ZenFone 2 definitely captured the hearts of many since its launch last January 2015 at CES 2015. Finally here in the Philippines for around 2 weeks, the ZenFone 2 craze is definitely high and up, but what really set this phone apart from its competitors? Given its 1st presence of 4GB RAM on a smartphone, along with a whole new processor from Intel. The Zenfone 2 had a winning hardware on their sleeves, paired up with their already good and improved design, camera and fast charging then priced it all under 15k definitely won the hearts of any enthusiast for a smartphone that technically has all you need.
Here is the quick rundown of the specs of the ZenFone 2 ZE551ML.
ASUS Zenfone 2 ZE551ML Specs
- 64-bit Intel Atom 2.3GHz Z3580 quad-core processor (Moorefield)
- 4GB of RAM LPDDR3 (4GB RAM for 32GB & 64GB Storage)
- 5.5-inch full HD IPS display with Gorilla Glass 3, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 16/32/64GB of storage, expandable via microSD up to 64GB
- 13-megapixel rear camera, f/2.0-aperture, 5-element, auto-focus lens with dual-color Real Tone flash
- 5-megapixel front camera, f/2.0-aperture, wide-angle 85-degree lens with Selfie Panorama
- Dual SIM | Dual Active
- 3G, LTE
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, NFC
- Android 5.0 Lollipop with ZenUI
- 3000mAh battery Li-Polymer | Non-removable
No fuss design
ASUS didn’t venture into new materials this time just to make the ZenFone, but we loved the idea of their simple brush metal finish cover to completely stand out the device. With the volume key moved to the back, ASUS managed to squeeze in the Zenfone 2 into an almost 5″ body. Although that the power button is now located at the top, it good ASUS provided some touch gestures like double tap to wake/sleep, to compensate to this weird move.
At the bottom is the familiar speaker grill which is same as the Zenfone’s 1st generation devices. With the whole device now curved at the back, its easier to hold and your index finger naturally places in the back volume button as expected. Though it might be weird at first, definitely you will get used to it after a while especially with the 5.5″ body.
At the front is the similar Zen circle design at the lower po art of the screen. ASUS CEO Jerry Shen highlighted that this is a very important part of the ZenFone which represents beauty. While it might be understandable at first, but Jerry explained that its ZenFone’s distinct recognition to stand out and to be recognized against other smartphones. He also added that the plate isn’t cheap to make which they didn’t sacrifice in cost for the ZenFone.
The whole back cover is removable where you’ll be exposed with the two micro sim cards, note that this uses DSDA (Dual Sim Dual Active) technology. Where even if Sim 1 is busy, sim 2 can be called and will be put on hold. A nice feature to avoid embarrassing moments of people mistaken your phone as cannot be reached. A micro SD card is also available for up to 64GB class 10.
Superb Camera with night capabilities
If you are following the ZenFone for some time, you can always see their slogan “See What Others Can’t See”. Which is true as the ZenFone 2 now have improved software and hardware for taking photos both day and night. In our photos taken in various places around the Philippines, we are more keen in using the HDR photography of the ZenFone to bring out more colors. Though the auto mode has a faster mode of taking photos, we appreciate the shots with more details with the HDR on. Colors are accurate while sharpness could use more improvement, after zooming further into the photos, we can observe the photos becoming more soft where noise is becoming more prominent.
Here are some camera shots taken with the ZenFone 2
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Performance good for years
The ZenFone 2 got recognition with its Z3580 Moorefield processor by Intel. Currently its the only of its kind processor in the market, though Lenovo plans to release one, its still to be seen in the market anywhere. Moving forward, the new Intel Z350 quad-core processors features the latest Intel technology that highlights more of refinement of process. Since Intel is using the x86 based computing system, its quite hard to distinguish its uniqueness against emerging octa-core processors from MediaTek or even Qualcomm’s 805 processors.
It seems ASUS hit the jackpot with Intel in providing a future proof smartphone, with the kind of performance the ZenFone 2 provides its definitely good for the next three years of smartphone technology. It already has the biggest advantage right now in the market which is being 4GB in RAM, though many believe its more of a hype of specifications, customers and even us definitely feel the need for smartphones to be 4GB in RAM.
Flawless multitasking is a dream to any smartphone, of course flagship smartphones can provide such experience. But all brands are limited by the RAM which becomes more and more demanding from Jelly Bean, KitKat to Lollipop. With the OS occupying more RAM and less space for applications, the phone restarts applications just to accommodate for current apps opened. In end result, the processor is always occupied in removing apps thus more battery is used.
With our 4GB RAM experience, even scrolling in Facebook is endless. Scrolling downwards just let our news feed load and load until the RAM is full, which is around more than 5x that the regular scroll down of 2GB RAM smartphones. Plus its really cool to switch from app to app without restarting, especially with Clash of Clans! In end point, you have nothing to worry about the ZenFone 2’s processing performance regardless if its 2GB or 4GB in RAM.
