When Asus teased the world with the first Android smartphone powered by a staggering 4GB of RAM at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the tech community lost their minds and were wondering if it was just a gimmick or a new game changer. Little did we know, that was just the beginning of Asus becoming in the smartphone spotlight again in so many markets around the world including in the Philippines. And it was just the start of a new ZenFone Era that many of us now enjoy. Since the official launch of the ZenFone 2, a lot of new ZenFone devices have followed and I am lucky enough to own one of the ZenFone 2 devices (2GB/16GB) and of course the newest one Asus ZenFone 2 Laser. Read my full review about this Laser right after the jump.
Asus formally announced the ZenFone 2 Laser together with other variants like ZenFone Selfie and ZenFone 2 Deluxe early August at ZenFestival event in India. This Laser version comes in two options for the Philippine market, first one is the ZE550KL model which sports a bigger 5.5" HD display, bigger 3,000mAh battery, bigger camera resolution and many others. The one I got and reviewed is the smaller variant which bears model number ZE500KL. I actually have already posted an unboxing and first impressions about this device, and if you have not read it yet you may visit this link and see it first.
Below is the quick run down of this Asus ZenFone 2 Laser's specs.
- 5″ HD IPS Display with 178-degree wide-view angle
- 1280 x 720 resolution, 294ppi
- Corning Gorilla Glass 4
- 1.2GHz quad-core 64-bit Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916) processor
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB Internal storage
- Supports microSD card up to 128GB
- 8MP PixelMaster Rear Camera with f/2.0, five-element autofocus lens and dual-tone flash
- 5MP PixelMaster Front Camera with f/2.0 aperture and wide-angle 85-degree Pano Selfie, dual-tone flash
- Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with ZenUI on top
- WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
- Sensors: Accelerator, E-Compass, Proximity, Hall Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor
- 140 grams
- 2,070mAh battery (removable)
Design, Look and Feel
By now I assume you are already familiar with how ZenFone devices look and I cannot blame your for having hard time recognizing which one is which as most of them flaunt the same design language from front to back and even on the inside. This ZenFone 2 Laser is no exception to that, although there are some minor differences, you will still see and feel the ZenFone's physical signature on this device. There's the ergonomic arc design on the back panel which feels very comfortable in the hand whether I use it single handedly or with both hands. It may be a slight trimmed down version of the original ZenFone 2 with a price sticker of less than Php8k, but when I hold it and start navigating on the Corning Gorilla Glass 4-protected screen, it feels like holding a more-than-10k-peso worth smartphone.
Before I got this 5-inch unit, I was using the standard ZenFone 2 which has a big 5.5-inch screen size for a couple of weeks already. By the time I receive this handset, I was already accustomed to the feel and look of the ZenFone 2, so I was wondering maybe I would feel a bit dissatisfied with this smaller one, because I have this notion of "the bigger and the higher resolution is, the better". But I was surprised to realize that it's actually not that bad. I have a pair of not-so-big hands and one of my problems with the 5.5" sized one is it easily slips out of my hands especially using the phone while I am lying on my back, well to tell you honestly I never encountered this scenario with this ZenFone 2 Laser, thanks to the curved and the matte/rubberized back finish. But I still prefer the bigger one though, hehehe. I play games, watch movies and TV series on my phone more than anywhere else, that's why. Who's watching The Flash here? Or Game of Thrones? I am. : )
What I am just trying to say is, this 5.0" version fits more perfect in the hand especially for those users who have the same size of hands as mine. Not to mention how the backside arcs with hands, that's an additional compliment. However, there is just one complaint I have with the rear cover, my unit comes with a rubberized matte finish, unlike the original ZenFone 2's metallic brushed finish, this Laser's back is very fingerprint and smudge hungry and when they are there, they stay for a while. Good luck to this side of the device if you have a sweaty hand, thankfully there are already a number of ZenFone cases we can choose from to get it more personalized.
The Asus ZenFone 2 Laser comes pre-installed with Android 5.0.2 Lollipop OS topped with Asus ZenUI and I would like to say that the interface is pretty snappy and smooth. I haven't spotted nor experience any lag yet since I have started using it, even screen tearing issue was never encountered so far. Thanks to its 1.2Ghz quad-core 64-bit Snapdragon 410 processor and to the 2GB of RAM. Additionally, at boot I get to see about 1GB of free RAM. So depending on how many apps running in the background you have, there is very big room of RAM here. With all those I have already mentioned, I can definitely say that the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser is a very affordable device sporting premium power.
Also with the Gorilla Glass 4 covered screen, I have been using this device for a couple of weeks now and still don't see any noticeable scratch anywhere on it's 5-inch screen.
I even Played Asphalt 8 on this Device
Apart from playing Clash of Clans most of the time, I also tried running other well popular games and kind of processor and graphics demanding ones. One of those is the Asphalt 8: Airborne. And I would like to say that even though this smartphone is powered by a Snapdragon processor which many users claim to be heat-prone chip, I did not encounter so much heat even after playing for almost half an hour, yes there was minor heat felt on the back cover but not to the point of very alarming or distracting. And when I stop running the game, it takes no more time to get back to the rear panel's normal temperature.
