Asus Zenfone 2 Laser Review

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UPDATE: You can now read our Asus Zenfone Zoom Review!

Introduction


After the release of its Zenfone 2, Asus is doing all it can to capitalize on the phone’s success by doing what they do best – and that’s by coming up with several derivatives of its prized phone. The Zenfone 2 line has expanded to several variants since its inception, and for those who didn’t think its camera was fast enough, the Zenfone 2 Laser solves that by being fashioned with laser auto-focus tech. While it seems that the phone is otherwise unchanged, it’s still finding itself in that attractive mid-ranger space with its sub $200 outright cost.

The package contains:

  • Asus Zenfone 2 Laser
  • Wall Charger
  • microUSB cable
  • User guide
  • Warranty card

Design

No surprises here, it looks exactly like its sibling.

Not shockingly, the Zenfone 2 Laser looks exactly like its sibling, featuring the same faux metal finish casing. It’s not downright ugly, nor is it really stunning either. Sure, a sense of style is available by wisely choosing any of the interchangeable rear covers that Asus sells for the phone, but it’s still by and large conventional looking.

Nothing has changed with the arrangement of its buttons and ports, they’re all in the same locations as before. Taking a page from LG, the volume controls are located in the back of the phone, which are relatively easy to access by our index finger, but the power button still takes some getting used to because of its placement in the top center.


Asus ZenFone 2 Laser (US)
Dimensions

6 x 3.04 x 0.43 inches

152.5 x 77.2 x 10.8 mm

Weight

6.00 oz (170 g)

Motorola Moto G (2015)
Dimensions

5.59 x 2.85 x 0.48 inches

142 x 72.4 x 12.2 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

OnePlus 2
Dimensions

5.98 x 2.95 x 0.39 inches

151.8 x 74.9 x 9.85 mm

Weight

6.17 oz (175 g)

Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (5.5'')
Dimensions

6.01 x 2.96 x 0.29 inches

152.7 x 75.14 x 7.4 mm

Weight

4.96 oz (141 g)

Asus ZenFone 2 Laser (US)
Dimensions

6 x 3.04 x 0.43 inches

152.5 x 77.2 x 10.8 mm

Weight

6.00 oz (170 g)

Motorola Moto G (2015)
Dimensions

5.59 x 2.85 x 0.48 inches

142 x 72.4 x 12.2 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

OnePlus 2
Dimensions

5.98 x 2.95 x 0.39 inches

151.8 x 74.9 x 9.85 mm

Weight

6.17 oz (175 g)

Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3 (5.5'')
Dimensions

6.01 x 2.96 x 0.29 inches

152.7 x 75.14 x 7.4 mm

Weight

4.96 oz (141 g)

Compare these and other phones using our Size Comparison tool.

Display

Not much has changed, but at least it continues to exude favorable qualities.

Specs-wise, there’s not a whole lot different here, seeing that it’s slapped with a 5.5-inch 1080 x 1920 IPS-LCD display. Frankly, we have no major complaints given its sharp looks, good details, and punchy color tones. Even though most of its characteristics are unchanged, its peak brightness output now maxes out at 403 nits, which is less than before and makes it a bit tougher to view on those sunny days. Another subtle change includes the switch to newer Gorilla Glass 4, ensuring that it’s more resilient to scratches and scuffs.





Interface and Functionality

For a mid-ranger, the ZenUI has no shortages of features.

Love it, or hate it, Asus’ ZenUI running on top of Android 5.0.2 Lollipop comes with its perks. For being one of the smaller players in the sea, Asus invests a lot into its customized Android experience, which is rich with various features that can cater to users who crave for a balance between personalization and functionality.

Sure, the visuals lean towards a cartoonish looking interface, but there’s a sense of control because nearly everything can be customized – including the fonts, transition effects, and much more. Even better, if the default theme isn’t to your liking, it can be swapped for any of the myriad in Asus’ online store.

Functionally, ZenUI competes to the same degree as some other power-centric experiences, like Samsung and LG’s custom skins, seeing that we have an abundance of tools and features at our disposal. On one hand, it’s nice having such a comprehensive set at our disposal, but it can come off as overcomplicated to some users.

System Performance

Even with the switch to Qualcomm’s chip, it performs to the same standards.

Asus partnered with Intel when it released the original Zenfone 2 earlier this year, but for the Zenfone 2 Laser, they’ve swapped out Intel’s silicon with one from Qualcomm’s camp – an octa-core Snapdragon 615 SoC coupled with 3GB of RAM and the Adreno 405 GPU.

The real-world performance out of the handset is pretty good for a mid-ranger, delivering enough responsiveness to all of the basic tasks we tend to do with our phones. Results from its various benchmark tests show us that its performance is very much typical of a mid-ranger, but hardcore gamers won’t be satisfied by its choppier graphics processing performance.

AnTuTuHigher is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)37548
Motorola Moto G(2015)22406
OnePlus 250188
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')32175
Vellamo MetalHigher is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)975
Motorola Moto G(2015)1224
OnePlus 22258
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')933
Vellamo BrowserHigher is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)2022
Motorola Moto G(2015)2186
OnePlus 23479
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')2254
SunspiderLower is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)1472.2
Motorola Moto G(2015)1361.8
OnePlus 21236.9
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')1306.7
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screenHigher is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)14
Motorola Moto G(2015)9.6
OnePlus 245
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')15
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screenHigher is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)5.5
Motorola Moto G(2015)3.9
OnePlus 215
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')6
Basemark OS IIHigher is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)309
Motorola Moto G(2015)581
OnePlus 21068
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')495
Geekbench 3 single-coreHigher is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)579
Motorola Moto G(2015)528
OnePlus 2876
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')664
Geekbench 3 multi-coreHigher is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)2320
Motorola Moto G(2015)1554
OnePlus 23673
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')2402




Camera

The snapshot time is improved dramatically, but it does nothing to change its so-so image quality.

