Monthly Archives: May 2015

Asus Zenfone 2 – The Dark Knight of Smart Phones

Asus Zenfone 2 – The Dark Knight of Smart Phones

Back to the Future Part II. Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets. X-men 2. 22 Jump Street. The Dark Knight. What do all of them have in common? They are all sequels to a good movie but they are not just sequels. They are movies that took a quantum leap and took the franchise to new heights. So how does this connect to Zenfone 2? Duh! Zenfone 5 was a sure-fire sleeper last year and now, its successor took that same Quantum Leap and what I assume I assume correctly, has propelled Asus to the upper echelon of Smartphones. Zenfone 2 is not just a successor or a simple sequel. It is the #SmartPhoneDarkKnight! #BoldStatement

Zenfone 5 almost had it all last year and what momentum it had is used by Zenfone 2 with so much more. Zenfone 2 maybe twice the price but it still delivers the same bang for the buck as its predecessor. Maybe even banger-for-the bucker! Zenfone 2 is undoubtedly one of this year’s most anticipated phone and has it lived up to the hype? Well, I can say yes now but I still want you to read on and find out why Zenfone 2 is The Dark Knight of Smartphones

This model is Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML 4GB 32GB Model

  1. Design and Build

 Looks

Zenfone 5 was, if not the, one of the best looking budget phone in the market last year. Its design language was unique it screams premium. Now, as superficial as this world is, Zenfone 2 also received a facelift which looks stunning, high-class and premium. That 5.5 Inch Screen with generous bezel. Those capacitive touch buttons with Asus’ shiny thingy at the bottom just tells you ‘Hey this is Asus’. The back is reminiscent of the G3 which is not a bad thing considering G3 is one of the more amazing looking flagship last year. The Intel with the Zenfone logo sits at the bottom with the speaker grill. The thin bezel helps with ease of one-handed usage but most of the time, two hands will be required. The center positioning of the power button is quite peculiar. Headsets attached it’s harder to reach with the left hand. Spoiler alert, this phone supports double tap to sleep and wake so use of the power button will be lessened.

For the superficial race that we are, Zenfone 2 is one of those you will boastfully whip out and friends will say that it looks great mistaking it for a higher-tier device. A tiny criticism with the design would be how slippery it feels in the hand. For sweaty handed people like me, Zenfone 2 feels like it could slip out sooner rather than later. As the expression goes here in the Philippines, ‘Kanin palang ulam na’ (Rice only, viand too). That is the perfect expression for Zenfone 2’s look.

  1. Display

display

Zenfone 2’s relatively big 5.5 Screen is partnered with a gorgeous Full HD 1080p Display. Sure, QuadHD is now the trend but what are you seriously going to do with those alleged power hungry screens? Full HD is an amazing complement. Text looks sharp, images are clear and vibrant. The Zen UI helps with how punchy Zenfone 2 is.

disp2

Zenfone 2 has polarizing backlight. Its lowest is not too low, which is a good thing, but its Highest is relatively low too. It has ok viewing angles but a brighter max brightness could’ve made it much better outdoors.

Same with Zenfone 5 complaint I had last year is the non-backlit capacitive touch buttons. It’s a minor minor gripe but it is worth mentioning. Luckily, most phones do have the same layout of Back-Home-Recent so it’s not that much of an issue.

  1. Entertainment

Entertainment

You can’t use a smartphone without using it as a multimedia driver. Zenfone 2 is the Mid-range phone to beat with respect to multimedia performance.

For audio quality, the only reason loudspeaker will fail from time to time is because of its single driver at the back. Plug in your earphones, I now use an Awei ES900i, ughhh, eargasm. High volumes, useful for drowning out everything else, partner it with clean audio output at max volume, Heaven!

Fancy a movie or a series? Zenfone 5 was an amazing Movie Player sans some 1080p here and there. Zenfone 2 breaks that wall like Bane breaks Batman’s back that it can play anything you throw at it. I haven’t tried those movies which are 20GB+ but it has played a 9GB file flawlessly. I don’t see the point of watching movies beyond those 1080p, 2GB files on a smartphone so as far as Video playing goes. Zenfone 2 is a Beast. Do note that MX Player is better than the stock. Just. Just. Ok?

games

Gaming. Do I really need to tell you how Zenfone 2 plays Angry Birds? Yes? Alright, fantastic. So let’s get on to the more graphic intensive games like Dead Trigger and Goat Simulator. Still Great. Nova 3? You bet your ass it still is fine. As far as gaming goes. Zenfone 2 is still an amazing performer. Do note that playing continuously will heat your device up and once it is hot, battery drain is inevitable. Contrary to Zenfone 5, Zenfone 2 is leaps and bounds ahead.

