Why it matters to you
Asus is rumored to be planning to replace its sprawling Zenfone 3 range with new, higher-specification models in the coming months.
Asus certainly made the most of the Zenfone 3 range in 2016 and even early 2017, having launched a wide variety of spin-off devices, including the Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Zenfone 3 Laser, and most recently, the Zenfone 3 Zoom. Where does it go from here? Rumors are beginning to spread about the arrival of the Zenfone 4, Asus’ replacement to the Zenfone 3. Details are slim at the moment, but here’s what we think we know about the company’s upcoming phones so far.
A range of devices
Asus has long launched a series of phones in each Zenfone lineup, and this year it seems as though it may launch as many as five different Zenfone 4 variants. That’s more than it ever has, and includes the Zenfone 4 Max, Zenfone 4 Pro, Zenfone 4 Selfie, Zenfone 4V, and two variants of the standard Zenfone 4. The news comes from the Asus forums, with a user listing each model and model number.
At long last, Asus may finally be gearing up for a proper unveiling of its Zenfone 4 lineup. The news comes from DigiTimes, which shares that Asus CEO Jerry Shen has confirmed a new target of July 2017 for the reveal. The article relates that Asus fell nearly three months behind schedule in an effort to redesign the devices late in the development process.
The report goes on to say the company will launch the “mainstream” 5.5-inch Zenfone 4 first, in Taiwan, for a price roughly equivalent to $500. Later, it will supplement that device with a family of different sized phones. Shen even mentioned the Zenfone 5 will debut at Mobile World Congress in February 2018.
Meanwhile, the Zenfone AR, developed in tandem with Google’s Project Tango augmented reality initiative, will release this summer. That’s according to Clay Bavor, Google’s vice president of virtual reality development, who made the announcement during the keynote address of Google’s I/O conference on May 17.
Tango gives devices improved motion tracking and depth perception capabilities. It also allows for area learning, so the Zenfone AR can remember the key features of a physical space, and even measure out the size of objects with unprecedented accuracy.
The Zenfone AR may also give us a hint at what’s to come from the Zenfone 4 series. A January 2017 report published by DigiTimes, which has a hit-and-miss reputation with rumors, says the new phones will have higher specifications than Zenfone 3 models, but will end up costing more to buy.
First announced during CES 2017, the Zenfone AR is an impressive device, with a Snapdragon 821 processor, a giant 8GB of RAM, and a big 5.7-inch Super AMOLED screen with a 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution. If just one Zenfone 4 model takes after the Zenfone AR, we’ll be excited.
The DigiTimes report had also stated that Asus planned to launch the Zenfone 4 range in May. The information was apparently sourced from the supply chain in Taiwan. It’s interesting to note we’re told Asus will launch “smartphones,” plural, which points to another set of Zenfone devices, rather than a single model. The Zenfone 4 phone launch may coincide with the Zenfone AR being put on sale.
At the end of 2016, and then again after the New Year, an Asus phone with the model number X00GD was spotted after it was registered on China’s TENAA regulatory board website. Believed to be a mid-range member of the Zenfone 4 family, its standout feature is a large 4,850mAh battery, which, considering it’s only powering a 5.2-inch, 1280 x 720 pixel screen and a 1.5GHz octa-core processor, should provide plenty of standby time. Other specifications include a 13-megapixel rear camera, and either 2GB or 4GB of RAM.
If Asus follows the Zenfone 3 range, we should see a standard Zenfone 4 and a Zenfone 4 Max, along with an even larger Zenfone 4 Deluxe. Although the Zenfone 4 name is being used at the moment, Asus has used it before, back in 2014 when the number four was used to denote the screen size of the phone. It’s not certain the company will want to reuse it this time.
Zenfone 4 Max
A GFXBench leak, discovered by GizmoChina, alongside a brief listing on Asus’ support website that has since been taken down, have given us what could be our first look at the upcoming Zenfone 4 Max. The GFXBench report deals with an Asus device code-named X00ID, and the device that was mentioned on Asus’ site is known as ZC554KL. As GSMDome notes, the latter follows in Asus’ device-naming strategy, indicating a successor to last year’s Zenfone 3 Max, which was dubbed ZC553KL.
The handset named X00ID is rumored to feature a 5.5-inch 1280 x 720 display powered by a 1.4GHz Qualcomm quad-core processor. The GPU on board is an Adreno 505, and the device has 3GB of RAM to work with, alongside 32GB of storage — 9GB of which are taken up by the operating system.
More interestingly, the spec sheet mentions two rear-facing cameras — a 12-megapixel shooter capable of recording 4K video, and another 5-megapixel shooter. The camera at the front is said to be 7 megapixels.
GSMDome states that the name ZC554KL indicates a number of characteristics about the device — a primary one being the 5.5-inch display, as designated by the “55” in the name. If this is indeed the case, both reports may point to the same device — however, they disagree as to the nature of the processor. GSMDome believes a midrange Snapdragon 625 or 660 system-on-a-chip could be in the cards for the Zenfone 4 Max, while GizmoChina speculates it will see a Snapdragon 430.
The 625 was featured in the Zenfone 3 line, and the 660 is an updated version that was revealed in early May. The 660 is rumored to debut in the upcoming Nokia 8, as well as Xiaomi’s Mi Max 2. The lower-powered 430 is featured in the Nokia 6, and GizmoChina expects to see it in the Zenfone 4 Max based on the Adreno 505 GPU listed on the GFXBench spec sheet.
It’s still early days in terms of news about the Zenfone 4 Max; as always, take these rumors with a grain of salt.
We’ll keep you updated with Zenfone 4 news and rumors here, so check back often.
Update: Added news that the Zenfone 4 lineup may include up to five models.