to 128GB but ASUS has not confirmed the128GB model will reach every region. A huge 3,000mAh battery is used and it should be enough to last at least one whole day. The phone will be running ASUS ZenUI on top of Android Lollipop.
So why do you need optical zoom while taking photos? While we try zooming in with current smartphones, only digital zoom is available and certainly we can notice that the image will be blurry. Digital zoom can only enlarges each pixel without providing more details to the captured picture. However, by moving the distance between the lens, optical zoom can actually magnify the image without sacrificing the quality. ASUS claims that we can achieve 12X zoom on the ZenFone Zoom, with the combination of optical zoom and digital zoom.
In case you are interested in how ASUS made this possible, we quoted the article from Engadget as the details of the camera hardware is provided.
The illustration above shows how this camera module works: You can imagine it as a periscope lying flat against the round metallic plate (hence its size), and the front group of moving optics does the zooming, whereas the group behind it is in charge of focusing and optical stabilization. With the mechanics lying flat inside the phone’s body, there’s no protruding part when you’re zooming.
The ASUS ZenFone Zoom will start at $399 (around RM1420). The price is not that steep if you consider all the engineering work to include all these hardware in a reasonably-sized body. Of course, this phone can be considered as a niche product and it will not be appealing to be everyone. So if you love taking photos with your phone or you happened to take a lot of photos from longer distance, like we take photos of lecture slides while sitting behind of the lecture hall, this can be useful. If photography is not your cup of tea, the ASUS ZenFone 2 might interest you as it has respectable specifications and an affordable price tag.