Following in the footsteps of the likes of Xiaomi, Oppo and OnePlus, Asus’ Zenfone line of smartphones is arguably one of the more successful mid-range handsets in the market today because of their amazing price to performance ratio. Priced like your usual mid-range phone but performs like a champ, these beasts lead the way for the Android camp to shy away from the upper end of the spectrum and instead focus on the mid-market, where the bulk of the users are.
In CES2015, Asus announced the second generation of their successful Zenfone line dubbed the Zenfone 2. Three variants of the device will be available, and although all of them will share the same moniker, they will be touting varying screen and RAM sizes. Here we take a look at the most gifted of the three, packing a huge 5.5 inch display panel and an industry first 4GB of RAM. How does the Zenfone 2 fairs out? We find out here.
Powering the Zenfone 2 (at least the top model) is a 64-bit, Intel Atom Z3580 processor clocked at 2.3GHz. It is complemented by a PowerVR G6430 GPU and 4GB of RAM. Other variants of the Zenfone 2 though are not that lucky, which sport a still respectable 2GB RAM unit and a 1.8GHz Z3560 CPU.
Speaking for the 4GB model, everything is silky smooth, with animations and transitions snappy and fluid. Gaming is also handled extremely well, as well as multitasking. This is expected from such huge RAM configuration, and we got to test this in actual use by loading as many games as possible and switching back and forth between running apps.
Comes standard with the Zenfone 2 are your usual connectivity options, including support for 4G LTE. 16, 32 and 64GB of internal storage are available, with further expandability available via a microSD card slot. A 3,000mAh battery serves as the powerplant for the Zenfone 2, which should be more than enough for at least a full day of moderate usage. The Zenfone 2 also sports 2 microSIM cards active at the same time.
Dominating the front of the Zenfone 2 is the huge 5.5 inch IPS LCD screen that packs a FULL HD resolution. With a pixel density of 403 ppi, the panel in the phone is impressive and the user experience with it is great. The screen is very sharp and vivid, even under direct sunlight. The viewing angles are great too, and there is a built-in color calibration setting that lets you switch from reading mode, for a more gentle viewing experience, vivid mode, for increased saturation, and manual mode, for a more detailed tweaing of the display settings.
And while all the fad nowadays are Quad HD display resolutions, I personally do not mind the Zenfone 2’s panel. It’s more than enough for my needs, and I’ve never been a big fan of insane display resolutions anyway.
Making use of the gorgeous 5.5 inch display of the Zenfone 2 is Asus’ Zen UI, which out of the box sports Android 5.0 Lollipop. Retaining much of Lollipop’s material design, the Zen UI is generally lightweight and easy on the eyes. Too bad though that comes with the device are a ton of bloatware applications, although admittedly some are okay, such as the Snapview feature which lets uers maintain two separate and secure profiles on the device (perfect for those who need to do some work-life balancing).
Capturing photos is one of the best use cases of owning a smartphone, and the Zenfone 2 does not disappoint in this department. At the back, it packs a 13MP camera with dual tone LED flash and an aperture of f/2.0. Up front, a 5MP selfie camera with a wide angle lens configuraiton is standard.
Asus’ proprietary Pixelmaster technology, just like the previous generation, is embedded into the device to help shoot better in low light conditions. In practice, the 13MP shooter performs generally well, although as with most other smartphone cameras, performance is best during good lighting conditions and vice versa. Then again, at this price range, you almost couldn’t ask for more.
Lastly, let us critic the Zenfone 2 in terms of design. Getting much of its design cues from the previous generation Zenfone, the Zenfone 2 is not much of a looker, which is not to say that it is ugly. In actual use, the device actually feels well built and sturdy enough.
It sports an all-plastic finish, although the back cover features a faux metallic coating reminiscent of the LG G3. It also borrows LG’s latest design trend of putting the volume rocker at the back, making it easier to reach and use. Also borrowed, this time from the HTC One, is the curved back that gradually tapers down towards the edges. All in all though, the Zenfone 2 is a pleasure to look at and hold on to.
Available in a multitude of colors and back panel designs, the Zenfone 2 starts at $199 for the base model and is already available in China, Taiwan and Europe, with release plans for the India and US markets as well.
Not meant to be a standout handset, the Zenfone 2 manages to offer users a bang-for-your-buck performance and design with a midrange price point. It is not all great, but it is not really bad either, giving the Xiaomis and the Oppos a run for their money. Will the Zenfone 2 emerge victorious in the end? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Images from: Google Images, Asus & MobileGeeks.