This Year, Asus has tried to reinvent itself with a new aggressive strategy. For a change, it has tried to shred its cheap and budget brand image with phones that feel and look premium.

Asus continues to entertain mid-range buyers with offerings such as Zenfone 3 Laser and Zenfone 3 Max (review). The former, which we will be talking about here, is a camera centric phone adhering to newfound Asus ideology.

Asus has priced the Zenfone 3 Laser at Rs. 18,999 which is almost double that of Zenfone 2 Laser. Does it really justify the price hike? Let’s find out in our detailed review of Asus Zenfone 3 Laser.

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser Specifications:

Model Asus Zenfone 3 Laser
Display 5.5-inch IPS+ LCD, Full HD, 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3
Processor 1.5GHz Snapdragon 430 octa-core
RAM 4GB
Internal Storage 32GB
Rear Camera 13MP, dual LED flash, Sony IMX214 sensor, f/2.0 aperture, 3-axis EIS, Laser AF
Front Camera 8MP, F/2.0 aperture
Software Android marshmallow based Zen UI 2.0
Battery 3000 mAh
Others 4G LTE, Fingerprint sensor, dual SIM (Hybrid)
Price 18,999 INR

Design & Build

The new Zenfone 3 Laser has an elegant design and looks far better than its predecessor. The touch of Sand-Blasted aluminum back feels good in hands and looks premium. The phone is fashionably slim and settles in our palm rather comfortably, thanks to its slightly curved edges. Despite the unibody metal casing housing a sizeable battery, the handset feels light and easy to maneuver.

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Asus Zenfone 3 Laser has a 5.5-inch display on the front with 77 percent screen to body ratio and minimal bezels on the sides.It gets a 2.5D curved glass protection cover against minor scratch causing incidents.  Above the display sits a sensors hub alongside an earpiece, selfie camera and a notification light (hardly visible).  Like most Asus phones, there are silver coated capacitive buttons just below the display, which are difficult to spot in dark.

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On the rear side, you will find thin golden/silver color antenna bands running on both top and bottom. The rear camera sticks out its neck and is accompanied by laser auto-focus and dual LED flash. The unusual oval shape fingerprint sensor sits just beneath the camera. The buttons on the right edge are firm and offer good tactical feedback. The bottom edge has a microUSB port and a roughly finished loudspeaker grill.

Overall, I find Zenfone 3 Laser design satisfactory as it is in tune with currently prevailing market standard.

Display

The 5.5-inch full HD IPS display is much improved as compared to its predecessor. It looks crisp and vivid. Viewing angles are also reasonably good. Though, colors hues are not as accurate while viewing from certain angles. It comes layered with Gorilla Glass 3 coating to keep scratches at bay.

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Asus claims that the phone has a fingerprint and smudge-resistant (not smudge-free) oleophobic coating. The display is a bit reflective in nature and overall brightness is slightly underwhelming. However, the phone has a good responsive touch and also works with gloves(if the feature is turned on).

Check out: Asus Zenfone 3 Camera Review: A Reliable Eye

Camera

Asus highlights the Zenfone 3 Laser Camera as the show stopper and it does present a compelling case for itself. Specs-wise, It features a 13MP camera module fitted with Sony IMX214 sensor. It gets f/2.0 wide aperture optics, laser autofocus, and dual tone flash. The camera app is pretty standard and has a simple UI. It offers a number of modes including a Manual mode for those who like to tweak with shutter speed, white balance, focus, etc. to get the most out of the camera in every lighting condition.

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In broad daylight, it delivers its best performance. It focuses quickly but takes more than 0.03 to lock focus (That’s what Asus claims). Though once an image is clicked it takes some time to process it which is disappointing.

Images captured in bright and sunny conditions turn out really well with good amount of details and colors. However, there is some distortion in details around the corners as noise and grains creep in.  The Close-up shots were taken in low-light turn out well, thanks to Low light mode which is least better than what the competition has to offer.

Performance & Software

What really lets this otherwise fine device down is its day to day performance. Day to day performance is noticeably slow and the phone struggles every time the going gets tough. Asus has sourced a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chipset and paired it with 4GB RAM and 32GB ROM to do all the heavy lifting, and in practice, the combination is certainly not good enough to compete with the likes of Lenovo Z2 Plus and LeEco Le Max 2 which comes with Snapdragon 820 for almost same price.

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It takes ample amount of time to load apps and multi-tasking is not exactly a cake walk. It is clearly not meant for heavy gaming and our brief gaming experience clearly proved that. On the plus side, we haven’t witnessed any heating issues with the device.

On the software front, the Zenfone 3 Laser runs on the Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS which is garnished with Zen UI 3.0. It is not the easiest of UI to get familiarized with. It comes with lots of unnecessary pre-installed apps such as Laser Rule, ZenTak, Slide etc. which I hope Asus we do away with in future builds (finger-cross).

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One useful app buried in the clogging bloatware is the Mobile Manager. It provides some useful information such as data usage, system permissions, memory cleanup and lot more. Overall, ZenUI is one of the most loaded Android interfaces and offers a number of customization options to those who love to play around with their phone.

Also read: Asus Zenfone 3 Review – Exceeds Expectations

Miscellaneous

The Zenfone 3 Laser battery life is more than decent but not as extraordinary as the Zenfone 3 Max. In day to day usage, it manages to survive major part of the day on moderate usage which includes multiple active social media accounts logged in and synced on WiFi, 25-40 mins video playback, regular browsing, occasional light gaming and some 30mins of music playback.  On the downside, it lacks fast charging support and it takes more than three hours to refill the tank.

Phones support most of the modern day connectivity options including 4G VoLTE, which is necessary for Reliance Jio to work flawlessly. Signal reception and call quality on the phone is good and we didn’t face any difficulty in making and attending cellular calls. Mirroring screen using Chromecast dongle was laggy.

Bottomline

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser is not as impressive as were its other two siblings – the Zenfone 3 or Zenfone 3 Max – that we reviewed recently. Still, it’s a decent phone for basic users who prioritize camera performance over all else. It still feels overpriced, though.

Pros:

  • Premium design
  • Good camera performance
  • Crisp and Vivid display

Cons:

  • Hybrid SIM card slot
  • Mediocre performance

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