As we’ve detailed earlier, the handset’s main distinction is found in the laser auto-focus sensor that’s slapped on the back next to its 13-megapixel PixelMaster camera sensor from Toshiba. The same hardware configuration is present here, so that includes a 5-element Largan lens, f/2.0 aperture, and a dual-LED Real Tone Flash.

Much like its overall software experience, the camera interface certainly appeals to shutterbugs because of the vast shooting modes it offers, as well as the handy manual mode. Compared to its sibling, which had a snapshot time of 6.2 seconds, the laser auto-focus sensor cuts its time tremendously down to a mere 2.4 seconds. That’s undeniably fast and an improvement in itself!


Image Quality


The decrease in its snapshot time is swell and all, but it does little to change the camera’s overall quality. Images exhibit decent detail levels, with mostly realistic, though sometimes slightly warmed-up colors. Overall, images look quite good for such an inexpensive smartphone. When using some of the Zenfone 2 Laser's special modes, however, we notice some inconsistency in the results. For example, one of our test panoramic images ended up with an overexposed area, while most of the HDR pictures we took looked as if they have some kind of filter applied to them.

Unfortunately, low light performance isn’t a total wash – shots from the Zenfone 2 Laser are decently exposed, but there isn’t much to indicate it’s a strong contender either. In particular, details are smeary looking, colors appear dull in tone, and there’s some heavy presence of noise. There’s specifically a low light mode that increases the exposure, but images are scaled down to 3-megapixels – with even less detail present.

Taking a picLower is betterTaking an HDR pic(sec)Lower is betterCamSpeed scoreHigher is betterCamSpeed score with flashHigher is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)2.4
2.7
574
376
Motorola Moto G(2015)3.4
5
658
641
OnePlus 23.7
4.3
No data
No data
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')4.2
No data
368
281



Video Quality


Video recording leaves more to be desired. It’s tolerable with its quality, but its a bit short on details, while its color reproduction seems a bit bland.


Multimedia

Strangely, the speaker output is weaker.

Choosing between the Google Play Music app and Asus’ own music player is completely going to be up to you, seeing that functionally, there’s not much separating them – albeit, Google’s music player sports a more visually appealing interface.

Micro dots on the back of the phone comprise its speaker grill, which unimpressively churns out a maximum 68.8 dB of audio power – short of the original’s tally of 72.7 dB. Everything sounds light and insignificant, even when it’s at the loudest volume. However, the AudioWizard tool offers some useful equalizer settings to better tune its quality.

Watching videos on its screen is a likeable experience, thanks in part to its sharpness, effortless playback, and some punchy colors to retain our attention. The only thing missing here is a multi-tasking implementation of some kind.

Headphones output power(Volts)Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)0.223
Motorola Moto G(2015)0.377
OnePlus 20.91
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')0.489
Loudspeaker loudness(dB)Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)68.8
Motorola Moto G(2015)78.5
OnePlus 276
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')77.7




Call Quality

Average is a good way to describe its call quality.

Unable to escape its sibling, the same robotic-toned voices are evident through using its earpiece. Despite that, at least the volume output through the earpiece is loud enough to allow us to use it in the noisiest of conditions. On the other end of the line, our callers mention that we sound subdued, but not entirely inaudible.

Battery


Under the hood, there’s no change to the battery cell – it’s still a 3000 mAh capacity in there. However, it should be noted that it’s now removable. Who knows if it’s due to the Snapdragon chip it’s using now, but the Zenfone 2 Laser doesn’t achieve the same longevity in our battery benchmark test as its Intel-based sibling. Topping out at 6 hours and 52 minutes, it’s a full 42 minutes less, which isn’t comforting because it now takes an obnoxiously long 208 minutes to recharge.

Battery life(hours)Higher is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)6h 52 min(Average)
Motorola Moto G(2015)8h 3 min(Average)
OnePlus 26h 38 min(Average)
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')8h 29 min(Average)
Charging time(hours)Lower is better
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser(US)3h 28 min
Motorola Moto G(2015)4h 11 min
OnePlus 22h 30 min
Alcatel OneTouch IDOL 3(5.5'')3h 26 min

Conclusion


Saturation seems to be the tactic that Asus believes will get them to reach new heights, but it’s almost maddening at the same time because the Zenfone 2 Laser offers very little distinction over the original model. Yes, its starting price point of $199 outright makes for an attractive prospect for consumers who are pinched. However, we can’t fully commit to recommending this over the original model solely due to its faster laser auto-focusing tech.

That’s an incentive for sure, but at the same time, there’s no substantial improvement to its overall quality. Additionally, there are other areas where the Zenfone 2 Laser lags behind its sibling. Taking into consideration that the hardware here is by and large similar, save for the chipset, we’d think that it would receive more of a discount at this point. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, so you might be better off picking up the original model – more so when it can be fetched at a discount nowadays.

Software version of the review unit:
Android Version: 5.0.2
Build Number: LRX22G.WW_user_1.14.40.550_20151008
Kernel Version: 3.10.49-ga8ebe4f


Video Thumbnail


UPDATE: You can now read our Asus Zenfone Zoom Review!



Pros

  • Faster auto-focusing time
  • Inexpensive price point
  • ZenUI packs some useful features for power users

Cons

  • No change to the camera’s quality
  • Shorter battery life
  • Takes much longer to recharge

PhoneArena Rating:

6.0

User Rating:

7.0
1 Reviews

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