Asus Zenfone 2 Laser: A premium budget smartphone with a good rear camera
The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser, released during late 2015, is a budget offering which is positioned by Asus as a high-end smartphone. USP of this handset is its laser autofocus system that results in better focusing on an object during photography thus leading to higher quality of images. But we could not agree on this aspect without resorting to doing an actual test of the Zenfone 2 Laser. Therefore, we decided to procure the handset and subject it to multiple performance tests.
Design and Display
Upon unwrapping the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser, we could not help but smile as the handset bears streak resemblances to the previous-generation Zenfone 2.
However, what is different in the Zenfone 2 Laser is the customized auto-focus unit that is predominantly present adjacent to the primary camera. On feeling the handset, we could dominantly feel the flat edge design finish of the smartphone’s exterior. The rear of the handset is also curved which offers for a comparatively better grip; but for us, one-handed usage was not comfortable due to the positioning of the power key at the top and the placement of the auto-focus unit at the rear.
One-handed usage became increasingly difficult while we were on the move; and the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser even slipped multiple times but we could catch the handset just before it hit the ground. Nonetheless, the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser’s double tap to activate functionality minimized the number of occasions during which we had to press the power button at the top.
Then, at the bottom, there are the conventional navigation buttons. Finally, the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser incorporates an outer frame made of hardened plastic, but we felt the looks to be attractive as these gave off a premium feeling whenever we flaunted the handset.
As far as the actual display is concerned, the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser features a large 5.5-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen having resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels with pixel density of approximately 268 ppi. The display supports both Multitouch as well as 16 Million colors. A much newer Gorilla Glass 4 protects the touchscreen of the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser from scratches.
During our testing, Asus Zenfone 2 Laser rendered images that highlighted all the essential colors along with maintaining near-perfect white balance; but the sharpness of the rendered images on the screen was far from impressive.
The display of the smartphone also offered wide viewing angles, during our testing; when we tested out the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser outdoors, the brightness offered was not up to the mark but is still bright in comparison with similar range smartphones from other brands. We also found the Ambient light mode functionality worked as expected. This functionality is custom-made when the phone is placed at a flat location like a desk.
Processor and Memory
Under-the-hood, the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser incorporates a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 SoC (a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 variant is also available commercially). Here, the Snapdragon SoC comprises of a quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU clocked at 1.2 GHz and an Adreno 306 GPU. A 2GB RAM also works in tandem with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 SoC assembly. When we used the handset, in a multitasking and multi app scenario, we could not experience any major glitches in performance and the instruction processing capabilities, save for minor lags which are purely dependent on the apps (and their credibility) that are launched at a particular point in time.
However, there were multitude of lags during video streaming from Netflix. Nonetheless, stored video files rendering was up to the mark and free from lags. Also, graphic rich titles such as Dead Trigger 2 and Asphalt 8: Airborne were run within the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser but lags were encountered and the entire experience became disgusting. Nonetheless, other titles like Age of Empires and Temple Run worked much better. As far as the internal storage is concerned, the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser offers its users 16 GB of storage that can be expanded up to 256 GB via an external microSD card.
The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser features a 13 MP rear camera along with a dual-LED flash unit. We could capture fairly good shots of nature and wildlife in daylight. Even the 5MP front camera (for the selfie generation) captures good snaps but these are restricted to daylight conditions (in full sunlit conditions).
The laser Autofocus unit also worked fairly well, in tandem with the 13 MP rear camera. Images/Photographs captured were crystal clear and comparable to those of pure flagship devices.
Also, the rear camera module of the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser allows recording of 1080p videos at 30fps which is pretty decent as far as general everyday video capture/photography is concerned.
Asus Zenfone 2 Laser runs Google’s Android 5.0 (Lollipop) operating platform out of the box with Asus’ ZenUI on top; but the smartphone is eligible to receive the more recent Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) firmware.
Whilst we tested out the smartphone, the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser responded effectively to the double-tap which activates the display or puts it to sleep. We could view all the menu contents, within Settings, in a tabbed view format reducing on-screen clutter.
The Asus Zenfone 2 Laser derives its juice from a non-removable 3,000 mAh Lithium-Polymer battery. During our testing, we could view videos (stored within the handset’s external memory) continuously for more than 10 hours. High-end gaming naturally depleted the battery life substantially; upon restricting the usage to calls and basic internet, we obtained battery life that lasted for more than a day which is impressive considering the fact that the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser is positioned as a budget device to the general everyday users.
After our time with the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser, we can conclude that the handset is custom-made for those looking at purchasing their first-ever smartphone/even first-time Android adapters preferring a value-for-money device without having to part with their hard-earned monthly salaries.