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Asus Zenfone 2 (ZE551ML) Review

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by SoundReview, Dec 14, 2015.

  1. Message #1 of 6 Dec 14, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2017
    SoundReview

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    The Asus Zenfone 2 was announced at the CES 2015 where it created a stir for its hardware specifications, especially the 4GB RAM which was a first in its segment. The Zenfone 2 is marketed as a 'budget' phone that rivals the performance of a high end phone. Read on to see how the phone fares on the various parameters.


    Design and style, First Impressions of the Zenphone 2


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    The Asus Zenfone 2 is a solid phone with a good build quality. Asus has taken care to provide a premium look for the phone. The concentric circles design in the front bottom of the phone looks good and is reminiscent of the earlier Zenfone 5. Though the rear cover is made from plastic, it has a brushed metal finish and doesn't feel cheap. At 6 * 3 * 0.4 inches and 6 ounces, the Zenfone 2 is a tad big for single hand operation. The power button is placed at the top of the phone and is difficult to reach. Further, the physical navigation keys at the bottom of the screen do not illuminate and serve to increase the size of the phone. There is a notification light at the top near the front facing camera. The volume button is located at the back of the phone, in a similar location as the LG phones. The rear cover is available in numerous shades and colors. The Zenfone 2 also comes with an extensive range of phone accessories.


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    Display


    The Zenfone 2 has a 1920 by 1080 IPS LCD display. With a pixel density of 401 ppi, the display is good for browsing, gaming and viewing photos and movies. However, the phone has a low brightness level which makes the display difficult to view in bright light. The display has a good color saturation and can replicate deep colors. The display is protected with a Corning Gorilla Glass 3.


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    Tete-a-tete with the Hardware


    The Asus Zenfone 2 runs on a 64 bit Intel Atom Z3580 Quad Core processor clocking at 2.3GHz. It is welcome to see an Intel processor in a market dominated by the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The Z3580 is a mid range processor and is capable of effectively handling the computing tasks that are thrown at it. Graphics is supported by a PowerVR 533MHz G6430. The high end Zenfone 2 model has 4GB RAM which coupled with the processor and graphics chip makes the phone run fast and snappy. Tasks such as gaming and multi-tasking run smoothly and no lag is apparent. The phone is available with a maximum storage space of 64GB and can be expanded via the microSD card to an additional 64GB. The Zenfone 2 uses a non-removable 3000mAh battery. The phone supports fast charging and Asus claims that the phone can charge from no charge to 60% in 39 minutes. There are 2 SIM slots out of which only one supports 3G and 4G. This is major limitation and is a dampener for people who use dual sims and require 3G or 4G connectivity. The phone supports other connectivity options such as Bluetooth, WiFi, NFC and GPS. The phone is well endowed in the sensor department with accelerometers, gyroscopes, compass, proximity and ambient light sensors.


    Audio


    The Zenfone 2 audio is powered by the Realtek ALC5627 audio codec Integrated Circuit. The ALC5627 supports the microphone and the stereo headphone functions. The headphone jack is 3.5mm and is located at the top of the phone. The integrated audio DAC within the ALC5627 is capable of producing a 100dB SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) signal with a -86dB THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise) at 3.3V. Though the ALC5627 has an integrated class-D speaker driver that can support a 2.4W output, Asus has gone with the discrete TPA2080D1 class-D speaker driver from Texas Instruments. The TPA2080D1 is capable of delivering 2.2W into a 4 Ohm load at 3.6V with a 1% THD+N. The TPA2080D1 has a high efficiency of 85% which improves the battery life. In order to improve the efficiency at low loads, the TPA2080D1 supports an integrated Class-G boost converter running at 5.75V. The speaker is placed at the lower bottom corner towards the back of the phone. Though the audio quality is reasonable, the speaker is not loud enough when compared to other high end phones.


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    Software


    The Zenfone 2 runs the ZenUI 2.0 which is based on the Android 5.0 Lollipop. The ZenUI is elegant and features a simplistic look. It allows a lot of customization and users can choose themes and icons of their liking. The display can be set in various settings such as default mode, vivid mode or reading mode. The ZenMotion technology allows users to activate apps with a finger gesture. Turning the phone ON and OFF can be accomplished with a double tap and this really helps with the poorly placed power button. There is a kids mode which can be used to limit the time a kid spends with the phone. One gripe with the phone is that it comes pre-installed with a lot of bloatware.


    Camera


    The rear camera has a whopping resolution of 13MP and is supported with a 5-element, f/2.0 aperture lens. The phone supports a dual-tone LED flash. The shutter speed is fast and the phone can take good pictures in normal outdoor lighting. The initial release had issues with the image quality but they were fixed after a firmware update. The camera has a HDR mode that provides a brighter and evenly exposed photo. One area that the camera excels in is the low light performance. Low light images taken using the PixelMaster technology are 400% brighter than those taken by normal cameras. The front camera is a 5MP shooter with an f/2.0 aperture and an 85 degrees wide-angle lens. The real time beautification and selfie panorama software help with taking good selfies.


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    Making Sense of the various Zenfone Models


    Asus really messed up the naming of the first Zenfones. It appears that they are trying to rectify this problem by providing a more uniform naming system. There are 5 variants in the Zenfone 2 series. The top end version of the Zenfone 2 (ZE551ML) comes with 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage space and costs $299 in the United States. The next model comes with 32GB of storage space and 4GB RAM. Cost conscious users can consider a ZE551ML running on an Intel Atom Z3560 processor with 2GB RAM and 32GB storage space. This version costs $199 in the United States. A lower ZE550ML model is available with 16GB of storage space. The ZE500CL is the lowest tier model with a HD display and runs on the Intel Atom Z2560 processor.


    Final Thoughts


    The Asus Zenfone 2 is more a phablet than a phone and is a strong competitor in this segment. The phone's hardware and performance are quite good for the price of the phone. However, the phone does have its shortcomings that prevent it from competing with the best.


    References:

    Video Introduction of the Zenfone 2 from Asus

    Asus Website for Zenfone 2

    Amazon Customer Reviews
     
  2. Alf S

    Alf S Banned
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    I've had mine (red one :) ) for a few months now and I'm still impressed with it. One of the best bang for the buck smartphones out there IMO.
     
    SoundReview likes this.
  3. KeithAP

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  4. SoundReview

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    Apparently first gen aren't being supported from reading down, no ETA on that thread either :eek:
     
  5. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    I have had one since it was released. Still not happy with battery life. Love the quick charge
    option but the battery doesn't last more that about 6 hours with regular usage I have been
    waiting for Android 6 since it came out several months ago. At least ASUS does keep up with
    the monthly security updates that Google is pushing.
     
  6. Alf S

    Alf S Banned
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    I'm quite happy with the battery life of my ZF2. By bedtime, I'm usually at 50% battery life, but I'm not a big power user (videos, music, social media etc).
     

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