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Asus ZenFone 3 review: Too good for wallet-watchers to pass up

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The Good Asus' latest ZenFone 3 packs a premium design and materials into a brilliant, affordable phone.

The Bad Its cluttered user interface nags you with notifications until you turn them off. The glass rear is also a fingerprint magnet.

The Bottom Line The ZenFone 3's beautiful looks, premium build and satisfying camera give it an advantage over other inexpensive phones -- it's worth your time and attention.

8.3 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Camera 8
  • Battery 10

After two generations of plastic phones, Asus is finally returning to its premium roots. The ZenFone 3 houses midrange specs in a beautiful body that's surprisingly affordable. With a starting price of $249 for the model with 32GB of onboard storage -- around £170 or AU$350 -- this phone is a fantastic deal for markets in Asia like India and Singapore. Those in the US and UK will have to wait till the fourth quarter before the phone launches there, unfortunately.

The ZenFone 3 looks like an iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S7 hybrid and feels especially premium compared to other phones that stick with metal or even plastic builds. And its USB Type-C port brings the handset into the growing ranks of phones that switched to the new standard.

The 5.5-inch full-HD display is bright and vibrant, and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor is snappy. It's not as powerful as flagship phones packing the Snapdragon 820 chip, of course, but it's powerful enough to play Asphalt 8 and Pokemon Go without issue. The phone scored well in our diagnostic benchmark tests, easily proving its chops as a midrange handset. Battery life was great, lasting around 16.5 hours in our looping video tests. Most phones hold up for around 11 to 12 hours, while those with bigger batteries can easily go up to 20 hours or more.

Camera wise, the 16-megapixel rear lens with its four-axis optical image stabilization does a good job with lowlight shots. Check out the gallery below for some of the shots I took. If you have jittery hands, this feature will definitely be useful. On the front, the 8-megapixel shooter has the Asus Beauty Mode, which, when used on me, doesn't really do much, but selfie addicts might enjoy controls that can slim the face and enlarge your eyes.

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