As with my previous review, Web Browsing and Streaming has been upgraded significantly on Lollipop. Partner it with the hardware, Zenfone 2 soars through web pages. Facebooking actually felt great again. Well, it maybe due to Facebooking using a new device but still. Another thumbs up.

  1. Camera

 Camera

Zenfone 2 is equipped with a 13MP Camera t the back and a 5MP Snapper in the front. Same as with last year, Zenfone 2 is loaded with shit loads of features which make picture taking much more fun.

As far as image quality is they sit beyond the above average right below great. Under good natural lighting, Zenfone 2 captures good photos. Inside, not much can be expected but the good thing is, it is still useable. You can check out some of the pics yourself.

  1. Software

Perf1

Zenfone 2 is power-packed with Intel Atom Z3580 Quad-core 2.3 GHz Processor. The model I got was 32GB but it is expandable up to 64GB. It also comes with Lollipop. Finally it is packed with a whopping 4GB of RAM. That is right. FREAKING FOUR GB RAM. The amount of apps you could run in the back ground is just insane. This is one of the first, if not the, to have this insane amount of ram and it translates into performance. Dead Trigger, Goat Simulator, YouTube, Twitch, Limbo, MX Player, Messages. As non-sensical as running the aforementioned simultaneously, Zenfone 2 did it, without slowing down swiping between screens and animations. It ran all of it seamlessly like how Brock Lesnar suplexed the crap out of John Cena in Summerslam last year. This is a testament on how powerful Zenfone 2 is in terms of performance.

Moving on to its insane backgrounding power is the Lollipop under the ZenUI. Having a skin is personal preference, personally, I would have preferred a stock look but Asus needs to have their identity. ZenUI is close to stock so minor gripes here and there but out of the box, Zenfone 2 did have tons of bloatwares. Some are useful but some cater to niche audiences. You can remove them though.

features

As far as useful extra features go, Zenfone 2 comes with one-handed usage option, smart-cover feature, battery saver, motion gesture and my all-time favourite, gesture features which include the mega super useful double tap to wake and sleep. Samsung S5 did not even have this feature, if it does do tell me how. Kudos to Zenfone 2 for this amazing feat.

Call

As far as performing as a phone, Zenfone 2 is a Dual Sim Dual Standby phone which has LTE on Sim 1. Another thumbs up. As far as reception go, I was able to constantly get LTE driving from Quezon City to Taguig. Call quality both as a receiver and transmitter is excellent. As far as my calls with some of my friends went, I did not have any problems.

  1. Battery 

battery

This phone was officially released a few days ago. I haven’t fully tested the battery yet. But ever since I got it I have been constantly using it. If it can give me 3.5 Hours of screen on-time (which I am close to achieving), then this is another aspect Zenfone 2 succeeds.

That 1.5 Hours of screen on-time consists of 1 Hour Movie Watching and the rest for little gaming, browsing, and testing the device. As far as initial testing is, it looks to be another winner.

Executive Summary

scores

CONS:

  • Non-Backlit Capacitive touch buttons
  • Slippery to hold
  • Lots of Bloatware
  • Peculiar button placement
  • Low Brightness

PROS:

  • Lollipop out of the Box
  • Expandable Storage
  • 4GB RAM
  • Great Audio Headset Output
  • Great Design Keeps Asus’ Identity
  • Dual Sim Dual Standby with LTE
  • Rumoured to be supported at least for the foreseeable future
  • Mid-Range Price for a High-End Device

 LIMBO (I cannot judge if these are Pros or Cons):

  • ZenUI

conc

At P13, 995, Asus is once again gunning for that Mid-range Crown. As of now, it looks like it is firmly in its grasp. P13, 995 may seem like a lot especially considering as how Zenfone 5 was aimed for the lower tier market. Zenfone 2, I think, was looking to target more here. I think Asus wants to punch a hole in Samsung and Apple and I think it will. That punch could cause a rattle that the debris it causes may ultimately lead to permanent damage to local performers Cherry and MyPhone, not that I care.  As far as Brand Recognition is, you are certainly getting more out of Asus than the latter aforementioned locals and probably the same as the former Superstars mentioned. Zenfone 2 is way beyond any Cherry Release and way cheaper and more powerful than Samsung Galaxy A7. I’m not saying that Zenfone 2 performs as well as S6 or IPhone 6 but it’s so damn good I’m seriously considering turning this into my main phone over my Samsung S5.

