Asus really did gathered a lot of attention when they’ve announced the very first smartphone with 4GB of RAM, the Asus Zenfone 2. That declaration really did excite a lot people, which made the device easily one of the most highly anticipated smartphone even months before its release.
Who wouldn’t be thrilled? The device didn’t only boasted a pretty seducing spec sheet, but also, it was offered at a very affordable price. Something that’s Asus is known for, offering the best value for every penny.
But, did the device lived up to the hype? That’s what we’re about to find out:
ASUS Zenfone 2 Specs
- Android 5.0 Lollipop, ASUS UI
- 5.5-inch Full HD IPS Display (1920×1080), ~403 ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- Intel Atom Z3580 Quad-core 2.3 GHz
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB / 64GB internal storage
- microSD card expansion up to 64GB
- 13-megapixel, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus camera with dual-LED flash
- 5-megapixel front-facing camera
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
- GPS, GLONASS
- Li-Po 3000 mAh battery
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
The Asus Zenfone 2 retains the familiar aesthetics that we came accustomed to with the previous Zenfone devices. From the materials used, the design accents, and some of the hardware’s placements. The device is still entirely constructed with plastic, but considering the elegant touches Asus put on to this, it doesn’t feel any cheap at all. Plus, the use of plastic on smartphones are known to help the device achieve a lightweight profile. Although, to be a real flagship device, this device have been altered to make it stand out from its brothers and deserve that precious ‘flagship’ title.
To start, we have a large 5.5″ IPS display at front, covered and safely protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. We also have the earpiece, 5-megapixel front-facing camera, the Asus logo, an LED notification indicator and the capacitive buttons (Back, Home, Recent Apps). The familiar design touch at the bottom part of almost all Zenfone devices also makes an appearance here.
Despite having a large 5.5″ display, Asus claims that the body is still compact, something comparable to a 5″ device. This was said to be possible because of its thin bezels and a screen-to-body ratio of 72%. I did compared it to a 5″ device, the O+ 360 HD, the devices didn’t had the same dimensions, but I must say, the difference in size is really not far from each other.
But, if you feel that the device is just too large for you and you want to reach everything on the display, single-handedly, there’s an One Hand option that’s embedded on the device that shrinks the screen virtually. It can be toggled either from the drop-down menu or by double-tapping the home button.
Both the left and the right side is clean. Asus claims that removing the buttons on the borders made the device achieve its thinnest edge of only 3.9mm. Mind you though, the unbelievable ultra-thin figure is only on the device’s edge, and not the overall depth profile of the device
At the top we have the oddly placed home/power button. As per my time with the device, this button is a bit of a pain to reach as the device is a bit large and feels enormous in my hands. But nevertheless, the button is very tactile, which makes it easy to press when you successfully reached it. Asus also planted some gestures on the device’s UI to replace some of the button’s actions. So turning on or off the device is now simply as double-tapping the display. We also have the noise-cancelling microphone and the headphone jack at the top
At the bottom we have the built-in microphone and the microUSB port.
The back of the device houses the 13-megapixel primary camera with a dual LED flash, the volume controls, Asus and Intel logos, and the speaker grill. This particular portion of the device may look very identical to LG’s last year flagship, the LG G3. With the button placement and the fake brushed-metal look. Although I wish Asus also placed the lock/power switch parallel to the volume controls to make it easier and more ergonomic to reach.
It’s also nice to see Asus retains the removable back panel feature. A feature that’s might be starting its extinction in flagship devices. That having said, popping-out the back cover gives you access to the microSD card slot (up to 64GB), two sim card slot (one is capable of 2G/3G/4G, the latter can only cater 2G connectivity).
We also got a glimpse of the sealed-in 3000mAh battery. It’s quite odd that Asus didn’t let the users gain access to the battery, which is actually one of the primary reason why users are akin to smartphones with removable back covers. This feature is not only for those users who want to swap their drained batteries to a full-charged one, but also to easily replace the original battery when it starts to get faulty, a scenario that’s inevitable to Lithium-ion Polymer batteries over time.
Under the hood we also see the actual speakers. The back panel made the actual speaker drivers look large, but taking an actual look, it isn’t that sizable. The speaker’s size also speaks for its performance. There’s just not enough volume on this one. I’ve also noticed a lackluster volume when I plugged-in a pair of headphones. The volume may be a problem, but the output it can produce is incredibly well-balanced and crisp. The lows are really present without overpowering the highs.
