1. jpr's Avatar
    Well this is day 7 of using my Asus Zenfone 2 4GB US version. I would like to thank Asus and AndroidCentral for giving me one to review. Frankly, I've been putting off writing this because I really want to like it more than I do and I was hoping it would grow on me. But I want to be completely honest in my review, so I do have to say that overall I have been disappointed. I won't bother to post the specs or things that have been posted many times here already as most already know that - I will just stick to my experience of it.

    Now I am encouraged that two of the bugs - one major and one minor - that I've been experiencing appear to have been fixed in the update I downloaded tonight. That was what finally made me feel ready to write this since I was feeling a bit more positive after that. Hopefully the bug fixes will continue. I do know that there have been several updates so I think that is a good sign that it is being actively supported to some extent.

    So to start on a positive note - the phone is quick. It handles most apps and functions easily. It matches my Note 3 in that respect. It boots quickly and most apps open relatively quickly. I've found that some games seem to freeze up for a couple seconds, however, but I haven't had a problem with functional apps that are less resource intensive. (Some games can be problems on any phone as well). So overall, good processor performance. I also like the 4GB RAM that can hold more apps open than my 3GB Note 3.

    The build quality is solid, but as I and some others found out, it can be too solid. I had a terrible time getting the back cover off and actually hurt myself, ripping off both thumbnails. I'm still physically in pain from it a week later - seriously. After wrapping up my bleeding thumbs, it then took me an hour prying it off with an eyeglass screwdriver. Three other people found it impossible to open as well, even with tools, and thought I had glued it shut and was pulling a prank on them. Now as discussed in other threads, everyone didn't have this problem, but clearly there were some bad units sent out, mine included.

    The phone is heavier than expected. Not a problem at all - some people may even prefer this - but I was just surprised that it's noticeably heavier than my Note 3. I actually inadvertently threw my Note 3 because after using my Zenfone for a long period, I picked up the Note and it flew out of my hand because it felt so much lighter in comparison. I'm not considering the weight a negative - just an observation.

    Asus was kind enough to include a flip cover case with the phone and I'm used to using one on my Note 3 so I do like these type of covers. It shows some useful information in the window like number of notifications, clock, calendar and some useful functions like camera, flashlight, and some quick settings. It provides some protection for the phone - minimal protection in a drop - but good protection while in a bag or pocket. I'm not a fan of the material used for cover - I prefer the Note's S-view cover - but I still like the cover and appreciate having it.

    Now my biggest problem with the phone - the display. It is really poor in my opinion. I am totally open to the possibility that my unit may be worse than others since I haven't seen others complain about this, but I have no other Zenfone 2 to compare it to, so I can only base my review on the one in my hand. I really truly have a hard time looking at it.

    First, it has a pinkish hue to it. Even if I manually adjust the color settings to the opposite extreme so that everything looks very blue and green, the white backgrounds will still amazingly have a pink tint to them. I've tried every color adjustment and it won't go away. It is distinctly pink. Besides the color issue, the display is very, very, very dull. Again, this stays the same no matter the adjustments made.

    Sometimes I turn on my Note 3 screen just to look at it because looking at the Zenfone screen actually makes me sad and irritated. It also puts a great physical strain on my eyes. I didn't realize how much it was affecting me until my battery died and I switched to my Note 3 and I stopped squinting and my headache went away and I felt instantly more relaxed. This happens everytime I switch between my Zenfone 2 and my Note 3. And putting the phones side by side with the same thing on the screen, the difference in displays is absolutely ridiculous.

    My second biggest issue is the battery. In my opinion, if a phone has a non-replaceable battery, it should be optimized for good battery life. This phone does not even have mediocre battery life. It has very bad battery life. On average, I get about 2 to 2 1/2 hours screen on time over an 8 hour period, with everything I can possibly shut off or disable, and with the screen on the lowest brightness setting. Even on ultra power saving mode the whole time and the screen on lowest brightness, I got just over 3 hours right off a full charge. Of course I can't use the phone that way normally - it was just a test - but that's a really bad result. I have had to constantly switch to my Note 3 because of my battery dying.

    Now, if you are near an outlet, charging is a breeze. The quick charger included with the phone does a great job. Very happy with that. But, if like me you are often away from an outlet most of the daytime, you simply can't use this unless you carry multiple portable chargers with you everywhere. I could never use the Zenfone as my only phone because it simply doesn't last anywhere near long enough to get me through between charges. Because I only have one portable charger, which is not enough for this quick draining phone, I also carry my Note 3 with me everywhere, which never runs out of battery before I get home despite having a replaceable battery.

