Asus made its entry into the smartphone segment last year with the Zenfone series. The latest in the series is Zenfone 2. No, there was no numeric progression and so though there was no Zenfone 1 before this, Zenfone 5, 6, 4 and C were released last year.
The Zenfone 2 comes in several variants - with 2 GB or 4 GB RAM, each with 16, 32 or 64 GB storage. There are also reports of a 128 GB variant. What we got for review is the 32 GB - 4GB RAM version. The model number is ZE551 ML. This variant itself is offered in all the above mentioned configurations. There are other Zenfone 2 models like ZE550 ML with 2 GB LPDDR 3 RAM and ZE500 CL with 2 GB LPDDR2 RAM - both with 16 GB internal storage.
The Zenfone 2 has been introduced with a fairly confusing array of combinations. There is no mention on the box of the phone’s specifications, except for the fine print on the sticker at the rear.Design & Build
The build quality is superb, and looks like that of a unibody design. The rear cover can be removed to insert the two SIM cards and the microSD card. However, the phone features a sealed battery.
The Zenfone 2 has a brushed metallic curved back. The curve makes it easy to hold and the brushed surface offers good grip. The top of the frame houses the Asus logo, the front camera, the led lights and the earpiece. The bezel at the bottom is blank. Just above the bottom bezel are the capacitive buttons. They are, unfortunately, not back-lit, and locating them in the dark could pose problems.
There are no buttons on the sides. At the top is the power button, which is not really easy to access considering the size of the phone. What worsens the experience is that it is a little difficult to press as the feedback is not great. We had to take extra efforts to reach the button and many times, we had to look to check whether we were pressing it right.
The rear houses the main camera and the dual flash. Below the camera are the volume rockers. Again, using them is not exactly convenient. The buttons are not in our view and most of the time, we ended up searching for the correct point to press (up or down). Often, we also kept touching the camera lens while trying to access the volume rockers, in the process, smudging the camera lens.
Though it is a trifle difficult in the beginning, the positioning of the volume rockers at the rear prevents accidental pressing of the buttons while handling the phone. The volume rockers can be either used as shutter keys or zoom keys (can be changed in the camera setings). The phone can be unlocked by double-tapping anywhere on the screen.Feature rich
The Zenfone 2 has a 5.5 inch, Full HD 1920x1080 IPS display with a Gorilla Glass 3 screen. The phone looks and feels chunky and heavier than the 170 grams it weighs. The display is bright and offers good visibility even under sunlight. The screen mode can be adjusted with the four pre-configured settings - Balance (default), Reading, Vivid and Customised (where the hue and saturation can also be adjusted). The big screen makes watching videos or playing games a pleasure. The viewing angles are also good.
Storage is not an issue with the Zenfone 2, as all the models can accommodate external memory cards. There is no stutter or lag while playing games (the model we tested had 4 GB RAM). Only one SIM supports 4G, while the other supports 2G and 3G only. There is a generous 3000 mAh Li-Polymer battery, but it lasted just a day with two or three 10-minute videos, 15 minutes of gaming. five or six calls and moderate use of a few apps, including Twitter and Facebook. This could partially be because of the large screen that sucks up the juice.
The phone has a 13 MP camera. The big difference is the Pixelmaster technology that provides really good low light pictures, and can be accessed by clicking the owl icon in the camera. Most phone cameras, especially in the mid-range phones, don’t perform well in low light, but the Zenfone 2 with the separate low light mode is an exception. The only drawback is that the low light images are in lower resolution.Bottomline
The camera has 13 settings, including HDR and time lapse. Apart from this, any picture can be enhanced with post-shooting filters such as softening the skin, brightening, enlarging eyes, adding blush or making the cheeks thinner. For its features and performance the Zenfone 2 is good value.
Price : ₹19,999
Love : Build quality, screen, camera, overall performance
Hate : Chunky looks, accessibility of controls