Asus Zenfone 3 Laser ZC551KL Smartphone Review

Asus introduced Zenfone 3 series in the third quarter of 2016, and since then Asus has been continuously added new members in the series. Recently we reviewed Asus Zenfone 3 Max, which is one of the newest members of the Zenfone 3 series, and today we'll be reviewing the Asus Zenfone 3 Laser (ZC551KL) smartphone. This smartphone was announced with the initial Zenfone 3 series phones in 2016, you can read this article for all other Zenfone 3 series smartphones which were announced with Zenfone 3 Laser. The main USP of the Zenfone 3 Laser is the Laser Autofocus, which helps you lock focus faster than other phones. I've been using this smartphone for a couple of weeks now, and I think I'm ready for the review. So let's jump straight into it.

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Unboxing

The box in which Asus Zenfone 3 Laser came, was quite similar to the Zenfone 3 Max, the only noticeable difference was the name. The box contains the smartphone (of course) and along with it, it contains a Charging adapter, a MicroUSB cable, a Sim ejecting tool, a pair of Asus ZenEar earphones, some extra ear tips for earphones and some documentation. Honestly, I was not expecting Asus to ship them with earphones, since Asus Zenfone 3 Max didn't have them, but it was a delight to see them there. Also, a point to note here, the OTG cable was missing. You can go ahead and watch the unboxing video on our YouTube channel. 

Build & Design

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser ZC551KL is strikingly similar in terms of design to the Zenfone 3 Max, with only one visible difference, the shape of the fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor on Zenfone 3 Laser is rectangular in shape with rounded corners, whereas the fingerprint sensor on Zenfone 3 Max was square in shape with rounded corners. Rest of the design is pretty much same. Also, one thing to note is, Asus Zenfone 3 Laser is slightly thinner & lighter in weight as compared to Zenfone 3 Max. Asus Zenfone 3 Laser weighs 150 grams & measures 7.9 mm in thickness.


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Asus Zenfone 3 Laser's back is made up of aluminum and comes with a matte finish, similar to the kind we saw on Asus Zenfone 3 Max. The display is topped with 2.5D contoured Corning Gorilla glass 3, which makes it resistant to scratches. On top of the display, you'll find the earpiece, the front camera, and the proximity sensor. Below the display, there are three touch-sensitive navigation keys. Unfortunately, they are not backlit, which makes the phone difficult to operate in darkness. 


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The right side contains the volume rocker, along with the power key. The left side contains the hybrid sim tray, which can house either a Micro SIM card with MicroSD card or Micro SIM card with a Nano SIM card. The top contains a 3.5 mm audio jack and a secondary microphone. The bottom contains the MicroUSB port, the speaker, and the main microphone.

The rear portion contains the main camera, underneath which, you'll find the fingerprint sensor. The dual tone, dual LED flash, and the laser sensor are on the sides of the camera. The antenna bands are shinier than the rest of the body. Overall the smartphone is solid in terms of build & feels elegant in hands, it is a bit slippery, so we'll recommend using a case.

Display & Audio

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser (ZC551KL) comes with a 5.5" Inch IPS Full HD display with 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution and pixel density of 401 ppi. The display to body ratio is 74 percent and the maximum brightness of the display is up to 500 nits, which is a bit more than Zenfone 3 Max. According to Asus, you get 178 degrees wide viewing angle, which is impressive. The display looks good, the color reproduction is very good as compared to other phones in this price segment. The blacks are deeper and the images are crisp. Just like other Asus Smartphones, the Zenfone 3 Laser comes with an inbuilt Bluelight filter which protects the eye from strain. The sunlight legibility of Zenfone 3 Laser is satisfactory, the display was viewable under direct sunlight. The color tone or temperature of the display is adjustable under settings. Watching videos, movies and playing games on Asus Zenfone 3 Laser was a delight.



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Coming to the audio, the speaker is placed next to the charging port, so it worked well no matter the phone was placed facing down or up. However, the speaker didn't impress me much, it was good but not loud enough. You can use the speaker for casual music listening or for speaker calls but you'll need to keep the phone closer to hear the voice from the other end. For me the loudspeaker was average, but when we plug in the earphones, the performance delivered by Zenfone 3 Laser is above average, I'll say decent. Asus Zenfone 3 Laser comes bundled with a pair of earphones, unlike Asus Zenfone 3 Max.

