The ZenPad 3S 10’s spec sheet was what caught my eye. A stylus enabled Android tablet with a fully laminated retina screen, premium light and thin metal build with GPS support, Quick charge 3.0, Wireless AC, Hexa-core CPU and 4GB of RAM. Now this was something I had to check out. At the time of this review, it was 360 euros from Amazon. Pricey compared to the 200 euro or some tablets I’m normally reviewing that have dual boot Android/Remix and Windows 10. But this is a premium tablet, with features you don’t see on cheaper models like Qualcomm’s quick charge 3.0, GPS/GLONASS support and fingerprint security.
Below is the detailed video review of the ASUS Zenpad 3S 10 (Z500M) it’s a long review so below you’ll find some timecodes to skip ahead to the sections of the review that interest you the most. Below you’ll also find a quick summary, rating with Pros and Cons.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO_cm1Yc33U
00:56 – Design
02:41 – Screen
04:11 – Stylus
08:02 – Fingerprint reader
08:34 – Audio (Speaker test)
10:18 – ROM
13:08 – YouTube issue
14:48 – Cameras
15:27 – Benchmarks
17:51 – Charge times
18:26 – Gaming
19:56 – Final thoughts with Pros and Cons
Design and build:
The ASUS Zenpad 3S 10 has a 6.5mm thin build. ASUS claim it’s 5.8mm, but they must be talking about the sides between the diamond cut rounded edges. It’s super light at only 430 grams and has an all metal alloy unit body housing with a texured finish to it. The screen is fully laminated, 1536 x 2048 LG’s IGZO retina screen with 264PPI. It pumps out a very decent 480 lux at max brightness (Auto brightness disabled) and together with the rear housing come together to make a very solid feeling well-built tablet. There is no flex or movement in the design, and feels great in hand.
With 480 lux it’s bright and usable even in sunlight as seen in the video review, but it’s glass so reflections are an issue outdoors and brightly lit environments. Deep blacks, nice colors and good whites if leaning towards the cooler side. But if you prefer more neutral or warm white you adjust and tweak the color temperature fo the display using the Splendid application. It even has an option to filter out blue light so great for use just before bed without keeping you awake.
The IGZO retina screen isn’t exactly a new panel, but even in 2016 it still looks great and 4;3 ratio is good for web browsing, PDF’s and eBooks. But no so much movies which are widescreen.
I’m impressed with the ambient light sensor and the setting used, no matter where i was in the house or what ambient light levels, the auto brightness gets the screen level just right. Not too bright and not too dark. Well done ASUS, it’s a rare thing to see.
It ships with Android 6.0 and ZenUI (ASUS’s custom launcher) ASUS are notorious for not updating tablets to new major versions so whether or not it will get the new Android Nougat 7.0 build remains to be seen. One thing that really annoyed me was the excessive amount of preinstall bloatware ASUS crammed onto the tablet. It took me a good 15 minutes to disable and remove the bloat and first connection to the internet saw an additional 6 or so apps just freely install themselves. ASUS should be ashamed about the amount of crap they force upon their users. Why not let us decide what apps we need or want? Just supply the essentials like gallery, calculator, clock, camera, and Play store can be used to get apps we really use.
The YouTube app proved to have some issue on the Zenpad 3S 10, works just fine until you set the quality to 1440p it then grinds to a hault, lagging out the whole tablet and you’re forced to kill it. ASUS needs to address this asap via OTA update/patch.
Something I didn’t expect, clean and clear really good sound output from the 3.5mm audio jack. It’s great, my only complaint is it might not be loud enough for people that run big headsets and like it loud. Speaking of loud the downwards dual speakers do a very decent job and sound loud. 20 times louder than the poor Teclast X98 Air III’s speakers.
I’ve never used the MediaTek MT8176 six core before, and had no idea what to expect. The OS is fluid and snappy for the most part, if you do some really heavy multitasking you can cause it to stutter. But normal use it’s perfectly fine and fast. Gaming on the ASUS ZenPad 3S 10 is also great, all games offer at least 30 frames per second, fluid and smooth gameplay. Even demanding titles that run at the full 1536 x 2048 resolution like Mortal Kombat X were smooth and fluid. There was the tiny micro stutter that happened, but it’s either caching or something that I’ve seen on every Android device those micro pauses that most don’t even detect.
Front 5 megapixel and rear 8 MP cameras are maybe the worst thing about the Zenpad 3S. Still are just average and video looks grainy and quite poor. Not up to spec of the rest of the tablet. At least the cameras seemed to work okay with Skype video.
A 5900mAh battery isn’t exactly a large battery, I was concerned it wouldn’t get over 5 hours. But then again it’s not an Intel Atom CPU. PCMark run for 6 hours and worked out a 7 hour run time at 200 cd/m2 of screen brightness. This is six hours of screen on time (Continuous) And I able to get around 8 hours of web use out of the Zenpad, I find this to be acceptable, nothing amazing, but still good.
I’ve enjoyed my time with the ZenPad 3S, it’s a quality, well-built tablet. Quite possibly the best Android tablet of 2016 *IF* ASUS can address the YouTube issue and improve the camera quality.