The device also has some pretty acceptable weight on it. As what I have said earlier, the device isn’t really that thin; the back of the device has this curvy look, which made the edges thin, but not up to its median. Not only that it gives room for the device’s hardware, but it also increase ergonomics in using the Zenfone 2. Your hands can safely and comfortable embrace the device, without the fear of dropping it accidentally. Although it’s quite irritating to interact with the device when it’s laying flat on a table as it rocks like a seesaw. But still, not a deal-breaker.
The Zenfone 2 variant we have here has the 5.5″ IPS display, with 1080 x 1920 resolution, and has 401 pixels-per-inch.
Display quality is just impressive on this one. Although before we could judge the quality of it, we should first consider checking the display app called Splendid, which comes pre-installed on the device. The default setting on this one is set on Balance but if you want some extra kick on the colors, Vivid is the way to go.
That having said, with the display setting set on Balance, the colors it projects is still crispy and sharp. Texts looks good on this one, with no visible individual pixels, perfect for readers out there. Movies, games and any other media also looks very pleasing on this one. The large and sharp display makes games feel more immersive with enough space for on-screen controls.
Plus, the keyboard on here also have a pretty large keys on it.
Viewing angles are also imposing. You can easily watch videos with group of friends, or use the device at direct sunlight, hassle free.
We’re not even halfway through, but we’re already on to probably the pinnacle of this review. Like what I’ve said earlier, Asus created a big buzz when they announced the very first smartphone with 4GB of RAM which is, of course, the Zenfone 2. While the device comes in different variants, with different RAM capacity to make sure everyone from different markets can get a chance to get this device, the one I have here is the finest of them all.
That having said, our review unit has the Intel Atom Z3580 CPU. A 64-bit quad-core processor with a PowerVR Rogue G6420 GPU, and of course, 4GB of RAM.
With all those blazing numbers, you could initially have an idea what type of a monster we’re dealing here. As what I’ve said in my previous reviews before, one of the main and primary characteristic of a CPU with 64-bit architecture is its ability to handle large RAMs, like a 4GB one. Also, Android 5.0 Lollipop works best with 64-bit devices. The device thus clearly deliver superb performance. Heavy-lifting is not a problem, from playing any intensive and power-hungry games, and demanding applications. There’s just no visible lags or stutters on this one. Multitasking is also seamless, something that isn’t surprising on a device with such large RAM capacity. You can jump from different applications effortlessly, without having the apps to restart. For a perspective, imagine you’re watching a YouTube video, then at the middle of the clip, you decided to check Facebook or Instagram, going back to YouTube from a different app won’t cause the video to reload.
You might want to check all these benchmarking tests. Despite having a large 1080p display, the device still managed to attain an almost 60fps frame rate:The Asus Zenfone 2 also comes 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models. The device hoards 6.47GB from those storage for its system reserve. As for our review unit, this 32GB model leaves us with, more or less, 26GB of usable storage, an amount that for me is pretty enough to store a lot of games, pictures and videos, and any other media. But in case the internal storage still won’t suffice your needs, there’s a microSD card slot available for memory expansion for up to 64GB.
Like what I’ve said earlier, it’s just fitting to have Android 5.0 Lollipop on a 64-bit device. Thus, what we have here is that same exact software, with the company’s very own custom skin, of course. Asus ZenUI is here, complete with its entourage of pre-installed applications and custom skins and other UI artifacts.
Whether the Zenfone’s UI looks appealing to use or not may really depend on the user’s preference. But for me, it really did cater my needs. Although I seldom, or even completely didn’t use some of the apps that comes with it. Unluckily, these bloatwares cannot also be uninstalled. So they just stay up there, eating a parcel of your precious internal memory. Some of this applications may be useful, although I think some are just too clever for an average consumer to use.
Some UI screenshots:
Probably a feature that I actually enjoyed on this one is the ability to change theme. A throwback feature that’s now starting to go mainstream again. Having some personalization option on a device gives some user a more this-is-my-device feeling.
Shortcut touch gestures are also present on this one. Drawing some alphabets on the display while it’s off instantly opens an application, which can be configured on the settings menu.
The device utilizes a 13-megapixel primary camera, which comes with a dual LED a.ka. dual-tone flash. Asus took a different road on the cameras sensor by using one from Toshiba, instead of the more popular and widely used sensor from Sony.
