There were several expectations that I had prior to owning a 5.5″ device especially coming from the Nexus 7 (7″) and with constant exposure to the Z Ultra (6.1″). Turns out, the experience differs greatly between these very close numbers… so finally, after two weeks of use, here is my take on the Asus Zenfone 2.
Powered by an Intel Atom CPU Z3580 clocked at 2.33GHz and touting industry first 4Gbs of RAM, the Zenfone 2 is the fastest device in my arsenal, and the most recent in terms of mobile generation. It has 13Mp (rear) and 5Mp (front) cameras coupled with a very nice PixelMaster interface that the engineers at Asus cooked up. It runs on Android Lollipop and is skinned with ZenUI with a host of apps pre-installed making the phone completely usable out of the box for common mobile computing tasks. It also carries two SIMs alleviating the need to carry two phones (maybe replace one with a power bank for maximum enjoyment ^^)
Inside the box of the Zenfone 2 we can find the unit, a power source that has variable output, and a pair of in-ear earphones with a flat cord which prevents entanglement – the bass isn’t very deep but the mid and high range is sufficient. I’m more a fan of clarity over depth and this wont be replacing what I’m using at the moment but its a nice addition to anybody’s collection.
The curved back is quite reminiscent of my X10 only bigger but also lighter at the same time. It’s quite comfortable on the hands especially since the corners aren’t edgy. The back plate is non-marking so with the proper screen protection you won’t need to worry about having to wipe the device clean too often and it always looks presentable.
Diving head first into the device’s customized Android experience can feel a bit disconcerting. I’ve heard stories of users trading the device in for something more familiar which truly is a loss of theirs. While there is a bit of adaptation required, it’s not that big a change and is quite understandable – Asus wants users of the Zenfone to have the highest level of customization which requires a few extra options here and there.
Indulge me a bit on this introspection – in the past, when feature phones were still the norm, we’d get ourselves a unit and use all the features on it without the ability to add anything on, as such, more “apps” = better phone; at present, we’d get ourselves a smart phone and continuously add-on to it, often only those we need, thus, less “bloat” = better phone… See what happened there? It is my perception that Asus wants to marry the two concepts together – a fully customizable phone with all the essentials baked in… Zenfone!
Whether or not that ideal hits a sweet niche might be reflected with the resurgence of Zenfone users… judging from the community members – it is quite the compelling figure.
Plenty of good can be said about the device overall which leaves users picking on details and after service, which happens mostly online too. See, Asus intentionally fragmented the various “features” on the Zenfone allowing them targeted updates which are smaller and more frequent as opposed to full system updates which a lot of manufacturers subscribe to and forces users to wait until such time rollouts are distributed in order to fix something that has gone awry. It can feel overwhelming at times especially when you see a number of Asus apps require updating but there is some sort of protocol that is being enforced on the device which starts update processes automatically whenever the device is in its charging state and is online- a peculiar but very welcome behavior for me… Not only does it prevent unwanted downloads when you’re using mobile data it also keeps the system running smoothly as resources are not being allocated to the task.
Another issue under scrutiny is the battery. A 3000mAh, non-user-replacable, Li-Poly block powers this 5.5″ unit, all-day tinkering seems to simply not be within its capacity. It’s probably just me being so used to the Xperia M that I find it to also be too quick to lose charge… I can probably run it non-stop up to about 5hrs on heavy usage. It’s no slouch but it definitely requires some backup in the form of portable power or you can opt to carry around the quick charger that allows for 60% charge within 30 minutes! (That literally means it gets full power in just around an hour!)
Compared to its predecessors in the Zenfones 4, 5, and 6, the Zenfone 2 has improved on all the aspects of mobile computing with this iteration and goes a step further by introducing the concept of more RAM than ever before solidifying their position in the market. One can only anticipate the follow-up and revel in the now that is Zenfone 2.