    The touchscreen is also not very responsive. It's never a smooth experience. It doesn't scroll smoothly and it doesn't respond to touches consistently. I have to leave glove mode on all the time just to have it register my presses without anything covering my fingers. And even with glove mode on, it is not smooth or responsive. Lots of extra presses, hard presses, dragging and sticking - not good. This makes the lack of illumination of the softkeys even more frustrating since I have to press a dozen times minimum every time I'm trying to press one of those buttons.

    I've found the software more buggy than I expected. I do give some leeway to new phones since I know some bugs just are never found until a lot of users get there hands on them. So I was not expecting a bug-free experience by any stretch. But there were more problems than expected and it leaves a not-finished impression.

    The major bug I mentioned that appears to have been fixed in the latest update is the VPN reboot bug. Anytime I connected via VPN, the phone would reboot within 1-2 minutes, making VPN unusable. For those of us who need (or want) to use a VPN connection, this is a dealbreaker. Now I only tested this once since the update, but this was the first time it did not crash and reboot, so I'm hoping it has been fixed completely but I'll need more testing.

    The rather minor bug that I mentioned that seems to also be fixed is not being able to delete Gmail from the notification pulldown. It would just not ever respond if you hit delete. I just deleted my first gmail from the pulldown right before writing this, so that was good.

    A few of the many other bugs are repeated crashes of the Android System UI in ultra power saving mode, particularly when it first starts. Sometimes I get 10 in the row, making the phone non-functional for long periods and it freezes for sometime after each crash as well. Not being able to send or receive MMS in the Asus messaging app with Wifi on - won't switch to data. Constant connection errors in the stock email app even though there is no problem with the connection or the email accounts. There are many other bugs but I can't list them all here.

    The auto-start manager, which I was originally very happy to see included, is a huge fail. It simply doesn't work. It does not stop the apps you mark from starting and it resets a lot of your settings upon reboot, defeating the purpose. Even the ones it does not reset, it does not stop them from starting, so it is useless. This is still true even after the update.

    One Asus app I do like, that is not specific to only the Zenfone 2, is Asus PC Link. I've made a separate thread about that a few days ago so I won't repeat everything. But if you have a Windows PC (or an emulator possibly if you use another OS), you can mirror your phone and it has a couple of other cool functions. I've been using that everyday.

    The physical buttons - volume and power - have poor placement and are difficult to use. The power button is difficult to press and its placement, on top of the phone, requires you to always use two hands to press the button. The phone does have a setting to turn the screen on by tapping the screen, which I like, but when pressing the power button is needed, it's annoying.

    The volume buttons on back of the phone are very difficult to feel and I always am pressing the camera lens area instead. Most importantly, it's impossible to press the volume buttons while on a call without using two hands (assuming you are not using a headset to control volume). If you hold the phone up to your ear, there is no way to reach the volume button with that hand, which is important to be able to adjust during a phone call.

    Well there is a lot more I could write but I think this has been long enough and you get the idea. I was really expecting to like this phone. And be certain that I am keeping in mind the whole time that it is only $299 full price for this phone so I am not expecting it to match my Note 3. But the two dealbreakers for me are the poor display and the battery life. If I can't stand looking at a phone for more than a couple minutes and the battery doesn't even last me a third of the time I need it to under normal circumstances, then it just doesn't matter how inexpensive it is.

    I hope this is not seen as ungrateful since I received the phone for free. But I did agree to review it and wanted to be honest about my experience. I know several others have stated how much they like the phone, so my experience and opinion is only one, and that is why many of us were given phones for review and not just one person.
    06-05-2015 05:02 AM
  2. skatergirl's Avatar
    I am still customizing my phone and I am going to try to use it primarily all weekend so that I can finalize some thoughts. I will already agree that some of us received a defective back cover and I am also not impressed with the screen. It is dull. It is much duller than my Note 4. Unfortunately for this phone what I am comparing it to is the Note 4, which is top of the line. Also, my Note is with Verizon, where I get HD calling and this phone is T-Mobile, so that will be another slanted comparison. I do like that this phone is lighter than the Note 4, which is kind of a beast, but at this given moment I would never trade my Note for the Zenfone2.
    jpr likes this.
    06-05-2015 09:53 AM
  3. Golfdriver97's Avatar
    I am still gathering my thoughts as well. I will probably write something up this weekend.