Hardware Performance

The hardware of Asus Zenfone 3 Laser (ZC551KL) is almost same as the Zenfone 3 Max, except for the RAM. It packs a Qualcomm MSM8937 Snapdragon  430 chipset with Octa-Core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53 64-bit processor, Adreno 505 GPU, 4GB RAM and 32GB Internal storage. You can expand the storage up to 128GB using microSD card in sim slot 2. Asus also provides 100GB of Google Drive space for two years free with the purchase of this smartphone, you can redeem it by logging into your Google Drive from your smartphone. 



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The day-to-day performance of Asus Zenfone 3 Laser was good, if not best. The phone did slow down when using multiple apps at once, I'll blame the hardware for that. The gameplay on Zenfone 3 Laser was ridiculous, you just cannot play hardcore games or games with heavy graphics on them, the phone slows down a lot when playing heavy games. Also when multitasking with a lot of apps in the background, you'll notice some performance issues. 


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There were no heating issues, whatsoever, though the phone tended to get a bit warm when charging, shooting Full HD videos for longer periods or gaming for longer periods (I doubt you'll do that) but overall it was average. The phone did seem to work well when dealing with few apps on multitasking and with lightweight games. 

Software

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser (ZC551KL) runs on Android v6.0.1 Marshmallow, which is topped by ZenUI 3.0, a layer of custom Asus UI. The interface is similar to other Asus smartphones, it comes with an app drawer and lots and lots of bloatware. What further annoys me is, that the bloatware forced by Asus on us, cannot be uninstalled, in order to remove them, you'll need to root your phone first. The bloatware takes a good part of internal storage, leaving behind a smaller space for your stuff. 



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The software performs well, its smooth & snappy with nice little animations & colorful icons. You can download themes & customize the look of your phone as per your choice. The Mobile manager app comes in handy in the day-to-day usage, it has a good set of tools which will help you get certain jobs done, without any need of installing additional apps.

Camera

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser (ZC551KL) packs a 13 Megapixel PixelMaster Rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, Laser Autofocus, Dual LED (Dual-tone) Flash and capability to record Full HD 1080p videos at 30 frames per second. The front camera is an 8 Megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture. The camera of Zenfone 3 Laser comes with a Video stabilization mode which when enabled, helps in stabilizing the video. The camera interface is same as other Asus Zenfone 3 series smartphones, below is the screenshot of the camera interface.



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The Top section contains Settings, HDR toggle, Camera Switcher and Flash toggle. The bottom section contains Modes, Video Recording Button, Shutter Key, Manual Mode Toggle and Gallery shortcut. You can take a look at the screenshots for a better idea. 

Camera Modes

Below listed are the camera modes available in Asus Zenfone 3 Laser (ZC551KL) you can read the description next to it for a better idea.



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Auto Mode: This mode automatically chooses best settings according to your surroundings & lighting conditions.

Manual Mode: Using this mode you can adjust all settings like ISO, Focus, White balance, Exposure, Shutter Speed etc.


Super Resolution Mode: This mode takes multiple images and stitches them together to form a large 65 Megapixel photo.


The Depth of Field Mode: This mode takes multiple images at different focal lengths and then combines them and makes the subject sharp, while the background is blurred (out-of-focus) creating a Bokeh effect.


Smart Remove Mode: This mode again takes multiple shots and removes moving objects which accidently appeared in background (for example, moving vehicles, people etc.)

Low Light:  As the name states, the low light mode helps you take better pictures in low lighting conditions.


Other modes include; HDR Pro, Beautification, Selfie Mode, QR Code, Night Mode, Effect, Panorama, Children, Time Rewind, All Smiles, ZenFlash, Gif Animation, Miniature, Slow Motion and Time Lapse Mode.

Image / Video Quality

Just like other Asus Zenfone 3 series smartphones, Zenfone 3 Laser ZC551KL comes with a very impressive camera for a phone in this price segment. The camera is simply awesome, the images produced by it are so detailed, that it makes it difficult for you to believe it was taken by a mid-range smartphone camera. The color reproduction is quite accurate, the contrast is just where I want it to be, overall the Image output is just amazing. The camera performs really well in daylight. The results in artificial light are also good. When it comes to Low light photography, you get two different modes; Low Light Mode & Night Mode. From what I know, I guess the Low light mode is for low light conditions (probably indoors) and the Night mode is for shooting outdoors at Night, I don't know, you can try both of them in low light conditions and see which one goes well with you. According to Asus, the Night mode combines multiple images to create one with less noise, while the Low light mode brightens up the image.


