Asus recently came up with its sequel to its first dip into the smartphone segment, Asus Zenfone. Although Zenfone was a huge success, after a year it was a time to re-imagine some things. Hence, Asus came with the sequel, Asus Zenfone 2 - a power packed budget smartphone. Mind you, by budget Asus always meant Value for money and not cheap in any respect.
Asus isn't letting any prospective buyer leave this time as they offer the Zenfone 2 in a number of model variants. The entry-level ZE500CL comes with a five-inch 720p display, quad-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz in its Intl Z2560 chipset, and 2GB of RAM. The ZE550ML increases the screen to one of 5.5 inches while the resolution remains at 720p. The processor ticks at 1.8GHz with Intel Z3560 chipset inside this one, and RAM remains the same. The top dog is the ZE551ML, which boasts a 5.5-inch screen and a FullHD resolution. This is a version with the Atom Z3560 chip and 2GB of RAM whereas the flagship comes with the same name but packs an Atom Z3580 inside with specs going all the way up to 2.3GHz and 4GB of RAM. This is is the one we have received as the review unit.
On first impression, the low price of the Zenfone 2 seems obvious with the plastic looks and an all-plastic construction. But Asus has managed to bring a cool looking metal finish to the plastic. There are three capacitive touch buttons at the bottom which significantly add to the height of the device. The 5.5 inch screen is one of the good ones. It may have lesser brightness than some competitor flagships but has accurate colors and 401 ppi that make up for more than that. If some people find the colors to be a bit washed out though, there is always a vivd display setting to help take care of it.
Asus has made an inspired by LG design choice by putting the volume rocker at the back that also doubles as a camera shutter button. It has got mixed reviews as the position may seem awkward and doesn't always feel comfortable if the phone is being used in the landscape mode.
Asus Zenfone 2 sports a 13 MP f/2.0 rear camera and 5 MP front shooter. Although that is quite an achievement for a phone of this price considering this remains constant for the lowest priced model as well. It shoots good enough images for the price and a good point shooter but can not compete with the likes of Samsung Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6+. But for the price I guess it is quite reasonable.
Performance wise the phone may seem a bit average or maybe lacking but when you see that this comes at par with devices priced twice or more, it would seem an amazing feat. Asus has managed by optimizing the software as well as using good hardware and surely Intel needs to be commended here because hyper threading is at work as well. AnTuTu benchmark gives a score of 44614 to this hardware and software combination which seems amazing for the price.
In a nutshell, there may be some problems with the design choices of the device such as meek sounding speaker and volume rocker/camera shutter key placement, but this is a great package considering what you are paying for it.
Camera performance and battery life fluctuate between good and disappointing depending on the conditions of use but you will get through your heavy usage day with this device with decent pictures. But for everything else, this phone will get applauded. The experience it provides is actually reliable, fast and value for money for which Asus and Intel deserves a commendation.
Reception/Call quality: 7/10
Battery Life: 7/10
Value for Money: 9.5/10
TheSmartHacks Score: 8/10
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