Asus Zenfone 2 hands-on and first impressions

by: Joshua VergaraJanuary 8, 2015
1.5K

Asus’ Zenfone series was one of the stars of the show at CES last year, and the company is back with its successors. Offering everything we loved about the original series, the Zenfone 2 brings with it great design and build quality, a very customizable software experience, and of course, an unbeatable price point. We got to spend some time with this device at CES 2015, and here is our first look at the Asus Zenfone 2!

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It’s important to note that there a few different versions of the Zenfone 2 available, with the iteration priced at $199 featuring a 5.5-inch 1080p display and 2 GB of RAM. While the price points of the other two versions are still unknown, one version comes with a 720p display and 2 GB of RAM, which should be even cheaper, with another featuring a 1080p display and a whopping 4 GB of RAM, which should be the priciest of the lot, but likely not by much. The different versions are powered by the 64-bit quad-core Intel Atom Z3560 or Z3580 processor, clocked at 1.8 GHz and 2.3 GHz respectively, depending on which version you pick, and backed by the PowerVR G6430 GPU. In this hands on, we are taking a closer look at the 720p iteration.

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In terms of design, Asus has managed quite a premium look and feel, with the front dominated by 5.5-inch display, surrounded by respectable bezels, and a  row of capacitive keys below the display, all well protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 panel. The power button is placed up top, which can be quite difficult to reach considering the size of the device, but the volume rocker has been moved to the back just below the camera unit. This silver version of the phone comes with a brushed metal finish on the back cover, that helps avoid fingerprints and smudges, but there are a slew of back covers available for the Zenfone 2, including a dual-tone option and flashy fractal design.

Related: Best Asus Zenfone 2 cases

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You get 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB versions in terms of on-board storage depending on which version you get, further expandable via microSD card up to 64 GB. The Zenfone 2 also comes with a standard suite of connectivity options, along with 4G LTE support, which is certainly a big plus for a device at this price point. A 3,000-mAh battery should keep this device running for a decently long time, but a more thorough review will be required before we can pass any judgement on the battery life.

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When it comes to the camera, the Zenfone 2 packs a 13 MP rear shooter with a 5-element auto focus lens and dual-color Real Tone flash, along with a 5 MP front-facing camera with a 85 degree wide angle lens, to capture even more in your selfies. Asus’ PixelMaster tech is in play here, allowing you to get great HDR photos, as well as photos that are said to be 400% brighter in low light conditions. The camera setup certainly seems impressive for a device in this affordable price range, and we can’t wait to put it through its paces.

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In terms of software, the Zenfone 2 smartphones are running Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box, bringing it with some of the changes introduced with the latest iteration of Android, such as the card-style Recent Apps screen, the revamped notification drop down and quick settings menu, among other changes. As mentioned, the software experience can also be customized, with a lot of personalization options available to truly cater the Zen UI to your liking.

Specifications

Display5.5-inch IPS display with 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) resolution. Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3.
Processor64-bit Quad Core Intel® Atom™ Z3560/Z3580 processor (running at 1.8 or 2.3GHz).
GPUPowerVR G6430 from Imagination
RAM2GB or 4GB.
Storage16GB/32GB/64GB, microSD card slot, up to 64GB.
CameraRear: 13MP, f/2.0-aperture, 5-element, auto-focus lens with dual-color Real Tone flash. Front: 5MP, f/2.0-aperture, wide-angle 85-degree lens with Selfie Panorama.
Battery3000mAh lithium-polymer with fast-charge technology.
Connectivity802.11ac, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS
NetworksGSM, 3G, 4G LTE
SoftwareAndroid 5.0 Lollipop
Dimensions152.5 x 77.2 x 10.9-3.9mm, 170g

Gallery

So there you have it – our first look at the Asus Zenfone 2! Stay tuned with Android Authority for the upcoming review of this fantastic affordable smartphone, as well as more great coverage from CES 2015!

  • João Grácio

    That power button on top is almost a deal breaker…At least Asus should provide some sort of double tap to wake

    • Jordan Vasquez

      It does, I saw it in another video online.

    • eddieo

      A deal breaker? lol. It’s a $200-$300 phone unlocked with great specs and you think the power button location is a deal breaker? lol. Go by a $900 Note 4 or $600 LG 3 and have a ball! lol

      • Sinichi

        My thoughts exactly

      • Seth Forbus

        I’m actually going to switch from my Note 4 to this phone once it launches. I’m going back to college so I need to save money everywhere I can. This phone will save me $30 a month from my current EIP payments on T-Mo.

