We are a few weeks away from the release of the Zenfone 4 and I thought I should write a short review of the Zenfone 3, after a year of use (and abuse). Hopefully, this article will impart added insights to current owners and provide answers to some questions from would-be buyers.
It was August last year when I first laid eyes on a sealed review unit, unknowingly, it will become my daily driver. If you’re contemplating on getting the Zenfone 3, you can check out my full review before proceeding.
Fast forward to 1 year
Even after a year of using the Zenfone 3, I couldn’t think of any logical reason to replace it (unless you give me a flagship phone for free). It’s still fast, almost never lags and the camera is still on par with the latest phones flooding the market today.
A few months ago, I decided to use my phone bare, even though I’ve spent a lot on cases already and fitted the phone with a “Full Tempered Glass”. I said to myself “to hell with screen protectors and cases. I want to use this phone how it was designed by ASUS!” Needless to say, it was a big mistake. Kids, just don’t do it.
A few days of going commando, I noticed micro scratches on the display and back glass panel. I’m someone who is very meticulous when it comes to gadgets, to the point it irritates my wife. I try to take care of my things the best I could but this Gorilla Glass 3 scratches easy.
For a few days, I was actually contemplating on having the unit replaced or swapped. The scratches aren’t even noticeable, but I know they’re there. The OCD in me was triggered. Since there weren’t’ any willing buyers or swappers (the rage back then was the Huawei P9, Samsung S7 Edge, and One Plus 3T), I had the back part installed with a matte black sticker instead. I had it done by MYTATTOOSKINS.
Having a skin solved two problems: One, it hid the scratches at the back and two, it made the back part somewhat fingerprint resistant. It also reminds me of a black Zenfone 3 Deluxe. I left the display bare since the micro scratches aren’t really noticeable unless you really squint your eyes under direct sunlight or subject the display to a flashlight. Also, there is nothing like the feeling of swiping bare glass displays.
Aside from the micro scratches, the phone held up quite nicely and has been quite resistant to daily wear and tear. So far the side, top and bottom edges are still scratch free. A few weeks ago, I started using cases again.
The laser autofocus sensor and fingerprint scanner are also prone to scratches. However, the camera still focuses on subjects fast and the fingerprint scanner is still swift and accurate. Nine out ten times it will unlock the phone at first try.
As mentioned earlier, the camera on the Zenfone 3 is still one of the best out there, especially when you play around with the Manual mode. Here are some shots I have taken recently, all unedited.
The Zenfone 3 originally shipped out with Android Marshmallow on board. Several minor and a major update later, it’s now part of only a handful of Android phones running on Nougat. The Nougat update brought multi-window capabilities and a handful of visual and performance tweaks. Here’s a guide how to display two Chrome window tabs, top, and bottom, in Android Nougat.
Android O is just around the corner but I doubt it will see daylight on the Zenfone 3.
The Zenfone 3 still a beast of a phone even after a year of use. Due to its capable processor (Snapdragon 625) and generous 4GB RAM, it is able to run high definition games like NBA 2K17, without any lags at all. You can even play PSP games on it. Guide here.
Also, it doesn’t heat up as much even when using data or playing games. I personally think the phone will still be relevant 1 or 2 years from now.
A year of use and abuse, I am still satisfied with my phone’s battery. I am at that point where I stopped counting how many times I charge the phone in a day or monitor at what percentage I should start or stop charging. I just use and charge the phone as I see fit. My unsolicited advice, stop worrying. If you keep on worrying about the battery and “dumb” down the phone by turning off sync, hibernate apps, turning off vibrate or lowering the screen brightness, you won’t enjoy the Zenfone experience.
Should you still consider buying the Zenfone 3 today? It’s a yes and no for me. Yes, because even with the updates, it’s still a fast phone. It’s still battery efficient and doesn’t heat up compared to some phones I have used in the past. It charges fast and the camera is really good, especially if you know how to use it. Lastly, the Zenfone 3 has a premium look to it, for a fairly affordable device.
It’s also a No for me, mainly because at its current price, you can buy better, faster performers or add a little for phones with more modern features like dual camera setup. I will leave the decision to you.
More review articles here.