ASUS made a big impression on the market with the Zenfone 2, now they have expanded that family of phones with many innovative variations. The latest in that series, the Zenfone 2 Laser has a laser auto-focus camera at a budget price. The only phone in India at a price below 10k with that feature. Let us take a closer look at this phone today.
The screen size is almost at phablet dimension and we must say that the 5.5′ screen based design by ASUS is working well. The phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor whereas the other members of the Zenfone family run on Intel processors.. Looks are the trademark Zenfone 2 series looks with the slightly curved back and the power/lock button on top. The familiar volume rocker on the rear side below the camera. The family looks are maintained to the T in this one.
The front is roughly 72% covered by the 5.5-inch HD (720x1280p) IPS display which offers vivid colors, very impressive brightness levels and conveniently wide viewing angles. This is not by any stretch a full-HD display, but the 720p panel is very impressive and not at all bad when it comes to quality of text and graphics. The Sunlight readability is pretty excellent and the wide angles are also good.
The display has Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection to guard against scratches. Even the top-end Zenfone 2 models just feature Gorilla Glass 3 protection. We tried scratching and making all sorts of marks, but the glass lives up to its name and does not get marked that easily! Touch response of the phone was also pretty neat.
The phone is a tad bit uncomfortable for one hand use , so Asus has thoughtfully added a special mode for single handed use that can be turned on by double tapping on the Home button, this mode also features on-screen navigation keys. So, we are not complaining there.
One thing that befuddles us with the entire Zenfone 2 series is the fact that the phone’s power/screen lock switch is located on the top edge. Most large phones launched in the recent past come with side buttons for power/screen lock for easy access. This gets a bit of getting used to and we must say that we never got comfortable with that one!
And as always, below the display there are the three capacitive touch buttons for navigation and a metallic strip that sports the same reflective pattern seen in the company’s other devices and Zenfone 5. Like the rest of the series, navigation keys on the Zenfone 2 Laser are not backlit.
The Zenfone 2 Laser has a removable back panel that has a matte finish and is slightly curved. We got the black one for review. Gripping was easy and the device is non-slippery. Feel is pretty premium and high-end. The usual Dual SIM and 4G support. The usual sealed battery.
The device runs on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop and the ZenUI skin from ASUS that has theme support and a whole load of custom apps. It also comes with support for unlock gestures, double tap to wake-up and ZenLink to connect the phone to a PC.
ASUS will do well to look at the sheer amount of bloatware that they are now shipping with their devices that are otherwise brilliant! This could prove to be a big concern going forward, they need to fix this as soon as possible. We liked Kids Mode which lets you choose selected apps and password protects the rest of the phone. So when your kids need the phone to play with, you can control what they see and what not. A very welcome feature this one!
The best part of the ZenFone 2 Laser is its 13 MP camera with laser auto focus and dual LED flash. The laser focus gets the camera to focus on the subject very very fast. Very useful when you are taking close-up shots, still life or macro shots. This is the only budget smartphone with Laser Autofocus, another ASUS first after 4GB in a smartphone. The camera in the phone takes the cake. Brilliant images in daylight, good close-ups and auto detection of low light with the ability to switch to HDR on demand. The low light images were a little bit noisy, but hey, given the price, we are not complaining at all.
Out of the 16GB storage, only 10.8GB is available to the user. But the phone comes with a microSD card slot for expansion so the ability to store multimedia content on your phone is not lost here. Zenfone 2 Laser offers Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS connectivity options. The phone does not support NFC.
The performance was very neat and we did not notice lag anywhere even on prolonged use. A very smooth multi-tasking and gaming experience! ASUS has clearly succeeded in creating a ripple in the budget segment.
ASUS has made a solid splash in the budget smartphone segment and they have done it in style with the hardware and the laser auto focus on the Zenfone 2 Laser. Arguably the best budget phone in the market now! Go buy it! You won’t regret it one bit! A very impressively spec-ed and perfectly priced device!