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

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