The most headline-grabbing smartphone launch from Asus at CES 2015 may be the optical zoom-sporting ZenFone Zoom, but the ZenFone 2 is also very worthy of attention thanks to a solid feature set and low asking price of just $200.
The first win for Asus is the ZenFone 2’s design. It’s simple enough – a gentle curved soft touch plastic back and otherwise fairly square shape – but the proportions just look right and the choice of finishes is excellent. We particularly like the Illusion and Transfusion series of backs that sport a variety of textured finishes.
The size and shape of the device is nice too. Although the curved back makes this a not particularly thin phone it does make it a comfortable one to hold, and despite a 5.5in display it’s not too unwieldy.
Read more: LG G Flex 2 hands-on
Helping here is the LG G3-inspired rear volume button, which does indeed sit just under the forefinger when holding the phone normally. This design also keeps the sides clear of buttons, smartening up the look of the phone even more.
One thing we’re not overly keen on is the presence of physical buttons for Back, Home and the Multi-tasking. We’re generally onboard with Google on this and think onscreen ones are fine. Thankfully, though, there is still sufficient room below them to provide a comfortable grip – a lesson Samsung still hasn’t learned.
The fact that its 4GB of RAM is really the headline feature of this phone says it all about its spec list. However, if ever a phone were more than the sum of its parts, this may be it, as we’ll discuss more later.
Joining that RAM is an Intel Atom Z3580 processor with PowerVR G6430 graphics, or for the cheaper model it uses the Intel Atom Z3560 with 2GB of RAM. This powers along a 5.5in 1080p IPS display that in the flesh looks very impressive. It’s sharp, colourful and with good viewing angles.
Also packed inside are 150Mbps 4G connections and Wi-Fi 802.11ac for speedy wireless transfers. Connectivity wise you’ve got just the standard headphone jack up top and microUSB on the bottom edge.
The ZenFone 2 is reasonably well stocked when it comes to cameras. The front-facing one is a reasonable 5MP while the rear packs in 13MP. We’re glad to see the addition of a dual-tone flash too, as we’ve found that feature to really work for creating better looking flash photos.
Where this all comes together is the pricing of this handset. These specs may not be class leading, but they’re very good for a phone that starts at $200 – that’ll be for the version with the lower processor speed.
The ZenFone 2 looks set to be a very good choice for those wanting a large, relatively premium handset without spending megabucks. It’s attractive looking and comfortable to use and its feature set is very well balanced for its price point. Definitely one to look out for.