Asus announced that it will release its ZenFone Zoom smartphone in the U.S. in early February. The ZenFone Zoom is currently the "world's thinnest 3x-optical zoom smartphone," which also comes with a 10-element HOYA lens arrangement for sharper images.
The ZenFone Zoom has only a 5mm thick (not counting the camera sensor) metallic unibody, with a back panel covered in leather. The device is powered by a previous generation quad-core Atom processor (either the Z3590 or the Z5380 SoC) built on 22nm.
The chip is integrated with a "Cat. 4+" LTE modem that brings up to 250Mbps downlink speeds. According to Asus, you can use the device with your preferred carrier in the U.S., which means that it should work on all the LTE bands in the U.S.
The device also has 4GB of RAM, which is what made the Asus ZenFone brand stand apart among other smartphones in 2015. More RAM can help with faster switching between applications that weren't used very recently by not having to reload them from scratch. The device will have 64GB of on-board storage and will support microSD expansion up to 128GB, as well.
The ZenFone Zoom brings a 5.5 inch 1080p IPS LCD display, protected by the latest Gorilla Glass 4. The display and cover-glass are fused together with Asus' own "TrueVivid" technology to make everything look more clear. The device is powered by a 3,000 mAh battery, which can be charged from 0 to 60 percent capacity in under 40 minutes.
The real star feature of this smartphone is the 13MP camera that brings with it the slim 3x-optical zoom, along with a 10-element lens, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), and 0.03s fast laser auto-focus. The ZenFone Zoom camera app also has a feature called the "Super Resolution mode," which can combine four 13MP pictures to create a 52MP image. This could be useful if you want to further extend the 3x-optical zoom with a more clear digital zoom as well. The camera is also accompanied by a dual-tone flash light and dedicated hardware buttons for still shots, zoom and video recording.
The Asus ZenFone Zoom will arrive with the Android 5.0 OS (which is more than one year old) underneath the company's own ZenUI enhancements, which may not be to some customers' liking, especially if they want to have the latest version of Android as well as the latest security updates.
The 64GB version of the ZenFone Zoom will cost $399 and will arrive in the U.S. next month. The company will offer further availability information on January 20, 2016, on its myzen.asus.com website.
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. You can follow him at @lucian_armasu.