Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 Review

As a technology brand, Asus is arguably one of the leaders in design and innovation.  The company is known for popularizing the netbook platform and it has also one of the most stylish laptop lines with Zenbook.  Although I have used Asus laptops in the past, I have never used an Asus phone before.  My review of a Zenfone was therefore approached with a sense of excitement.

The specific phone model subject of this review is the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 (ZE500KL), a mid-range phone that retails for P7,295 in the Philippines.  This phone is an upgrade to the Zenfone 5 and among its key additions is laser auto-focus, which explains the word “Laser” in the product name.

For a branded phone, the aforementioned retail price is impressive considering the hardware and features the phone offers.  But is it a good phone overall?  Read the review to find out if the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 is worth your hard-earned money.

Design

One of the things I admire most about Asus as a brand is its design philosophy.  Asus products have always managed to hit the perfect balance between design and user experience.   This has never been more apparent than with the Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0.  With this phone, Asus used attractive design and finish, yet, it has also placed usability ahead of all other considerations.  In simple terms, the Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 is both beautiful and extremely comfortable to use.

Asus Zenfone 2 Laser

Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0

Manufacturers have seemingly failed to come up with unique designs with respect to phones.  Considering the number of phones that have been manufactured to date, we cannot blame companies for coming up with almost similar-looking products.  Asus, however, has successfully broken away from the bland and boring by implementing subtle design accents.  These accents, when taken together, create one striking product.

For the Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0, for instance, Asus has adorned the phone with its now iconic pattern of  concentric circles which we usually see on Zenbook laptops.  The effect of this subtle design element is simply great.  Asus employed minimalistic design elements overall.  The only other details that can be seen on the front panel are the capacitive keys at the bottom and the Asus branding on top, which is below a silver grille that hosts the phone’s receiver.

The phone uses a concentric circular pattern that is patently Asus

The phone uses a concentric circular pattern that is patently Asus

The Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 exhibits a slim profile.  At its thinnest, the Zefone 2 Laser 5.0 measures only 3.9 mm but the back of the phone is curved instead of flat.  The result is a phone that is extremely comfortable to use, with the ergonomic back effortlessly following the contours of the hand.  Considering that phones are intended to be used for long periods of time, this design detail is one that will definitely be appreciated by users.  The matte finish on the back contributes to an excellent grip on this phone.

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The back of the phone shows the main camera, flanked by a flash and a laser focus on either side and a volume rocker below it.  The speaker, on the other hand, is located at the bottom.  Noticeably, the volume rocker also uses the pattern of concentric circles which blends well with the overall design of the phone.

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On the top of the phone are the power button and the audio jack while at the very bottom is the micro-USB port which acts as the charging port.

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Overall, the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 is practically perfect in terms of design.  It successfully managed to be beautiful without compromising usability and comfort.

Display

The display of the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 is simply one of its most attractive features.  Stunning is a word that accurately describes display of this phone.   For a midrange phone with an affordable price tag, I was surprised at how impressive  the display of the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 is.

The 5-inch 720x1280p IPS HD display is bright and vibrant and exhibits consistent and accurate color reproduction. The display’s great quality is evident in the phone’s lush screen, a trait that is much appreciated when browsing websites or looking at photos. If you are not satisfied with the display’s attributes out of the box, you can tinker with it using Asus Splendid, a feature that allows users to customize display details of the phone including color temperature, hue and saturation.

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The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0’s display has a host of other technology packed into it.  Apart from using Gorilla Glass 4 reinforcement, the phone also offers wide viewing angles up to 178-degrees and has excellent readability even under direct sunlight.  Asus also used TruVivid Full Lamination technology to eliminate layers in the display that resulted in lesser reflectiveness and more clarity. Furthermore, the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 has 20nm anti-fingerprints layer on its glass display that helps eliminate fingerprints even after extensive swiping and sliding.  It also has quick response time that results in superb overall responsiveness.

Hardware

The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 is a mid-range phone but its hardware specs are in no way limited.   For quick reference, here is a list of Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0’s main specs.

  • 5-inch IPS LED Backlit TFT Screen (294ppi)
  • 1.2GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon S410 Processor
  • Adreno 306 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 8GB or 16GB Internal Storage (5GB cloud free cloud storage)
  • MicroSD expansion up to 128GB
  • 8-megapixel autofocus rear camera with dual flash
  • 4G LTE
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Dual-SIM functionality
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Sensors: Accelerator, E-Compass, Proximity,
  • Hall Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor
  • 2070mAh removable battery
  • Weight: 140g

A mid-range phone that looks this complete in terms of hardware specs is a winner for most users.  The affordable price of the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 already gets you a stunning 5-inch HD display, LTE connectivity, quad-core CPU and dual-SIM functionality.  You should also consider the fact that there is a lot of technology packed into this phone.

