ASUS Zenfone 2 is one of the few smartphones in Malaysia that allowed users to have a high performance smartphone without spending a lot of money. We’re talking prices below the RM1k range. They may be using an Intel processor instead of the usual Snapdragon processors but it isn’t weak by any means.
What’s an Intel and Snapdragon processor? Allow me to explain.
Snapdragon processors are made by a company called Qualcomm and are generally known to be energy-efficient and fast. Whenever a company uses a different processor, people start to freak out a bit, just like with Intel’s Atom processor in the Zenfone 2. Intel Atom processors are common on netbooks, a.k.a. really cheap laptops.
Released in 2015, the Zenfone 2 can get a bit confusing at times as ASUS released several models of the Zenfone 2. The one I have in my hand is the 2GB RAM, 32GB Internal Storage version. Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about internal storage as it has a memory card slot. Other specification details are as follows:
|Product Dimension||152.5 x 77.2 x 10.9 mm (6.00 x 3.04 x 0.43 in)|
|Band||4G / LTE|
|Micro SD Slot||up to 64 GB|
|Processor||Intel Atom Z3560(2GB RAM)|
|Resolution (px)||1920 x 1080 pixels (~403 ppi pixel density)|
|Display (inches)||5.5 inches (~70.1% screen-to-body ratio)|
|Rear Camera||13MP rear,5MP front|
|Battery Capacity||Non-removable Li-Po 3000 mAh battery|
|What’s In The Box||32GB ROM, Earphone, AC Adaptor & USB Cable|
|Operating System||Android OS, v5.0 (Lollipop)|
At first glance, I thought the Zenfone 2 had a metal body, especially since I got the silver coloured one. Turns out that it was plastic and you can easily remove the back cover. Despite that, the phone still looks pretty good and doesn’t feel cheap like the Samsung Galaxy SIII.
At 170g, it’s not exactly light but it’s not heavy either, so it’s pretty comfortable to hold on to. The volume buttons are at the back, near the camera lens so it took awhile to get used to. Once I got used to it, the volume button’s position felt like it made more sense than having them on the side.
The only experience I’ve had with an Intel Atom processor was from an old netbook back in 2011 and after hearing bad reviews about it, I wasn’t expecting much from the Zenfone 2—which was why I was surprised at how smooth the phone operated.
Moving around the from homescreen to menu, to settings, to apps, and anything else is pretty smooth. I didn’t notice any lags or slowdowns of any kind. Unlike HTC, it uses the standard left-to-right directions when scrolling through apps.
As far as heat goes, the Zenfone 2 doesn’t heat up when I use it to contact friends, make calls, go on Facebook or even play videos on Youtube but it does get warm when I’m charging it. But still, it’s just warm and nothing more so it’s pretty comfortable to use for long hours.
At 5.5 inches, it can be troublesome for some to power the device back on while holding it with one hand as the power button is place dead-centre on the top part of the phone. As an alternative, you can turn the display back on and off by double-tapping the screen, a feature that I hope is available for all new smartphones from this year onwards.
One thing I don’t like about this phone so far is the lack of an infrared sensor. Not many people will use this but for me, I like to use my smartphone as a remote control for my TV. Without the IR sensor, you can’t do that.
No fancy-schmancy features and motion sensor and what not but works great for everything else. Zenfone 2 is looking pretty solid for now.
There isn’t really much to say about the audio for Zenfone 2. The speakers sound decent and the volume is A-okay. At maximum volume, audio is still clear but I feel that the volume should be louder. Even my old Samsung Galaxy SIV can play music at a higher volume.
ASUS should have stuck with the dual front-facing speakers from the ASUS Fonepad Note 6. I believe that with dual front-facing speakers from their old device, it will massively strengthen what is already a rock-solid smartphone.
On earphones, it sounds okay and passable as an MP3 player. Volume levels are good but if you want a more enjoyable experience, it’s best to toy around with the equalizer or get a custom equalizer app from Google Play Store. It can definitely make a difference with a bit of customisation.
With decent lighting, Zenfone 2’s camera can be pretty damn good. With 13 megapixels, you can take pretty big pictures (high resolution) if you wish to do so. I usually stick to 5 megapixels below so I have more space in my memory card.
It does suffer quite a lot when the environment is dark, even with nightmode on. Pictures look grainy and just awful. But that’s pretty common for smartphone cameras nowadays and since camera isn’t the main focus of the Zenfone 2, I’m not disappointed by this.
I feel that the Zenfone 2 captures video better than it does with pictures but once again, the key here is lighting. If the environment is dark, you’re gonna have a bad time. Check out a sample video below!
This is where the Zenfone 2 gets shot in the head. The battery life is below average. It generally lasts about 12-13 hours with light-medium usage. By that, I mean using the phone for Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Big 2 card game, Messenger and other social apps. No heavy gaming involved.
I didn’t think it could be this bad with a 3000mAH battery and I am aware that it has a big screen so more energy will be used there. But it shouldn’t be this terrible. If a person kept playing Clash of Clans, he’d be playing while being stuck by the wall with a charger plugged in.
Brightness was lowered and it still wasn’t enough so I tried to investigate the issue. I found that on the Battery section of the settings menu, the biggest battery drainer was ‘Android OS’ with battery usage levels being way higher than everything else.
After some Googling, I found out that the Zenfone 2’s battery life problem was indeed a software problem. People have been complaining and asking ASUS to fix this immediately. So I’m expecting the Zenfone 2’s battery life to be improved in the near future.
Sure, you could probably bring a spare battery when you’re on the go but there’s just 1 problem with it—the battery is not removable. Sure, you can remove the back cover to insert your SIM card and memory card but you can’t remove the damn battery.
Final Words on ASUS Zenfone 2
The ASUS Zenfone 2 is still a pretty solid option among other smartphones. With a big screen (5.5″), beautiful display (Full HD resolution) and a phone that is buttery-smooth, it’s hard to find a similar package at such a low price.
Mind you, this is only the 2GB RAM version so the 4GB RAM version is expected to be faster and smoother, assuming that the differences are noticeable. I may get my hands on the 4GB RAM version and do a comparison in the near future.
Before we end this review, we still have 2 questions left to answer.
Who should buy the ASUS Zenfone 2?
You should buy it if you:
- Want a phone that is lag-free/smooth virtually all the time
- Want a user-friendly device that is also comfortable to use
- Enjoy big screen phones
- Are looking for a good phone under RM1000
- Looking for a smartphone capable of 4G LTE
- Want a phone with dual-sim capabilities
Who shouldn’t buy the ASUS Zenfone 2?
You shouldn’t buy this phone if you:
- Want a phone that is easy to operate with one hand (unless you have gigantic hands)
- Want a phone with infrared sensors built-in
- Hate having the volume buttons on the back of the phone
- If you want a phone with user-replaceable batteries… though as of now, your choices are very limited on that
It’s a good phone and a great choice if you’re under a budget. Between a Gold Medal, Silver Medal, Bronze Medal, and “flushing it down the toilet”, I’d give it a Silver. Slight hiccup here and there, but still a good buy.
Oh right, I didn’t mention the price now did I? DirectD is selling this phone (32GB Internal, 2GB RAM) at RM799.00 including GST so if you want one, grab one from them or look around for better prices.