It's no surprise that two of the biggest things many people look for in a smartphone right now are camera quality and battery life. Photo quality has dramatically improved over the las two years, and manufacturers are trying new things to see what the most important next step is going to be.
In the process, many of these phones wind up in the 5-inch range with just enough battery to get you through a busy day. Sacrificing camera quality for battery life isn't fun, though, but if you look back at 2016 that's largely what happened.
ASUS seems to think they have the camera-focused phone with the least amount of compromise, and a big part of that experience is the 5000 mAh battery stuffed inside. Check out the new ZenFone 3 Zoom.
Unlike its rather disappointing predecessor, ASUS is not using a custom physical zoom mechanism in the ZenFone 3 Zoom. As cool as it was to use something like that in a phone, more moving parts in something you're likely to drop has its own problems. Instead, ASUS is joining the dual-camera crowd. The ZenFone 3 Zoom is packing a pair of 12MP sensors, one with a 25mm wide-angle lens and one with a 56mm lens to offer 2.3x optical zoom.
If you're thinking that sounds eerily similar to the iPhone 7 Plus dual-camera deployment, you're mostly right. Apple's optical zoom is limited to 2X, and ASUS has an ƒ/1.7 aperture instead of the ƒ/1.8 found on the iPhone. While these may seem like minor differences on paper, they may lead to real-world improvements.
It's clear ASUS has been watching as people are frustrated with trading battery for camera tricks.
The physical camera is just the start of efforts made to ensure this camera is special. ASUS is using two Sony IMX362 sensors with 1.4-micron pixels to ensure the device can hold its own in low light, and claims Dual Phase Detection Auto Focus will ensure every phono is nice and crisp. Full manual mode and RAW support sit alongside continuous autofocus when recording in 4K as among the top features, though ASUS warns not all of this will be available until the phone is updated to Android 7.0. It will launch in February with Marshmallow.
Powering this impressive camera, and the rest of the hardware encasing it, is Qualcomm's reliable Snapdragon 625 processor. When coupled with the 5000 mAh battery, this phone becomes capable of crazy things like recording 6.4 hours of 4K video on a single charge or sitting on standby with 4G radios enabled for up to 40 days. The 5.5-inch 1080p display is covered in Gorilla Glass 5 and works with the aluminum body to better absorb impacts from drops as well, making the whole package come together for something clearly built for photographers. Perhaps most impressive is how ASUS managed all of this in a phone only 7.83mm thick and weighing in at 170g.
There's still a lot we don't know about the ZenFone 3 Zoom, but it's clear ASUS has been watching as people are frustrated with trading battery for camera tricks.
ASUS plans to release ZenFone 3 in February, but is not currently ready to announce pricing and storage options. This could be a great solution for anyone eager to to more with phone cameras, but we'll know a lot more in the coming days!