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For most users, the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 is a compelling proposition.  Power users may want to look somewhere else but the features that they would want may only be available at flagship phones that are way more expensive than mid-range phones like the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0.

Software

The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 comes with Android 5.0 Lollipop.  I assume that a Marshmallow update will arrive in the future but out of the box, Lollipop is already an amazing OS to being with.  Asus enhanced stock Android with a proprietary skin called ZenUI.  In terms of UI design, ZenUI is very different from stock Android Lollipop.  The color scheme of the UI is less basic and it uses more pastel shades which actually works.   As an OS skin, ZenUI is able to add value to Android while still keeping things simple.

The ZenUI Launcher, an element of the entire ZenUI skin, is one of my favorites.  It is a quick access menu list that hosts the most important customization shortcuts like apps and widgets, icon packs, wallpapers, scroll effects, preferences and system settings.  If you want to change the look of your theme, Asus has a theme store where you can get free themes so you can get the look that you want.

ZenUI also has a helpful tools called SnapView and ZenMotion.  SnapView lets users hide personal data from others by allowing them to choose the information to be shared and the information to be hidden.  ZenMotion, on the other hand, is a host of touch gestures that act as a quick way to launch the most-used apps.  C, for instance, launches the camera app, W launches the browser and E launches email app.

ZenUI also brings with it Kids Mode and Easy Mode.  The first one lets users limit the apps that can be accessed by kids, limit their time on the phone and block notifications and calls. Easy Mode, on the other hand, uses enlarged text and icons.

Performance and Battery Life

Apart from the display, the other thing I love most about the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 is its performance.  The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser ticks most of the elements I look for in an everyday device.  This phone has superb display, has all the necessary connectivity options like 4G LTE and dual-SIM functionality, and has excellent battery life.  Most important of all, it has great performance.

The Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 delivers a smooth performance without the lag typical of Android phones.  I’m surprised at how quick the phone is in launching and switching apps.  The transitions and animations are silky and this only adds to the phone’s overall appeal.  The phone is able to effortlessly handle most apps and games, even those that are memory-intensive.  Games like Asphalt 8 and Dead Trigger, for instance, run quite well on the Zenfone 2 Laser.

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The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 also got good results on benchmark tests.  On AnTuTu, the phone got a score of 21737, which is fast enough for a phone in this range.  On the other hand, it got 12601 on Quadrant and 1353 on GeekBench 3.  These are already good benchmark results for a mid-range phone.

In terms of usability, the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 is one of the most user-friendly phones I’ve owned.  The design is ergonomic and the placement of the volume rocker in the back helps in making things easy for users.  The volume rocker also acts as a camera shutter which helps in taking selfie shots a much easier task.  The phone also delivers clear calls thanks to its built-in dual microphone and the inclusion of noise reduction features that eliminate noise and background echo.

As to battery life, the phone’s 2070mAh battery lasted about 18 to 20 hours in normal use.  Keeping Wi-Fi and apps usage to a minimum, with the help of some battery saving features, will give you more juice on this phone.

Camera

One of Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0’s important selling points is the camera.  The overall camera set-up is commendable for a mid-range phone.

The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 has an 8-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED real tone flash and f/2.0 aperture.  The camera is guided by laser auto-focus technology that uses infrared.

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What laser auto-focus does is it measures distances at lightning speed so the camera focuses almost instantly.  Compared to traditional phase detection auto-focus, an auto-focus technology which detects sharpness per frame, the laser autofocus uses infrared to get the precise position of the image, hence, an improved focusing speed.  Asus claims that with laser auto-focus, focus speed is at a quick 0.3 seconds.  With my use of the phone’s main camera, I can say that the fast autofocus is as claimed.  Focusing is fast and accurate.

Low light imaging is where the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser has an advantage over the other phones in the same range.  The phone’s camera is able to merges 4 pixel into one in order to capture more light, resulting in better shots in dim environments.  Laser auto-focus also helps in taking quick shots in low-light settings and in close-up shots.

Here are sample shots of the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 taken with ample light.

On the other hand, here are sample shots taken under dim conditions.

Up front, the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 offers a 5-megapixel shooter that takes decent selfie photos.  This camera is a definitely good option for selfie lovers out there.

Wrap-Up

Asus has one compelling device in the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0.  For its retail price of Php7,295, the phone packs a great set of specs which includes an ergonomic design, stunning display, a good set of internal hardware and good connectivity options.   When its fast performance and good camera features are factored in, it’s impossible not to recommend the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0, especially to those who are looking for a mid-range Android that offers a lot for an affordable price.  All things considered, this phone clearly delivers too much bang for your buck.

Rating: 8.8/10

As a side note, the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 is the follow-up to the Zenfone 5 that came out a year ago.  For a quick comparison of the two phones, you may refer to the illustration below.

Zenfone 5 vs Zenfone 2 Laser

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