And when it comes to normal tasks like calling, texting and browsing the internet, the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser 5.0 does it heat at all.
What About the Battery Life?
This device is home to a 2070mAh battery pack, relatively smaller than the ZE550KL model's 3,000mAh, however its long life is very noticeable. I tried playing the Clash of Clans and Asphalt 8 alternately, and browsing Facebook and Instagram accounts in between from 100% of battery life non-stop, you wouldn't believe if I told you it lasted me for more than 5 hours until the battery life went to almost 0%, yeah I had so much time that day when I did this particular test. And when the device is mostly on standby, I mean no games played just texting and some calling, the phone stays up for more than two days.
Now that we are talking about the battery, what about charging time? The unit that I got did not come with Fast Charge charger, only with output of 5.2v, 1.0A. And it's not actually a problem since the smartphone does not come with massive 3,000mAh unlike other ZenFones. But if you still ask how much time it usually takes to recharge this thing from zero percent to full 100% here's what I noticed with this ZenFone 2 Laser. When I charge a phone, I still use it at the same time, with this version of Laser I have it normally takes me up to 2 hours to fully recharge it and if I don't use the phone just sitting there being charged, it can be less than that. With my original ZenFone 2 (3,000mAh), three hours to 100% life.
Audio and Earphone Quality
This is the part of this smartphone I was blown away. With my ZenFone 2, it comes with a pair of in-ear headset and earbuds which I was using then, but I really did not like the way it was designed and the quality of audio produced through this headset is just better but not great. That being said, I was really not excited about the new Asus ZenEar (above) that comes with this ZenFone 2 Laser, I did not even use it until a few days ago.
So I was to watch this favorite movie of mine on this phone and I decided to just give this ZenEar a try since my other headset is being used by my daughter, and when the audio starts to come out of this ZenEar I couldn't believe my ear how great the sound quality was. It's immersive, so surround and so real. I felt like I was watching at a cinema house. It's a super nice pair of headset. To make sure that the quality of what I was hearing was real, I used it on my Spotify account which is one of the best music streaming services out there, and true enough the songs sounded a lot better than using the other Asus headset I've got. Since then I never used any other earphones but these.
As of writing, this Asus ZenEar is not available in the local market yet, it currently comes prepacked with ZenFone Go and this ZenFone 2 Laser.
Camera and Photo Quality
Now this is the main selling point of the Laser line up. This device features a laser-guided autofocus technology and Asus' very own PixelMaster. The laser autofocus system found on this device is so fast that it can focus on a subject in just about 0.02 seconds, and since it's laser-guided the quality of photos is much enhanced than the usual autofocus system. PixelMaster, on the otherhand, is an industry-leading Low Light mode that employs pixel-merging technology to capture up to 400%-brighter photos at night, or in low-light scenes, without the need for a flash. Asus was just able to deliver this promise with this ZenFone 2 Laser. See below some of the shots I've taken with this device both in bright and low-light environment.
The images you see above are all unedited, I just took the pictures as they were in real life and then straightly uploaded here. And as you can see, with the help of laser autofocus and PixelMaster technology, the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser is able to produce stunningly bright and clear photos even at night or in low-light conditions. The rear (8MP) and front (5MP) cameras produce even more beautiful quality of pictures in well-lit situations.
Antutu Score, Available Storage Out of the Box
After unboxing this device, I immediately downloaded the Antutu app and ran some tests. You may check screenshot below and see it for yourself how good this phone is in terms of performance. I also included screenshot of available or free storage to users upon unboxing.
If you ever find the free storage smaller than your needs, you may still slip a microSD card in to this phone up to 128GB of size.
Furthermore inside this device is, it supports up to LTE network connectivity on both of its two SIM slots. In ZenFone 2, only one of the slots can run 3G and LTE.
And oh, I almost forgot to mention, that 2,070mAh battery? It's a removable one, another feature we do not have with the Asus ZenFone 2 devices.
With the ZenFone 2 Laser's being an affordable device, Asus does not mean a downgraded device too. This ZenFone 2 Laser still offers those features that many users will be happy to have and use in their everyday life. I can proudly say that this device is one of the best smartphones you can find around under its price range and category and Asus definitely put more effort in its camera capability as this company understands that a lot of smartphone users, especially in the Philippines, love taking photos and immortalizing moments. With the help of the blazingly fast laser-autofocus and the power of PixelMaster technology, users won't be able to miss a precious moment slipping by without being clearly, vividly and brightly photographed. Truly an affordable smartphone with a premium power.
Right now this Asus ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE500KL) is available for purchase for just Php7,695, that's exactly Php1,000 much cheaper than the ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE550KL) with 5.5-inch screen. If you ask me which of the two is better, price and physical size wise this 5.0-inch version is the best choice, but if you are willing to shell out additional Php1,000 and want to have a much higher-resolutioned images and much bigger battery size and display, you should go with the 5.5-inch sibling.
Wanna see a video unboxing of the bigger ZenFone 2 Laser smartphone? My friend from DavaoGeekHub.com has one for you, and he is also working on a full review. Check it out here.