Asus Zenfone 2 Laser ZE550KL Review : Excellent Battery Life with a decent camera

Asus entered the smartphone market last year with Zenfone 5 followed by many other models including the Zenfone 2 (Read Asus Zenfone 2 Review).  Asus Zenfone 2 Laser ZE550KL  is the latest offering from them which is basically an mid-range smartphone priced at just Rs. 9,999 in India. Thanks to ASUS, we got Asus Zenfone 2 Laser review unit and here is our review of the same based on our experience .of using it for almost a week as our primary smartphone.

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The variant that we tested came with Model No. ASUS_Z00LD( ZE550KL) Black color. Even tough the retail box of the device mentions MRP of Rs. 13,399, it is available on Flipkart for Rs. 9,999 only.

ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser

Brief Specifications

  • Display : 5.5 inch HD IPS with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection
  • OS : Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • CPU : 1.2 GHz Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410
  • RAM : 2 GB
  • Camera  : 13 MP Primary with laser auto-focus and dual-LED real tone flash (f/2.0 Aperture, 5-element Lens) + 5 MP Front
  • Dual Sim (LTE+ LTE)
  • 16 GB ROM + Micro SD Card support up to 64 GB
  • 4G (LTE)
  • OTG Support
  • Battery : 3000 mAh removable

Design and Build Quality

Zenfone 2 laser comes with plastic removable curved rounded plastic back just like Zenfone 2 but with a rubber kind of finish which lets you hold it better without slipping. Even though it is a plastic cover, it does give a premium feel.Volume rocker buttons are placed at back just below the rear camera and the Power button is at the top just near the audio jack. ASUS smartphones now come with almost this same design irrespective of the price. The curved design of the back cover back makes the sides appear thin.

My opinion goes against the placing of volume rockers and power buttons, but yours may be different. I prefer the conventional placement of these buttons at sides. An additional feature “Double tap to wake” available with Zenfone 2 laser though compensates the power button placement as you need not use the power button to wake up your device every time. Just double tap the screen and device wakes up. And yes, the double tap works perfectly every time except few rare cases when you pull out the device from your jeans pocket and at that time, it needs a bit harder double tap. Also, no accidental wake-up even if the device is in your pocket.

The menu buttons at the bottom of the screen are not back-lit which makes it a bit uncomfortable to use it in dark surroundings. The speakers are at the back of the device at the bottom with a grill across the width, even though if you open the back cover, speaker is just at one side. The battery at the back is removable.

Display

It sports a 5.5-inch HD IPS Display with resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels and Gorilla Glass 4 protection. The size of the screen may appear big for some people, but for most users 5.5 inch will feel good after few days of usage. The display appears great if you have manually set the brightness. It appears a bit dull if you set it to auto adjust mode. The display was good enough and adjusted itself quite well even in surroundings outside except in some cases with heavy sunlight around noon. It also comes with great viewing angles letting you view the screen even at steep angles.

As the screen is just HD screen and not a full HD screen as in the case of devices like Lenovo K3 note, you may feel like you want more in screen quality. The colors on the screen looked great just as it is with a HD screen but not like a full HD screen.

It also comes with a display tuning app from ASUS, letting you choose different screen modes like Standard, Reading, Vivid or Balanced or you can customize one for yourself. Using the Glove mode you can use it with your gloves on in winter.

Performance and Benchmarks

Zenfone 2 Laser is powered by a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410 with 2 GB of RAm and hence you can only expect a mid range performance.  Zen 2 lacks a bit of punch unlike the Zenfone 2 which was a beast. We played some heavy games like Asphalt 8 on it simultaneously with other games and using other features of the phone, we did feel a bit of lag or frame drops at random after continuous usage for more than 15-20 minutes. The issue though was not bad as it happened only when we did multitasking by running few games and apps simultaneously.

The graphics details in the games and HD videos was good enough but not that great. There was negligible heating of the device while playing intensive games, multitasking or using the device for too long or in any other scenario (We tested it under A/C environment, hence under non – A/C environment, it may result in a bit of heat for sure).

We did face a bit of small issues like the UI getting hanged a bit at random including the dialer and the camera app, but the problems appears to be vanished after a OTA update from ASUS during the testing period.

