Asus Zenfone 3 Laser (ZC551KL) is available in the market from 12th October 2016 and costs Rs. 18,999 ($275). The phone is part of the Zenfone 3 series and was unveiled along with the more expensive Asus Zenfone 3.
While the Asus Zenfone 3 comes with a glass and metal design, the Asus Zenfone 3 Laser comes with a pure metal build. The front side of both the Asus Zenfone 3 as well as the Zenfone 3 laser looks the same.
The Asus Zenfone 3 Laser competes with some of the best camera smartphones like the Oppo F1s, Gionee S6s and the Samsung On Nxt in this price range. There are other contenders like Lenovo Z2 Plus and the slightly cheaper Motorola Moto G4 Plus.
Let’s Check the detailed review to find out how the Zenfone 3 Laser fare against the competition.
We will Cover The Following in the Asus Zenfone 3 Laser Review:
- Build Quality
- Performance – Gaming and Apps
- Benchmark Performance – Geek-benchmark and Antutu
- User Interface and Software
- Rear camera Samples
- Front Camera Selfie Samples
- Battery Life
- Call Quality
- Fingerprint Scanner
- Concluding Thoughts – Major Pros and Cons.
Unlike the Zenfone 2 series, the phones in Zenfone 3 iteration comes with notable differences in external appearance. A radical and positive change as far as the build quality of the mobiles is concerned.
The Zenfone 3 Laser is a metal-clad smartphone with uni-body design. It is not like most of the cheaper smartphones with a metal build like the Le 1S or the Redmi 3S Prime, the metal build on those don’t feel as premium as the Zenfone 3 laser. Of course this costs twice as much as those smartphones.
It comes in matte shades and doesn’t have that CD glare like patterns anywhere. The Gold version which we are reviewing is more like the soft gold color and 2 visible antenna lines at the back. There is a small front camera at the front and ambient light sensor, proximity sensor along with the speaker grill at the top.
The mobile’s back has an anti-smudge coating, which is a good thing for sweaty hands. While the Zenfone 3 glass back is prone to fingerprints the Zenfone 3 laser, don’t suffer from this.
With its minimal design, the smartphone looks more elegant than the Zenfone 3 Max which I reviewed some days back. Compared to the Oppo F1s which is one of the most good-looking devices the Zenfone 3 Laser, holds it’s ground.
We actually don’t like protruding antenna lines which can be seen in most of the Chinese phones these days, but the Zenfone 3 laser doesn’t look ugly with its thin, shiny lines which look better than iPhone 6s.
The rear side of the mobile carries a fingerprint scanner below the camera, which is little elongated so you don’t wanna struggle to reach it. Though I would prefer a circular scanner.
The camera is bound by the Laser sensor, and there is a Dual LED flash on other side.
The bottom edge carries a USB port, speaker grills, and a Mic. Asus could have given a stereo speaker setup instead of placing a single speaker grill to one side. The bottom of the device is a bit rough, would have liked more polished surface.
Furthermore, it measures 149*76*7.9 mm, and weighs about 150 grams. The Zenfone 3 feels thin and sleek in hand considering the large display. The rear edges are curved to hide the bulky appearance.
On to the left, the device carries a Dual slot for SIM and SD card; you can use 2 Nano SIM cards or a single sim along with micro SD card.
Probably the best part of the Asus Zenfone 3 laser, other than the camera is it’s gorgeous 5.5 inches Full HD (1920*1080) pixels display. It will delight you in terms of color reproduction and contrasts. There is 401 PPI pixel density and the screen to body ratio is decent measuring 77%.
Asus has included an app to make the display warmer or cooler. So the user can set the screen temperature at your convenience.
You Need to go to Display >> Screen Color Mode to set the display profile.
Also, it comes with a blue light filter, which claims to prevent eyes from the harmful blue light. But activating the filter spoils the show by making contents yellowish.
The screen brightness is legible for outdoors and you don’t need to make a shade with your hands while using it under sunlight. On top of the display, Gorilla Glass 3 and a 2.5D curved is present, ensuring a smooth edge to edge swiping experience.
The Zenfone 3 laser comes with a 64-bit Snapdragon 430 processor with maximum clock speed of 1.4 GHz and includes 4GB DDR3 RAM.
