The Asus Zenfone 3 front //Photo: Cyril Dason

Review: Asus Zenfone 3 (ZE552KL) – It’s almost perfect

I just obtained the Asus Zenfone 3 a couple of days ago, and I’ve moved my simcards into the phone to give it a spin.

After a couple of daya using the phone, I can safely say that the Zenfone 3 is a phone that could grow on you, and it isn’t exactly a bad phone despite its smaller size, and less known status quo.

Before I go on, the Asus Zenfone 3 I had was the ZenFone 3 (ZE552KL), which is the 4GB RAM, 64GB storage version, and is priced at over RM1,400 at PC Image here in Kuching.

Continue reading to read my detailed review.


Thanks to the front and back Gorilla Glass 3 panels, the Zenfone 3 looks fantastic and shiny, despite being a fingerprint smudge magnet.

Asus Zenfone 3 rear back
The glass rear of the Zeonfone 3 meant that it would be prone to smudges, but it does look good. //Photo by Cyril Dason

Around the corners, there’s a nice chrome metal line which makes the smartphone look expensive, with a similar chrome metal line also beautifying the rear sides.

The ASUS name and fingerprint scanner is hard to miss at the rear, but both those and the flash that are placed at the back of the Zenfone 3 are easily overshadowed by the massive camera lens which bulges out of the flat shiny surface.

Asus Zenfone 3 rear
The bulge created by the camera of the Asus Zenfone 3 // Photo by Cyril Dason

The massive bulge for the 16MP camera does make the back feel a bit awkward but it also doubles as an indication for which is the right side up for the phone, especially since the navigation buttons on the front are somewhat missing back-light functionality.

Asus Zenfone 3 lower chin
No back light function for the navigation below. //Photo : Cyril Dason


When it comes to Android experience, it is hard not to bring in the MIUI, which has always been dubbed as ‘Android on steroids’, and is a favourite by yours truly.

However, the ZenUI isn’t far off the MIUI experience despite it offering some bloat softwares.  Compared to the stock Android experience I had with the Ulefone T1, the ZenUI came about as refreshing, snappy and almost perfect, indirectly making me believe that there is hope for other Android based OS outside of MIUI.

Asus Zenfone 3 ZenUI
Something special about the ZenUI. //Photo: Cyril Dason

The best feature of the ZenUI is definitely the Mobile Manager App, which is an all rounder app to manage and secure how the Zenfone 3 operates.


But the one thing that won me most about the Zenfone 3 is the rear camera.  At 16MP, I wasn’t expecting much from this single camera, but found myself awed by how amazing the macro shots, as well as the ‘bokeh’ effect can be done to perfection.

Note that pixels do not necessarily mean that you can get amazing photos, so when the Zenfone 3 did just that, my jaw dropped.

Asus Zenfone 3 photo sample
Macro shots with so called Bokeh effect are really nice with the Zenfone 3. //Photo: Cyril Dason

Pardon my lack of knowledge on mobile photography, but I always figured that you can only do the ‘bokeh’ thing when you have a dual-camera phone, a myth that the Zenfone 3 completely debunked for me.

Under low light conditions, the quality of the images did suffer a bit, but I would say it was still quite nice.


With only 3,000mAh powering the Zenfone 3, power drains faster than most devices I use.

A full charge would last some 6 to 8 hours at usual use at best, but thanks to quick charging 3.0, recharging the phone doesn’t take long.  I would of course would have preferred if the batter last a bit longer.


I got the Zenfone 3 by chance to be honest, getting it through phone swapping a few weeks back.  When I swapped my Ulefone T1 for the Zenfone 3, I was quite keen to get rid of it within a couple of weeks after I’ve used it, but it really looks like I am going to hang onto this phone for quite sometime.

Part of the reason why I am keeping this phone is the camera, which I must admit is, by far, the best camera I’ve ever used.

Asus Zenfone 3 Android System
The internal information of the Asus Zenfone 3.//Photo: Cyril Dason

The size of the phone is another reason why I’m keeping the Zenfone 3 as it not only has an adequate screen, but also fits nicely in my palms when I’m using it.

Granted, I do still dislike the budging camera button at the back, but that’s a minor thing compared to what the camera and the phone itself has offers. –