ASUS ZenFone Zoom UPDATE: My Top Phone Finally Gets Official Release Date and Pricing

I feel like a broken record at times, but it’s important that I say it: For secure devices at the Dark Android Project, I generally don’t recommend smartphones, I only recommend tablets (SIM cards are security nightmares). But with that said, the question I get asked most here is, “What smartphone should I buy?”, and a variation of my top pick (the ASUS ZenFone 2) now has a release date.

On the Dark Android Blog, I’ve talked about this variation before: The ZenFone Zoom. It has all of the same innards as my beloved ZenFone 2. Dual-SIM card slots for global travellers. A 5.5″ 1080p IPS screen (any higher resolution and it would just drain the battery needlessly). A MicroSD card slot. 64GB of internal storage. An Android Marshmallow rollout plan from ASUS. Not terrible stock software. A 64-bit Intel quad-core processor (which means you could put alternative operating systems on it, like Ubuntu or even Windows 7!). NO fingerprint reader (huge plus, fingerprint readers are a security risk). Great battery life. And the real cincher: 4GB of RAM! Incredibly rare to find any device that offers that much RAM. But the ZenFone Zoom–unlike the ZenFone 2–has a gigantic 3x optical zoom camera on the back. Adding that giant camera to an already great design makes this an easy choice for best phone on the planet. And now we finally have a release date and pricing.zenfonezoom2

This beauty will be available on February 1st, 2016, and will run for $399 USD. While that’s over $100 more than the original ZenFone 2 that the ZenFone Zoom is based on, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable price. The specs listed above are plenty of balls to run just about anything (I know, I own a ZenFone 2), so while the $100 uptick may not entirely make sense (a $50 price increase would have made more sense), you’re still getting a lot of phone for that price. And it does have a leather back to it, which will hopefully solve my only gripe about the ZenFone 2, which is that it’s really slippery, and without a case on it it is likely to slide out of your hand.

The only oddity with the release of the ZenFone Zoom on Feb. 1st is that it will only be available at B&H Photo. Whether or not this is a permanent thing, I’m not sure, but I think it’s worth going through the trouble to get it there (I wouldn’t be surprised if resellers began offering them on Amazon in short order, that way you can buy the phone with Bitcoin, however).

Either the original ASUS ZenFone 2 or the ZenFone Zoom is a fine choice in a phone, and they cost nearly half the price of phones that match them in power. I’d certainly be on top of the ZenFone Zoom if I hadn’t already purchased the ZenFone 2 recently. Go for it.

Carpe lucem!