The Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe could have been one of the greats. Instead, its poor performance makes it downright forgettable, and easily overshadowed by the ZenFone AR announced in January at CES. For the price, you'd be better off with the cheaper ZenFone 3, or even the OnePlus 3T, with its cheaper price and similar specs.
On the plus side, it costs $500 or AU$735 unlocked, which works out to be around £450 (it's not yet available in the UK). Part of that reasonable pricing has to do with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. If you opt for the version with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821 chipset, the cost zooms to $800, which is about £660 or AU$1,085 (this version is not yet available in either the UK or Australia).
First, some positives. I love the design of this all-metal, 5.7-inch phone. Asus has done some clever engineering to hide the antenna lines and the result is a clean-looking metal device. The phone's display is bright and vibrant. As for the Deluxe's charging lifespan, I'm pleased to report the embedded 3,000mAh battery is more than sufficient to last you a full day's use and then some. In our video looping tests, the phone lasted 13 hours 55 minutes.
Now for the negatives. While the diagnostic benchmark scores were pretty good -- thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor -- actual day-to-day performance can be laggy. My best guess is that bloatware (a lot of preloaded apps) uses up precious memory and slows everything down, especially keeping all those apps updated in the background. In addition, I find the keyboard unwieldy. It keeps the settings button where the number switch key is usually located, and also has the worst autocorrect feature I've come across. You're better off downloading and installing Google's keyboard (which I did, after struggling for 2 hours with the Asus keyboard).
The rear 23-megapixel camera does a wonderful job snapping pictures when there's enough light, but low-light situations are a bit hit and miss. The default auto mode keeps the shutter open longer for a brighter image, but if your subjects are constantly moving (like my cat), then all you get is a bright but blurry shot. Check out the test shots gallery below for a more in-depth look at the camera.
The Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe is a great piece of hardware from Asus, but the Taiwanese company needs to figure out how to do software better. The company also needs to figure out how to deliver phones earlier -- it announced the ZenFone 3 in June, and review units trickled out 6 months later. Because of the delay, there are already phones out that are just as good and even better. For our money, we'd go with the or even the regular ZenFone 3.
Hardware specs comparison
|Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe||Asus ZenFone 3||OnePlus 3T|
|Display size, resolution||5.7-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels||5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels||5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels|
|Dimensions (Inches)||6.16x3.05x0.3 in||6.01x3.05x0.3 in||6.01x2.94x0.29 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||156.4x77.4x7.5 mm||152.6x77.4x7.7 mm||152.7x74.7x7.35 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||6 oz; 170 g||5.47 oz; 155 g||5.57 oz; 158 g|
|Mobile software||Android 6.0 Marshmallow||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow||Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow|
|Processor||2.15GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 / 2.4GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821||2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625||2.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821|
|Storage||64GB, 256GB||32GB, 64GB||64GB, 128GB|
|Expandable storage||Up to 2TB||Up to 256GB||None|
|Battery||3,000mAh (nonremovable)||3,000mAh (nonremovable)||3,400mAh (nonremovable)|
|Fingerprint sensor||Back cover||Back cover||Home button|
|Special features||Dual-SIM, metal chassis with no antenna lines||Laser/phase detection autofocus, OIS (4-axis), fingerprint doubles as shutter button||Notifications toggle, dual-SIM, Dash Charging|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$500||$249||$439 (16GB), $479 (128GB)|
|Price (GBP)||Converts to £410||Converts to £170||£399 (16GB), £439 (128GB)|
|Price (AUD)||AU$735||Converts to AU$350||Converts to AU$590 (16GB), AU$650 (128GB)|