Asus is no stranger to the budget-friendly smartphone world, and the company was one of the leaders for this market with the ZenFone 2 that came out back in 2015. We were quite fond of the 2nd generation ZenFone when we initially reviewed it, and although the somewhat cheap design didn’t grab us at first, we ended up saying that we were “confident that this is the kind of phone that grows on you over time.”

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In the box:

->Asus ZenFone 3 Laser
->MicroUSB cable
->AC wall adapter
->SIM tray removal tool
->Safety and warranty information

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Now, we’re taking a look at ASUS’ entry-level ZenFone 3 Laser. So does the ASUS ZenFone 3 Laser bring enough to the table to stand out from competing options? Let’s find out with our comprehensive ASUS ZenFone 3 Laser review!

DESIGN

When we thought about the ZenFone lineup previously, we thought of metallic plastic, ergonomic curves, and rear-facing volume buttons, features which were showcased excellently on the Zenfone 2 Laser.

Unlike its predecessor, the ZenFone 3 Laser is constructed of an aluminum body with plastic top and bottom caps, presumably to help with wireless reception. We’ve seen designs quite similar to this countless times in the past, but it remains difficult to ignore the high-quality in-hand feel of aluminum. This switch in materials is a very welcome one, as the aluminum that’s used here feels very premium and solid in the hand. The back is smooth and cool to the touch, and the fingerprint sensor that lives beneath the petite camera hump allows for quick and easy access to unlocking the phone.

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Asus’s ZenFone 3 Laser measures in at just 7.9-millimeters thin and features a weight of 150-grams, allowing it to be very slim and lightweight. Additionally, the rounded corners of the handset allows it to feel nice and comfortable when held.

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DISPLAY

For the display, we’re looking at a respectable 5.5  1080P IPS panel coated in Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Color reproduction is great, viewing angles are decent, and the display is generally fairly good. It’s worth mentioning that you’ll be hard-pressed to find something significantly better at this price. With that said, we still have some notable criticisms.

Also Read: Asus Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 Review: Good Battery, Good Build quality; but for Rs. 17,999 look elsewhere

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This isn’t a display that’s going to blow your socks off, but it’s fully functional and capable, and for a phone in this price bracket, that’s all you can really ask for.

On a positive note, ASUS’ standard color customization options are included with the Zenfone 3 Laser. These options allow you to make adjustments to color temperature, enable a bluelight filter or “night mode,” or customize hue and saturation for a different look. These options are always nice to have, so we’re happy that ASUS has included them.

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PERFORMANCE

The ZenFone 3 Laser is powered by an octa-core 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor clocked at 1.4GHz, with integrated Adreno 505 graphics and 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM. It packs 32GB of built-in storage and supports up to 128GB more using a microSD card. This is a processor that’s made explicitly for lower to mid-range smartphones, and that is very evident in the performance of the Laser.

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Most general tasks function just fine, meaning that web browsing, social media use, and even playing games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne all run quite well on the phone. Consider this situation: you’re listening to some music on Spotify and would like to do a quick Google search. Llike virtually every device with more memory, the Zenfone 3 Laser will likely to continue with your entertainment on both terminals.

Also Read: Asus Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 VS Asus Zenfone Max

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This sort of mid-tier performance is to be expected with a phone that’s selling for INR 20,000, and while the power here is plenty capable for light to moderate use, don’t expect to be able to run tons of apps at once and still have a fluid experience.

All things considered, the Zenfone 3 Laser is quite tolerable to use in the real world. It’s far from the best out there, but if you manage your expectations and recognize the compromise, this should be absolutely fine day-to-day.

HARDWARE

The ASUS Zenfone 3 Laser is an unlocked dual-SIM smartphone, meaning that you can use it with up to two different GSM carriers simultaneously. We rarely see this feature in the U.S., so this could be a major selling point for some prospective buyers.

If you only plan on using one SIM card with the Zenfone 3 Laser, you can take advantage of the other slot’s microSD card expansion option, which supports cards up to 128 GB. For most users, however, the 32 GB of onboard storage should be enough.

INTERFACE AND FUNCTIONALITY

Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow is running on the ZenFone 3 Laser out of the box, and just like all of Asus’s other Android-powered handsets, it’s running the company’s custom software skin over stock Android. Asus has done a lot to clean up its Android skin over the years, and the changes that have been made are certainly for the better compared to what was running on the ZenFone 2 when it first launched. However, even with this being the case, the overall look is still a bit cartoonish and unpleasing to my eye.

