By using an unusual flip camera on the cool Zenfone 6, Asus found a great way to differentiate its reasonably priced winner from the competition, and it has continued the theme with the new Zenfone 7 and Zenfone 7 Pro, along with some other big improvements. The motorized camera module returns but this time with more sensors, a faster movement, and greater durability. Asus made the decision to release two Zenfone models this time, but it’s the Zenfone 7 Pro we’ll be concentrating on here, with a word about the standard Zenfone 7 later on.
Let’s start with the Zenfone 7 Pro’s party piece: the mad motorized flip-over camera. If you’re unfamiliar with the Zenfone 6, this is pretty simple: the rear cameras become the front cameras, physically flipping to the front with the tap of a button. It’s simply the best way to solve the issue of tiny front-facing cameras with limited quality. The larger module has three sensors inside instead of two on the Zenfone 6: a 64-megapixel IMX686 with optical image stabilization (OIS), a 12MP wide-angle, and an 8MP telephoto with OIS for 3x optical zoom.
These are set inside a module made from liquid metal for weight and durability, that’s 40% smaller than the one on the Zenfone 6, but with a motor that’s twice as powerful. It has been tested to 200,000 flips, twice that of the Zenfone 6, which equates to 100 daily flips for the next six years. The motor and gearbox has been redesigned for speed and adjustability. It adjusts at steps of 0.5 degrees compared to the two degrees on the Zenfone 6.
Asus has worked on the camera performance and feature set, too. It has improved low-light performance, plus color and contrast levels throughout, then added 8K video recording at 30 frames per second (FPS), 4K slow-motion video at 120FPS, and a pro mode for video. This enables a new super-steady shot system that combines electronic image stabilization with the wide-angle sensor to reduce movement in fast-moving video. Use the motorized flip camera to automatically take massively wide-angle panorama shots, track moving objects automatically, and set quick access angles for the module, too.
The big benefit of the flip camera is that all the rear camera features can be used on the front camera because the rear cameras are the front camera. Want 8K selfie video, or true 113-degree wide-angle selfies? The Zenfone 7 Pro delivers them, and no other phone offers such a comprehensive selfie camera system. Even if the cameras aren’t up to the highest quality levels by rear-camera standards, they’re surely above the pack in terms of front-facing cameras.
How about the rest of the phone? The AMOLED screen measures 6.67 inches and has a 90Hz refresh rate, HDR10 Plus support, and the same color calibration techniques as the Asus ROG Phone 3 gaming phone. The Snapdragon 865 Plus processor and 5G connection are the same, too, and it comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage space. The phone has a metal frame, Gorilla Glass 3 on the back, and Gorilla Glass 7 over the screen.
A massive 5,000mAh battery is inside the phone with HyperCharge fast charging for 60% in 35 minutes and a full charge in a little over 90 minutes. Asus added various features to keep the battery working well over time, including a slow charging system for those who charge their phones overnight, much like we saw on the OnePlus 8 Pro. The software is Android 10 with Asus’s ZenUI 7, which looks and operates in a similar way to Google’s version of Android on the Pixel 4. There’s a fingerprint sensor in the power key on the side of the phone, which also works as a smart key with assignable quick actions and access to Google Assistant.
The Zenfone 7 Pro’s large battery and motorized flip camera add to an overall heavy phone at 230 grams — that’s 10% heavier than even the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. And it’s also not water-resistant, which is a tough sell in 2020. However, Asus provides a slightly ruggedized case and a custom transparent case in the box to help you keep the phone safe. There’s only a single speaker and none of the amazing audio tech heard on the ROG Phone 3, and the headphone jack has not made a reappearance here.
What about the Zenfone 7? It’ll come with a standard Snapdragon 865, a choice of either 6GB or 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, while the camera will not have any of the OIS features.
The Zenfone 6 offered excellent value at $500, but with its considerably higher specification, the Zenfone 7 Pro isn’t quite so cheap. We’re still waiting for U.S. prices, but in Taiwan, the Zenfone 7 Pro will cost the equivalent of $950, while the Zenfone 7 will be about $750. The company also recognizes the difficulty some had with finding a Zenfone 6 for sale and has said the Zenfone 7 will be in far better supply — we can only hope that’s the case when retailers stock them. We’ll update our story when the final U.S and European price and release details arrive.