ASUS Zenfone 2 Deluxe – An Excellent Upgrade

Side View

I was in Delhi when ASUS launched the Zenfone 2 Deluxe version amidst a lot of fanfare and mixed reactions. One thing that ASUS has been consistently doing is iterating through devices with visible and very efficient performance enhancements. So my expectations from this phone were steep, to put it very mildly. Did it meet them? What was the performance like? Read on

Zenfone 2 Deluxe

Specifications

5.5-inch Full HD IPS display(403 PPI), 2.3 GHz Intel 64-bit processor, 4GB RAM, 13 MP Rear and 5 MP Front camera, 64/128 GB in-built storage and expandable up to 128 GB via microSD card, Dual SIM (4G/3G/2G+ 2G), 3000 mAh battery

 

Look and Feel

Crystal Finish Back

The phone is an iteration forward from the popular Zenfone 2 that I reviewed earlier. So you will be excused for thinking that this one looks similar to it. It does! But turn it over and you will see a unique 3D cut back with a crystal finish. ASUS has played well with the triangle based fractal cutting on the back panel. The phone grips well and sticks on to your hands. Initially a bit unwieldy and wobbly. Once you get used to it, you get comfortable holding it. The faux metal finish from the Zenfone 2 has given way to this.

Side View

The white model that I got was tough to clean once it got dusty. Hopefully the other colors do not have this issue. If you ask me if the design is on par with competitors like Xiaomi, Gionee and OnePlus, I will have to say not yet. But they are slowly and surely getting there. It is thin, but a bit odd to hold.

Display

The display has 1080p Full HD resolution, and the screen size  5.5-inches. Strengthened by  Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3, which is tough as nails. I do not have a pet gorilla, hence couldn’t ask him to scratch test it! Jokes apart, the display is handy and clearer than the older phone from ASUS. Big improvement there.

Definitely much improved viewing angles, the colors pop more and the blacks are deeper. Very visibly, the brightness levels have considerably improved, making legibility under direct sunlight a lot more better. My feeling is that it is still inferior to the display that you get on OnePlus 2, which really has a remarkably brilliant 1080p display.In summation, the screen has improved, but not by leaps and bounds, we have the OnePlus2 that beats this hands down!

Camera

There are improvements over the Zenfone 2 camera that will only be visible to the professionals and power users. The change is that much granular, I can bet that most people will not even see many of the wonderful changes that have been brought about in this department.

The camera is definitely a lot faster and is better at macro shots where the image quality improvement is noticeable very clearly. But will it stand up to phones like OnePlus Two and Mi 4? Probably not! I am guessing that ASUS has to think long and hard about the optics and get on the bandwagon if they are to compete with the staggering quality of optics that is now the norm in this space! Sooner the better if you ask me!

One big drawback is the low light  imagery. That leaves a lot to be desired. There is a significant amount of noise in the pictures and it is not boding well for the camera. The camera app is well thought out and has a lot of nifty features that give it a ton on bells and whistles when snapping pictures with it.

The front facing camera is 5-megapixel and is decent for selfies and video chats, but if you want to get pro quality, use the back camera and leave the front shooter alone. Useful but underwhelming is what I think. Again, the competition is getting to staggering proportions and ASUS has to buck up and catch up!

Bottom View

Top View

 

 

Software

Here is my biggest problem with this phone. UI is functional but very flat and plain. I would say that some parts are ugly too! The base is Android 5.0 with Zen UI on top of it. You have the option to have or not have the app drawer, the working parts are ok. But the astounding number of ASUS utilities that you will never use has me very worried, These also update at at unexpected times and siphon off data and leave a bad impression.  If there was a sore point in this phone, this is it. Given the level of deep customization, I seriously doubt if Android update to M will come anytime soon, improbable! This department is a hit and a miss if you ask me! More miss than hit.

Performance

Every other phone will be on its knees compared to this device in performance. Absolutely astounding performance, by far the best I have seen in recent times. The memory and the processor chug along like poetry and the nasty demon called lag is vanquished. You never see lag anywhere, not even a stutter!

It comes up a winner with all sorts of loads and does it with ease. I kept around 40 apps open and presto, absolutely no lag. To be honest, I could hardly feel so many apps running in the background! Very impressive!The phone doesn’t get hot like a bald eagle’s head under the sun like other phones running Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor. Warms up yes, but not that hot and pretty easily managed! Take a bow ASUS, you have aced this one here! I replaced my laptop with this phone for two weeks, and it was as smooth as Honey Singh singing “Dheere Dheere”, err, scratch that and write Kumar Sanu there! All the games I tested went smooth, no jitters, no complaints at all here!

The benchmark scores are

  1. Antutu – 48498
  2. 3D Mark-19984
  3. Quadrant-12353
  4. Vellamo- 3614

Battery

The phone has a 3,000mAh battery. Battery life is another area where the phone disappoints. Drains very fast on power usage, and runs reasonably on normal usage. Lasted about 11 hours on a single charge for me and I am not impressed. Thank God for quick charge swooping in and saving the day, you are up and running in about an hour or so.

Verdict

This one is an excellent upgrade. Handy and a powerhouse in performance. But then, this is an upgrade of what is arguably a serious contender for the phone of the year – The Zenfone 2! And thanks to the base being brilliant, this is not a let down at all. ASUS will do well to look into the design, UI and the battery if they are to keep the amazing Zenfone franchise flying high. If someone gives me this phone, I am not refusing it at all!

 

 

About Shakthi

I am a Tech Blogger, Disability Activist, Keynote Speaker, Startup Mentor and Digital Branding Consultant. Also a McKinsey Executive Panel Member. Also known as @v_shakthi on twitter. Been around Tech for two decades now.

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  • Disquss

    That’s a great review. We would like to share this on Affimity’s ‘Digital Life’ channel and promote it. Let us know

    • Shakthi Vadakkepat

      Sure! Thank you!