With that said, we feel that ZenUI is due for a design overhaul. We understand that this is very subjective, but, compared to other user interfaces, ZenUI looks outdated. The design team seems to have had a weird obsession with gaussian blurs, which have quite frankly gone out of style in favor of lower opacities.

Some may also find the number of ASUS branded apps to be overwhelming, but we’re mostly okay with this since each app works so well. Besides, ASUS has improved on this in the past, so it’s likely that they’ll continue to do so in the future.

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During our time with the phone, ASUS has also been very good at pushing out minor improvements as well as bug fixes fairly frequently. Plus, they seem to be keeping up with security patches.

BATTERY

Featuring a non-removable 3000mAh battery, the ZenFone 3 Laser was able to run for 12 hours and 25 minutes in our video loop test. This was really surprising, considering that the ZenFone 3 ran for 13 hours and 45 minutes in the same test. With a few hours of calling, Internet browsing, photography, watching videos on YouTube, and using standard apps including Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp plus everyday tasks, the ZenFone 3 Laser was able to last over a day. The ZenFone 3 Laser, unlike other ZenFone 3 smartphones, doesn’t support fast charging.

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Although the Snapdragon 430 can support Quick Charge 3.0, ASUS has failed to implement it, meaning that you’ll be stuck with some relatively slow charging speeds. The charging port is also a reminder that microUSB is still a thing, despite the newer USB Type-C standard largely taking over the Android smartphone market. We do understand that some users do not want to make the transition, so we’ll let you decide whether this is an advantage or drawback.

CAMERA

Asus didn’t adopt the dual-camera trend with the ZenFone 3 Laser, and instead opted for a single 13MP sensor of the back along with an 8MP front-facing one. The interface is easy to understand. Users can choose Manual, HDR Pro, Beautification, Super Resolution, Low-light, QR Code, Night, Depth of field, Effect, Selfie, GIF animation, Panorama, Miniature, Time rewind, Slow motion, or Time Lapse. It’s worth noting that all these modes are consistent across the ZenFone 3 range.

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One of the most hyped features of this phone is its laser autofocus technology which claims to locks focus in just 0.03 seconds. During our review, we found that this feature really did work pretty fast. The laser autofocus plays a major role when taking close-up shots.

The front camera is also decent and takes selfies quickly. On opening the front-facing camera, the ZenFone 3 Laser automatically launches Beautification mode, though users can disable it. In our opinion, this phone is decent for everyday pictures.

MULTIMEDIA

As previously mentioned, the display that’s found on the ZenFone 3 Laser is very bight and colorful – making it a joy to play games and watch videos on. Unfortunately, the multimedia experience as a whole is drastically hampered by the lackluster speaker performance.

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The biggest downside easily has to do with the low volume output. Even when cranked up at max volume, I often found it difficult to hear the ZenFone 3 Laser while doing dishes or in the shower. And, consequently, cranking up your tunes also creates for drastic audio distortion.

On the upside, Asus still kept the 3.5-millimeter headphone jack in place, so you won’t be faced with any issues if you want to plug in your favorite pair of wired headphones.

CALL QUALITY

For those rare occasions where you still find yourself sending and receiving phone calls, the Asus ZenFone 3 Laser does a fine job at delivering solid audio quality on both ends of your conversations. I never once ran into any call quality issues, and the rounded edges of the phone allow it to be quite comfortable to hold while communicating with friends, family members, and colleagues.

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Official Product Link: https://www.asus.com/in/Phone/ZenFone-3-Laser-ZC551KL/


 

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VERDICT
Asus has gambled a little by pricing the ZenFone 3 Laser at around Rs. 20,000. Xiaomi's Redmi 3S and Redmi 3S Prime are powered by the same octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC, and are priced below Rs. 10,000. Performance in benchmarks is below that of other phones we have seen at the ZenFone 3 Laser's price level. Recommending this phone therefore becomes tough. Competitors such as the Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime and Lenovo Z2 Plus offer better value for money in terms of overall performance. The ZenFone 3 Laser's camera does stand out, but it cannot justify such a high price premium. Considering that this phone also has a metal body, decent screen, and software enhancements, a price of Rs. 15,000 or less would be much more appropriate.
DESIGN7.1
DISPLAY8.1
CAMERA8.3
SOFTWARE8
PERFORMANCE7.1
BATTERY LIFE7.1
VALUE FOR MONEY6
PROS
Good Camera
Decent Display
CONS
Relatively weak battery life
Overpriced
Too much bloatware
7.4
10