By comparison with Apple tablets, which represent this device’s main competition, the ZenPad 3S 10 is slimmer and lighter. It also happens to be a couple of millimeters smaller. When you keep them side by side, all of this is readily visible. By contrast, holding the ZenPad for longer periods is simpler. The look of the ZenPad 3S is a relatively conventional affair, at least from the front. The bezel frames its 9.7-inch screen, which appears comparable in size to the normal iPads. However, there is a big difference in design: there is a rectangular home button on the bottom bezel–where the fingerprint scanner lives–flanked by capacitive back and new buttons for apps.
There is a shiny metal structure around the bezel that shapes the back panel’s border, structure that is displayed on the tablet’s bottom. This implies visual contrast is present, dividing these slender and bent surfaces from the front and back. In the same bead-blasted, soft, anodized texture as the metal back panel, three of four of them are finished. The only exception is the bottom rim, with a plastic board intended to imitate the appearance of the other corners of metal.
Display and Audio
Asus has opted for a resolution display of 1536x 2048, spread over a panel diagonally measuring 9.7-inches. That gives it a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch, which may not look much like the 400ppi and up we see on modern smartphones, but is actually quite standard in the tablet industry. And it feels okay. The ZenPad 3S 10 LCD IPS panel is decent as screens go. Colors are dynamic enough to enjoy playing and watching movies, whereas wide-angled views mean you don’t have to sit down to have a good experience.
Having an LCD panel, you will not see the intense contrast levels and high saturation that you can see on Apple’s screens, but it’s still pleasant enough to watch movies and videos online. The audio of this tablet is powered by the Sonic Master 3.0 tech that Asus combines with more volume and effects. There are five magnetic speakers on this device, driven by an NXP Smart AMP that gives it higher volume output.
Performance and battery life
The ZenPad 3S 10 addressed almost everything we could thrust at it without fighting for the most portion. Not surprising, as Asus has chosen an octa-core MediaTek chipset, coupled with 4 GB RAM. Web pages we browsed and apps we opened in all the games we played, the tablet handled everything without a whimper. This tablet might not be as fast as an Apple tab, but it is trustworthy, with only minor occasional stuttering, something we have experienced with most devices running a similar spec. We seemed to be dealing with a small problem of video streaming.
When watching videos on any of the famous streaming facilities, the image appeared to be a bit harsh around the corners and was often not smooth. When you first start a stream, this is quite normal, but usually it will catch up as it buffers to produce smooth video of HD quality. Except that the initial buffering appeared to last longer than usual, and it was not as pin-sharp as usual.
While the manufacturer states that you can use the device with a battery of 5,900mAh for 10 hours, the reality is that it lasts less than that. However, you shouldn’t have to plug it in more than twice a week for ordinary blended use using the ZenPad a few times a day.
Unless this is your household tablet and is used for continuous streaming, in which case we would suggest buying a Quick Charge 3.0 power adapter. The ZenPad 3S 10 runs QC 3.0 but the adapter that Asus included does not support it, which is quite awkward.
Should you buy the Asus Zenpad 3S 10?
The ZenPad 3S 10 can be compared to the new 9.7-inch iPad in some departments and when you do the analysis, you realize that many of the features are similar. In fact, the Asus is smaller, which might be preferable.
The software is the only thing that makes us feel disappointed by Asus’s choices. One of them is the fact that the device has so many uninstallable apps and extra features that users will think that they could have used that space completely differently. At the same time, when attempting to use the camera’s Depth of Field mode, we notices that it is quite flawed and not working as intended.
Overall, though, this is a solid tablet with no significant issues that comes at a very affordable price. Compared to Apple’s products, you will save a lot of money if you decide to buy such a tablet. However, if you decide to go for it, you will have to understand that you will be compromising a bit in the technical area.