      • Sperrybird

        I have the G3 and I hate the rear power button. But, its not a deal breaker. ;)

    • Baha cim

      There is double tap feature as i have seen in a hands-on video today

    • DEKKER

      Proof here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xDbo85n4ss
      In the end the button will be used only to turn on or off the device.

      • João Grácio

        No double tap to spleep like LG g3 ? :/

        • DEKKER

          Yes it has, on the lock screen and home page of the launcher.

    • Annaise

      LoL of all the things, a mere button placement is now considered deal breaker. Do you have a weird habit of pressing the power button every minute? Since you’re so bothered by it? Haha .

      • João Grácio

        I press it every time i interact with my phone so i guess it is very often…But since it will have double tap to wake i´m now fine with that.

    • dpkg04

      It has that double tap to unlock feature.

  • looks similar to the G3….I am kind of diggin it

  • Wjdzm

    what the heck? a copy of LG G-series

    • eddieo

      Not at all. just because it has the volume button on back? Gimmie a break.

      • Wjdzm

        I mean I agree with you, LG G3 looks better even though asus’ is a copy of it.
        LG Back pic from arstechnica.com.

        • Kyle Ong

          Looks alike…LG has power n vol at back. ZF 2 hasnvol at back only…for all we knew, it was patent..however, the brush metal look, same direction and perhaps a differ in tone

          • Airyl

            At least it’s cheap.

          • asdfasdf

            Just an FYI, the same “brushed metal look” has been present in their Zenbook line of laptops (which I own) from 2011. They didn’t copy anyone, they extended the line to their phones.

        • BatDroid

          still plastic.

          • Erica Mathis

            Plastic is the best material for a smart phone. Light weight, pliable, tough, virtually crack proof and scratch resistant. Oh and affordable.

          • BatDroid

            Completely agreed! But plastics don’t provide great finish, they just look very average. Both matte finish and glossy ones have issues. Aluminium is the worst option… its malleable, easily deformed, #bendgate… I actually kinda liked the slippery plastic replacement backs of Moto G… They simply had no major issues, and looked great for the price. I’ll bet on steel and carbon fiber in future flagships….wait for #S6.

  • Alasdair Lewis Crow

    Asus’ ZenUI is ugly… I remember they used to pride themselves on a near stock Android experience. Now, it looks more suitable for a toddler, than an adult.

    • Tjaldid

      and the old Android navigation buttons are quit annoying, they should have used the Triangle, Circle and Square layout

    • Karly Johnston

      So use a launcher ya big baby. At $300 for the top model I’m sold.

      • Anthony Spanier

        how do you know the price is 300 for the 4gb ram model for sure?

    • Davey Everydude

      Nova. I put that shit on everything. Best 3rd party launcher I’ve used to date.

    • Airyl

      I don’t understand why you people hate anything that isn’t stock so much. Seriously, anything that isn’t stock is hated with a passion around here. Why?

      • BatDroid

        IMHO…. Because they are usually not as exciting as we wish they were… though HTC’s sense/blinkfeed comes close, stock is still as good. Most of us end up using Nova, unless its a HTC device.

    • KeyserSoze

      “Asus’ ZenUI is ugly…”

      Duh… big deal, just install a launcher you noobie dipshit. Is that too hard for you?

  • Cao Meo

    Nice phone, and the price is nice as well…the question is battery life…Intel does not sound good

  • Derek Han

    This will be my next fone. Well done ! Asus

  • as mongan asoma

    I wanna get one, when out for the consumers.
    Asus got that deal for me of 64 bits and 4Gb ram for that amount is just incredible

    • Andrew T Roach

      Great deal for lazy people that can’t hit a close-all button on recent apps every 10 days.

      • Airyl

        You could’ve just been neutral about it, but you had to be a dickwad. A big, fat, insulting dickwad.

        • POY

          Rekt!

      • Captain_Doug

        No joke. Whenever I use other peoples phone and see how many apps they have open I die. I get the convenience of leaving some of them open for quicker usage but there are people who never close apps, and never shut their phone off so you have days worth of apps just eating at your resources. That being said… MORE POWER! I’m all for higher spec’d devices. Although I think we’ve passed the point of needing more power and should be focusing on efficiency. I’m excited for Intels work with mobile. They’ve bascially doubled laptops battery life. It’d be cool to see what they can do against the likes of Snapdragon.

