The smartphone market is an incredibly saturated one, and it really takes something special to stand out from the pack. Following the announcement of the highly-anticipated ASUS ZenFone 2, we wanted to find out what the big deal was. Here are some features that caught our attention.
It may not be the most important factor, but let’s face it: a beautiful phone certainly leaves a good first impression. At first glance, its clean-cut lines and brushed aluminium finish certainly impressed in the looks department. It measures in at 3.9mm thick and its thin bezel gives it a beautiful edge-to-edge screen.
As for the physical buttons, it comes with a sleep/wake button at the top-centre, with its volume buttons located on the rear of the phone, just below the camera. The placement of the buttons seemed a little strange at first, but it’s all a matter of getting used to it.
The lower-end ZenFone 2 models (ZE500CL, ZE550ML) sport a matte finishing, available in black, white and red. The higher-end model (ZE551ML) encompasses an aluminium hairline metallic finishing that comes in black, gold red and silver.
The phone comes with a curved bump at the rear that is thickest at the centre, while it thins out at the edges. This design didn’t really excite us at first glance, but we were won over once we held the phone in our hands.
The curved back helps the phone rest more naturally in the users’ hands, there’s a tendency to wrap one’s hand around it, which ensures a better grip of the device. The same can’t be said about other phones in the market such as the Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phones.
Of course, this is what it says on paper. This is the first smartphone that comes with 4GB of RAM, running on a Quad-core 2.3GHz 64-bit Intel Atom Processor with LTE/4G connectivity – perfect for high quality gaming on the phone. ASUS even had a gaming station to demonstrate their point:
The ZenFone 2 also comes a 5.5” full HD IPS display, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, with an anti-fingerprint coating applied. The phone also jumps onto the dual SIM bandwagon with its Dual-SIM, Dual-Active Technology, with one up to 4G and the other at 2G. This means that two SIM cards can be used simultaneously and actively at the same time, without the need for one to go to sleep when the other is in use.
The ZenFone 2 comes with a 13MP rear-facing PixelMaster camera with an f/2.0 wide-aperture lens for high resolution photos with zero shutter lag. ASUS claims the PixelMaster has the “world’s best HDR mode”, as well as the “world’s best low-light mode” – we were impressed with both functions based on what we saw at the demo stations, but real world tests await.
And like most phone makers these days, ASUS are leveraging on consumers’ obsession of taking selfies and installed a 5MP front camera onto the ZenFone 2. It also comes with a list of Smart Selfie features, like built-in beauty modes and face detection technology. While bright and sharp, we felt that photos from this camera came out a little too sharp and unnatural. But better a sharp photo than a blurry one.
Wealth of accessories
Wish you could soup up your phone? No problem, ASUS has you covered. They offer an assortment of accessories from ear phones to power packs that range from S$11.90 to S$39.90.
Two accessories we’d like to make special mention of are the add-on flash units, the ZenFlash and the LolliFlash. The ZenFlash is a “Xenon flash dongle”, and can be connected via USB cable. It is said to offer a flash that’s “400 times brighter” than a normal LED flash. Sounds pretty damn bright, doesn’t it?
The LolliFlash, as the name suggests, is in the shape of a lollipop, and offers a dual-tone LED flash for phones, which will give better colour tones to photos. They are connected to the phone’s audio jack, and run on their own batteries.
Listed at S$249 for the 2GB RAM version and peaking at S$499 for the 4GB RAM version, the low price of this phone really blew us away. Given the low price point and decent set of features, we’re certain it will sell like hot cakes.
Their owl mascot is just plain weird though.
Key features of the ASUS ZenFone 2
- Up to 4GB RAM for high quality gaming on the phone.
- 5” full HD IPS Display with narrow 3.3mm bezel for maximised viewing experience.
- Dual-Sim Dual-Active Technology, with one up to 4G and the other at 2G.
- 13MP rear-facing PixelMaster camera with an f/2.0 wide-aperture lens for high resolution photos with zero shutter lag.
- PixelMaster Low Light mode to capture brighter photos and videos without flash.
- Smart Selfie features including built-in beauty modes on top of the 5MP front camera.
- Fast-charge 3,000mAh battery.
- Weighs in at a maximum of 170g.
- Assortment of accessories from ear phones, power packs to Lolliflash (dual-tone LED torch) are available for the phone ranging from S$11.90 to S$39.90.
The 2GB RAM versions of the ZenFone 2 is available for pre-order from 14 April 2015 at 9.00pm to 17 April 2015 at 10.00pm at ASUS Brand Stores, ASUS Online Store, Challenger Funan and Challenger Online Store ranging from S$249 to S$349. Those who missed out on the pre-order period can order their ZenFone 2 from Starhub and M1 from 18 April 2015 onwards. The ZE5551ML (4GB RAM) version’s availability will be announced at a later date, but have been priced at S$429 and S$499 for the 32GB and 64GB storage respectively.