The smartphone industry in India is on an upswing, several thousand smartphones being sold across the country on a daily basis. While core specifications form the basis of selection of a smartphone by consumers, people confuse them with just the processing package a phone comprises of. For some, a great design and in-hand feel trumps the few extra gigs of RAM some other phone might have to offer. The Zenfone series by ASUS has enjoyed a successful stint in the Indian sub-continent and the company is back to woo its customers with the Zenfone 3 line-up. We decided to pitch the new ASUS Zenfone 3 against its closest rivals to see all that the phone has to offer which its competition doesn’t. So, without any further ado, here is an in-depth comparison of the 5.5-inch variant of the Zenfone 3 (first impressions) with the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) and the OnePlus 3 (review).
Design and Display
Starting with the Zenfone 3, the 5.5-incher from ASUS showcases a full HD display with high brightness of 600 nits making viewing under harsh lighting a breeze. Featuring 2.5D glass on the front and the back, the Zenfone 3 strays itself apart from the mainstream unibody design found on almost every smartphone these days. The metallic frame sandwiched between the two glass panels not only feels premium, but also gives the Zenfone 3 a much needed bump from the plastic design of its predecessor. The OnePlus 3 on the other hand, sports a unibody metal design housed in a 7.35mm thin casing axing the sandstone finish found on its predecessor. The device features a 5.5-inch full HD Optic AMOLED display which curves at the sides giving it a polished finish, which feels premium, but makes the smartphone slippery at the same time. The mid-ranger from Samsung is up next and sports a glass-metallic body with a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED 1080p display making its case more appealing to prospective buyers. All three phones feature fingerprint sensors with the OnePlus 3 and the Galaxy A7 2016 sporting it on the home buttons upfront while ASUS opted for a more comfortable positioning at the back under the camera module. In terms of display, all three phones are ideal for consumption of media but the extra bright display on the Zenfone 3 makes it more suitable for outdoor usage than the competition. Design wise, the Zenfone 3 as well as the Galaxy A7 offer much better feel in the hand owning to the glass finish at the back. Coming in at 155g, the Zenfone 3 is marginally lighter than the OnePlus 3 (158g) and substantially lighter than the Galaxy A7 (172g).
Cars which pack a twin-turbo V8 engine aren’t necessarily the one which fare better in traffic. The same goes for smartphones, with the analogy here being that a faster processor doesn’t often translate into better real-time performances. While the OnePlus 3 has all the spec-heads going gaga over its 6GB of RAM, it is probably overkill as people barely ever utilise more than 3GB at a time. The 4GB RAM offered by ASUS on the Zenfone 3 hits a sweet spot and will suffice for even the most hardcore users out there. The Galaxy A7 on the other hand, packs 3GB of RAM which pales in comparison in front of its competition. While the Snapdragon 625 chip on the Zenfone 3 might not sound as grand as the Snapdragon 820 found in the OnePlus 3, both the processors should offer similar real-time performances with little to no lag. The Exynos 7 Octa 7580 powering the Galaxy A7 is also a fairly capable processor, though the lower clock speeds might make it a less appealing option than the other two devices.
Going over the cameras of the three devices, the Zenfone 3 as well as the OnePlus 3 feature 16MP rear facing shooters while the Galaxy A7 packs a 13MP sensor at the back. The ZenFone 3 also edges ahead because of its Tri-Tech autofocus system, which combines laser, phase detection and continuous autofocus to lock focus on the subject in just 0.03 seconds. Aiding the camera on the Zenfone 3 is a dual-tone LED flash, which gives it an edge over the OnePlus 3 which only comes with a standard LED flash, which is the case with the Galaxy A7 as well.
While the OnePlus 3’s camera comes only with digital image stabilisation, the cameras on the Galaxy A7 as well as the Zenfone 3 boast optical image stabilisation.
The ZenFone 3 also comes with ASUS’ PixelMaster 3.0 technology, which offers a slew of features. With Super Resolution, users can get a highly-detailed shot of 64-megapixels, since ZenFone 3’s 16MP camera captures five burst images and stitch them together to offer an impressive clarity. The low-light mode is really useful for dim environments as it can capture up to 400 percent more light, and thus offers blur-free shots with good amount of detail. Here’s a peek at the imaging prowess of the ZenFone 3:
Shedding some light on the front facing cameras, the Galaxy A7 falls short of its competition with the device featuring a 5MP snapper whereas the both the OnePlus 3 and the Zenfone 3 pack 8MP sensors upfront.
Storage and battery
For storage, the OnePlus 3 is a hard sell as it doesn’t feature expandable memory like the other two phones and comes with 64GB of onboard memory. Between the Zenfone 3 and the Galaxy A7, the Zenfone 3 offers much higher expandable storage of 2TB compared to 128GB present on the A7 with the internal memory of the two phones capped at 64GB and 16GB respectively.
The battery on the Zenfone 3 and the OnePlus 3 are an evenly matched 3,000mAh, with the A7 packing a bigger 3,300mAh unit. While some may argue that the dash charging on the OnePlus 3 makes it a formidable opponent, not everyone carries a charger on them which diminishes its importance. The bigger battery on the Galaxy A7 gives users better battery life however, the heavy skin on top makes the gap marginally better.
Software and Connectivity
Software is another key difference between the three phones with each brand having their own take on Android. The Zenfone 3 runs ASUS ZenUI 3.0 on top of Android Marshmallow while the OnePlus 3 features a near stock platform dubbed Oxygen OS based on Android Marshmallow. The Samsung Galaxy A7 features the heaviest skin amongst the trio which comes in the form of TouchWiz UI and comes with Android Lollipop out of the box. While the specs of the devices can be speculated upon to deem which is better, the UI of the devices are purely subjective. Users who prefer vanilla OS on their devices will find that the OnePlus 3 suits them better. Users who prefer the added features that come with a slightly heavier skin will probably sway towards the Zenfone 3 or the Galaxy A7, each having feature-rich UIs.
On the connectivity front, all three phones feature support for dual-SIMs, 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, mobile hotspot, Bluetooth and A-GPS.
Pricing and availability
ZenFone 3 is available at a starting price of INR 21,999 on all major e-commerce sites like Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal and in chain store – Sangeetha Mobiles. It is also available at all leading retail stores across India.