ASUS ZenFone 2 : Short review

Are you ready for my short review of the ASUS ZenFone 2? 🙂
Yes, this is a short post based on my few months’ usage.

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You want a long, detailed one?
I recommend this  7 pages long one:
It tells you everything you need to know about the Asus ZenFone 2.
Else try this:
Or this:

So there. All the technical details you need to know.

Well, I’m an iPhone 6 Plus user. And I’m not on budget.
Hence it took some getting used to; for me to appreciate lower end phones, even if it is for spare use.
And of course Asus Malaysia has to give me a lower variant; a ZE551ML 2 GB instead of the ZE551ML 4G.

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You may not think 2GB is a lot of difference, but if you take into consideration how I use my phone, then you will realize why I stick to the highest specs smartphones there is in the market.

My kind of work doesn’t leave me with much tolerance for phones that hangs often (NO, the Asus ZenFone 2 didn’t), nor one that warms up and thus need to be “given a break” (YES, the Asus ZenFone does) from time to time.

A break?
Hmmmmm… I got 5 Facebook pages to monitor, 4 emails, a FOREX trading app, Instagram, a personal Facebook profile with notifications every other minute and multiple Whatsapp chats plus FB messenging with friends, clients and staff.

How did the Asus Zenfone 2 handle it all?
POORLY, as expected.
Well, it might have performed better with the 4GB RAM variant, a fellow tech writer had said.

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But (there’s always a but) for RM899, even my finicky godbrother who buys & uses almost all newly launched phones on the market just to satisfy his boredom approves of it.

His conclusion; In a nutshell, nothing outstanding. If you nit pick, then you will find a lot of flaws. But considering the price which is less than half of a Samsung S6, LG G4 or HTV M9, then it is a fine phone.”

So this is one phone that I can say “You get what you pay for“.
It works as it should, and perhaps slightly more.

So here are the cons:
A bit of nitpicking is on the surface and for a start, most find the power button isn’t convenient to access.
And as if Asus knows they are going to be grilled for the poor placement of the power button, the Zen Motion screen gesture came quickly into place to allow users to double tap the screen to wake the phone so that solves the problem.
This feature is more convenient than other brands’ approach which favours the sliding from the sides motion.

The lower back stretch of speaker opening looks promising as it stretches from one end to the other BUT sad to say; this opening is just for show.
The speaker is only at a corner of the phone and if you were to accidentally block about 20% of the holes on the left then the sound will be muffled.
Otherwise the audio is loud and clear.
MacamYesTapiBukan – you get what I mean? 🙂

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The camera carries the bulk of my dissatisfaction.
Other than that, as long as you don’t overly tax its processing power, the Asus ZenFone 2 is fine.
In other words, if you use a smartphone the way I do, then it would not be suitable for you. You would be better off (less frustrations) with a RM3000 phone (like the iPhone 6 for eg).

I’m a very heavy camera user and because the Asus ZenFone 2 is marketed as a phone with excellent camera capabilities and spectacular performance under low light conditions, I had high expectations and was left disappointed.

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The phone has a 13-megapixel PixelMaster f/2.0 main camera and front facing 5-megapixel camera, a standard spec for most smartphones currently in its price range.
Depending on the software, 13 MP would generally produce good photos under natural/sufficient lighting.
A higher MP for the front camera basically means better quality selfies.

Based on many test shots, the Zenfone 2 performance is acceptable in well-lit environment with accurate white balance (on auto mode) and color, but lacks depth; essentially not producing enough contrast and sharpness.

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OUTDOORS : afternoon sun.
Images are great.


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The photo produced looks dull which translates to the need for post – processing/editing.
It can be argued that this presents a realistic image but seriously, we all want sharp, vivid coloured photos.

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Auto white balance is quite bad in detecting lighting conditions.




For motions, it can be bad even under manual mode and with faster shutter speed.


If you stay still, the image is acceptable.


Not ideal for action shots for sure. Here I was at a chef preview and trying to take fast shots of him prepping a dish.


These drinks were very colourful but looked so dull here. This was at an open foodcourt.



Under sufficient white light (this was in a shop) the colours are better.


Once I was done with Auto, I tried Manual and adjusted shutter speed, exposure etc before taking a shot.
I find the need to access the different settings a pain.
The iPhone has spoiled me in the sense that the adjustment of such settings can be done right on the screen without having to access settings via the tabs.

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Zoom function isn’t that great either.
This was where I was standing.


I zoomed in for a closer shot of the husky. Quite blur right?
I have steady hands so it can’t be due to shaky hands.


I realized too that the capturing of images is slow for me. I said slow for me because I’m used to faster capture with my iPhone 6.
Yes no doubt it is not a fair comparison, which is why I shouldn’t review anymore mid range phones! LOL. 😀

Well anyways, this is what I meant.
I’m so used to pressing the shutter button and almost immediately move my camera away and when I did so on the ZenFone 2, the result is a blurry pic.
So that means, I had to change my photo taking habit by reminding myself to keep motionless for a second more after taking a shot to ensure that the image from my Zenfone 2 remains sharp.