    I have figured out a way to counter the power button location via a screen off app, and I put that in the dock. This eliminates most of any reaching for the top of the device. I hardly use the power button.
    jpr, GrooveRite and skatergirl like this.
    06-05-2015 10:08 AM
  4. Blaize19's Avatar
    Just a quick note for screen off...you can double tap the status bar to turn off the screen at any time. I haven't used the power button, except to reboot, in a couple of weeks.

    Also, fwiw, I'm luckily not seeing the screen issues you are, and as I noted on another thread, I am getting decent, although not outstanding, battery life most of the time. Seems like QC was all over the place on this device, with some people getting duds and some people not.

    I really appreciate how honest your review is.

    Posted via the Android Central App on my Asus ZenFone 2
    jpr likes this.
    06-05-2015 11:51 AM
  5. jpr's Avatar
    Just a quick note for screen off...you can double tap the status bar to turn off the screen at any time. I haven't used the power button, except to reboot, in a couple of weeks.

    Also, fwiw, I'm luckily not seeing the screen issues you are, and as I noted on another thread, I am getting decent, although not outstanding, battery life most of the time. Seems like QC was all over the place on this device, with some people getting duds and some people not.

    I really appreciate how honest your review is.

    Posted via the Android Central App on my Asus ZenFone 2
    Thanks for the status bar tip - didn't know that.
    Blaize19 likes this.
    06-05-2015 11:54 AM
  6. planoman's Avatar
    Thanks for the status bar tip - didn't know that.
    Yes or a double tap anywhere on the screen where there is not an icon will turn off the screen also.

    Posted via my Galaxy S6!
    jpr likes this.
    06-05-2015 12:42 PM
  7. jpr's Avatar
    Yes or a double tap anywhere on the screen where there is not an icon will turn off the screen also.

    Posted via my Galaxy S6!
    I'm not using the stock launcher so that one doesn't work for me. I'm using Nova Prime. It has gesture settings, including double tap. I will have to see if I can find screen off in one of the shortcut settings for it.
    06-05-2015 12:55 PM
  8. planoman's Avatar
    I am still customizing my phone and I am going to try to use it primarily all weekend so that I can finalize some thoughts. I will already agree that some of us received a defective back cover and I am also not impressed with the screen. It is dull. It is much duller than my Note 4. Unfortunately for this phone what I am comparing it to is the Note 4, which is top of the line. Also, my Note is with Verizon, where I get HD calling and this phone is T-Mobile, so that will be another slanted comparison. I do like that this phone is lighter than the Note 4, which is kind of a beast, but at this given moment I would never trade my Note for the Zenfone2.
    Have you tried the vivid setting for the screen? Sounds like you like the AMOLED screens. I have not used it, but I know there is a setting for it. I think for an IPS screen it is fine although I do have the brightness up higher than my AMOLED screen devices.

    Posted via my Galaxy S6!
    06-05-2015 12:59 PM
  9. Josh Exmoor's Avatar
    I've been working on my review as well, but want to spend a weekend with the phone in single SIM mode to see how I feel about battery life without keeping two radios online. I have noticed a few bugs myself, the most serious of which is notification audio not playing when I'm streaming audio to my car stereo over bluetooth.


    Is everyone going to create a new thread for their thoughts? It seems like creating a single thread for reviews from the contest winners might be nice..
    06-05-2015 04:38 PM
  10. TheJastrom's Avatar
    I'm definitely not having some of the issues that I've read about here like screen problems but the one issue that certainly is driving me nuts is Battery Life, it's not great.
    06-05-2015 05:03 PM
  11. Almeuit's Avatar
    Wow JPR very in-depth. Well done.
    jpr likes this.
    06-05-2015 06:25 PM
  12. Guytronic's Avatar
    Thanx jpr!

    I'll need to watch whats happening with my phone closer rather than being wide-eyed.
    I did side by side the ZF2 with my Sony Xperia to compare the displays and there is a noticeable difference.
    jpr likes this.
    06-05-2015 09:15 PM
  13. Megsh's Avatar
    Approximately what sort of battery life do u guys get when ur phones are constanly on 3G or 4G??
    06-06-2015 11:08 AM
  14. jpr's Avatar
    Approximately what sort of battery life do u guys get when ur phones are constanly on 3G or 4G??
    My results are about the same whether on mobile data or Wi-Fi. Several others have mentioned that Wi-Fi is worse for them though.
    06-06-2015 02:09 PM
  15. irisrei08's Avatar
    It is very confusing for choosing one brand from all another brands. You all know about ASUS computers and laptops as well as wifi adapter and much more products. If you are confused about ASUS brand. Then You must be read "Is ASUS a Good Brand or Not?".
    12-20-2016 03:21 AM

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