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Try experimenting with different modes, at different lighting conditions & different places, nobody knows, what may surprise you. I personally love HDR Pro mode. 

Here is a Sample video shot using Asus Zenfone 3 Laser (ZC551KL)

Sample Images Shot using Asus Zenfone 3 Laser Rear Camera.


Connectivity & Network Reception

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser supports Dual sim cards. The connectivity options on Zenfone 3 Laser includes 2G, 3G and 4G networks. The device supports VoLTE, Bluetooth v4.2 with A2DP, EDR & LE, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS & BDS support, MicroUSB connector, OTG support, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Hotspot support. There is a 3.5 mm audio jack and FM radio support. The network reception on Asus Zenfone 3 Laser was good throughout, I did not find any issues here. 

Benchmarks

We ran a few popular Benchmarks on Asus Zenfone 3 Laser (ZC551KL) to get a better idea of where it stands in terms of performance. Below are the results obtained from AnTuTu, Geekbenck 4, Quadrant and 3D mark.



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The AnTuTu score for Asus Zenfone 3 Laser (ZC551KL) was 44247, while the score on Geekbench 4 was 641 for single core & 2030 for multi-core. The score on Quadrant was 22095 and finally, the score on the 3D mark (Slingshot extreme) was 293.


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Battery Performance

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser comes with a 3000 mAh non-removable Li-Ion battery under the hood. The battery performance was satisfactory, It lasted a day with moderate usage, you can even pull off longer periods if you adjust the brightness frequently as required, or by adjusting the settings listed in Mobile manager app, under Power saver section. To my dismay, I realized that there was no fast charging support provided by Asus, which is nothing but disappointing. 

Verdict

Before I straight away jump to conclusions, let me keep this straight. Asus Zenfone 3 Laser ZC551KL is a very good device in terms of design & camera, but there are two main things which disappoint me the most is the hardware performance & the pricing. Asus Zenfone 3 Laser ZC551KL was initially priced at Rs.18,999, which was a bit high for a smartphone like this since brands like Xiaomi had smartphones with similar hardware & performance for as low as Rs.9000 - The Redmi 3S and Redmi 3S prime. Asus Zenfone 3 Laser carried a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chip under the beautiful design, which is quite old now, but still for the sake of cost-cutting, some brands like Xiaomi still use it, like they did in Redmi 3S and 3S prime phones. I don't know what was Asus thinking when they priced it in Rs.18,999 range when other brands are using almost same hardware & the Snapdragon 430 chip, and still had smartphones at much cheaper prices. I agree that Asus Zenfone 3 Laser's camera is far superior to many of its rivals, but it still does not justify the price tag of Rs.18,999, because, in my opinion, any individual who is willing to spend such a hefty amount won't compromise performance over the camera. 


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Fortunately, Asus officially dropped the price of Zenfone 3 Laser ZC551KL to Rs.14,999 from Rs.18,999 which seemed reasonable for such a smartphone. Coming to the performance of Zenfone 3 Laser ZC551KL, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chip still holds the phone back when it comes to multitasking & hardcore gaming. The smartphone is quite manageable for a moderate user who intends to use the phone for calling, music, videos, browsing etc. but for a heavy multi-tasker & gamer, this phone will not be able to satisfy the gamer inside of you. The rear camera is really good, especially for daylight photography and video shooting. The low light camera performance is quite decent. The front camera is also very decent, it comes with beautification feature which enhances your selfies. The battery life is also very decent for a moderate user. 

I'll recommend Asus Zenfone 3 Laser ZC551KL to people who are looking for a premium smartphone in a budget friendly price tag & with features like; amazing camera, design & battery performance. The smartphone quite similar to Zenfone 3 Max when it comes to hardware performance. Asus Zenfone 3 Laser ZC551KL is priced at Rs.14,999 in India and is available via Flipkart.

Buy Now

Flipkart - Asus Zenfone 3 Laser ZC551KL (32GB / GOLD)
Flipkart - Asus Zenfone 3 Laser ZC551KL (32GB / SILVER)


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About Jimmie Luthra

Jim Luthra is a Third Officer in Merchant Navy and Chief Editor of The-Area51.com, He is a Blogger, Guitarist, Painter, Book Lover, Tech Geek, Basket Ball Lover, Traveller and Fitness Freak. He loves Traveling and Adeventure Sports.
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