Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser- Review

I have always wanted to try out the Asus devices and review them. When they finally decided to send me one, they sent across the awesome looking Asus Zenfone 2 Laser for review and it has been a couple of weeks since I started using it. Infact my mother liked it so much, that she took away the phone from me and wanted to use it. Asus in the last one year has been flooding the market with the Zenfone and I must say they have been giving some stiff competition to competitors. The Zenfone 2 Laser is available in two variants; one is with 5 inch display and the other with a 5.5 inch display that we have today as the review unit. Time to find out how the only smartphone with a Laser Auto-Focus camera in sub 10k category performs.

Display: 5.5 inch HD 1280x720p IPS capacitive display
OS: Android Lollipop 5.0.2 with Asus ZenUI
CPU: 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core
Storage: 16GB (10.08GB usable)
Cameras: 13MP Laser Auto-Focus (rear), 5 MP (front)
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, 3G/4G/2G, GPS, Bluetooth, microUSB
Battery: 3,000mAh
Dimensions: 152.5 x 77.2 x 10.9mm
Weight: 170 grams
Price: Rs 9,999 (16 GB)

Zenfone 2 Laser is identical to the flagship Zenfone 2 in terms of look and feel. In fact it's hard to tell any difference when both the devices are seen from the front. The three touch capacitive buttons sits at the bottom of the 5.5 inch display, right above the metallic strip that houses the mic. These are not backlit but their silver colour makes them visible even in the dark. The front camera, light sensors and the notification LED are positioned above the display.

the phone has minimal bezels which make the screen seem larger and better to use for viewing videos and pictures. Like the Zenfone 2, the volume controls are positioned at the rear, just below the camera. The power on/off button is pushed on the top edge, which is one odd position to reach with single hand usuage and the size of the phone, but then Asus has provided the double tap on display to solve the problem. The phone weighs about 170gms but not once does it feel heavy in the hand while using.

The rear panel has a matte finish and houses two 4G LTE ready SIM card slots, one microSD card slot and a removable battery unit. The arc design of the rear panel with the gentle curves makes Zenfone 2 laser easily fit in one hand but for users with small hands, it might feel a bit difficult to operate. Though with ZenUI's feature, you can resize the screen of the phone to optimize for one hand usuage.

Zenfone 2 Laser packs a 5.5 inch display with 1280x720p resolution. It accounts to 294ppi, which is not the best but does well with the display of the colours. The display delivers vibrant colours and acceptable viewing angles to consume the multimedia content however, viewing in direct sunlight makes it a little difficult.

On the brighter side, the display comes with Gorilla Glass 4 protection to guard against accidental damages. This makes Zenfone 2 Laser the only smartphone with the top most screen protection at this price point.

Asus Zen series is known for their Intel Atom CPUs but for this one, Asus has opted a Snapdragon 410 quad-core CPU clocked at 1.2GHz The 64-bit processor is paired with an Adreno 306 GPU and 2GB RAM to support multitasking. The combination is a fair deal at this price point and offers a satisfactory performance.

The 16GB variant offers 10.8GB of actual storage but the microSD card can boost it up-to 64GB. And if it still does not meet your needs then you have the option of USB OTG to plug in a hard-drive. In terms of connectivity, Zenfone 2 Laser integrates WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, 4G LTE / 3G HSPA+, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS. The smartphone is backed by a 3,000 mAH battery unit to power up the 5.5 inch HD display.

Zenfone 2 Laser runs Android 5.0 lollipop over Asus highly customized ZenUI. The UI integrates a number of pre-installed Asus apps such as Share Link, Do it Later, Asus Email, Browser, Mini Movie, Whats next, SuperNote, Kid Mode, etc. name it and Asus have an app for the task, which is a good thing but also makes UI quite heavy. You can delete some of these pre-installed Asus applications from the app manager and those can't be deleted can be disabled from the auto-start manager.

Besides, the UI integrates some features that are quite useful in day-to-day usage such as ZenMotion on-screen gestures to open a host of apps from the lock-screen itself, double tap to wake-up the smartphone, resizing the screen for one hand usage and a variety of themes to customize the look and feel of the smartphone.

Asus Zenfone 2 Laser packs enough hardware to deliver an acceptable performance. The Snapdragon CPU took care of all computing requirements with no major issues and the 2GB RAM was adequate for most of the multitasking needs. This definitely packs a punch and works smoothly while multi-tasking.

Zenfone 2 Laser is the only smartphone that comes packed with a laser AutoFocus camera at this price point. It is the same 13MP camera hardware seen in the flagship Zenfone 2 but with a focus time of just 0.3 seconds. The f/2.0-aperture Toshiba lens manages to focus the subject in a jiffy and delivers shots with good detailing, saturation and contrast levels in day-light conditions. However pictures taken in the night are a little hazy with noise.

For photogra[hy enthusiasts, the Asus Pixelmaster camera is a nice app to use as it packs a number of modes so you can play around with these to capture the right moment. Our personal favorite is the Full Manual mode that allows you to adjust exposure, ISO, focus and the scene.

The laser is backed by a 3,000 mAh battery unit but with the Snapdragon 410 chipset in action, Zenfone 2 Laser manages to deliver a decent battery back-up. The smartphone lasted for 14-16 hours with heavy usage that includes a lot of reading, texting, music playback, social networking, a bit of gaming, calling, etc. With moderate usage, you can make it work for 17 hours on a single charge.

The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser definitely is a strong contender in the sub-10k category. The phone with the attractive ZenUI and features makes the phone a hot favourite. Where else do you get such a feature loaded phone at this price point? I definitely would recommend this to anyone looking to buy a phone with decent camera, great multitasking and display.