1. Android_Covert's Avatar
    Beautiful Budget Phone

    Hi everyone! I was one of the winners selected on this forum to receive a free review unit of the ASUS Zenfone 2 (the highest-end ZE551ML model). I may post more in the future, but I wanted to post my initial thoughts after using this phone for two weeks. Here I go!

    Note: I am quite fortunate to have this phone and I'm very thankful -- If I say anything negative, it's not to complain but to write an informative, critical review.



    First Impressions
    After taking the phone out of the box, my first impressions were "Wow, this thing is huge" and "Wow, this thing is beautiful!" I'll speak more to the size later, but the device is an eye-catcher. It certainly doesn't possess the built quality of something like an HTC One, but at less than half the price I didn't expect it to. I was, however, pleasantly surprised at how nice the front glass appears, and while the back plastic piece certainly isn't brushed aluminum, it gives the device a nice aesthetic (especially compared to other plastic-backed smartphones on the market). In my opinion, the phone does a great job of being a "budget" phone without looking like it at all. As soon as I fired her up, my eyes were delighted by the display. At 1080p, this 5.5" display is as pixel-dense as I think I could ever need. I'm no connoisseur of displays, but to my eyes viewing angles, brightness, and colors look good. This phone definitely has an eye-candy factor for me. But there's more to a phone than just looks, so let's get to the user experience.

    Size and Button Placement
    As I first held the phone, I doubted that I would be able to use the phone effectively with just one hand. It's big -- so big, that I was having trouble reaching the four corners of the touchscreen without stretching quite a bit. The curvature of the back helps a lot; it makes the similarly-sized iPhone 6 Plus feel extremely box-like and unnatural in comparison, but I wasn't sure that the curve would be enough. Having to use the phone two-handed all the time would be a deal breaker for me. This brought me to ask myself, "What is the ideal screen size?" To me (and probably many others), the best screen size is the largest I can get while still being able to effectively use the device one-handed. After using the phone for two weeks, I've gotta say that ASUS has nailed that size! I have pretty average-sized hands, and while it definitely took a little while to get used to a device of this size, I can now comfortably use the device one handed. Yes, that's right -- I get to have my cake and eat it too -- a big, beautiful 5.5" display that I can use one-handed. I found that I was using the same grip-style that I would use for a smaller device with my pinkie finger below the phone. This limited my thumb mobility a lot. Once I adjusted to a more loose, fingers-resting-on-the-back grip it became much easier to reach everything on screen. Because of the curve, the grip is natural and secure. While this may not be the case for ALL users (e.g. my small-handed sister), I think the majority of people would find this device much more usable than they might think.
    The size is great for things like videos (obviously), but it's also incredibly helpful in the sheer amount of things that can be seen on screen at once. Every time I see the average Joe's iPhone now, I cringe at the amount of cramped screen elements. The Zenfone makes the tiny-smartphone form factor look plain silly, and I don't think I'll be going back to anything that size again.
    A lot of discussion has gone up about the phone's physical buttons. All I have to say is this: they're not where I would put them if I designed the phone, but they're not really an inconvenience to me either. As many have noted, the lock button has a sticky, mushy feel with little tactile response. I hope it's improved with ASUS' future phones, but it's not that big of a deal to me. I use the double-tap to wake/sleep far more than I use the button.

    Sound
    Now we come to what may be my biggest issue with this phone: sound. As far as I can tell, the phone mic/speakers are good, but the loudspeaker on this phone is just not optimal. The speaker is on the back of the phone, and while it isn't the world's worst speaker, it may be in the world's worst location. When consuming media on this big, beautiful display, you'll either need to wear headphones or listen to the sound of your speaker projecting sound out into the room, bouncing off something, and coming back to your ears. Cupping your hand around the speaker is pretty difficult to do because of its placement. They aren't so bad if you're just listening to music with the phone face down, but for watching videos (especially in a loud environment) they're disappointing. It just comes down to the simple fact that speakers sound better when they are pointed at the listener. I envy the front-facing speakers of something like an HTC One -- the difference is remarkable. I hope ASUS can implement a similar design in the future.

    Performance, OS/Skin, and Camera
    The phone is snappy. I have noticed very small amounts of lag before certain animations happen on screen, but for the most part it's very smooth and responsive. This is the first time I've ever used an Android device long-term (I know, I know), but I've loved the experience. The back button is great on a phone this size because reaching to the top left corner every time you want to go back is inconvenient. It makes iOS seem stupid for not having it. There's definitely a fair share of pre-installed crapware and irremovable unnecessary apps, but as far as I know they don't impact performance in a major way. I'd like to see the fat here trimmed next time around. Since this is my first android device, I can't really comment on ZenUI versus other skins or stock, but I can say it's mostly good. ASUS has some useful features deep in the settings, too. The cameras are good enough for me, though the included camera app has some quirks and not-so-user-friendly menus. If you want super in-depth analysis on the camera, go read someone else's review, and if you really want a great camera I'd suggest buying a camera instead of a cell phone.

