Asus ZenFone Zoom is a smartphone for the serious photographer

Asus is releasing a new ZenFone smartphone, and it’s all about the camera.  With a leather rear panel and a circular metal ring around the optics, the Zenfone Zoom resembles a classic camera. Asus teamed up with Japanese optics manufacturer Hoya to create the 10-element lens design used in the Zoom. Asus says it uses a "periscopic" arrangement to cram that unusually large number of elements into the ZenFone Zoom's body.

The camera also features a 3x optical zoom, a 13-MP Panasonic SmartFSI sensor, optical image stabilization, and laser-autofocus.

The ZenFone Zoom has quick point-and-shoot speed (a claimed 30 milliseconds) for the casual photographers among us, and includes dedicated physical buttons on the device for still shots, zoom, and video recording. More experienced photographers will likely appreciate the camera's manual mode and its direct control of exposure, ISO, and white balance.

With all of the attention-grabbing features of this phone's camera, it's easy to forget that the Zoom is also a smartphone. It runs Android Lollipop with Asus's ZenUI. The Zenfone Zoom is powered by Intel’s quad-core Atom Z3590 SoC, and comes with a generous 4GB of RAM. Its microSD slot supports cards up to 128GB, and it has a 3000-mAh battery. Asus uses a 5.5” IPS 1080p panel to let Android and photos shine. Finally, like other Zenfone models, the Zenfone Zoom is fully unlocked, allowing users to pick the compatible carrier of their choice. Asus plans to release the 64GB model in early February for $399.

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