According to a report published in 2013, over 90% of people who have ever taken a photo in their life have only done so on a phone, not a traditional or standalone camera. That is a staggering number of people if you think about it, especially taking into consideration the keyword in that phrase is ‘ever’. Which means that, even two years ago, when smartphone cameras were arguably worse than they are now, people still defaulted to them for that snapshotting needs. This is completely understandable simply because a smartphone is more portable, usually cheaper and are just generally more convenient.
One of the biggest problems was that most smartphones relied on a digital zoom, which is more like a fancy way to crop your photos if you think about it. The one you want to go for when zooming is the optical zoom, which adjusts the glass positioned in a camera/lens unit to reposition the light hitting the sensor, which brings the image closer but maintains its quality. Most smartphones shy away from using this because having multiple pieces of glass in the camera unit means having more space which in turn translates to a bigger camera hump.
The supposedly brilliant thing about the ZenFone Zoom though is that it is the “world’s thinnest 3x-optical zoom smartphone”. How thin is thin? Well ASUS states that the ZenFone Zoom only has a 5mm edge. Bear in mind, this is the edge, and as the ZenFone line of devices have usually been curved at the back, this looks to be no exception. From the looks of it, the device’s camera unit does take up an enormous amount of space on the back panel ala-Lumia 1020, but it doesn’t seem to protrude as much as the Lumia.
In a device that is designed to take photographs, most of the actual photography will be taken by the primary 13-megapixel rear shooter while selfies and video chats will be handled by the device’s 5MP front facing unit. Other primary camera goodies include a dual-LED flash, laser autofocus, optical image stabilisation (OIS) and ASUS’ PixelMaster 2.0 camera technology that is designed to greatly improve low light photography, granting up to a 400% increase in brightness. For those curious about the PixelMaster 2.0 technology, we’ve already put it through its paces in our Zenfone 2 Laser review. The ZenFone Zoom will also feature a dedicated shutter button, record button as well as a zoom rocker.
Then again, we already expected most of this as the device was announced almost a year ago. What we do know now for sure now is that the device will come in 64GB and 128GB variants. Internal specs include an Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz for the 64GB variant while the 128GB variant will be powered by a 2.5GHz Intel Atom Z3590 quad-core processor. Based on the website, it appears that the device will also come with 4GB of RAM and be powered by a 3,000 mAh battery with ASUS’ BoostMaster quick charging technology. The devices will also come running Android Lollipop out of the box.
Display wise, the smartphone will come with a 5.5-inch full HD display with a pixel density of 403 ppi tucked away under the protection of Corning Gorilla Glass 4. The body will also be of an aluminium unibody construction with what looks like a faux leather back to help with grip and texture as well as a ridge at the bottom of the phone to help with one handed photography. But we all know what a unibody means: no removable battery. It does have what looks like a lanyard port and appears to come bundled with a camera strap.
The 64GB device retails in Taiwan for TWD13,990 (around RM1,806) while the 128GB will go for TWD15,990 (around RM2,065). While ASUS did not announce when this device will be available in other markets, ASUS Malaysia has hinted at an end-of-2015 release, which means it could be any time now. The odd thing is that this device was announced a long time ago, and between its announcement and today ASUS has launched several devices already.
This begs the question, what took them so long? Was there a massive kink in the device that delayed its launch this long? Let’s hope they’ve worked out whatever problems they had with it (if they had any problems) lest we have a repeat of LG’s little disaster.
We suspect this device will appeal to some camera enthusiasts who were interested in the Lumia 1020 but not the Windows Mobile platform. While it does seem that this device is a worthy Android equivalent, its sensor is but a measly 13-megapixels versus the Lumia 1020’s 41-megapixel monstrosity. Then again, megapixel isn’t the be-all and end-all of camera quality, so we will just have to wait and see.