    Battery Life and Charging
    The Zenfone's battery lasts me all day, and that's all I really need. I haven't tested battery life very extensively, but maybe I can update later with more information. One of the hidden gems of this phone is the fact that it supports ASUS' "Boostmaster" quick charging technology - with the right charger (like the one included), you can go from 0% to 60% battery in less than an hour. This feature is very useful when you're low on juice and you only have a short time before you need to leave the outlet again. I even picked up a quick charger for my car. I still charge my phone at night with a regular, non-quick charge adapter though in hopes to extend the life of the battery over time.

    Final Thoughts
    While ASUS may have made some "phone market amateur" mistakes with this device, I'm glad they made this phone. I've loved using it, and if I wasn't given this review unit then I'd go buy one. To me, this phone performs as well or better than many phones above its price bracket. With lower-end models even cheaper, ASUS is helping make smartphones much more affordable and making contracts less attractive. If you have any questions about things I missed, let me know and I'd be happy to answer. Thanks for reading!
    06-18-2015 10:06 PM
  2. planoman's Avatar
    Nice job on the review!

    Posted via my ZenFone 2!
    06-18-2015 10:34 PM
  3. Megsh's Avatar
    So guys which one is better?? Oneplus One or Zenfone 2??
    06-19-2015 09:33 AM
  4. planoman's Avatar
    So guys which one is better?? Oneplus One or Zenfone 2??
    I owned the OPO for 6 months and I would say screen brightness, battery life, and feel in the hand and back cover to the OPO, all else is equal or in favor of the ZF2. I must say that the updates the ZF2 has receive has impressed me. Seemed like with my OPO with Cyanogen every update was needed and often broke something else. The camera and speaker seem about equal to me.

    The UI, storage/micro sd card, dual SIM, quick charging and more favor the ZF2. I recommend the ZF2 over the OPO at this point in time.
    06-19-2015 02:06 PM
  5. codeda's Avatar
    I owned the OPO for 6 months and I would say screen brightness, battery life, and feel in the hand and back cover to the OPO, all else is equal or in favor of the ZF2. I must say that the updates the ZF2 has receive has impressed me. Seemed like with my OPO with Cyanogen every update was needed and often broke something else. The camera and speaker seem about equal to me.

    The UI, storage/micro sd card, dual SIM, quick charging and more favor the ZF2. I recommend the ZF2 over the OPO at this point in time.
    Is it a lot dimmer or still easy to see outside?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    06-19-2015 02:24 PM
  6. Android_Covert's Avatar
    So guys which one is better?? Oneplus One or Zenfone 2??
    1 + 1 = 2.
    06-19-2015 02:38 PM
  7. planoman's Avatar
    Is it a lot dimmer or still easy to see outside?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    I do not have the two to compare and do not use my phones outdoors but in the car it is fine. Anandtech's review says the ZF2 has a max brightness of 390 nits versus 441for the OPO. It also states that 319 nits is the highest you can get with the brightness control. Not sure why they do not allow it to go to the full brightness cable, maybe for battery life? I usually go with 45-50% brightness on my S6 and Nexus 6 and have my ZF2 at 60%.. Max brightness is pretty bright to me if you needed it.
    codeda likes this.
    06-19-2015 04:42 PM
  8. isabellewassell's Avatar
    Give it up for the AUSUS Zenphone 2 yaaaay !!!!

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I257 using Tapatalk
    06-27-2015 05:18 PM
  9. Megsh's Avatar
    Thanks guys for your help
    06-28-2015 03:20 AM
  10. royale1223's Avatar
    I can't install it

    Sent from my GT-I9500 using Tapatalk
    06-29-2015 10:51 PM
  11. roki977's Avatar
    Nice review.

    Poslano sa mog LG-H815 koristeći Tapatalk
    07-03-2015 06:21 AM
  12. Golfdriver97's Avatar
    07-03-2015 10:05 AM
  13. Sergiusz Jasper's Avatar
    Just got me one too today in gold 64gb version.
    Works so well in many ways find it better than Note 4...will see how this phone runs over time so far it's fantastic.

    Sent from my ASUS_Z00AD using Tapatalk
    GrooveRite and AceofZeroz like this.
    07-05-2015 10:42 PM
  14. GrooveRite's Avatar
    Just got me one too today in gold 64gb version.
    Works so well in many ways find it better than Note 4...will see how this phone runs over time so far it's fantastic.

    Sent from my ASUS_Z00AD using Tapatalk
    Thats awesome! Enjoy and if you have any questions or problems, you know where to come!
    Sergiusz Jasper likes this.
    07-06-2015 03:34 PM
  15. Sergiusz Jasper's Avatar
    So u say I can use other charger like from my Sony so it charges slower over night... Cos was wondering same thing quick charge is great but can shorten battery life.

    Sent from my ASUS_Z00AD using Tapatalk
    07-06-2015 08:46 PM
  16. Sergiusz Jasper's Avatar
    Just finished rooting my Asus Zen 2 64 gb
    Now to remove all the bloody junk it has preloaded lol

    Sent from my ASUS_Z00AD using Tapatalk
    07-06-2015 11:07 PM

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