ASUS Zenfone 2 Review
Urgh….. took me so much time in getting myself clear on this bloody line of phones. Yes, phones. Asus Zenfone 2 is not one, not two, but four different phones. All of which are available and meant to be sold in Malaysia; all freaking four of them.
To start things simple, the four different variants are ZE551ML, ZE551ML, ZE550ML and ZE500CL. No, I did not leave the first two model numbers to be the same accidentally, they’re seriously both the same in number, but different in specs, ARGH this is not going to be easy.
The official price range for the Zenfone 2 is from RM600 (lowest end variant ZE500CL, which we shall focus more on in this article) to RM1300 (highest end, ZE551ML 64GB). Only the ZE551ML variants have 1080p displays, the latter two having only 720p (which is.. kind of enough? Can’t complain, it IS rather cheap). However, it is important to take note that while the screen is really beautiful, its reflective panel of glass makes outdoor viewing experiences rather unforgiving.
Here’s the lowest-end variant’s design. Nothing too fancy… it just looks exactly as it has been meant for, cheap and cheap.
“A Marvel of Beauty and Power, in the Palm of Your Hand” is how Asus describes the ZE500CL. Um… nahhhh. It’s just okay.
On the connectivity department, they all support up to 4G LTE, which is really good! Grab any one of these with the latest bang in the telco industry that is 3GB of LTE data plan for only RM38 monthly and you’re good to go!
Though.. you’ll be paying RM600 on a 8MP rear and 2MP selfie cameras on the CL variant. You’d need to fork out extra cash for the higher-end ones to enjoy the 13MP rear cam with 5MP selfie cam, which is fair I guess but still, 600 bucks for only a 2MP front-facing camera is rather harsh, especially if you’re into taking lots of pretty selfies.
From the left: The previous generation ASUS Zenfone 5, CL variant and the ML variant. Design’s getting rather boring and stagnant, probably for the better.
They all run on Intel’s Atom processors, and as you would expect, more money = better and faster processor. While Atom processors have been in the industry for almost as long as smartphones have been, it is rather difficult to state that they have been making the mobile computing scene hot as they have always been meant for very lightweight work, remember those annoyingly tiny low-performance laptops, netbooks?
On battery life, the CL variant has a 2,500mAH battery while the others have 3,000mAH. Initially, there were rampant reports on battery draining issues – this seems to have been fixed with firmware updates by ASUS following users’ complaints, things are better now. That said, it is not like you’d need the 3,000mAH as much anyway, as you’ll be running on a lower resolution display with a slower processor, won’t be draining too much juice.
As for the software department, well.. a huge plus is that it comes with Android 5 Lollipop out of the box powered with Zen UI. On its interface it is reminisce of Zen UI, hence for past model ASUS Zenfone users, it wouldn’t be a huge change in environment, which is a good thing for those who dislike spending time getting used to an alien interface. For those who are already familiar with Zen UI, yes, it is highly customizable and with this release ASUS has added a generous amount of customizable features with the ability to change the colour temperature of the screen being one that attracts the writer’s interest – not that the default temperature is off, though. Also on the bright side, even with the lowest-end variant, the interface flies and barely has any perceived lag on normal usage.
Whatever said and done, if you are a Zenfone 5 user and am planning on upgrading to the Zenfone 2, it would be wise to consider getting the higher end “ML” variants and not the “CL” one. This is due to the huge similarities amongst the two devices especially in the processor department, maybe you should consider something higher end.