Zenfone 3 (ZE552KL) in Canada sees price drop to $389

At launch in Canada, the Zenfone 3 (ZE552KL) was priced at $429 or $419. In short time, now we’re seeing prices as low as $389. This is a darn attractive price for an unlocked smartphone with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. Both white and dark blue color models are available.

Shopping Link: $389 – Zenfone 3 at NCIX.com

Sorry US shoppers, at this point the Zenfone 3 (ZE552KL) is only available in Canada. No word yet if Asus will bring this phone into the US this late in the release schedule.

zenfone-3-canada-price-drop

 

 

Latest CES 2017 teaser indicates 8GB RAM for Zenfone AR

Asus just put out a fun teaser which says “Crack the code”. Thanks to the brilliance out there, the code has been cracked. The answer is:

8GB RAM

Considering the symbol in the teaser is indicative of the Zenfone AR, it’s safe to say it’s packing a whopping 8GB of RAM. Quite the statement from Asus and certainly headline worthy. Sometimes you have to hand it to Asus. They can break new ground like few companies out there. Certainly 8GB of RAM on a smartphone is pushing the boundaries but the question may be whether the Zenfone AR can make use of it.

Not much time to wait folks. One more sleep!

ces-2017-8gb-ram-zenfone-ar

A look at the Asus CES 2017 teaser images – Rumor Breakdown

On the eve of the Asus CES 2017 event, let’s look at what’s being rumored so far and what we’re expecting.

First, let’s look at the teaser images in the recent past:

Image 1: “Level up! World’s best processor now fully unleashed the potential! Save the date: 01.04.17 #ASUS #ZenFone #Zennovation #CES2017”

ces-2017-new-teaser-image-6

This is the most interesting teaser of all. The rampant speculation is that Asus is teasing the fact they will show off a Zenfone sporting the upcoming Snapdragon 835. However, Qualcomm has posted accidentally about Asus being the first to use the Snapdragon 821 in a Project Tango / Daydream smartphone. The current “best processor” is indeed the 821. CES 2017 may be a tad early for the Snapdragon 835 unveiling. Can Asus pull of the impossible? For sure. If Asus can beat the competition and show off a Snapdragon 835 model, that would be nothing short of incredible.

Image 2: “One tap to see the darkness more clearly. 2 morphs into 1 for #ASUS #Zennovation at #CES2017! #ZenFone #SuperPixel”

ces-2017-new-teaser-image-5

The symbol in this above teaser image has been used by Asus in the lead-up to CES 2017. This may be the indicator of the Zenfone 3 Zoom (ZE553KL) along side the Zenfone AR.

Image 3: “Join the journey to unparalleled adventures and possibilities. #ZenFone 01.04.17 at #Zennovation #CES2017!”

ces-2017-new-teaser-image-4

The “Infinite energy” aspect of the above teaser image may be hinting at the massive battery that comes in the Zenfone 3 Zoom (ZE553KL). We have seen the Zenfone 3 Zoom battery specs as listed on¬† TENAA and it’s massive. It’s bigger than the battery found in the Zenfone 3 Max. Again, the symbol shown does indicate a dual camera.

TENAA lists X00GD – It’s not the Zenfone 4. Period.

Be careful what you read and what you believe. We’ve seen the numerous headlines spreading around the world via the internet. Calling this X00GD the Zenfone 4 is just wrong. It makes zero sense if you get into the specs of the X00GD which was recently listed in China’s TENAA website.

The model, which starts with “X00” is exactly what the previous few Zenfone Pegasus models have as well. See this screenshot shows the current Zenfone Pegasus models:

china-zenfone-pegasus-line-up-jan-2017

So just based on model number alone, you can see where this is going. Once you consider the specs as listed on the TENAA website, you will realize there is no way the next generation Zenfone 4 could be this low-end.

X00GD (Zenfone Pegasus) Specs listed on TENAA:

  • 5.2-inch display
  • MediaTek MT6750 processor (1.5GHz)
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 2 / 3 / 4GB RAM configurations
  • 16 / 32 / 64GB storage configurations
  • 8.85mm thick
  • 13MP rear and 8MP front cameras
  • 4,850mAh battery

What stands out is the thickness because the Zenfone 3 has been built for quality. The Zenfone 4 would meet or exceed what Asus put out in the Zenfone 3. The X00GD is not a step up. Not even close.

The battery is quite massive indeed and it makes the X00GD in a class beyond what the Zenfone Max series can provide.

tenaa-leak-mystery-zenfone-x00gd

[source: TENAA]

CES 2017 Speculation: One phone or Two phones?

