Hands On Review: ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser

Hands On Review: ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser
Araf Noor

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The Zenfone line-up from Asus has received a lot of praise and accolades. In September last year, the Taiwan-based company, released the Zenfone 2 Laser, the second-gen version of their Zenfone 2 flagship. If all that wasn’t enough variety, there are several models of the Zenfone 2 Laser, varying due to region and specifications. The phone we are looking at today is the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser ZE550KL.

The phone comes in 5 colours - Black, White, Red, SIlver and Gold. Unsurprisingly, the build quality is of this phone is amazing. Asus has rightly kept true to their design of the original Zenfone 2. Keeping the distinctive volume rockers on the back. With nothing on the sides. The Micro-usb port is at the bottom and the 3.5mm headphone jack joins the power button on the top. The concentric-circles pattern on the chin of the phone is there again too. The dimensions are kept the same as well as the 5.5 inch IPS LCD screen, this time with Gorilla Glass 4 instead of 3. Colours are nice, but a slightly brighter screen could have been more appropriate. However, the screen is sharp and crisp at 720x1280 pixels.

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The back features the 13 MP camera, a dual-LED flash and of course the laser autofocus which is the speciality of this model. The back also houses the speaker grille at the bottom. The speaker is relatively loud without distorting the sound quality too much. The back  panel is removable and upon removal, it reveals the Li-Po 3000 mAh battery and SIM and microSD slots. There is a certain weight to the device and accompanied by the smooth curve at the back, the phone is very nice to hold in hand. Premium is definitely the word for this design.

Asus dropped the Intel mobile chipsets for the Zenfone 2 laser. Instead, they adopted Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 and 615 chipsets with 2 GB and 3 GB RAMs respectively into two variants of this device. The cheaper variant is run by a quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU, Adreno 306 GPU. While the more expensive one is run by a quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad-core 1.0 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU, Adreno 405 GPU. You can get 16 GB of internal memory in the cheaper one and 32 GB with the more expensive one, although you can extend the memory using microSD cards anyways. The phone also features Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, GPS and FM Radio. The sensors include accelerometer, gyro, proximity and compass.

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The Zenfone 2 Laser runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop, and an upgrade to 6.0 Marshmallow is planned. Asus put in their own ZenUI skin on the OS, and we aren’t big fans of that. The OS features a ton of bloatware with pre-loaded apps here and there. It gets sort of annoying at times, but keeping that in mind, the OS provides loads of functionality straight away. There’s improved security features and the user can customize the device endlessly. The interface is quick and zippy and highly efficient too with many toggles in the notification bar and useful features such as one-handed use and Splendid blue-light filter. Tap-to-wake and unlock is a feature much-welcomed by critics as well. Other than that, stock app are clean and user-friendly.

The back camera of the phone is a 13 MP, f/2.0 camera and front camera is a 5 MP, f/2.0 camera. In terms of specifications, this is all high-end configurations. What makes the camera truly stand out though is the laser-autofocus. This provides lightning-quick autofocusing so that your pictures never come out blurry. You can expect to shoot decent pictures with the camera - both in well-lit settings as well as in low light. Sharpness is increased thanks to the laser-autofocus and colour range is good as well. Sometimes, the pictures appear washed-out and even noisy, but that can be fixed somewhat with the help of HDR mode. The lens isn’t very wide, though, so you might need to move back when trying to capture group pictures or anything similar. The front-shooter takes decent selfies. It won’t make you look like Brad Pitt, but it won’t make you look bad at all either. One thing worth noticing may be that the camera is placed a bit far to the right, which may make for awkward smiles.

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As for the camera app, it’s comfortable and gives the user a professional feel without over-complicating things. There are some pre-loaded filters and modes which are also fun to tweak around with.

The Zenfone 2 Laser handled things pretty well. In fact, it was able to handle stressful activities with minimal lag or heating. There is a slight delay when unlocking the phone, but that shouldn’t be too much of a big deal. Benchmark tests were more or less the same with other phones with similar specs. Battery life didn’t disappoint either. We were able to push almost 14 hours on a full charge with around 3.5 hours of screen-on time. You can depend on the device to go through an entire day easily.

The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser is impressive. It provides high-end specifications and functions while still being easy on your wallet. Being essentially a budget device, you will not be disappointed with what you can achieve with this phone. If you are looking for a new phone to match the big players of the smartphone world today and don’t want to break the bank, this is the phone for you.