The new Asus Zenfone 2 is a step in the right direction. Asus does not want to take on the big players head on, at least not in the flagship segment, so the Zenfone 2 is going after the pseudo-flagship or upper mid-range market. This means it doesn’t exactly offer the performance of modern day flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S6 or HTC One M9, but overall it is a compelling all-round design, and offers good value for money.
The bad news is that the ZenUI is a bit too much for my liking, and tries to be too different to stock Android 5.0. It has some nifty features and thanks to the powerful processor with 4GB of RAM, it’s smooth as silk. However, it just feels too busy – from the lockscreen to the settings. The camera is underwhelming and we expected a bit more from such a device. I've seen similar, or superior cameras on $200-$250 devices.
Luckily the camera is the only bit of hardware that doesn’t meet the grade. The screen is average, but good given the price point. The processor is on a par with last year’s flagships and can even give some 2015 flagships a run for their money. Throw in 4GB of RAM and 32GB of speedy internal storage, and you end up with an excellent hardware platform that can stand the test of time.
I also liked the design. Yes, it’s plastic, but it’s damn good plastic and most people who saw the sample thought it was brushed aluminium. It looks premium and the curved back with brushed accents on the front and buttons gives it a degree of personality.
The Zenfone 2 is a very nice device for the money, but this causes a bit of problem – what sort of money? Which version should you buy, and in which region? It’s a tricky question and the answer depends on where you live and whether or not you need 4GB of RAM. The Zenfone 2 is still not available in all markets, but if you really want one, you can order it online. Personally, I feel the T3560/4GB model, which the Fudzilla team tested, hits the sweet spot. The regular price is $325 (in case you miss the $50 coupon rebate), so it’s still not too pricey and if you don’t absolutely need a marginally faster processor and 64GB of internal storage, there’s really no point in spending $100 extra on the flagship model. The entry-level version with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and the Z3560 processor is an interesting value proposition, as it goes for $259.
Oddly enough, Asus claims four in five Zenfone 2 units are shipped with 4GB of RAM, so few people are choosing the entry-level version. Ultimately it’s up to you. The Zenfone 2 is a great product, but I believe you get the most bang for your buck if you opt for the reviewed $325 version. Spending $65 less on the entry-level 2GB model sounds very tempting as well, especially when you look at the competition in the $250 segment.
Asus Zenfone 2 Pros and Cons
- Value for money
- Good build quality, sleek design
- Poweful SoC and 4GB of RAM ensure excellent multitasking performance
- Dual SIM, dual standby
- Clever gestures and UI tweaks make it more manageable
- Fast charging capability
- Mediocre camera – we’ve seen better on cheaper phones
- ZenUI fails to follow Android 5.0 design language
- Dim screen on Auto brightness
- Bulkier than most 5.5-inch devices