ASUS Zenfone 3 Review – an iPhone user perspective on Android 7.0

Published: 20170527

Truth be told, ASUS Zenfone 3 (model number: ZE520KL) is not new. It was launched almost one year ago in July 2016. There was many good product reviews. My review is a bit different, I am focusing on how it works differently from Apple iPhone.

I need an Android phone to work with my customers. I want to learn more about Android as well. It will be nice to have a second phone when I travel aboard, using domestic SIM card to make low cost local phone calls and to use it as a hotspot. It is not my main smartphone but a secondary device for testing and traveling.
My key requirements are:

  • a device which is running the latest Android 7.0 Nougat
  • the hardware is good/fast enough for 2017 and 2018
  • small size, light-weight
  • good battery life
  • good customer reviews
  • costs about US$200

It is challenging to find a device meeting all six requirements! Luckily I found the ASUS Zenfone 3 ZE520KL. Below are its key hardware specifications:

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB (8GB reserved for OS)
  • Display: 5.2“ Super IPS, 1080×1920 pixels (424 ppi)
  • Dimension: 146.9 x 74 x 7.7 mm
  • Weight: 144g
  • Battery: 2650mAh

Even though it is almost an one-year old device, it is still one of the top ten Best Selling smartphones listed at popular Taiwan website! Its list price is about USD220 (TWD6641)!

After using the ASUS Zenfone 3  ZE520KL on a daily basis for more than two months, I can say I am very happy with it:

  • It is fast, but not as fast as iPhone 7 Plus (not as expensive and heavy too)
  • comfortable to use it with a single hand
  • easy to carry in pocket
  • the battery life is good! Can work the whole day (8am-10pm) on a single full charge. Can usually function as a hotspot for 10hrs!
  • The fingerprint sensor is fast! (But I find it is more user-friendly to have the senor on the front side. The iPhone fingerprint implementation is better)
  • It supports dual SIM cards and hence I can put my two most frequently used overseas SIM cards in it.

The two minor drawbacks I find are the slow camera (comparing to iPhone) and the necessary evil USB Type-C interface (I have to buy some more charging cable…).

I find Nougat is very close to the performance/experience/stability of iOS 10.3. Nougat can do somethings which iOS cannot. Multi-window View is useful when you want to use two apps simultaneously on your phone. Quick Settings, the customizable version of iOS Control Center, reduces the friction to do frequent tasks.  A few other mentionable unique Android features:

  1. Google Assistant. Its voice recognition is much better than Siri! I don‘t speak to my smartphone very often, but the Google Assistant ”please tell me my day“ is very useful in the morning.
  2. Android provides user more network visibility. The app WiFi Analyzer helps me to figure the WiFi signal strength in my home. As we use more and more ”smart“ home appliances (such as TV, iRobot and smartplug), we need better WiFi coverage across the home. WiFi Analyzer helps me to put the Wifi repeater at the right place. (We move from a single powerful router to a Wifi network system like Eero. Apple Airport products are not good enough.)The app Internet Speed Meter Lite shows at the toolbar how fast the device is retrieving data from the Internet. 
  3. Android provides user more network manageability. The app WiFi Prioritizer can monitor different network connectivity performance (WiFi vs WiFI, WiFI vs LTE, etc) and will use dynamically the more reliable and faster network. No more unusable WiFi connection! Android also allows to share the smartphone WiFi connection with laptop via USB tethering!
  4. Automation. The app MacroDroid execute behavior (such as change device configuration, launch an app, etc.) based on trigger (such as time, location, power charging status). Below is the my macro to use radio as morning alarm:


One more thing: there are not many good accessories purpose-built for Android smartphone. I find one – Lamicall iPhone Stand T1. The stand is adjustable, it works great with ASUS Zenfone 3, especially if you want to charge it and use it in portrait mode at the same time.

I am sorry, the stand is designed for iPhone:P

3 Comments on “ASUS Zenfone 3 Review – an iPhone user perspective on Android 7.0”

  1. Paul Shaw says:

    Thank you for the lovely review…

  2. […] available in the Hong Kong. But we have Android Nougat and Google Assistant in Asia. I have a ASUS Zenfone 3. I can do more things with Google Assistant and write about […]

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