But nevertheless, the Zenfone 2 can really produce some impressive and stunning shots. Colors looked accurate and very sharp. Cropped pictures are still pretty usable, and zooming in into faraway objects is viable and the details are still pretty visible. Although you have to make sure you set the exposure properly, as it sometimes over blow some areas and the contrast isn’t the best at times. Overall, we got to hand it to ASUS for doing a great job in the camera department.
And for some next-level mobile photographers out there, the camera also gives you manual control on the camera settings. You have full access on the cameras ISO, White Balance, Shutter Speed and Focus. The camera app is also packed with a lot presets and scene selections.
The dual LED flash really did encourage me to use the flash more often, and not trash the flash at all. This thing throws two shades of light. A white one, and another one that matches a human skin tone. This actually helps to capture all the right colors when taking a photo in low-light, and prevent overblown photos.
We also have a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with an aperture of f/2.0 and has a 85-degree wide-angle lens. The large aperture became real handy when taking selfies at lowlight scenarios and wide-angle lens is perfect for group shots.
There are a lot of connectivity options for the Zenfone 2. From the basic Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi mediums, up to 2G/3G/4G networks, and even NFC. Although, only the one sim card slot is capable of handling 3G and 4G networks, as the other one can only house 2G.
Call quality have been inspiring. The volume from the earpiece was properly load and crisp to here the party over the line. It also sports two microphones for noise-cancellation, so rest assured that the person you’re talking to can here you loud and clear.
Asus said via their website that this version of Zenfone 2 can reach 60% of charge in no more than 39 minutes with its fast charging capability. As I ran my tests, this claim from Asus is a little bit ambitious. The battery charge didn’t reach from 0% to 60% in under 39 minutes, thus, it took 42 minutes to 45 minutes. But nevertheless, those figures isn’t really far away from each other, so you might not really notice it.
Bear in mind also that the battery indicator jumps fast in the initial charging progression. But as it reach, let’s say, 70%-80%, the progress will slow down a bit.
For a battery with a 3000mAh capacity, the charging duration is still something to brag about. The device can be fully recharged in less than two hours, in contrast to other smartphones with the same battery capacity that takes a good two to almost three hours before the battery status reach 100%.
The Zenfone 2 did reach the four-hour mark of screen-on time and a good 10 to 12 hours with moderate use, like casual web browsing via the 4G network.
Yup, this device really lived up to its promise. The promise to bring something extravagant on the table, without the exchange of a hefty amount of cash. And just like its other brothers, the Asus Zenfone 2 is clearly, if not the best, one of the most competent device you can get on this price range.
The smartphone’s enormous and beautiful display will really appeal consumers who are on the look for a media-focused device. Something that’s flawless for watching videos, gaming, and many more mediums of entertainment. Also, a large display with a powerful processor and fast network connection would also appeal productivity to junkies and workaholics, who loves to juggle between apps and any other methods of doing work on their active and busy lifestyle. Fast charging capability is also there to serve people who are always on-the-go.
The device’s capable camera can also please aspiring photographers, or even just a casual snapper. Despite the muscle inside, the Zenfone 2 is still an eye-catcher – a beast trapped inside a beautiful body.
Zenfone 2 isn’t perfect though. There are some drawbacks present; volume buttons are at the back, lackluster audio volume and a non-removable battery can cause some people to take a step backward and think-twice about giving this device a shot. But considering all the pleasing characteristics that this device can offer, it is really hard to resist.
If you think the Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML is for you, you can get this same exact model that we have here for only Php13,995. This configuration gives you 4GB of RAM with 32GB of internal storage. Other Zenfone 2 versions are also available: 2GB of RAM with 16GB of storage is retailed at Php9,995; 4GB of RAM with 64GB of internal storage is available for Php14,995. I think the extra Php1,000 for the 64GB isn’t a bad idea, but it’s your call. You can use a microSD card anyway.
Do you already have one? Let us know what you think about it in the comments below!
For those who are still unsure if this is the smartphone for you, send us your questions through the comments section and we’ll help you out!
- Large and sharp display
- Curvy profile for good ergonomics
- Seamless multitasking
- 4G network capable, NFC
- Fast charging
- Great camera
- Easy to use gestures
- Hard to reach home/power button
- Non-removable battery
- ZenUI may not be for everyone
- Low audio volume