(UPDATED) Yesterday, we bought a retail unit of the ASUS Zenfone 2, which, based on the positive buzz it has been generating since its introduction at the 2015 CES in Las Vegas, is one of the most anticipated smartphones this year. Naturally, we made an unboxing video of the spiritual successor to the Zenfone 5 (and Zenfone 6?), seeing that we’re still a month away from its Philippine debut.
Unfortunately, as much as we would have loved to bring home the higher-end Zenfone 2 with 4GB of RAM, we had to settle for the 2GB RAM model, because apparently, the former is hard to find even in its native Taiwan.
As usual, our first-hand impressions are below. Oh, and if you have questions about the device, please do chime in. (RL)
Specs of the ASUS Zenfone 2 (Price of the ZE550ML model, which is what we have: TW$5,990 or about P8,600):
* Dual-SIM (primary SIM slot offers 3G and 4G/LTE speeds; secondary SIM slot supports 2G only)
* 1.8GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3560 CPU
* PowerVR G6430 GPU
* 2GB RAM
* 16GB internal storage
* microSD card slot (up to 64GB)
* 5.5-inch IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (720 x 1,280 resolution)
* 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash
* 5-megapixel front camera
* 3,000mAh battery
* Android Lollipop 5.0
[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xjtu7rLPO3w” width=”560″ height=”315″]
RAMON LOPEZ’S TAKE: Before going further, let me be clear: I don’t recommend buying electronics from gray-market resellers if you’re not in the publishing industry. The risk is simply great, even more so for smartphones that have all sorts of built-in components. If you can wait for the Zenfone 2 to officially arrive in the Philippines in May, ASUS may make it worth your while. We heard that local pricing will be lower than in other regions, just like last year’s Zenfones.
Now for some quick thoughts on the phone. Our unit flaunts a matte-red battery cover. With the exception of the rear-mounted volume keys, the back bears a striking resemblance to the Zenfone 5’s. You probably can’t tell by looking at the pictures, but even the shade of red used on the Zenfone 2 (ZE550ML) is identical to its predecessor. That’s not a knock on the hardware itself — the paint job on the back stands out nicely — though it clearly lacks the brushed-metal treatment I had hoped for. That’s exclusive to the 4GB RAM model, I suppose.
In terms of dimensions, the 5.5-inch Zenfone 2 stands 152mm and measures 77mm wide, making it significantly larger than the Zenfone 5. It’s thicker, too, at almost 11mm. Needless to say, if you feel the Zenfone 5 — or any other phone with at least 5 inches of screen size, for that matter — is too unwieldy for everyday use, then this device is just not for you.
What we find so far points to a likely verdict: ASUS has another winner on its hands. Look out, everyone else.
Finally, if you’re wondering about benchmark results and real-world usage, we’re still in the process of arriving at a conclusion, though it’s looking very promising. Our unit posted impressive numbers in the latest versions of AnTuTu Benchmark (43,790 points) and Geekbench 3 (753 and 2,372 points in the single- and multi-core tests) — performance on equal footing as top-billing handsets from the previous year, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8. What’s also notable thus far is its 3,000mAh battery, which gives us a day and a half of moderate to heavy use on a single charge. All these point to a likely verdict: ASUS has another winner on its hands. Look out, everyone else.
ALORA UY GUERRERO’S TAKE: You know I’m excited about a gadget when I search for it come hell or high water way before its official launch in the country. With the Zenfone 5 putting ASUS on the “phone brands to watch for in the Philippines” list, I’m predicting another hit in the Zenfone 2. Based on our initial handling of the handset, it processes tasks fast and won’t die on you in just a few hours, after all — and we’re talking “only” about the 2GB version here.
The ASUS Zenfone 2 processes tasks fast and won’t die on you in just a few hours — and we’re talking ‘only’ about the 2GB, not the 4GB, version here.
But the company should price it right. The right local SRP in this case should probably be around P10,000 for the ZE550ML (5.5 inches, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage) model and not more than P15,000 for the ZE551ML (5.5 inches, 2GB/4GB RAM, 32GB/64GB built-in memory) variant.
We don’t know if ASUS Philippines is going to roll out the ZE500CL (5 inches, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage) — the cheapest among the lot at TW$4,990 or approximately P7,100 — in the country, but I think the Taiwanese manufacturer should. It’s something for those with small hands, as one-handed use is out of the question with any of the 5.5-inchers. The best part? Its price is the same as the Zenfone 5’s at launch, but this time, you already have an LTE phone. If that doesn’t scream “take me, take me,” I don’t know what does.