Asus had launched smartphones in India like a salvo of Hellfire missiles to tackle the raging war for eyeballs in an overcrowded market. Its latest offering, Zenfone 2, was launched in April. Here is an IANS analysis of the device, which costs Rs 23,999:
Design: The latest warrior from Asus’ stable comes with a look and feel that will elicit conflicting opinions. The phone has no buttons at the side and the power button is placed on top, making things difficult if it is used with one hand. There is a key at the back of the phone under the rear camera unit which doubles up as a shutter and volume rocker key. There are no separate volume controls in the user interface for media, ringtone and notifications. Hence the warrior will go silent on all fronts together except alarms.
The back panel curve is a bit higher (10.9 millimetres) most probably to house the unremovable 3,000 mAH battery. There is an Intel logo at the back to not only indicate the processor inside the phone but to remind the world about the relationship between the two companies. The speaker mesh is on the top and the micro USB is at the bottom. The phone weighs around 170 grammes.
Display: The Zenfone 2 ships with a 5.5-inch 1920*1080 fHD display with a pixel density of 403, so expect clearer, sharper pictures. There were no problems with viewing angles as the display comes with a 178 degree view angle and 400 nits brightness. As a part of safety, the screen uses Corning Gorilla Glass 3 which makes it super scratch-resistant. It also uses a 20nm Oleophobic anti-fingerprint coating for the least touch friction. The device has a screen-to-body ratio of 72 percent. The screen can also access motion gestures which form a part of the user interface of the device.
Hardware: This is where the Zenfone 2 turns heads. The combo of a 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core processor (2.3GHz) and 4-GB DDR3 RAM makes the smartphone a mean machine. This is the first 4GB RAM phone in the world. As a part of its extended support, the processor, which comes with Intel Exclusive 3D Tri-Gate Transistor Technology, will back OpenGL 3.2. Hence, users can expect superior gaming, multi-tasking and a smooth performance without lags.
Camera and audio: The device ships with a 13-megapixel rear camera with an 2.0 aperture lens. The 5-element lens comes with PixelMaster that increases brightness for photos and videos up to 400 percent and enables low-light photography.
The camera has a blue-glass infrared filter and zero-shutter lag, along with different modes that aim to make photography fun. There is also a pro mode and an alignment sensor. The pro mode, if not the most easy to use, is still better than most rivals. The 5-megapixel front camera comes with an 85 degree field of view and has panorama support.
In terms of sound, there is a dual microphone with noise cancellation for good call quality and Asus SonicaMaster for crystal clear sound and deeper bass.
Software: The Zen UI or user interface is an attraction but is a tad heavy on the device. A slew of apps from the Asus stable and backed by the firm comes preloaded along with motion gestures. Although we have talked about the disadvantage of having a power button on top, the user can choose to use motion gesture and double tap the screen to wake it up or go to sleep. There is a ZenLink app that aims to make connecting to other devices like a PC easier as well as connecting back to the phone easy.
Storage and Connectivity: The phone has a 32GB internal memory, including a 5GB lifetime Asus web storage option. Consumers can use a microSD to expand storage memory to 64GB. On the connectivity front, the device comes with the option of dual SIM and dual standby. While one SIM supports 2G/3G and 4G, the other only supports 2G.
Verdict: Has Asus also played the card of the flagship killer? We think yes. For the price proposition, the Zenfone 2 is a great option. Also, the phone is blazingly fast and quite suited for a multi-tasking user. The only negative is that the phone is bulkier than most of its rivals.
(Anirban Ghoshal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)