        • Davey Everydude

          I couldn’t agree more. I have to go and dig the Wife’s phone clean every now and again when I get the “It’s slow again” call, and that can be said for so many others. When I was working for Telus (Canadian) and people were alwaya coming in saying that the device had shit the bed, running slow or was just terrible. Ten minutes later, ran like new.

          Funny how in ten minutes you can clear a years worth of even the most intense users apps and various crap, but they couldn’t so it the whole year. I ain’t complaining though. It is their device after all.

          But again, can’t agree more. Efficiency is a good answer to so many complaints that people have such as battery life and performance. What many don’t think about is how EVERYTHING that is on your device is affected by it, and Intel has done a great job of proving that too. Even on the windows platform based phone, efficiency was the game changer for them as the devices themselves, well, were just boring. A battery based on a system that can go for days (I use an HTC 8X as my bluetooth music player in my car, and it is totally worth it) is great, but I want to see that in an Android.

          • Captain_Doug

            Agreed. I’ve gotten excited about the work with graphene batteries but I haven’t seen any real world products based off of it. Saygus mentioned their batteries were from Amprius who was working with that tech but I haven’t been able to confirm it.
            The move down to 14nm by Intel should be cool. I feel like they’re pretty late to the party but with their resources and experience, it won’t be long till they can compete. Qualcomm is at 28nm (until the 810 comes out) so there’s room to grow there too. Exciting stuff.

      • Nathan

        Android is designed so you don’t have to.

        • Private Citizen

          Is it designed so you don’t have to if Apps run in the background and drain resources?

          Sounds more like a disadvantage leaving apps open than what Android is “designed” to do.

      • Cagarruto

        I’m sure you know that hitting a close-all button on recent apps doesn’t free a single byte of RAM, and that you are not supposed to manually manage the memory on your Android device anyway, but just in case:
        -> Clearing an app (or all of them) from the Recent Apps screen doesn’t kill the process. It’s just an UI thing, to make the recent apps view uncluttered (if you don’t want to see a certain app there, you clear it – that doesn’t make the app process/es dissappear from memory).
        -> Android has automatic memory management systems that free memory when needed (and only when needed) by taking old processes out of the memory.
        -> Technically you CAN still kill processes yourself with a task manager, but it’s NOT recommended for performance reasons:
        -> Free memory is wasted memory. If you are going to have it unused, you might as well use it to cache something (a closed app) just in case you are using it later, and avoid having to load it again. IF, and only if, you run out of memory and you need it for a new app, Android will know what to get rid of to make room for the new one.

        So, having more GB of RAM serves the following purposes:
        -> Ability to use bigger apps with more features keeping the good performance
        -> Fast multitasking between several (or heavy) apps
        -> Caching of more apps to speed up app loading when you cycle between more or less the same apps in your normal use (given enough RAM, most or all your daily apps can fit cached in RAM so loading them after the 1st time will be instant)
        -> Relative protection against poorly coded apps that eat up memory with badly managed audiovisual content or things like that, the more you have, the less horrid the performance will be

        Things like that. It has nothing to do with how often you clear your recent apps view.

        • depeche

          Great info — thanks!

  • captainkirk

    Will this one be sold in the US? Might be a good backup phone.

    • eddieo

      Yes. Asus confirmed on their Twitter account that it will be sold in the U.S.

      • captainkirk

        Thanks, I had not seen any confirmation of that.

    • Lindle

      Backup phone? This is better suited to be a main phone IMHO. Just get an old Nokia feature phone for the battery life

  • Jordan Walter

    I own a dell venue 8 which also has an intel atom processor, and it has been very unreliable, some apps don’t quite work right, and just the other day it crashed and had to restart twice before I could even use it. I don’t know if the newer atoms are better but I can tell you I’m not planning on purchasing another with an intel .

    • KeyserSoze

      Although I agree with you that the Dell Venue 8 was a buggy unreliable tablet (I bought one and returned it), how do you know the Intel cpu was the problem? Could be a particular OS version, app version, or other hardware components that is the culprit.

    • Eric Cartman

      That would probably be Dell’s fault, not Intel’s. I had a Motorola Razr-i, which also has an Intel processor… That thing is rock solid, and runs everything I threw at it quite well.