At most times it uses 1.5 GB to 2.0 GB Ram while the remaining stays free. Overall performance while browsing the internet and fiddling through Facebook is smooth.
The configuration handles multi-tasking well and usually is snappy.
The software optimization is good and there are no issues with general tasks. However, one annoying experience was to transfer files to my PC, you need to install an Asus PC Suite software on your laptop.
Somehow we were not able to transfer files using the USB cable. However, we were able to do so from Asus smart link (the equivalent of Share it).
But you won’t face bottlenecks during HD gameplay. The processor delivers 60 frames per second for smoother gameplay.
Benchmark Performance Antutu
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 and the Adreno 505 GPU was able to score 44158, which is not too high considering there are mobiles in this range which can score over 80,000.
GeekBench Mark Score
Single Core Score – 638
Multi-Core Score – 1977
The scores are moderate as was expected from the processor.
We played a couple of high-end Android Games on the Zenfone 3 Laser to push it to the limit.
Can it handle the Full HD Gaming on high settings?
We played Asphalt 8 on high settings and to our surprise, the smartphone offers smooth performance. After playing the game for 15 minutes the smartphone was mildly warm. There is no heating while playing games which is great considering it is a metal phone. Every mobile will get mildly warm when playing games due to the processor and GPU heat, but on this phone it is manageable.
Need for Speed No Limits
The Gameplay was smooth and the Asus Zenfone 3 Laser handled the game very well. The sound quality from the bottom speaker is also rich and loud to enhance the gaming experience. Heating was minimal and within limits on the device. Overall all good gaming experience and no heating with No limits.
Storage – The phone comes with 32 GB storage space which could be further expandable up to 128 GB with the Micro SD card.
Out of the 32 GB storage space, about 8.11 GB is reserved for system and OS files. The remaining 23.89 GB can be used by users.
The Zenfone 3 laser runs on Android marshmallow 6.0 skinned with Asus’s Zen UI 3.0 on top.
The UI comes with some improvements within the ecosystem, but there’s no big difference in appearance as compared to use on the other Zenfone 3 phones.The Zen UI comes with a lot of customization, which allows you to change the icon packs, and themes, a feature that is not present in the stock Android OS.
Some of the paid themes look interesting though I tried an icon pack with circular icons like the Android Nougat 7.0 which made the UI look cooler than the stock.
You can change the native keyboard and replace with Google Keyboard and also install the custom launchers from play store.
An app lock is also added to the UI so you don’t need to download a separate app for that. UI is loaded with bloatware which has little to no use for me. But other users may find some of the Apps useful.
Some of the bloatware included by Asus are Apps like – ZenCircle, ZenSync, Zen talks, Laser ruler, puffin, share the link , splendid, Weather, Do It Later, Game Genie, ZenFone Care, and Cover.
The most functional App is the Asus Mobile Manager which helps to save battery, boost performance, free up ram, do the junk file clean up and manage notifications and security.
The app also includes a speed booster, which is supposed to kill background apps to improve the gameplay.
The lock screen includes shortcuts for 3 apps and shows notifications too.
You can even launch the camera straight from the lock screen without unlocking.
The speaker output is loud and rich. Playing games and watching videos with the enhanced sound output offers a good experience.
Sound Enhancement (Audio Wizard) – Apart from usual customizations, the ROM comes with some special features like an Equalizer which could adjust the audio by itself depending on whether you listen to a song, watch movie or gameplay, there’s another app named game genie prebuilt within and allows you to record or live stream your gameplay to YouTube.
Asus Claims that the it comes with an NXP Smart AMP technology that delivers a much better sound. There is an outdoor mode also which can amplify sound from the speaker.
The Zenfone 3 laser packs a 13 Megapixel rear camera with F/2.0 aperture size. Additionally, it uses the Laser Autofocus, and dual LED flash.
Camera opening speed is good, you don’t have to wait for clicking an image. The Autofocus system is quick both for clicking photos as well as recording videos.
The camera’s dual LED flash make sure the color reproduction is original, by flashing lights with two different color temperatures.
And the laser autofocus helps in better low light photography.
The camera app comes with some interesting features, which are little different from regular camera apps.
It includes super resolution, depth of field, GIF mode, panorama, miniature, time rewind slow motion, time lapse etc.
The Autofocus is fast and can focus in 0.03 seconds, using the Laser sensor assisting the camera, there won’t be any delays while focusing moving objects.
