ASUS's optically-zooming smartphone is real, and we put our hands on it.
The ASUS ZenFone Zoom was announced way back in January at CES 2015, but at the time it was safely ensconced in a glass case. But now, here at IFA 2015, we're finally getting our hands on with this unique device. Offering 3x optical zoom for lossless non-noisy zoom, it's touted as the thinnest optically-zooming smartphone out there. The competition from the likes of Samsung's Galaxy Camera line all feature large telescoping zoom lenses, whereas ASUS's ZenFone Zoom packs ten lens elements into a phone that's less than 12mm thick at its thickest (though ASUS is quick to tout the 5mm edges).
That camera has a 13MP from Panasonic, and in our brief time playing with it it was a strong performer (we were not allowed to take video or show the camera interface, alas). It has a macro mode that allows you to get up close to your subject — as in 2 inches away — and a "Super Resolution" mode that combines 4 shots into a massive 52MP image. This whole rig is also optically stabilized, and there are dedicated camera shutter and record buttons on the side (though at this time they don't yet actually launch into the camera).
Apart from that camera, the ZenFone Zoom sports a 5.5-inch 1920x1080 IPS LCD display coated in Gorilla Glass 4, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB or 128GB of internal storage plus microSD expansion. ASUS has opted for an Intel Atom Z3590 processor at 2.5GHz to push things along, offering 4 64-bit cores. LTE Cat. 4+ is also on hand for cellular download speeds of up to 250Mbps. The battery's a not insubstantial 3000mAh, which while not enormous (you'll want the ZenFone Max for that), isn't puny either.
The ZenFone Zoom is offering a very unique take on cameras in smartphones and we're looking forward to getting to spend more time with it in the future. As for when that future may come... we're not sure, as ASUS still hasn't given any word on availability or pricing. For more from ASUS and IFA 2015, check out our IFA 2015 hub.
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