Zenfone 5, the same way Batman Begins brought us a new light into the Smartphone market and Batman, respectively. Zenfone 2, much like the Dark Knight, exceeded expectations significantly and raised the bar maybe to the point that Zenfone 3 maybe the Dark Knight rises. I certainly hope not but as it stands now, Zenfone 2 is the Real MVP.

SmartPhones tend to give you all but one thing. Most, if not all, have one giant disappointment along with other greats. S5 has that Bandage back, G3 has that washed out look, HTC M8 and Nexus has that disappointing camera. For the cons I have noticed, it can be ignored, encased, removed and lessened. For those looking for a high tier device in a budget, I find it hard to find a better suggestion. Same as Last Year, it maybe premature, but Zenfone 2 is now the King of the Mid-Range. I may have had a bias review but keep in mind that I am looking at this as an evolution to Zenfone 5 and at the price point of P13, 995.

Asus has created great devices since 2012. Nexus 2012, 2nd Generation, Zenfone 5 and now Zenfone 2 continues that trend of great releases. Congratulations to Asus for the successful event last weekend and thank you for this beast phone.

Zenfone 2 is the Smartphone Everyone Deserves. #SmartPhoneDarkKnight

Cherry Mobile One – The One with that only One

Cherry Mobile One – The One with that only One

VIDEO REVIEW

Updates. The one word Cherry Mobile is having a hard time understanding. Since 2012, I have come from a super excited fanboy to a sceptic meh-tista on their releases. Cherry Mobile has released hundreds of flagCheaps, flagshit or, alright, FLAGSHIP but have they ever bothered to update any of them? Yes. Granted many top notch company also does not update their phones, that doesn’t mean Cherry should too, or do they?

Anyways, after almost 2 year hiatus from Cherry Android, I am now back, and I have here a Google project slapped on with Cherry Mobile’s tramp stamp. The Cherry Mobile Android One. Cherry Mobile one is said to be the one which will receive the latest from Google for the foreseeable future. Aside from the promised updates, what else does this phone have to offer? Read on and find out.

Follow and like Norman3000 on Twitter and Facebook 🙂 

  1. Design and Build

 Design

Generic. That is the one word that will perfectly describe the Cherry Mobile One. It has a 4.5 Inch TFT Display. The back has the 5MP Camera and is covered by a removable plastic back. Plus one for not being fingerprint-magnet. The sides houses the power button and volume rocker while the top and bottom has the 3.5mm jack and USB port respectively. Nothing special with regards to its looks. It looks cheap, it feels cheap because it is cheap. It seriously looks like Flare of previous iterations. I have no gripes with the design, its average at best in its price range.

  1. Display

Display

Accompanying the 4.5 Inch screen is a display of 854×480. After years of looking at 720p or better, going lower is now very noticeable. Display is not bad perse but colours seem to be slightly washed out. Some texts, icons and images will look stretched out at times.

One also seems to have a relatively low brightness which can be a huge problem outdoors. One has terrible viewing angles, many times when I am outside, thankfully, that rarely happens, I have to put my hand over the screen just so I can see it. Yes I am at maximum brightness. Indoor visibility is fine though.

  1. Entertainment

Entert

Functioning as a multimedia driver, One is average if not a little better. Carrying a single driver at the back for the speaker, you shouldn’t expect much. It’s ok if you are alone in a quiet room but it is not advisable to use it outside. Aside from the fact that you will not be able to hear it, you will drain your battery.

Headsets attached, I am now using Awei ES900i as opposed to JVC FX3X on other reviews, as far as quality goes, again, it is ok. One comes with Google Music for your out of the box player and it plays the music fine. Nice amount of loudness is always a good thing.

Watching on One is enjoyable if you can keep the resolution to 720p or lower. It CAN play 1080p videos but it does stutter from time to time. I have enjoyed watching Malcolm in the Middle at 480p and I did not have any problems.it is worth mentioning that Stock Android has shitty codec so download MX Player as fast as you possibly can.

Games

As for gaming, Mainstream Games like Angry Birds is fine. Jump into more graphic intensive Games, Dead Trigger and Goat Simulator will be playable, but I don’t think this is meant for hardcore gamers.

Web Browsing has been significantly upgraded on Lollipop and even with a mediocre-ly powered phone, Web Browsing and Streaming is great. I have been able to watch seamless hours on Twitch. I do have PLDT FibR at home, but it does not change the fact that Android One has performed better than expected. One thing to note is that it can only play up to 480p videos on YouTube. And yes, there are some phones with 480p displays capable of running 720p videos.

