This is the best that ASUS has to offer.
While ASUS has been making phones for years, it wasn’t until the ZenFone 2 that the company was recognized internationally for its good work. Now that we’re nearly two years out from that device, ASUS has even more great stuff on the horizon.
Though some models are region-specific, they all have signature ASUS quirks. So which one do you choose? We’ve done the hard work for you; this is the current list of the best ASUS phones you need to know about.
ASUS ZenFone AR
Announced January 2017: The ASUS ZenFone AR is interesting not because of its specs but because it is the first device to combine Google’s Tango and Daydream platforms into one device. The AR in the title stands for Augmented Reality, offered by the Tango sensors and software inside the phone, while the latent VR features are serviced by Daydream, which is quickly becoming the de facto virtual reality destination for mobile gamers and dreamers.
The specs are nothing to sneeze at, either: a Snapdragon 821 processor and either 6GB or 8GB RAM makes it pretty powerful, and the 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display is covered with Gorilla Glass 4. And while it will launch with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, ASUS says that in order to take advantage of many of Tango and Daydream’s features, it will get an upgrade to Android 7.0 Nougat shortly.
ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom
Announced January 2017: A really interesting phone, the ZenFone 3 Zoom takes the DNA of the excellent ZenFone 3 lineup and adds superlative specs and a fantastic dual-camera setup. The idea here is that instead of having an optical zoom kit like with the ZenFone Zoom, ASUS outfitted the ZenFone 3 Zoom with two camera sensors, the lenses of which have different focal lengths. This allows for optical zoom without the added thickness of its predecessor, and interesting background blur features that have been made famous by the iPhone 7 Plus (but were in Android phones first).
Each sensor is 12MP, with 1.4-micron pixels, and lenses of f/1.7 each, making it excellent for low-light photography. Inside, the Snapdragon 625 processor and 1080p screen may not be top of the line, but are perfectly serviceable for the average consumer, and will likely keep the cost down.
ASUS ZenFone 3
Announced May 2016: As has happened at so many phone manufacturers over the years, the ZenFone 3 represents a shift from plastic to metal for ASUS. The least expensive of the three models introduced in mid-2016, the ZenFone 3 boasts a meta frame covered in Gorilla Glass on either side.
A high-quality 5.5-inch 1080p IPS display is what you’ll be looking at, and it’s powered by the still-unknown Snapdragon 625, which succeeds the Snapdragon 617 in the entry-level market. Versions with 3GB of RAM will be paired with 32GB of storage, while a 4GB/64GB model will also be available. All versions will boast the same 16MP rear camera sensor with optical image stabilization, too, which should make for a very decent shooter.
It’s still unclear what the ZenFone 3 will cost, but if it’s in the same realm $200-$300 realm as its predecessor, it’s sure to be a commercial and critical hit.
ASUS ZenFone 3 Deluxe
Announced May 2016: A larger, more powerful version of the ZenFone 3, the ZF3 Deluxe features a 5.7-inch 1080p IPS display, along with a much faster Snapdragon 820 processor paired with 6GB of RAM.
There’s also a 23MP rear shooter with an F2.0 lens and optical image stabilization, and a 3,000mAh battery, all powering Android 6.0.1 with a pared-back version of ASUS’ ZenUI.
Aside from the spec bump, what sets the ZenFone 3 Deluxe apart from its more modest counterpart is the distinct lack of plastic; unlike the ZenFone 3, which has a few plastic pieces to cover the antenna lines, the Deluxe uses more exacting (and expensive) manufacturing to achieve a chassis with less interruptions.
ASUS ZenFone 3 Ultra
Announced May 2016: No, this isn’t a joke: the ZenFone 3 Ultra is indeed 6.8-inches. While the display maintains the same 1080p resolution of its two ZF3 counterparts, the Ultra strikes a balance between their compute power with a Snapdragon 652 processor. Paired with either 3GB or 4GB of RAM, and between 32GB and 128GB of storage, the ZF3 Ultra doesn’t skimp on the specs, either. Oh, and there’s a massive 4,600mAh battery that takes advantage of Quick Charge 3.0 so it can go from zero to 60% in 45 minutes. And the massive cell can share power with other phones.
Photographers will also appreciate the phone’s 23MP rear sensor, the same one found in the ZenFone 3 Deluxe. If they can manage to keep a grip on the 8.2oz phone, that is.
ASUS ZenFone Zoom
Launched January 2016: We’ve been waiting on this one since CES 2015 way back. And while we’re still waiting to see it in a lot of markets, that doesn’t temper our excitement. If mobile photography is your thing then the ZenFone Zoom is going to be something you have to take a look at. Boasting a 3x optical zoom on the back without the need for a physically moving lens (think Samsung Galaxy K Zoom) the ZenFone Zoom is technically brilliant as much as it is visually impressive.
It’s a fairly sizeable phone with a metal frame, the same Zen UI software experience as everything else in ASUS’ lineup and the promise of a very affordable price point.
ASUS ZenFone 2
Launched January 2015: The ZenFone 2 was launched to the world at CES 2015 in Las Vegas as the initial successor to the original ZenFone lineup of Android smartphones. Once again it would see ASUS partnering with Intel for its mobile products but the ZenFone 2 had a lot more to shout about. It was the first Android phone to be announced with a 4GB RAM option, for instance, and there was a lot being said about the camera capabilities. Particularly in low light.
What we ended up getting was a very good value for money phone. The top end model came in at just $300 with 64GB of internal storage to back up that 4GB of RAM. There was also a cheaper, 2GB of RAM version released at $199 which offers a similar experience with a good cost saving. The buttons moving to the back of the phone will never suit everyone, but the ZenFone 2 was a distinct step forward from its predecessors. And with every part of the software on top of the core operating system available through the Google Play Store, waiting for system updates to provide fixes is a thing of the past.