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It’s looking like Asus Philippines wants to penetrate more of the market share with their latest camera focused entrant into the Zenfone 3 lineup. Will it be a convincing steal from its competitors like Samsung? Let’s find out.

Design

Overall design takes cues from the Zenfone 3 family with an almost full metal build at the back that caps the bottom and top parts in plastic to make way for signal reception similar to the Oppo F1s and the Vibe K5 Note. Something very noticeable is the camera bump beside the laser autofocus, phase detection module, and a dual tone LED flash. Right below, replacing the volume rocker of last year’s Zenfone 2, is a similarly shaped fingerprint sensor.

The right side houses the volume rocker above the wake/lock button both with subtle texturing as an added touch reminiscent of the concentric circle design of Asus. The opposite end houses the hybrid dual nano sim tray. The top portion is where you will find the headphone jack and the second microphone. While the bottom portion is where you’ll locate the micro USB port, the mono speaker grille and the main microphone.

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The 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3 serves as frontline of defense for the front facing camera, ambient light and proximity sensor, LED notification and non-back-lit capacitive navigation keys.

Overall heft and feel is on the lighter side if you’re used to bigger and meaner smartphones. It’s solid, cool and smooth to the touch with just the right width for averagely sized hands and fingers. Do note that it will be slippery thanks to the smooth finish of the metal backing.

The display measures 5.5-inch Full HD 1080p LCD IPS with 401 ppi. Output is noticeably bright with some strain under direct sunlight. Colors are punchy and well detailed thanks to the reasonable resolution.

The black side bezels aren’t too annoying but wished it wasn’t there. The display is good and clear.

Camera

The highlight of the laser will be the 13 MP, f/2.0, laser autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash setup at the back where the rounded square camera hump resides.

Comparing to other cameras in the mid-range to budget setup, it’s easy to understand why this is aptly named the laser.

Camera quality is top notch in taking day-lit images although processing leans towards paler and overexposed shots seen here.

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It will struggle in making sense of scenes shot at night however, like these.

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The proprietary low light mode aids in this category but results are grainy and noisy with focus on making the shot brighter through post processing and not a clearer and sharper image.

If you happen to understand how to operate manual mode, photos will come out better if you can keep a steady hand or if you have a tripod handy.

Low light scenarios fare better than average on an 80% reliability specially with focusing and white balancing. Don’t get us wrong. It’s faster than your average shooter but there will some delay in looking for your subject specially when taking one up close like this. Some struggles include choosing which part of the image should brightness and white balance to adjust for.

Selfies are a standard Asian affair on the 8MP front facing shooter with proprietary beautification mode that can add hues for your cheeks and lips, make your eyes bigger and a thinner chin apart from the standard blemish removal.

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Videos cap out at 1080p that produce the same results as the still images with some struggles in white balancing that kicks in after focusing in lowlight scenarios. It’s not much of a big deal but it felt sluggish in processing for details that tends to overexpose on bright areas of the video.

Performance

Performance is at par as other devices on the 400 series chipset paired with 2gb of ram and 32gb of on board storage for the base version and 4gb ram with 64gb of memory for the higher end version.

The entire experience is sluggish and slow for the most part specially when much of the limited processing capacity has to adjust for graphic animations of the ZENUI like calling up desktop settings seen here among so many aspects of the user experience that fails in just that. Additionally, it doesn’t help that the OS is clad in about 50% bloatware of anything and everything Asus. We really wish Asus would do away with add ons that hardly make the experience more pleasurable.

Graphic intensive games will have to be set at the lowest to medium settings if you don’t want stutter and lag in playing. All usual apps used on a daily basis responded well between pressing on an app and when the app goes full screen.

Some things to note is that the capacitive non back-lit navigation buttons will stutter when being utilized with sweaty or wet fingers. The fingerprint sensor at the back is surprisingly fast to recognize our fingers where even a light tap would unlock the screen.

Battery

The 3000mAh battery will get you through most of the day with some topping up needed if you utilize the camera functions more often and/or if you’re looking to maximize on productivity.

We got about 4.5 hours of screen-on-time thanks in part to the less demanding display and the chipset.

Achieving full charge from 0 will take about 3 hours and 30 minutes with the absence of quick charge or fast charge capabilities.

Audio

Speakers are averagely loud with noticeable strain when listening at full blast.

Verdict

Retailing at 11,995 pesos or about 260USD for the base model the Asus Zenfone 3 Laser stands at a good pricepoint for the camera focused while providing reasonable processing capabilities-bloatware aside. It’s properly positioned between the Zenfone 3 max and Zenfone 3 to give consumers an option.

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What do you think of the Asus Zenfone 3 Laser? hit us up on the comments section below.

Mabuhay, Manila.

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser Full specs, Official price, Release date in the Philippines

  • Display: 5.5-inch Full HD 1080p LCD IPS, 401 ppi
  • Design: Metal casing, 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 3
  • Size: 149 x 76 x 8.05mm, 150g weight
  • CPU: Snapdragon 430 chip with octa-core processor, 1.4GHz speed
  • GPU: Adreno 505 graphics
  • RAM: 2GB; 4GB
  • Memory: 32GB;64GB internal storage, microSD up to 128GB (hybrid)
  • Camera: 13MP PixelMaster, f2.0 aperture, 1080p video, dual-LED flash, laser focus, standard Electronic IS, HDR
  • Selfie: 8MP f2.0, wide-angle, 1080p video
  • Connectivity: 4G LTE, dual-SIM (hybrid), GPS, WiFi n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Port: microUSB 2.0
  • Security: rear facing fingerprint scanner
  • Battery: 3000mAh
  • OS: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, Zen UI 3.0
  • Colors: Sand Gold, Glacier Silver
  • Price: estimated official retail price at P11,995 ($255) pesos for base version
  • Release date: October 2016. Asus Zenfone 3 Laser available in the Philippines

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