Asus ZenFone 3 Ultra is the biggest phone the company ever launched. It basically sits right at the edge, where we draw a line between a phone and a tablet based on the display size. With a massive 6.8-inch display, the ZenFone 3 Ultra is no doubt a bulky device. The price tag of Rs 50,000 doesn’t help the brand either and raises a lot of questions. While the major question remains, “why should one buy such a huge phone at this ridiculous price?”
Well, I’ve been using this device for a week now and here’s my take. Let’s see if it has in it to justify the price tag.
Design, Display And Video Experience:
The ZenFone 3 Ultra gets a full metal unibody design with a thickness of only 6.8 mm. Surprisingly enough, the phone also fits into the pockets (no so comfortably, though). However, the phone is meant to be kept in a backpack, not pocket. Brownie points to Asus for designing it more like a smartphone, not a tablet. It gets thin bezels and rightly sized chins. The company has also placed the volume rockers on the back of the device which looks a bit strange at first. But once you start using the phone, you’ll soon realise that volume rocker are far better placed at back than at edge, considering the size of the device.
Of course, you need both hands to hold the device, but Asus has also offered the “One Hand Operation” mode. Even with one hand mode, there’s no way to reach some areas of the display with the thumb or fingers. And don’t even get me started on how uncomfortable and embarrassing it is to hold the phone to your ear to make a call. I will never receive a call on this device if I’m not carrying a pair of earphones.
Beneath the display, sits a physical home button with fingerprint scanner along with two backlit capacitive buttons. Unlike other devices of the ZenFone 3 Series, it has quite a snappy fingerprint scanner. The display gets a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels with a pixel density of 324. The display is very bright even under direct sunlight and doesn’t disappoint. However, the sunlight makes the smudges and fingerprints more apparent. The brightness level also goes low enough in the dark to not put the strain on your eyes in the dark.
Now coming to the best part about the device. The ZenFone 3 Ultra is a complete entertainment package. Asus offers a feature called “Blur-Free Motion” mode which when enabled, offers a top-notch video viewing experience. Even on playing the videos in highest possible resolution (4K), the device delivers a stupendous video output. It renders the 30fps videos to look like 60fps with same smoothness and ease.
Coming to the camera, the ZenFone 3 Ultra sports a 23-megapixel primary snapper featuring hybrid autofocus and four-axis OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation). The pictures quality were up to the mark, and the phone’s display is just icing on the cake. But when saw the images on a different screen, the whole picture changed (pun intended). Of course, after setting high standards with its video experience, we had big hopes on the photography front too. But it wasn’t up to the mark.
While checking the photos, we realised that images lacked the contrast as we were expecting. The pictures also turned out a bit on the grainy side even in broad daylight conditions. We also noticed a bug in default camera app which doesn’t let us switch off the shutter sound. I hope it gets solved in next update. On the front, the ZenFone 3 Ultra sports an 8-megapixel camera with 84-degree wide-angle lens. The front camera comes with a ton of features such as Selfie Panorama, Low Light, GIF Animation, Slow Motion, and Time Lapse. Whereas the beautification mode is set as default. Talking about video capabilities, the rear camera records up to 4K videos, and the front one records up to 1080p. Overall, the camera doesn’t justify the flagship definition the phone sets.
Software & Performance:
The ZenFone 3 Ultra comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow wrapped under ZenUI. The UI offered by Asus is not minimalistic, but as a purist, I liked the near stock experience. The company has also played a bit with app icons by offering notification badges on top of them. These badges let you know the number of new mails just by looking at the Gmail app icon or the number of Facebook notifications by looking at Facebook app icon. Well, if you don’t like this feature, you can disable it as well. As usual, the phone comes with a bunch of pre-installed Asus’s own apps such as MyAsus, ZenTalk, ZenCircle, ZenFone Care, ZenFlash S and many other. Apart from these, the device also comes with a ton of other apps such as Instagram, Facebook, Amazon Kindle, AudioWizard, iReader and many other. One thing which came as a shock to us is that the phone lacks VoLTE support. It is quite surprising as all other ZenFone 3 Series phones have already received the VoLTE update.
Overall, the UI doesn’t lag and offers a smooth experience. Thanks to 4GB of RAM, running multiple apps simultaneously and switching between them worked like a charm on this device. Even in the performance section, the Snapdragon 652 chipset didn’t disappoint and performed up to the mark. We played lots of game on the device, and it was a great experience. Games such as Asphalt Nitro, Real Racing 3, ran smoothly on the phone without a sign of a stutter or lag. However, the device did get warm, but that’s completely normal for Android phones. Asus has also come up with a feature called “Gamer Genie” which pops up while playing games and lets you record and stream your gameplay with friends. We also put the device through Antutu benchmarking app on which it scored 75,024. It is on par with LeEco Le 2 and Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro (2016) which are also powered by the same Snapdragon 652 processor.
The sound quality of ZenFone 3 Ultra also impressed and reminded us that it is indeed a premium device. The speaker grills located at the bottom of the phone fires stereo sound and are loud enough for my liking. The phone also bundles a pair of earphone which are terrific and produces a remarkable sound.
The ZenFone 3 Ultra packs in a massive 4600mAh battery which is the only way it could do justice with that mammoth size display. Well, it does. The battery backup of the phone is fantastic and could last even two days. It is ideally suited for continuous video playback and offers around 8-10 hours of screen on time. So, if you travel often and prefers to pass time binge watching movies or TV serials, ZenFone 3 Ultra won’t leave you in middle. The phone also support quick charging and the charger which comes bundled with the box is efficent enough. It is capable of charging the phone completely in approx 2 hours and at initial stage it charges the phone from zero to 25% in just 10 minutes.
If you’re one of those who needs a complete entertainment device and has deep pockets, I will urge you to get this device immediately. Trust me; you won’t be disappointed. It is a complete entertainment package comprising a stunning display with a long lasting battery life. Even though the device is so big than my liking, but I actually enjoyed the time I spend on reviewing it. So, the pricing is bit off-road here, apart from that ZenFone 3 Ultra is a neat device.