Asus seemed to have turned a new leaf when the company showcased a barrage of new smartphones, at Computex 2016 in Taiwan back in June. Since then we have seen more premium looking devices come from Asus featuring metal construction (instead of plastic bits) and Qualcomm chipsets (from Intel chips). Asus basically moved from the budget segment into the mid-range and the premium smartphone market in India. After smartphones like the Zenfone 3 and the Zenfone 3 Max Asus finally announced the phablet-sized Zenfone 3 Ultra and the Zenfone 3 Deluxe, its first flagship smartphone.
Asus’ hardware and software choices in the past may have not been the best, but in the flagship space things get pretty competitive and even the smallest drawbacks can and will make buyers look at another brand. Things can only get worse when you’re under the radar for being a new entrant in a segment flooded with established brands. So does Asus’ first flagship smartphone cut it? At Rs 49,999 (for the Snapdragon 820 model) how does it compete with premium offerings from LG, Sony, HTC and Samsung? Let’s find out!
Build and Design: 7.5/10
I am impressed by the fit, finish and the precision of the build quality of the Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe. I liked how Asus managed to conceal the antenna bands as well resulting in a rather clean layout that makes one wonder whether the rear cover is made of plastic or metal? Well, it’s metal and it surely feels premium when holding it. The company calls this Asus PureMetal technology and for now, no other manufacturer out there offers the anything close to it. However, with the ‘Deluxe’ tag, I expected something more than impressive, and this flagship Zenfone is anything but that.
Look at it from the front and it looks similar to the Zenfone 3, minus the 2.5D glass. Flip it over and the back looks similar to every other new Asus handset including the Zenfone 3 Laser. My problem with the design is that it’s not something that anyone around me in the office tagged as premium or different, something that stands out.
There’s no curved edge display and those bezels aren’t exactly razor thin either when you consider the thick black border that sits between the display and the frame. This flagship smartphone is not water and dust resistant either and this is a concern when you keep the competition in mind.
In fact, I can easily say that the Asus logo on the back is off by 2-3 millimetres and not perfectly straight by just glancing at the smartphone’s back. In short, it’s not exactly what one would expect when you pay Rs 49,999 for a flagship.
Customers expect flagships to look different (if not attractive). In fact, I found the Zenfone 3’s design a lot better looking and pleasing even though the bezels at the top and bottom where thicker.
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