It comes with 16 GB internal storage with support for Micro SD cards. The operating system and preloaded apps takes around 5 GB of storage and hence the end user gets only ~10 GB of internal storage. Apart from Micro SD cards, it also supports OTG and hence you can use an external OTG USB storage to add more capacity to the device on the go.

The call quality during voice calls was pretty clear without any issues. The dialer app also gives you an option to record calls without installing any additional app or rooting the device. Usually you need to root your device first and then install an additional paid app to record calls. By default, this feature is turned off and you need to enable it if you need to record your calls.

The Antutu benchmark score for Zenfone 2 laser comes out to be 23,600+ which is on expected lines considering the fact that it is powered by a Snapdragon 410.

Zenfone 2 Laser Antutu Benchmark

Camera

It comes with 13 MP main rear camera with dual-LED real tone flash with laser focus and a front 5 MP front camera. We took the camera to test with different lighting conditions. The camera performed great under normal lighting conditions but it wasn’t so good if you got too much of varying light conditions like you are standing in some shade with a heavy sunlight around. The colors appear to be washed out often in those varying light conditions. Similarly, the low light shots were OK. But overall if you are under good lighting, the camera produced good quality shots.

The laser focus did good job in focusing faster, but often the camera app gets confused when there are too many objects at same distance or objects that it thinks as primary subjects and may result in bad focused shots.

The camera app comes with loads of modes such as Low Light mode, Selfie mode, night mode, super resolution mode, HDR mode, Panorama mode and much more just like most of the ASUS smartphones.

It also comes with a manual mode which lets you adjust different camera settings on your own. If you are a professional photographer or geek enough to play with those settings, it can produce some good shots.

The front 5 MP camera though performed great and produced some good pictures. It’s good enough to click some good selfies with wide viewing angle.

Camera samples

Checkout the images below taken under different light conditions and different modes. Click on the images to enlarge to original full size image. Click on the images for full resolution images on Flickr.

Battery

This is where Zenfone 2 Laser amazed us. The battery performance was excellent and it did surpassed our expectations to a large extent. Even on a heavy use of the device, We were able to keep it away from charger for almost a full one day and even till the next day evening. During our normal usage, it lasted for full two days. Keep in mind that we always had a working 3G connection or WiFi turned out. Duration of 3G connection included the full day time when we were on the move and WiFi during the evening and night.

ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser Battery Performance

We were able to get a Screen on time of even more than 6 hours during some days, but on an average we always got a screen on time of 4.5 to 5 hours easily.

We were unable to test battery performance on 4G network as we didn’t have a 4G SIM available with us during the testing period.

Operating System and UI

Zen 2 Laser is powered by Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system with ASUS own user interface ZenUI on top of it. We are not a big fan of custom UIs from OEMs running on top of stock Android, yet we do like the ZenUI. ZenUI for us appears to have better integration with the stock Android UI and it doesn’t feel like a different or new user interface. Also, it is clean and simple compared to other OEMs. You can treat this as my opinion and many of you may differ with me on the ZenUI.

It comes with some custom features from ASUS such as the ultra saving mode, optimized mode or customized mode for battery. Apart from this, it also comes with support for gestures using which you can open applications without even unlocking the device. You can customize the gestures as per your need quite easily. You can customize the toggles in the notification area as per your needs.

ASUS needs to get rid of pre-loaded bloatware in their smartphones. The device came with loads of pre-installed apps from ASUS. It may irk many consumers like me. The only good thing though here is, ASUS now lets you uninstall any or all the bloatware pretty easily without the need to root the device. This uninstall was not possible when we tested the ASUS devices earlier on. So, this comes as a welcome change.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, for a price of Rs. 9,999 only, the Zenfone 2 Laser is a good buy. The excellent battery life trumps some of the shortcomings of the device. The premium feel in terms of design and build, a decent camera with laser focus and excellent battery life turns Zenfone 2 Laser into a winner. The shortsomings that we talked about in this review are outdone by the good. Unless you want a smaller screen


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Avinash Kumar
Founder- Editor at Androidpure : A Mechanical Design Engineer by profession, but passionate about Computers, Smartphones, Gadgets, software and anything that helps to learn something new or different. Love to do things which i don't know and dive into unknown territories.

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