Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML review: Premium experience under affordable price
Latest Android experience
Impressive battery life
Heats-up a bit
Whole plastic built
The Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML not only has a new built and a refreshed list of specifications over the first-generation Zenfones but it also offers the same high-end performance that one today gets from a premium flagship.
Smartphones are growing from low-end to high-end segments and are getting bigger as well as smarter each day. While leading smartphone vendors such as Samsung and HTC are in a race to offer a greater premium experience, some Asian players like Asus are on a move to make the same experience available even under an affordable price bracket. After launching the Zenfone series last year, the Taiwanese company brought the Zenfone 2 range at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) 2015 to continue offer an affordable yet decent smartphone experience. Though the initially announcement suggested that it is launching just a single new smartphone model as a successor to its highly popular Zenfones, Asus launched a whole new range of four Zenfone 2 models in India diversify its offering. The range includes the entry-level ZE550ML and the high-end ZE551ML models. Moreover, the most high-end Zenfone 2 model is claimed to be the world’s first 4GB RAM featuring smartphone. We got the Zenfone 2 ZE551ML 4GB RAM model at our labs soon after its India launch. So here is our in-depth review.
What’s in the Box
The Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML comes with a price tag of Rs. 22,999. This is the price tag at which companies like Samsung and HTC are willing to offer a mid-range experience but interestingly, Asus has planned something different. And one can see that difference right from the box of the Zenfone 2. It does not have anything that makes it a box of a mid-range smartphone.
Asus has designed the box of the Zenfone 2 on the same aesthetics that it used for designing the box of the first-generation Zenfone smartphones. Thus, there is the Zenfone 2 branding and the smartphone image right on top of the box and there is the same color tone that the smartphone model has. This means that if you are going for a grey-color Zenfone 2, like ours, then you’ll get to know about that right from color tone on the box.
Once unboxed, the box of the Zenfone 2 ZE551ML shows the smartphone unit on top and underneath, it has an AC charger, USB-to-microUSB data cable, warranty card and a user guide. The AC charger that the company has provided inside the box supports quick charging at 9V.
Watch Asus Zenfone 2 unboxing video:
Similar to the first-generation Zenfone series, the entire range of the Zenfone 2 is designed with a whole-plastic built. The built does not provide any flimsy feel in hand and seems to be quite premium from first glance.
The front side of the Zenfone 2 ZE551ML has a large display panel that has a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. Below the display panel, there are three touch-sensitive controls for back, home and recent apps and there is a chin that debut on the predecessor. Top side of the display has Asus branding, earpiece, secondary camera sensor and a couple of sensors – ambient light sensor and proximity sensor. Additionally, there is a multi-color notification LED light to notify users on new calls, text messages and emails.
Asus has not provided any control or port on the left and right sides of the Zenfone 2. This helps in reducing the thickness and makes the overall built slimmer than the first-generation Zenfone.
The bottom side of the Zenfone 2 has a microUSB port and a pinhole microphone.
On top, there is a secondary microphone, power/lock key and a 3.5mm jack. The power/lock key has steel finish to enhance looks of the smartphone.
Turning the Zenfone 2 towards rear shows a premium back cover that has faux brushed steel finish. The steel finish on the back cover gives the same look that generally available on some HTC One flagships. Furthermore, there is a volume rocker that reminds us some of the recent smartphones by LG. The rear side lastly features a primary camera sensor along with dual-tone (dual-LED) flash.
The back cover of the Zenfone 2 is removable and there are two SIM card slots and a microSD card slot under it. The cover also has an NFC chip that enables Near Field Communication technology on the smartphone. It is worth noting here that despite of the removable back cover, the battery pack on the smartphone cannot be removed and is embedded under the chassis.
Overall, the design of the Zenfone 2 ZE551ML is a mix-and-match of the first-generation Zenfone series as well as some high-end smartphones by LG and HTC. The smartphone has 152.5 x 77.2 x 10.9 mm dimensions and is 170 grams in weight.