Asus Zenpad 3s 10

Asus Zenpad 3s 10

This tablet as become the new workhorse. I miss the small size of the the Nexus 7, but the Zenpad 3S 10 has a great display, great sound, 4Gb of RAM, and 64Gb of storage. The CPU is a dual core 2.1Ghz ARM with 4 additional mediatek processors. It screams! 

This tablet is essentially an Android copy of the recent iPads. This is a good thing, very good build quality, and both light and thin. 

 Android Version

The Zenpad 3S 10 ships with 6.0, and there is an immediate "OTA" upgrade to 7.0. It's not clear if 7.1 will be offered yet.

Cases

There are a dozen or more case options for the Zenpad, but I'm missing my favorite style from Trident or Otterbox. 

It turns out many of the cases for the Zenpad Z10 (Verizon version) work, and they sell a rugged case. The wireless model (Z500KTL) is 2mm longer, but most cases work find as the buttons are in the same place. The camera on the wireless version is slightly shifted, but the Verizon Rugged case still works fine.

The VZW rugged case does come with a screen protector. So far I don't mind it as much as I expected, but it does make the display harder to see in bright light, so I may pop it out. But overall, the rugged case does approach the Trident/Otterbox level of protection and appears to be a clone of the Otterbox Defender. 

Charging

While the Zenpad 3S 10 theoretically supports Quick Charge (QC), it's apparently pretty picky. The charger it ships with does not appear to be a QC charger, but does charge at a full 2 Amps and does a good job. 

Nuances and Nitpicks:

  • The tablet does not indicate AC Charging when plugged into a 2A charger. (Or really any form of charger). So the only way to tell the rate is to look at the slope of the batter charge curve on the Settings page. With the factory charger you do get a "X minutes until fully charged" note on the battery status page as well as on the lock screen. 
  • None of my QC chargers trigger a fast charge. Supposedly a + sign appears in the battery status indicator when quick charging, but I've not seen it yet. From testing with my PortaPow USB meter (See the USB section for details) it does appear to negotiate higher voltage (6.5?), but never gets above 600mA. So a QC port actually charges slower than a normal 2 Amp port. I've tested it on 4 different Tronsmart and Aukey QC chargers which all fast charge droids. 

Battery Life

The tab has a very large battery, and so far has offered decent life. That said, with 20-30% larger capacity than the Nexus 7 it does not seem to last much longer. This may be an artifact of the bigger display and faster CPU. 

Display

The 9.7" 2K IPS Display (2048 x 1536) display is top notch, and is very nice. It's a big price leap to the AMEOLED displays, so this is a good compromise. 

Buttons

While the tablet has a fingerprint sensor home button, I've not used it. The side buttons are fine, but the volume pair is above the power button, which is backwards from the nexus and droids. Likewise, the back and "running programs" buttons on either side of the home key do not stay backlit unless the screen is touched. With the case I use it's not a problem, but it does take some getting used to. 

ZenUI

Like all Asus branded tablets it ships with Zen UI. It's not as bad as the Samsung overlays, but I miss the pure Android experience Google offered with the Nexus. But you can disable the Asus apps you don't use, and several of the ones integrated into the UI are handy (autostart manager, power mgt, etc)