Update: The Asus Zenfone 3 release date is imminent after launching in countries like India first on August 17. That technically makes it the first phone with a Snapdragon 821 processor. It's combined with another specs rarity: 6GB of RAM. Here's how it performs so far.
Zenfone 3 Deluxe represents a major upgrade to Asus' spelling-challenged smartphone series with a component design and specs you won't find on any other Android today.
The phone is making a name for itself with 6GB of RAM. All but one (the OnePlus 3) of the best phones in 2016 so far top out at just 4GB of RAM. You should be able to open more apps on its 5.7-inch display without slowdown.
It also debuts the Snapdragon 821 processor, starts with 64GB of internal storage (going up to 256GB) and includes a 23MP camera, all of which are impressive numbers on paper. It'll just miss Android Nougat, but does run Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Note: the Snapdragon 820 will still be around for a cheaper price.
But do these Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe specs compute into anything meaningful? The Taiwanese release date is set for the end of July, while the US release date isn't for several weeks, according to Asus. So I went hands on with the forthcoming phone while in Taipei, Taiwan to determine more in the meantime.
The Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe is being touted as the world's first full-metal unibody phone with an invisible antenna design, and that's technically true.
That leaves the Zenfone 3 Deluxe to steal some thunder with a sleek look of its own. I like the full-metal body and the seamless unibody design, and the invisible antenna lines are a nice perk.
What's more important to me than any of that, though, is the fact that the phone does away with the plastic that made last year's Zenfone 2 design downright unlikable. I dug the specs and the software customization, but it felt cheap. Like, not even good plastic. This new design begins to right that wrong.
It measures 156.4 x 77.4 x 7.5 mm, which doesn't make it as thin as the Nexus 6P (7.3mm thin), but it's close and, when testing it, it felt better than the thicker, non-Deluxe Zenfone 3 (7.7mm thin).
The power button and volume rocker are now on the right side (instead on of the back), but there's an oddly shaped rectangular fingerprint sensor on back. You don't actually press it in. There's still capacitive soft buttons for home, back and recent on the front, going against the trend of using purely on-screen buttons. I tend to like my buttons always being at the ready like this and not sometimes vanishing at the worst possible moments.
I had a big problem with Zenfone 2's top-mounted power button, which I described as "squishy." I'm happy to report than while the Zenfone 3 Deluxe side-mounted buttons feel a bit shallow, they're at least clicky. This is all the more important now because the Deluxe camera can be launched by hitting the volume down button twice when the phone is asleep.
Like a lot of phones in 2016, it pivots to USB Type-C, sticks with one speaker (but of course promises stellar audio, according to the company's marketing efforts) and comes in three colors: Titanium Gray, Glacier Silver and Sand Gold.
Its large Super AMOLED panel takes on a 79% screen-to-body ratio. That means less bezel on the sides and more screen space to work with. The capacitive buttons on the bottom do eat into significant screen space.
Under the Computex lighting, it also appears to be brighter, fixing be biggest issue I had with the Zenfone 2. Taking last year's phone outside snap photos was a headache due to its dull screen; I couldn't see what I was shooting and just hoping the photos turned out okay (they didn't, last year's camera was also mediocre).
I'll have to test it outdoors in a full Zenfone 3 review soon, but the brightness seems to have been ratchet up thanks to the new AMOLED display.
What remains, though, is the same is 1080p resolution. You won't find a pixel-dense quad HD (aka 2K) panel like the Android rivals that Asus is trying its best to mimic. That new Snapdragon 821 processor sports 4K displays, but this one is far from that spec.
I'm okay with Full HD 1080p displays on phones of this size, but the company does appear to be working on an Asus VR headset.
As I experienced with the Huawei VR headset, 1080p can be problematic when the screen is sitting two inches from your face.