Review – Asus Zenfone 2! A smooth, flagship quality device.

There was time when I had 512 MB RAM on my computer. As the time changed, I upgraded my computer to run on 4GB RAM. Read carefully! A 4 GB RAM on my computer. Somewhere in my mind, I knew, there would be a day when smartphone will compete with my computer, at least in terms of RAM. That day is finally here with Asus Zenfone 2 in my hands. Although I’m yet to understand the need of putting 4 GB RAM on smartphone, I’ll set that quest aside for the moment.

According to my knowledge, there are at least 3-4 variants of Zenfone 2 in the market and it only increases the confusion for end users. The variant that I’m reviewing today is most popular model with the MRP of Rs 23999. It is currently being sold at somewhere around Rs 19k-20k.

Buy Asus Zenfone 2

Asus Zenfone 2 ZE550ML White (2 GB RAM/16GB Storage)Rs 12999
Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML Silver (2 GB RAM/16GB Storage)Rs 14999
Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML (4 GB RAM/1.8 GHz Processor/32 GB)Rs 18999
Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML (4 GB RAM/2.3 GHz Processor/32 GB)Rs 19999
Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML (4 GB RAM/2.3 GHz Processor/64 GB)Rs 22999

Body and Build Quality

I’ve used several devices before trying my hands on Zenfone 2 and I must acknowledge the fact that it has got real tough body with brushed finish at the back. It feels like you’re holding a flagship device and not just the one from local manufacturer’s.

Asus Zenfone 2 - Back

Starting with the back panel, there is dual LED flash. The on the right side is red eye whereas the left one is normal LED flash. The most bizarre thing is the placement of volume rocker buttons which is right below the 13 megapixel camera.

A speaker grill, or perhaps a long strip is located at the bottom section of back panel.

There are no buttons or even ports at the left as well as right edge. Although there is this small gap at the bottom section of right edge to remove the back cover, it remains unnoticed for most of the time. On the top of the device rests a power key, 3.5 mm audio jack and secondary microphone. The bottom section has got micro USB port and primary microphone.

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Moving along to the front panel, the device has got 5.5 inch display with 1920 x 1080 resolution. It has got Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection and IPS technology. There are lot of sensors with proximity and ambient light sensor being very common. Let me just list them all below –

  1. Accelerator
  2. Hall Sensor
  3. Ambient Light Sensor
  4. Proximity Sensor
  5. eCompass
  6. Gyroscope

I almost forgot. Asus Zenfone 2 is equipped with 13 megapixel camera at the back and 5 megapixel camera at front.

Let us now talk about the user interface and software performance.

User Interface – Software

Zenfone 2 is powered by ZenUI which has been built on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop. The launcher is extremely customizable. The icons that you see in the image below are the ones which I have installed from play store. There are more than hundred icon packs available on play store that you can install any one of them. Apart from the icon packs, there are 4-5 themes provided by Asus.

User Interface - Asus Zenfone

As I mentioned earlier, Asus Zenfone 2 runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop which is latest Android iteration.

Pros & Cons in UI

  • It is good that Asus has given us the option of changing icons and so many other options and I really liked it. I don’t think any other manufacturer has given us such option.
  • I didn’t like the resolution that has been provided with this phone. Though it is 1920 x 1080, icons appear quite larger than they should. Perhaps, screen size should have been smaller.
  • The launcher has got smart mode built within the drawer. This automatically creates folders and organizes your applications. However, if you want to go back on your previous placement i.e., without folders, you will have to do it manually.
Asus ZenUI on Zenfone 2

Asus ZenUI on Zenfone 2

Zenfone 2 – Hardware

The phone runs on Intel Atom Z3580 processor which has been clocked at 2.3 GHz and features quad cores. The processor is accompanied by GFX6 series graphics chip. This setup is further enhanced by massive 4 GB RAM. Do you really think it will under perform? or even lag? Off course, it doesn’t lag, thanks to the 4GB RAM.

What is astonishing is RAM usage. During my testing, I found out that RAM usage went up high resulting in 50% of free RAM. That means, it was easily reaching 1.8-2 GB RAM usage with basic operations. Although it didn’t affect the overall user experience, I felt there is need to optimize Zen UI. Remember, this is where Samsung is missing out. They haven’t optimized TouchWiz and that is resulting in inconsistent user experience.

I didn’t run benchmark test and I might not even consider doing that. These results are easily available on internet and I strongly believe that consumers shouldn’t stress on it while buying a phone. After all, it is the user experience that counts, not these benchmark results.

Camera Experience – Asus Zenfone 2

Sadly, I wasn’t able to take camera samples but I would definitely share my experience about the end result because I was using this device for 4-5 days. The 13 megapixel shooter at back produces real good quality pictures. It is also capable of shooting videos in 1080p. The most fascinating things was night mode. It was able to brings some excellent shots in the night mode (which most smartphones fail to do).

The 5 megapixel front camera is mediocre. You’ll be able to take real nice selfies in good lighting conditions and that’s it. Change the lighting condition and your results would vary a lot.

You can read my individual camera experience of Zenfone 6 in which I have talked about various camera settings and filters.

Battery performance

Oh god, it takes lot of time to charge this device completely. I mean, literally. It will take two and half hour (or more than that) to charge this phone from zero to hundred. I believe this is because of the 0.5 A charging adapter. The charging speed increased when I connected it to the Mi power bank (2.1 A).

The battery performance is quite satisfactory. I was able to get one day backup and it was easy to stretch it up to one more day with moderate usage. If you’re going to browse internet all the time and stay connected to 3G 24×7, expect only a day’s battery backup.

Pros and Cons of Asus Zenfone 2

Pros – 

  • Launcher/UI Customization
  • 13 MP Camera especially night mode
  • 4 GB RAM (<– wow)

Cons –

  • Weight – 170 grams (It felt bulky as I was using Nexus 5 earlier)
  • Battery charging time
  • Too many Asus apps (Asus should actually think about this)
  • Power button and volume button placement – It will take some time to get used to to this new placement.

Final words about Asus Zenfone 2

I loved it. Despite understanding the cons, I actually enjoyed using Zenfone 2. The only thing that I was uncomfortable with was placement of volume rocker buttons and power button. I’m using to the standard placement which means both these buttons at the edges. Off course, you will get used to it but till then, it is pain. I also loved the way Asus has given more control to the users when it comes to customization. This is extreme level of customization by any manufacturer. I would give this device 4.2 stars out of 5.0. Go ahead fella, buy it.

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