Asus showed off its upcoming Zenfone2 – a monster of a phablet that’ll be launched later in April. We got to spend some time playing with it and this is what we think.
A phone with 4GB RAM? What’s happening? That’s what we wondered when Asus took the wraps off their upcoming Zenfone2. But we’ll get to that soon. First up, as you pick up the phone, you realise that it seems a lot easier to hold than you’d expect. That’s courtesy the rounded back, which does wonders for anyone not graced with Shrek-sized hands. That’s a good thing, as the Zenfone2 is a slippery 'un, and you really have to take care it doesn’t slide out of your hands like a slick banana. Asus has made a few more changes that should make a phone this size easier to use – the volume buttons are at the back, right under the camera. Overall, it looks premium enough, and with a range of colours, there’s enough choice for the fussy types – we did especially love the silver, though.
Multitasking maniacs should love the 4GB RAM
Getting to the geeky parts, here’s what you get – a 5.5in, Full HD IPS screen (stat lovers, that’d be around 403ppi), protected by Gorilla Glass 3. We didn’t get to try it outdoors, so we can’t yet comment on how bright it gets – wait for that in our full review.
Inside, there’s an Intel Atom quad-core processor, backed with the muscle of 4GB RAM. Now this was only a short hands-on, so we didn’t get to torture test the Zenfone2’s multitasking abilities, but we’d expect the extra RAM to make a difference if you’re in the habit of swapping through a bunch of memory-hogging apps (we’re looking at you, Facebook). The top-of-the-line Zenfone2 also comes with 32GB storage onboard, and that’s expandable via microSD cards. And yes, it’s 2015, so we also get 4G / LTE support tuned for Indian networks.
A 13 MP f/2.0 camera with plenty of options
But there’s something else about the Zenfone2 that’s really interesting – the 13MP, f/2.0 and 5MP, f/2.0 ‘Pixelmaster’ cameras. The rear camera comes with a ‘Real Tone’ flash and with more than a handful of software modes, from the frivolous (GIF mode) to the truly lust-worthy (low-light). But it’s the full manual mode that we’re in love with – nothing like getting fantastic low-light photos by playing around with the ISO settings and shutter speeds. The front camera is also quite decent at taking photos in the dark, and Asus has given it a ‘panorama selfie’ mode which all you social butterflies (please, no duckface pouts!) should find useful.
Hello ZenUI, meet Android Lollipop
There’s Android Lollipop sitting inside the Zenfone2, although you just might have trouble recognising it – Asus has slapped the ZenUI skin on top. Still, ZenUI is tastefully designed, using ‘flat design’ cues to make it a good-looking piece of work. And it does come with several software optimisations that you’d otherwise not have found in stock Lollipop – easy access settings and lock-screen app shortcuts.
Deep pockets? No need
The four variants of the Zenfone2 are priced pretty reasonably.
The starting model, the 5.5in ZE550ML with 2GB RAM, 16GB storage and 1.8GHz processor will be available for ₹12,999.
The ZE551ML has almost the same specs as the 550 but boasts of a Full HD display, thereby adding 2K to the price and available for ₹14,999.
The second iteration of ZE551ML, priced at ₹19,999, is when things really start going. 5.5in FHD display, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage and a 2.3GHz Intel Atom processor.
The best Zenfone2 adds another 32GB storage to these specs and can be yours for ₹22,999.
All things said and done, these are some pretty meaty specs for a very reasonable amount.
While we didn’t get to spend all that much time with the Zenfone2, we liked what we saw. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to see if the crazy amount of RAM they’ve fitted in did make a difference, but we should be doing a full review soon.