Meet the ZenFone Zoom
The ZenFone Zoom (ZX551ML) is a next-generation handset from ASUS that adds a revolutionary optical zoom mechanism to the camera and wraps it all in a premium metal frame.
Let’s take a high-level overview to start. The ZenFone Zoom has a 5.5-inch 1080p display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4. Processor speed starts at 2.3 GHz, with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. Stylish black and white colors options are available, along with an optional orange rear cover, and matching lanyards.
A 5 megapixel camera on the front is available to take selfies, but you’ll likely be doing more shooting on the powerful 13 megapixel camera on the back. It packs 3X optical zoom, extending out to a maximum of 12X.
The star of the show is the primary rear 13 megapixel camera with dual LED flash. At close ranges, the Zoom’s laser-assisted autofocus can lock in on a subject in a mere 0.03 seconds, but the Zoom really shines when looking at something farther away. The few instances where smartphones have incorporated an optical zoom has resulted in a bulky, telescoping mechanism. The 3X magnification available in the ZenFone Zoom is made possible by an innovative periscoping design.
The 10-element HOYA lens is arrayed in parallel to the rear of the ZenFone rather than perpendicular, like most smartphones. This allows for a slim profile while still benefiting from the improved clarity of optical zoom. Combined with traditional digital zoom, you can get up to 12X zoom. The opportunities for capturing detail at this distance are unprecedented for a phone.
Photographers will instantly enjoy the dedicated hardware keys along the side. A video button and two-step shutter button combine with zoom keys for full control. The usual shortcuts are in place so you can easily launch into the camera app from the lock screen with a few quick presses of the keys. Optical image stabilization has also been enhanced to support exposures that are 16 times longer. By eliminating camera shake, the OIS system can let you shoot at 4 stops lower than you could with a non-OIS camera.
The tried and true ASUS PixelMaster engine provides a wide range of shooting modes, from panoramic selfies, to low-noise night mode shots, backlit HDR photos, burst-mode action pictures, and plenty more. Built-in tools like PhotoCollage and MiniMovie afford a wealth of creative options for your final products, too.
Everything about the ZenFone’s Zoom build is high class. The Zoom’s antenna is seamlessly fused to the slim 5 mm aluminum unibody frame. Diamond-cutting techniques are applied to the exterior for a superior edge, then sanded and anodized to an exceptionally smooth finish. The ox leather rear has been tailored, molded and stamped using traditional Italian techniques. When it comes to fit and finish, the ZenFone Zoom provides an experience of pure luxury.
A 64-bit dual-channel Intel Atom quad-core processor starting at 2.3 GHz and 640 MHz GPU are backed up by 4 GB of RAM for cutting-edge performance. Intel’s Tri-Gate transistors are a significant addition. Their unique construction allows for improved electron flow with minimal current leakage and better performance at low voltages. Zoom models with either 64 GB or 128 GB of internal storage are available, in addition to another 128 GB from the microSD memory card and a free 100 GB in the cloud on Google Drive.
The omnidirectional Zentenna construction ensures strong, consistent signal, be it over Wi-Fi with speeds of up to 433 Mbps over 802.11ac, or 250 Mbps on LTE CAT4+ cellular networks. Even GPS manages to track location more accurately than competing flagship handsets.
The ZenFone Zoom is very smart about how it uses the 3,000 mAh battery, ensuring you can get through a whole day on a single charge. The preloaded Auto-Start Manager tool can keep an eye on background apps to ensure there’s nothing extra taxing your phone’s battery. New BoostMaster technology helps you get a charge faster than ever. In only 39 minutes the ZenFone Zoom can go from empty to 60% charged.
The 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS screen offers an incredibly crisp 403 pixel per inch on a relatively small device footprint. The front face is covered by Gorilla Glass 4, which is built to resist shattering, protect against scratches, and leave minimal fingerprints thanks to an oleophobic coating. Also, the touch sensor is versatile enough to work work through a sprinkling of water or a pair of normal gloves.
On the software side, the Splendid app can manage a color balance and saturation. Specifically, the Bluelight filter is built to reduce eye strain by lowering harsh blue tones throughout the experience.
A five-magnet speaker and dedicated sound chamber provides noticeably greater volume and clarity than traditional single-magnet smartphone speakers.
On the processing side, ASUS has polished their SonicMaster engine to a shine. It can be leveraged to provide echo and background noise cancellation for crystal clear calls. The dedicated AudioWizard app can fine-tune sound based on usage, be it watching a movie, playing a game, enjoying a podcast, or just listening to music.
The ZenFone Zoom runs Android with a handful of useful ASUS customizations. Features like ZenMotion allow users to open apps right from a sleeping screen just by drawing a letter with their finger. Alongside Google’s excellent apps, you’ll find ASUS options available for many everyday tasks, both big and small.
A wealth of personalization options can change the entire look and feel of the Android experience. This includes icons, fonts, accent colors in native apps, folder and home screen animations. Of course ZenUI is balanced and beautiful out of the box without any tinkering, but the options are there for those looking to make the ZenFone Zoom their own.