Here are some night time shots.
Iso 780 around 1/20 sc shutter.


Remember to hold steady and not move til the image shows on the screen.
This image had “help” from the street lights.


Here’s one in a dark environment, INDOORS.

HDR mode.




From – explains it all:
This part from According to official introduction of the PixelMaster technology, it is able to increase the light sensitivity by up to 400%, enhanced noise reduction and boosted color contrast by up to 200%.
In low light condition, it can deliver a more detailed shot without the help of flash light.

During night shooting, with the advantage of PixelMaster technology and F/2.0 aperture, Zenfone 2 indeed can take a clear shot in low light condition. But in return the image produced is either full of noise or heavily smeared. In low light mode, the image resolution will decrease to 3 megapixel only, this is a disaster if it was uploaded to Facebook… So we suggest not to use Low light mode unless it is necessary.

We also noticed that Zenfone 2 lacks Optical Image Stabilization due to cost constraint, a minor hand shake will cause the photo blur. The auto focus speed is relatively slow on low light condition, it won’t be easy to take a good photo with its weak anti-glare function.”

Moving on….
Auto vs HDR mode. Object – signbaord at Hutong Lot 10.



A noteworthy mode is Selfie Panorama, not commonly available on other phone models, giving the front camera an ability to capture images with an up to 140-degree field of view.
That mean the front camera allows wider angle selfies which is great for group selfies.


It is also worth mentioning that Zenfone 2 supports Micro-SD card expansion, so there is no worries for memory shortage. My godbro is rather pleased with this feature, for he kept cursing Samsung latest model for not having SD storage.

The ASUS ZenFone 2 comes with Dual SIM capability which is great for frequent travelers like me but what’s not great about it is that SIM 2 max limit is only 2G speeds.
What you can do to get around that is you’ll need to swap SIM locations and change a bit of settings.

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I wasn’t too bothered about all that though.
The earlier design design flaws, the speakers and the dual sim.
My concern is always the processing speed and the camera, both of which wasn’t up to my expectations and thus I didn’t find the ZenFone 2 particularly suitable for me.

So here are what I like about the ZenFone 2.

The phone is solid to hold, I got the colour I want, the screen is scratch and fingerprint resistant and the back is a nice curved estate which deserves my vote for comfort grip on hand.

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There’s enough screen estate too.
Despite having a 5.5″ display the ZenFone 2 doesn’t feel too big in hand thanks to its 72% screen-to-body ratio, which incidentally higher compared to iPhone 6 Plus’s 68%.

Certain Asus apps are useful; such as the Do It Later / What’s Next. 

Do It Later allows you to jot down reminders for later reference while What’s Next organizes your schedule and gives alerts.

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For the ease of single-handed operation, volume button with ASUS concentric-circle design is now rear-mounted.
The button also functions as shutter button when user is snapping a picture. This is especially useful for selfies.

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If you often reading articles using your smartphone, the ZenFone 2 also comes with Bluelight Filter mode a.k.a reading mode.
It is an eye care technology to ensure a comfortable viewing experience while keeping your eyes healthy at the same time.
That is if you are bothered to switch it to the said mode. I was too lazy. LOL.

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Asus tried to enhance the user experience and one of the feature is the Zenfone 2’s Splendid app which allows users to adjust screen color profiles from Balance mode, Reading mode, Vivid mode and Customize mode.

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Productivity freak like me truly appreciated the Word, Excel, Powerpoint and File Explorer apps.
Admittedly, I can’t have too many apps running simultaneously due to the limited processing power but it does handy to be able to create, view and edit some work documents on the go or whenever it is not convenient for me to whip out my laptop (during car rides for examples).

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And yes, additional storage space are always welcomed!

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Another app – MIRROR. For obvious reasons.

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Rebecca Saw should use the highest specs there is for any smartphones. Else she will complain.
Ermm… just joking. 😛

Like I said, you get what you pay for. I hope the links I shared from my tech friends and my own layman post here helps you/those who are potential owners of Asus ZenFone 2.
It is a good phone, once you have managed your expectations.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Sean EDKL

    oh … the interesting tidbit i got here was that we currently own the same phone for our personal use … heheh 🙂

    1. Rebecca Saw

      iPhone 6 Plus is the bomb Sean! I’m sure you’re loving it as well! 😀

  2. Dwi Wahyudi

    Hello Becca, how are u? Are U inviting again for ASUS ZenFestival 2015 at Jakarta this Thursday? 🙂

    1. Rebecca Saw

      Hi dear! No Im not! hahaha! Else we can catch up huh!!

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