When ASUS first released the ZenFone, they never expected it to be such a popular device. Fast forward to a year later and they’ve already been able to ship a total of 8 million units of this affordable Android phone. But to say that the Taiwanese company is done with this model series would be an understatement. To keep the momentum going, ASUS announced the successor of this successful flagship smartphone at CES 2015. Calling this device as the ZenFone 2, will this new smartphone topple over the phenomenal success that its older brother has achieved in the height of its fame? Or will it just be another smartphone sitting on counter displays?
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Why Choose the ZenFone 2?
Last year’s ZenFone model was marketed as an affordable device that users could easily enjoy. In this iteration of the ZenFone 2, the same concept is being portrayed by the Android device. The ZenFone 2 is available in two versions—a cheaper $200 model that comes with a 1.6GHz Intel processor and 2GB of RAM and the $300 variant that upgrades the device to a 2.3GHz processor with 4GB of RAM. Depending on your preference, you can enjoy the device for an affordable price since it still comes with flagship specs.
Perhaps, one of the biggest reasons why many prefer to get the ZenFone 2 is because it is available off-contract and can be used on any GSM network. The fact that it comes with dual SIM card slots make it a great companion for those who travel a lot. Pairing this with its compatibility with GSM networks, users can easily pick up a local SIM card and use it on the ZenFone 2. Not to mention, the absence of a two-year contract makes this smartphone a perfect fit to anyone who hates being tied down to one carrier.
ZenFone 2 Specs
The ZenFone 2 is a modern day smartphone that comes with a 5.5-inch full HD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The device has dimensions measuring in at 152.5 x 77.2 x 10.9 mm. It’s not really the thinnest nor smallest phone around but it’s also not bulky and uncomfortable to carry around. Following its predecessor, the ZenFone 2 is clad in a plastic material with a brushed metal look that makes it seem like a premium device upon first glance. The back cover is removable and may be replaced in a variety of color options ranging from black, white, red, gold, and grey. ASUS has also promised to release a series of specially designed back cover patterns to meet the requests of its users. This removable back cover gives access to both the microSD and dual SIM card slots.
While ASUS retained the capacitive touch navigation buttons on the ZenFone 2, it threw in a power button in an awkward spot on the device—on top of the phone. Additionally, the volume buttons have also been moved to the back of the device. These new changes to the ZenFone 2 make sense for its aesthetic purpose but does very little for comfort. Whenever you need to switch on the phone, you’ll have to shift your grip to the top of the device or opt to use two hands.
Powering the device from within is where the two different price options of the ZenFone 2 make sense. The cheaper ZenFone 2 model comes with a 1.6GHz Dual-Core Intel Atom Z2560 processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of on board storage. The other variant is available with a 2.3GHz Quad-Core Intel Atom Z3580 processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of on built-in storage capacity. Both models support microSD card slot expansion by up to 64GB.
On the back of the device is a 13MP camera with Dual LED flash, dual-color Real Tone flash, and a 1080p HD video recorder. A secondary camera is available on the front of the phone with a 5MP sensor. The improved ASUS Zen UI included on the device comes with camera tools such as backlight (HDR) mode, low light mode, manual mode, zero shutter lag, and enhanced beautification mode.
Unfortunately, the 3000mAh battery on the ZenFone 2 is non-removable. This means that users won’t be able to trade in their battery for a new one. The good news is, ASUS has updated the ZenFone 2 and included fast-charging capability onto the device. In just 39 minutes, the device can recharge itself by up to 60%. Other notable features included on the ZenFone 2 is a proximity sensor, accelerometer, gyroscopic sensor, digital compass, and an ambient-light sensor. It comes with 4G LTE connectivity, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS/A-GPS, GPRS/EDGE and Glonass. Upon unboxing, the phone runs the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop OS.
ZenFone 2 Pros:
- 4GB RAM
- Great for gaming
ZenFone 2 Cons:
- Average camera
- Battery life can be improved
- Awkward positioning of the power button
- Zen UI bloatware is too much
ZenFone 2 Tips & Tricks
One of the exciting additions to the ZenFone 2 is the ASUS ZenFone Flip Cover. Unlike the standard back cover, this accessory wraps itself around the phone like a mini notebook. The small window cutout on the front of the device no longer requires its users to keep opening the cover to check on notifications. When the case is closed on the front, users can easily flip through the window display and keep track of the weather, time, and other notifications they need. Unfortunately, the Flip Cover is not included in the box and requires an additional $40 to purchase it.
If you’re looking for a smartphone with a price tag of between $200 and $300, the ZenFone 2 is something worth checking out. The fact that it’s not locked with any network gives it a great reason to enjoy without any obligations. The idea of having a 4GB RAM device in your pocket may be a big enough reason to convince you why this is one smartphone that means business. And if you’re game a device that can provide near high-end performance without the contract and expensive price tag, then the ZenFone 2 is surely something to consider.