  1. Camera

 CameraIMG_20150512_083138 IMG_20150512_083122 IMG_20150512_082427 IMG_20150512_082416

Sporting a 5MP shooter at the back and 2MP front, the One’s camera maybe subject to the user. In my opinion, the camera could have been so much better as I have seen cameras on the same price range which perform much better. Google Camera is your app out of the box and it is simple to use. What I did notice was the LONG, and I mean LONG time before it captures a shot after you have pressed the Capture button.

If, for some reason, you wanted to take a video using the One, it records at 1080p. Hurray, I guess?

Images are decent at best and if you have shaky unstable hands, partnered with that lag between pressing the shutter and the actual capture. Ughhhh.

  1. Software

Software

One is powered by a 1.3GHz MediaTek MTK6582m Quad Core Processor, 1GB Ram with 8GB storage expandable up to 32GB. Under the hood comes the almighty 5.1 Lollipop. Which, personally, is the best Android update in recent memory. I enjoyed it tremendously on my Nexus 7 2013 and Nexus 5. The 5.1 Lollipop is Android One’s Coup De Grace, The Brock Lesnar to Undertaker’s 21-1. The one which makes it all worthwhile. How many sub 5k phones offer Lollipop out of the box? How many come with 5.1? And how many comes with alleged support for the next 2 years. The aforementioned questions has only ONE answer! For Android Purists, it will be exciting to be part of the first. Lollipop is so good, that if you have a taste for one, you will not want to go back to previous iterations. As to why I love lollipop, I may make a new post about that but for now, read from other sites. Haha!

As far as performance go, Android One is one of the faster smartphones out there in the market. Animations feels snappy and screen feels responsive. I am actually able to run Two Games simultaneously, Goat Simulator and Angry Birds. That is actually quite an amazing feat even though, no one will play two games at the same time on the same device.

Call

Functioning as a phone, Android One provides you with essentials like calls and text which are fine. FM RADIO is a big plus, it may not be that useful to some, but having this is really useful from time to time. Being cheap means you can whip this out in public.

As long as Google keeps its promise of continuous updates for the next 2 years, and for the Love of God, if Cherry actually complies with this rather than possibly releasing a statement where they will not update a device and redirect us to a forum on XDA, in which case Cherry Deserves an Intergalactic F*ck Y*u, Android One is an enticing phone to have, regardless of how it average-at-bestly performs on other aspects.

  1. Battery

 batt

As average as this phone performs, its battery is the most polarizing one. For a light user, you will have no problem with this device, and depending on how you use it, duh, it will polarize your judgement. I have been able to watch almost 3 Hours (2 Hours Series, 1 Hour Twitch streaming) with a good chunk of 40% left. But turn on Data, play a game (HD or not), or use Waze, your device heats up and the burns battery like Ford EcoSport burns gas driving in the city. It’s terribly Polarizing especially if you are to use it as a primary phone.

Executive Summary

SCORES

CONS:

  • GENERIC DESIGN
  • Game stuttering, long loading times – Not meant for gaming
  • 1080p video playback stutter
  • Terrible viewing angles
  • Camera
  • Low Brightness

PROS:

  • Lollipop out of the Box – PURIST DREAM
  • Expandable Storage
  • Good Audio Headset Output
  • Web Browsing Streaming is Good
  • Dual Sim Dual Standby
  • FM Radio
  • UPDATES FOR TWO YEARS– FOR REAL?
  • CHEAP

LIMBO (I cannot judge if these are Pros or Cons):

  • 854×480 Display
  • Polarizing Battery Life

20150514_081634

At P3, 999 and performing averagely on most if not all factors, One may seem like a bad purchase. Keep this in mind, One is not here to impress you with Gigantozoid specs, or that Metal, premium look, or that battery life that lasts longer than your relationship, it is meant to keep you updated with Android Updates you will rarely, if never, see on your non-Nexus device or any Cherry Mobile device to be more specific, at a cost which puts your Kit Kat Powered Note 4 to shame. I had a Nexus 5 before I decided that I needed a better camera and jump shipped to S5, without Lollipop available for Philippines just yet, I had to go to xda to get my fix. If you are like me who itch to have the best, One is an obvious great pickup for you. It can also be a nice purchase for those who mayant to try the Android Ecosystem (ehem Fanboys), needs dual sim phone, and extra phone for commuting.

The One does not target everyone, but the Ones it target can be influential. This is a great project for Google, and even though only Cherry Mobile and MyPhone are the only one to adopt it, the former having terrible after sales, while the latter has lesser specs at a higher price, I’m glad to see that it is being rolled out in our Country.

For more news and updates head on also to

Norman3000 on Facebook

Norman3000 on Twitter