  • Romario

    The whole package is an amusingly great deal but for the Ui which is a major turn off. Asus should do something about it before making available for the market

    • Airyl

      Seriously, what do you people have against the UI? It’s as close as stock as you can get with skinned Android.

      • Pawv

        I don’t mind it. For 199 I def wouldn’t care

      • Anthony Spanier

        yeah i dont understand the complaints. other skins seem wayyyyy more intrusive.

    • Gourab

      U know they take sugesstions if many people suggest it they apply it :v

  • Oxle

    Does anyone know when this will come out in AUS?#

  • credo

    Hello! Has it been announced that this phone will be released in the Philippines ???

  • Brasco Dave

    Ok, Moto G, you will be changed for a Zenfone 2:))

    • MJ

      amen to that

  • Davey Everydude

    An LG body and buttons with an HTC on screen buttons appearance. Needless to say it is a good looking device. The specs, well, I am sold. Now, about that UI…. maybe they could fire a memo off to Nova and get that fixed up. Can’t say I have been much of a fan of the Asus UI, but tha’ts what 3rd party launchers are for, right? Once again, nova will save the day.

    • KeyserSoze

      Go Launcher is superior to Nova… hehe!

      • Noah Sekala

        thats the funniest thing ive heard all day

  • Andrew T Roach

    77.2 mm is far too wide to imagine using comfortably.

    72 is for that matter.

    I guess Bezelmania is over because this device is TOO FAT.

    • Airyl

      For you it is. For me it’s perfectly sized.

  • jorel

    How much this in the philippines i have zenfone 5 and zenfone 6 allready but i like this again.

  • One word: Impressive!

    • KeyserSoze

      Yep, this phone blows the OnePlus One out of the water. Never settle for an OPO, Zenfone2 FTW!

  • KeyserSoze

    Let’s hope this phone has Android 5.03 or higher out of the box when it’s on store shelves. Android 5.0 is laggy due to memory leaks. It would suck if you have to wait 6 months after purchase for the 5.03 update.

  • K D

    People always told negative things about the best thing in the market. Never compare ASUS Series with other because this series win the heart of middle class people like US.. While apple and other company has very good phones but normal people can’t purchase that.. :)

    • MJ

      But they will anyway. Consumerism and hype.

  • Hayter

    What service platform like Verizon or Tmobile will this phone be set for? I don’t see a Sim slot..

  • buzz86us

    So the 1080p version is $200 and the 720p version is less? If that is the case then I found my next cellphone..

  • Marty

    The Intel processor – the same one in the Dell Venue 8 7840 – is a win. It works really well in the Dell. Should be good for around 45,000 score in Antutu.

    • Private Citizen

      Antutu is beyond a joke. New versions are ALWAYS running a process in the background too. I suggest you delete this app.

      • Marty

        Yeah, I usually delete them all when I’ve completed testing. But I use others as well…like Basemark, Geekbench, Vellamo.

  • Ed

    This phone seems to be one of the best bang for the buck. It has good specs at a reasonable price. It offers what many people want, a 720p and 1080p display. 2 GB and 4 GB of RAM. A 3000 mAH battery, which sounds reasonable these days. It has everything that many people have been asking for, yet they complain about buttons and how thick the phone is, and that it looks just like an LG. smh!!

  • Rick_Deckard

    OH no Asus is copying the LG G3 volume rocket lol

  • ceme62

    In CES2015 was announced the launch of zenfone 2 for March 2015, Is for the US market??? because I read the launch in India was delayed to Q2 2015 because may occurs delays in production.

  • roperwer

    Can you root it and put cyanogen on it

  • Summer

    When is the release date of this? I’m quite excited about this phone :)

  • eddioe

    Nice phone, but you have to slow down a little when talking, you get a head of thoughts a little here and there.

  • ryan

    bibili ako nyan kailan ba ang labas

  • pcnexus

    Going to be launched in 5 variants. ZE500CL being the cheapest one.
    http://www.pcnexus.net/2015/03/asus-zenfone-2-which-variant-should-you-buy.html

  • Hmf

    would a 1.8ghz be good enough to run games like modern combat 5?

  • Abdul Manan

    Android authority which is best to purchase 1 samsung galaxy j5 2 huawei p8 lite 3 asus zenfone 2 ze500cl