Camera Samples Asus Zenfone 3 Laser
Shot Indoor in Good Amount of light – Image came clear and well detailed.
Clicked indoor with a good amount of light – The monitor colors and details are well captured. Usually camera struggle when you click an image of a monitor or a TV.
Selfie Shot Using the Front camera indoor. The 8 MP camera does justice and clicked blur-free image.
A Selfie shot outside, in the evening, good details the image softening which usually happens due to beautification mode is quite less.
Lets Try to create a Bokeh with the Rear 13 MP camera. It was able to quickly focus on the subject and do a clean shot.
Some More Shots Clicked by the rear camera.
Moving Subjects captured with the camera to check, How fast it can capture – performance was decent not too much of blur, but there is some.
Overall the camera experience is decent and very close to what we saw on the Asus Zenfone 3, in my assessment it is slightly better than the Moto G4 Plus camera, which is also a very good camera smartphone.
The camera is capable of recording videos in Full HD, and it effectively filters out shakes while recording, thanks to it EIS feature.
I recorded a video on the camera and found it the camera responsive to focus on objects quickly and the video were also less shaky. The front camera of the Zenfone 3 comes with an 8 MP sensor, with beautification mode one can get a real-time simulation of makeup right from the preview.
Which includes modes like face whitening, eye enlargement etc. The front selfie camera is surprisingly good and tends to take clear, noise-free images both indoors and outdoors.
The Zenfone 3 laser comes with 3000 mAh nonremovable battery. The phone easily lasts for a day without any issues (more than my Galaxy S7). And there’s is no unusual battery drains like other custom ROMs. T
The battery works flawlessly and you can easily enhance the battery life by diving into the Mobile Manager App and Choose – Performance, Balanced or the Power Saving Mode.
The Zenfone 3 laser lacks fast charging feature, though the Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 has support for it.The steep price tag may look more reasonable if Asus has added this feature. The Asus Zenfone 3 Laser took more than 3 hours to charge the 3000 mAH battery on the slow charger.
There is a long rectangular fingerprint scanner at the back, which initially felt a bit strange to use owing to the unconventional shape.
The fingerprint scanner is quick and does the job. In addition to that you can press and hold to answer incoming calls, double tap to launch the camera , tap on the fingerprint scanner to capture an image when the camera app is open.
Nice additions to make life easy. The smartphone comes with Accelerator, E-Compass, Gyroscope, Proximity sensor, Hall sensor, Ambient light sensor, RGB sensor along with the Fingerprint sensor.
Call Quality and 4G Connectivity
No gripes here it worked with the Idea 3G sim and I tried the Vodafone 4G sim on which it worked without any issues.
On the Reliance JIO, I was not able to test the device as the message keeps popping up our systems aren’t responding please try again later. I will update it in a couple of days how it works with JIO’s ailing network in Mumbai.
The Zenfone 3 Laser has a decent performer in a lot of areas, while needs improvement in others. In this price range, our expectation was to have a better and faster processor.
Major Pros – Excellent rear laser camera set up, Good Front Selfie Camera, premium metal body, and sturdy built quality. Head-turning looks, easy to use, fast fingerprint scanner, decent battery life to work all day.
Good Software optimization by Asus, last but not the least the curved 2.5 D glass Full HD display, which is better in comparison to the Moto G4 Plus and some more similar priced budget smartphones.
Major Cons – Processor and GPU could have been better, a Snapdragon 650 or an SD 625 would have made it more desirable. Power users may not like too much of a bloat from Asus and mantra should be to keep it neat and minimalist. Could add up some of the health features and sensors to entice millennial users. Make the native Zen UI more minimalist and a eye candy. Lastly, there are non-lit navigation keys at the front, which is a low point.
Overall is gorgeous and can be a good purchase if you are a shutterbug, selfie lover or want to read, watch lots of videos on the beautiful display and are least bothered about pure specs and performance numbers. It can easily handle games and even some of the more graphic intensive titles.
I have been using the Moto G4 Plus for some time as a secondary device and found the Zenfone 3 laser to be better in some of the aspects like build and feel, overall user experience and even camera performance.
Price is premium and suited to the build quality, price-conscious buyers can wait a while as the price is the least constant thing in the world of smartphones. And discounts are around the corner to get the best value for the buck.
Overall Score and Rating
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