Asus, the Taiwanese hardware maker known for bringing affordable smartphones to India, will be the first brand to launch a model with the new Snapdragon 821 chipset in India. The 821 is a slightly optimized and more powerful version of the 820 found in most high-end phones today.
The company is all set to unveil its new Zenfone 3 series in the country in the next three weeks, according to sources.
The Zenfone 3 series, as the name implies, is the second refresh of Asus’ rather successful smartphone line-up.
The series consists of three large-sized phones – the Zenfone 3, it’s Deluxe version with more powerful features and an Ultra version with a bigger display. All three will come with full-HD resolution.
In other words, it is the Deluxe version which will be most interesting from the specifications angle, but it will be the ‘plain’ 3 version that will be the most exciting from the market perspective due to its pricing.
The Zenfone 3 — which will have glass on both its front and back — is expected to be priced about Rs 17,000, while the Deluxe version will cost twice as much. The Ultra, which comes with a huge 6.8-inch display, will be priced somewhere in between.
All the three devices have received good reviews from experts.
Though not officially announced, Asus will also launch a new ‘Go’ phone as well.
The new Go model (ZB552KL) will have a rather disappointing 5.9-inch 720p display, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. However, it’s the only one likely to be priced close to the Rs 10,000 mark.
So far, the Taiwanese brand’s USP has not been the looks or the exceptional quality of its phones, but the value that they provide in a limited budget. Asus was Intel’s biggest partner in the chip giant’s efforts to gain market share for its Atom processors in the smartphone market.
Going by early reviews, the new line-up reflects a change in the company’s approach even as Intel has given up on its Atom series. Asus is now taking a step away from its ‘value’ branding to that of a more regular smartphone brand.
While that may sound disappointing to some, how successful this will be depends, ironically, on how much of its former value proposition it will retain even as it starts offering better hardware.
Nevertheless, one of the positive results of this attempted transformation is a visible improvement in the quality of displays that adorn the new phones.
Typically, Zenfones came with rather disappointing displays as the company raced to keep costs under control.
However, the third series is a rather bold attempt to break out of the mould and offer models that are at par with any of the other brands.
The Zenfone 3 Deluxe, for example, is the first metal unibody phone to come with no visible antenna lines. It also comes with 6 GB of RAM — something most of its rivals don’t offer — and offers up to 256 GB of internal storage (starting at 64 GB).
While the ‘regular’ Zenfone 3 comes with a 5.5-inch IPS LCD panel, this one comes with a 5.7-inch AMOLED panel.
The regular Zenfone 3 will also have many takers, especially if priced closer to the Rs 15,000 mark. It will among the first mid-range smartphones to come with 14 nanometer chips.
14 nanometer chips, such as the Snapdragon 625 inside this model, consume about half the power that its equivalent chip made on 28 nm consumes.
As a result, the overall power draw of the phone is reduced by about 25-35%. Due to the lower heat generated when using the technology, the processor is also able to run at a higher speed of 2 GHz compared to 1.5 GHz in the Snapdragon 615. This in turn increases performance — especially when all eight cores are firing.
With no thermal throttling, the Snapdragon 625 is about 60% more powerful than the 615 when all eight cores are working, even though both use identical Cortex A53 cores. It also prolongs the battery life considerably.
However, as many have found out, the path to a ‘full price’ brand from a value brand is full of unexpected dangers. It remains to be seen how the company will price the new phones, and if it goes for ‘full pricing’, how the market receives it; after all, there is no dearth of ‘full price’ brands.