Zenfone 7 Pro hands-on: A big phone with a slick flipping camera – CNET

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Sareena Dayaram/CNET

In recent years, phone makers have cleverly experimented with concealing the front-facing cameras of phones in an effort to deliver truly uninterrupted displays that many users crave.  Samsung, for example, launched a family of A80 phones last year that had reversible pop-up cameras. Oppo’s Find X ($677 at Walmart) had a motorized pop-up selfie camera and OnePlus followed quickly behind with its own OnePlus 7 Pro ($680 at Amazon). Last year, Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Asus released the Zenfone 6, which had a camera module that flipped from the back to the front (and vice versa) and eliminated the front camera all together. 

Asus is continuing that trend this year with its Zenfone 7 and Zenfone 7 Pro phones. The handsets feature a show-stealing camera that flips over the top with a click of a button. This allows you to use the phone’s  three cameras on the back as front-facing cameras so you can capture higher-resolution photos on more powerful cameras usually reserved only for the rear.

The phones also have 5G, the most cutting-edge processor available and massive batteries accompanied with fast-charging technology. With these updates, Asus bumped up prices significantly (more so than we think is justifiable). In its native Taiwan, the handsets start at 21,999 and 27,990 Taiwanese dollars, or approximately $750 and $950. For context, when the Zenfone 6 launched last year it started for only $499. The Zenfone 7 series will also go on sale in Europe next month, but Asus unfortunately doesn’t currently have plans to release the phones in the US.

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The Zenfone’s motorized flip camera is here to stay.


Asus

Zenfone 7 Pro’s camera module

Of the two phones I was able to handle the Zenfone 7 Pro. As mentioned earlier, there are three cameras to choose from: A 64-megapixel sensor that uses Sony’s IMX 686 flagship sensor, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens and a telephoto lens. As an upgrade from last year, the telephoto lens is new and it can zoom up to 12x. Asus also upgraded the flip camera’s motor to one that it says is smoother, more durable and more versatile due to  the addition of a new angle sensor. I’ll discuss camera performance, post sample photos and give my thoughts on this reversible camera in my review next week, so check back with CNET for all those details.

Zenfone 7 Pro is big and clunky, but the 90Hz is nice

The Zenfone 7 Pro is large, chunky and one of the heaviest phones I’ve ever used. Using it with one hand is incredibly cumbersome, so most of the time I used both hands to navigate. The Zenfone 7 Pro features a 6.67-inch AMOLED display with speedy 90Hz refresh rates. Most phones have a 60Hz display, which means the screen refreshes 60 times a second. With the faster screen, the animations look smoother on the Zenfone 7 Pro and text and images are crisper. I’m also a big fan of the notchless display and love the unobstructed experience that the Zenfone offers.

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Asus

Zenfone 7 Pro’s battery and performance so far

At the heart of the Zenfone 7 Pro is the new Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, which is supposed to be 10% faster than the 865 processor found on most  premium Android phones. The phone also has 8GB or 12GB of RAM (depending on the model) and 128GB or 256GB of internal storage. So far, I’ve been very happy with the performance. But again, check back for my full review next week to see the actual benchmark results when I compare it to other phones with the 865 chipset. 

The Zenfone 7 Pro’s massive 5,000 mAh battery is the same size as the Zenfone 6. It’s also the same capacity as the high-end Galaxy S20 Ultra’s battery. Though the capacity didn’t increase with the new iteration, Asus did add things like more battery care features and a faster 30W charger, which is quoted to juice up the battery in 93 minutes. I will  test this claim out myself, but that’s much faster (on paper at least) than the 153 minutes needed to recharge the Zenfone 6’s battery. 

Zenfone 7 vs. Zenfone 7 Pro

Asus Zenfone 7 Asus Zenfone 7 Pro
Display size 6.67-inch AMOLED; FHD 6.67-inch AMOLED; FHD
Dimensions (Inches) 6.49 x 3.04 x 0.37 inches 6.49 x 3.04 x 0.37 inches
Dimensions (Millimeters) 165.08 x 77.28 x 9.6 mm 165.08 x 77.28 x 9.6 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 8.11 oz; 230g 8.11 oz; 230g
Mobile software Android 10 Android 10
Camera 64-megapixel (main camera), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), and (telephoto) 64-megapixel (main camera), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), and (telephoto)
Front-facing camera None None
Video capture 8K 8K
Processor Snapdragon 865 Snapdragon 865 Plus 5G
Storage 128GB 256GB
RAM 6GB/8GB 8GB
Expandable storage up to 2TB microSD card up to 2TB microSD card
Battery 5,000 mAh 5,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Side Side
Headphone jack No No
Special features Flip camera, 5G enabled, 90Hz refresh rate, 30 W charging Flip camera, 5G enabled, 30W charging, 90 Hz refresh rate,
Price at launch (USD) ~ $ $750 (converted from 21,999 NTD) ~$ 950 ( converted from 27,990 NTD)