Asus continues its march forward in smartphones. After the good surprise ZenFone 3 Deluxe, the Taiwanese retries the coup with a model with dual photo sensor. In May 2016, the brand launched its first ZenFone Zoom. Unfortunately its optical block x3 and its Intel processor had not really convinced us. A year later, Asus completely revises its copy. Exit optical zoom and Intel, welcome to the dual focal length sensor and Qualcomm. Two much more promising solutions on paper.
These choices are felt first on the design of the device. Without the periscopic zoom that took up a lot of space on the first ZenFone Zoom, this new version goes from 12 mm thick to less than 8 mm. What completely change the physiognomy of the device which is much closer to current market standards. We also salute the performance achieved by Asus: inserting a 5,000 mAh high-capacity battery without excessively affecting the appearance or the weight of the whole (170 grams).
For the rest, the ZenFone Zoom S offers a classic design, partly taking the codes of the iPhone, like many other Android models before it. He adds a fingerprint sensor on the back, efficient and fast, but placed a little too high for our taste. It is therefore often difficult to reach the first time.
Interface detracts from superb display quality
The 5.5-inch Amoled Full HD screen displayed by the Zoom S is extremely effective. It obviously displays perfect blacks as this panel technology wants, but also a high brightness of 635 cd / m² which makes it readable in any circumstance including outdoors, in the sun.
However, we regret once again the ZenUI interface, still as overloaded and with a design that is starting to get old. Certain applications tend to appear as an overlay of third-party applications and become frankly invasive in use. This is for example the case with BeautyLive (which is supposed to improve selfies) on the Instagram interface.
It is also impossible to permanently delete these applications preinstalled by Asus which occupy close to a hundred megabytes. We welcome the update policy of Asus, this ZenFone Zoom S benefits out of the box with an update to Android 7.1.1, the lareview version of the operating system.
The switch to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chip, quite powerful (2 GHz) and rather energy efficient, is beneficial to the performance of the device. Although mid-range, this SoC provides a very homogeneous service and sufficient to run any application. Resource-intensive 3D games are displayed smoothly, even skipping the highest levels of detail. This is particularly the case in the Asphat Xtreme game where we notice the absence of certain decor elements or the earth projected by the vehicle’s wheels. But it allows at least to play without jerking or hitch.
But where the Snapdragon 625 is much better than the Intel Atom Z3580 built into the previous ZenFone Zoom, it’s in the area of autonomy. And the 5,000 mAh battery, compared to 3,000 previously, does not explain everything. We go from a versatile autonomy of only 6 h 08 for the ZenFone Zoom from 2016 to 20 h 10 for the ZenFone Zoom S! The device simply becomes our new endurance champion, surpassing all the competitors we have already reviewed. The results are also excellent in calls (36 h 47) and in video games (13 h 16). Asus is therefore really very strong on this crucial point.
Versatile x2.3 zoom
The area in which the ZenFone Zoom S is expected is obviously, in terms of its name, photography. The dual Sony sensor chosen here by Asus offers a definition of 12 megapixels. The manufacturer has equipped its camera with two different focal lengths of 25 mm f / 1.7 and 56 mm f / 2.6. This provides an x2.3 zoom, which is slightly higher than that of the iPhone 7 Plus x2 zoom.
This handy feature allows you to switch from a wide-angle landscape photo to one much closer to a portrait, for example. It is certainly the most versatile offer in the world of dual sensor smartphones. Much more than the choice of grafting a monochrome sensor with the same focal length, as Huawei does for example on its P10.
The quality of the shots is quite satisfactory in high lights, whatever the focal length used. We are still a notch below the new leaders in the category, such as the Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6 or HTC U11. This is felt even more in low light where the gap between these models and the ZenFone Zoom S is much more obvious. The Asus model struggles to reproduce as much detail as its competitors. By smoothing the image too much, it certainly eliminates digital noise, but does, for example, remove the grainy materials from certain objects. Even more boring, the autofocus suffers from some slowness.
A rather effective portrait mode
The dual sensor with two different focal lengths also allows the camera to offer a true portrait mode, like that of the iPhone 7 Plus. Even if the bokeh effect (the blurring of the background) tends to be a bit too exaggerated for our taste, the Zoom S holds, in any case, rather well the comparison with the Apple smartphone, champion of the genre at the moment.