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Gadget review: Asus Zenfone 2 - Spoilt for choice

Asus wants to spoil you with 4GB RAM in its new premium smart phone, Zenfone 2; but does a higher RAM result in better performance? Hassan M Kamal finds out

Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML

Rating 9/10
Design: With the Zenfone 2 ZE551ML, Asus has improved on the body design of the Zenfone 5. The Zenfone 2 looks slimmer, edgier, and has a more premium feel to it. Despite featuring a 5.5-inch screen, it looks smaller than its competitors. The power button has been moved to the top whereas the volume rockers are placed right under the camera — a useful change that makes adjusting the volume easier even whileon a phone call. The back cover gets a glossy silver metallic finish (available only in ZE 551ML variants), and offers decent grip.

 

Rating 8/10
Display: The ZE551ML features a 5.5-inch IPS display with Full HD resolution of 1920x1080 and pixel density of 400 ppi. The indoor clarity is superb, and a 178-degree viewing angle makes it easy to use. It also gets Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection to prevent unfortunate scratches. However, we faced lot of difficulty using it under sunlight. The screen is very reflective and makes reading a painful task, even in full brightness.

Rating 9/10
Connectivity: The ZE551ML is a dual-Sim device and supports 2G, 3G and 4G LTE (FDD Band 3 and TDD Band 40) networks. However, only Sim 1 supports all the three networks, whereas the second Sim (Sim 2) is limited to just 2G connection. Other connectivity features include Wi-Fi (802.11 a/c), NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Tethering, Bluetooth Tethering. There's no support for OTG, though.

Rating 5/10
Audio: Despite the fact that Asus seems proud of the SonicMaster technology in the Zenfone 2, we found it disappointing. The speaker placed at the bottom does a decent job while playing music, but when it comes to listening to calls on loudspeaker, the Zenfone 2 fails miserably. Even during quiet hours, one can hardly listen to the other party on the loudspeaker.

Rating 9/10
Camera: The rear camera is a 13MP auto focus with dual-LED flash and f/2.0 aperture, which allows it to capture decent pictures even in low-life conditions. The flash, however, is a bit out-of-place, as despite repetitive attempts, we were unable to get any decent results with it. We are impressed with 5MP secondary camera too, which according to Asus, comes with an 85-degree wide-angle lens. It's easy to use and offers plenty of camera space; it's very useful while taking selfies (it's possible to also include large group using the selfie panorama mode). We are also impressed with how Asus has managed to simplify things in the Zenfone 2 camera app, offering live features such as adjustment of brightness/darkness with a simple slider (to initiate press your finger longer against the screen), easy-to-use selfie timer button on the screen, a "beautification" tool, and the special owl icon that helps brighten up images in low-light conditions.

Rating 8/10
Battery: The ZE551ML is powered by a 3,000 mAh Li-Polymer fixed battery, same as in other variants. If you are an average user, it's sufficient to get you by a whole day. However, heavy users may find the battery a tad too less for their appetite. Users would, however, appreciate its fast-charging ability, which can bring the power up to 60% in just 40 minutes.

Rating 7/10
User Interface & OS: The Zenfone 2 runs Android Lollipop 5.0 on the box (you will be asked to update soon after installation), but its ZenUI kills the awesomeness that Lollipop is supposed to be. Besides, Asus eats on your storage and memory space with a long line-up of useless pre-loaded Asus and third party apps, served as system apps.

Rating 9/10
Hardware & Performance: The Zenfone 2 ZE551ML is available in four different variants — a 16GB model with 2GB RAM and Intel Atom Z3560 quad core processor clockable upto 1.8GHz, a 32GB model with 4GB RAM but with the same Z3560 processor clockable upto 1.8GHz, and two super-efficient 64GB and 128GB models with 4GB RAM, but with a different Intel Atom processor, the Z3580, clockable up to 2.3GHz. Each variant come with PowerVR G6430 graphic processor with OpenGL 3.0 support. The device that we received was a 32GB variant, and should have featured the Z3560 processor. Instead it featured the Z3580, we are not sure if a different model is in the offing. It's good to have options, but it's also confusing to users (this exists with Asus laptops too). Our advise is to check product specifications, closely. Its most striking feature is the 4GB RAM, which should give enough memory to multi-task. It does, as we didn't face any issue — be it abnormal heating, or major lags (apart from two separate instances) while playing games. These aside, working with the Zenfone 2 was a breeze. We are also impressed that Asus managed to keep SAR values low, at 0.351 W/Kg on head and 0.332 W/Kg at the body.

 

Specifications
Display: 5.5-inch IPS 1920x1080, 400ppi
Processor: Intel Atom Quad Core Z3580 up to 2.3 GHz
Memory: 4GB RAM, 32GB internal, 64GB (on external SD Card)
Camera: 5MP (front), 13MP with flash (rear)
Connectivity: GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 2G. 3G, 4G LTE, NFC
Price: Rs 22,999

Overall rating
8.0/10
The Guide Verdict Asus has once again managed to create a product that impresses you on multiple accounts, especially the camera, design, display and hardware. However, issues like poor audio, old UI and confusing configuration continues to be a bottleneck. A suggestion: check product specifications carefully, before placing an order.

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