ZenUI : Best stock UI ever
Customizing phones is really a fun thing to do, sometimes it even eats up our time. Fortunately with the ZenFone 2’s Zen UI, you can expressively edit the font, add themes, change icons, add colors, change transitions, change icon packs and pretty much anything you want to edit to personalize. Its really convenient as you no longer have to download third party apps just to simply change icons.
Notification settings might be too big for our taste, but it can be really customized unlike other brands. From an experience out of the box, ZenUI definitely lessens the hassle of customers just to do simple customization and focus more on functionality.
ZenFone 2 came of with a lot of accessories on its side, starting with the Deluxe flip cover, apparently its called Deluxe since the NFC receiver is also at the back of the casing. The View Flip cover feels nice with its rubberized textured body, of course you can access quick settings and app with the small window and even see your notifications at a quick glance. The ZenFone 2 feels more solid to hold and adds a layer of protection especially with the camera lens, to avoid it getting scratched.
While the ZenPower is the Php795 monster powerbank of ASUS. Its very ideal for its size and looks, while not to mention its also safe to use.
Lastly we have the Loliflash and the ZenFlash which compliments to the camera of the ZenFone. The Loliflash is a portable flash which is compatible in any phone, it adds up to 3x more brightness of flash as compared to using the flash of any phone. This is perfect for taking night time photography, without the hassle of re-focusing photos at night. While the ZenFlash targets people with more professional photography at mind, with a Xenon flash at hand, you can take SLR quality photos from the ZenFone 2. Right now the ZenFlash is only available for ZenFones with a special software, but ASUS representatives said that it will be eventually be available to other brands too.
We still have to check out the full potential of these accessories, check it out on a separate review will do for the Loliflash and Zenflash.
Battery Life : Lollipop has issues
With our battery life experience, we get an average 7 hours of heavy LTE data usage. Despite attempts of power saving and the usual lowering brightness, its not enough to pro-long our battery life significantly. Upon checking with ASUS, they are aware of the memory leakage issue of Lollipop, which is a big contributor of the battery draining issue. They said they will roll out system enhancing updates to address the issue. While we got several updates already for improving the system and camera, we did noticed the battery went longer for additonal 1-2 hours. So right now we can get an average of 8 hours before reaching 15% low battery. This issue is also present in the Galaxy S6 Edge, and hopefully Google can have a solution soon.
As for the Fast Charging feature of the ZenFone 2, its powered by a 9V / 2A / 18W adapter. In our experience we can definitely get a full charge in less that 1 hour and 20 minutes, very convenient especially charging to 50% is around 30 minutes or less. You might experience more heat that the usual charging but its definitely okay as we don’t waste time in just waiting for a full charge.
The only complaint : Sound
With the ZenFone 2 having a weird power button placement, we forgive it with having a double to tap feature. But other than that, our only complaint with be the sound department. Unfortunately the speakers isn’t that sufficient for a 5.5″ smartphone, while the audio chip inside isn’t really for audio enthusiasts like us. With bass more flat and treble a bit muffled, the ZenFone 2 delivers an average audio experience as compared to high end smartphones.
Price that makes other brands in trouble
No matter how you look at it, as high as Php14,995 you already have a 64GB / 4GB RAM smartphone which is ridiculously low as compared to other phones ranging to more than 40k. That’s why from our sources of other brands, they are scratching heads right now in how to counteract the ZenFone 2. With ASUS disrupted the market with phones ranging 10k – 15k, local brands will need new strategy to deliver their flagship series. While on the other hand, international brands like Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo, LG and more are in fire with their phones being overshadowed by the ZenFone 2’s popularity.
The phone to beat this 2015
Congratulations definitely to ZenFone 2 for delivering a monster performance, great camera, complete smartphone experience and price that doesn’t hurt the bank. While its still puzzling in how ASUS managed to pull out such delivery while other brands aren’t even close to it, perhaps that is the secret of ASUS to keep to keep the ZenFone going for years to come.
For our recommendation :
If you need a smartphone for just everyday use, we recommend the 2GB / 16GB Storage Zenfone 2. Which we recommend the 4GB RAM / 32GB & 64GB Storage ZenFone 2 for enthusiasts and those who are looking for a future proof smartphone for years to come.
- ZE551ML – 1.8Ghz / 2GB RAM / 16GB Storage | Php9,995
- ZE551ML – 2.3Ghz / 4GB RAM / 32GB Storage | Php13,995
- ZE551ML – 2.3Ghz / 4GB RAM / 64GB Storage | Php14,995
Note : Our review unit is the 32GB Storage / 4GB RAM / 2.3Ghz processor unit.