When Asus publicly states they are making a big splash at CES 2017, it means something. It means they will be unveiling something substantial. Breathtaking even? Typically Asus leaves their big unveils for Computex in Taipei, Taiwan in the first week of June. However, based on what Asus has teased regarding CES 2017, there is at least one new Zenfone coming, but there is a bigger mystery at hand.

The only existing CES 2017 trailer by Asus shows a glimpse of one, and possibly two phones. It seems pretty clear about the Zenfone 3 Zoom based on materials and information that has found its way online lately. However we wonder out loud if there is an even bigger mystery at play here.

In the trailer, there are two main symbols shown. One would indicate dual rear cameras. It seems quite obvious from that stand point. However what about the other symbol that is like an upside down “V”? You might consider it to represent an “A” for augmented reality.

zenfone-3-zoom-ces-2017-teaser

ces-2017-zenfone-teaser

Asus CEO Jerry Shen has indicated a Google Tango certified phone coming which is AR capable. The question we’ve had is whether the Zenfone 3 Zoom will also have the AR capabilities. Based on the Zenfone 3 Zoom specs it would seem unlikely for that to be a cutting edge AR enabled phone.

Here is something to consider. Asus and Google put together the best selling Android tablet, the Nexus 7. Nexus Player was another collaboration. They also worked together more recently on the OnHub. If you look on Google you will see this being sold as the “OnHub from Asus”. The two companies do have some history together.

So is it possible that Asus and Google are coming out with an AR enabled phone? A phone that is outside of the Google Pixel and outside of the Asus Zenfone series?

The reason we are going so far outside of the box is because we’ve only seen mentions of a Zenfone 3 Zoom from Asus. This mystery AR phone has no trail associated with it. The trail goes cold as they say. We believe it’s one of two things. Either the Zenfone 3 Zoom is also AR enabled or there is indeed a partnership device between Asus and Google that is AR enabled.

If Asus does have a Google Tango certified phone coming, considering there is a certain specification that needs to be met. The only phone right now with Project Tango certification is the phab 2 Pro from Lenovo. It’s a 6.4-inch display with a 1440 x 2560 resolution. If you consider the Zenfone 3 Zoom, or at least the information that has been found at TENAA or WiFi certification papers, the Zenfone 3 Zoom is only 5.5-inches and has a 1080p resolution display and an average processor. Size and resolution almost say that the Zenfone 3 Zoom isn’t up to the Project Tango specification in order to be certified. Just our thinking of course. Are we wrong? Quite possibly.

Take a look at the two devices featured in the Asus CES 2017 trailer:

asus-ar-phone-ces-2017

Let us be clear. The images are only glimpses from a CES 2017 trailer. Scale can be off. There are a lot of visual distractions going on at the same time in the video.

One thing that jumps out to us is the size. The blue phone on the right appears wider and longer. The top bezel indicates these are different phones regardless of the scale debate. The blue phone simply seems different to us based on the short glimpses we get in the teaser.

Also consider the symbols being different on the phones. The phone of the left can easily be distinguished as being dual lense and the Zenfone 3 Zoom. The phone on the right seems to be showing us the augmented reality capabilities.

So if the phone on the right is the Project Tango certified phone, it would appear to be a size more comparable to the Zenfone 3 Ultra at 6.8-inches which lines up more with the only certified phone, the 6.4-inch Lenovo phone. Think about it too. With AR, a big screen would be almost mandatory. A high resolution display would also be a key ingredient. This is why we feel at 5.5-inches, the Zenfone 3 Zoom isn’t likely to be this rumored AR model.

Are we onto something here? Let us know in the comments section!

 

Android 7.0 Nougat spotted on Zenfone 3 (in the wild)

There is no question that the talk of Android 7.0 Nougat coming to the Zenfone 3 is heating up. We’ve seen an increase in Nougat update articles and we have now seen the first photos of Android Nougat on a Zenfone 3.

android-7-nougat-update-zenfone-3-ze552kl-first-spotted

android-7-nougat-spotted-on-zenfone-3-ze552kl-first-time

These photos come out of Indonesia. We found them on @PaperBoy but it’s a bit unclear to us where these are from or who posted first. Clearly though you can see the “About” settings and “Android 7.0” listed there.

We have also seen other discussions about Android 7.0 Nougat and the Zenfone 3 series so we believe that there is something happening. We are not expecting this to take six months to come.

Asus did in fact roll out an Android 7.0 Nougat update beta program way back in September. This is slated to end on December 31, 2016. Does that end date mean an immediate rollout? No. The Zenfone 2 update came out quite a long while after the ending of that beta program. However with the Zenfone 3 and the importance Asus is putting in their phone line-up, we expect them to expedite this update.

android-7-nougat-update-for-zenfone-3

The image above is the announcement¬† for the Android 7.0 Nougat beta program. Note the end date of “2016/12/31”.