ZenFone 2 Review intel atom

Today, I picked up the ZenFone 2 from Asus. It’s a mid-tier Android phone with flagship specifications.

This phone is actually quite good from a pure specs perspective. It features 4GB of RAM, and it’s one of the first phones to do so. It also packs in a 64-bit quad-core 2.3 Ghz Intel Atom processor, and 64GB of flash storage, expandable up to 128GB.

The screen is 5.5 inches, and it’s roughly the same size as the iPhone 6 Plus, though a bit thicker. Needless to say, this ZenFone is firmly in the realm of the “phablet” and although it’s selling at mid-tier prices at $299, it’s got some decent specs.

In this review, which won’t be your typical review where I spout off statistics and benchmarks, I look at 5 things that this phone does right, and 5 things that it does wrong—all fed through my iPhone-tinted glasses.

Five things that the ZenFone 2 does right

4GB of RAM: Imagine a life where there is no annoying refresh when loading multiple browser tabs on the iPhone. I understand that iOS is better optimized, and Android’s garbage collection requires it to have more RAM, but at times, there’s no substitute for beefier specs. It’s time for Apple to up the ante when it comes to RAM. 1GB is embarrassing in 2015.

64GB of storage: That’s plenty of space to store everything, plus an SD Card slot allows for an additional 64GB of storage for a total of 128GB. Although Asus offers a lower tier version of the ZenFone 2 with only 16GB of flash storage, it too features an SD Card slot for expandability. Apple, take note: please stop making 16GB iPhones.

Cheap and unlocked: It’s a brand new phone with flagship specs for only $299. You can get the low-end version of only $199, but then you lose 2GB of RAM, 48GB of flash storage, and the faster processor.

Dual SIM Card slot: True, only one of the slots can handle 3G and 4G/LTE data, but having the ability to assign two phone numbers to a single phone is like a dream to me. Very handy for those of you who have more than one phone number.

Built-in theme engine: You don’t need to jailbreak to take advantage of custom themes on the Asus ZenFone 2.

ZenFone 2 Review

Five things that the Asus ZenFone 2 gets wrong

Cheap build quality: Plastic is one thing, but plastic pretending to be metal is even worse. The faux-aluminum back panel is a flimsy piece of plastic that bends with ease.

Button placement: There’s a reason why Apple moved the iPhone’s sleep button to the side on its larger devices. Not only is the power/sleep button in a weird place on the ZenFone, but the volume buttons are on the rear of the device under the camera. Those are two very questionable design decisions.

Sharp edges: Call me spoiled by the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus’ smooth rounded edges, but the edges on the ZenFone are unpleasant to grip for long periods of time.

Bloatware: Why am I forced to uninstall bloatware like it’s 2001 and I just picked up a new Gateway? Ridiculous.

Asus ZenUI: Never been a fan of OEM skins, and I will always prefer stock Android over things like HTC Sense, Samsung’s TouchWiz, etc. It’s not a horrible UI, it’s just uninspired and a bit clunky to use. Stock Android is always best, but that’s not going to change any time soon.

Final thoughts

There’s definitely a lot to like about this phone. The most compelling feature might be the price at $299 unlocked. That’s a lot of phone for so cheap.

I also wanted to take a second to talk about charging the phone. The $299 version of the ZenFone includes a high-capacity 3000mAh battery with fast charging capability. By using the ZenFone’s included 9V/2A 18W charging brick, you can charge the device to 60% in a mere 39 minutes. That’s something I didn’t include in the lists above, but it’s yet another compelling feature that you see more and more smartphones including these days. I’m hoping that the next iPhone includes some sort of fast charging process.

ZenFone 2 Review Hero

You could surely do worse than shell out $299 for the Asus ZenFone. Asus has created a solid product that won’t knock anyone’s socks off, but is more than adequate enough to be your daily driver if you’re on a budget.

What do you think about the ZenFone 2?

  • Polar Hacker

    “Although Asus offers a lower tier version of the ZenFone 2 with only 16GB of RAM, it too features an SD Card slot for expandability.”

    16GB of RAM? Hmm. That’s more than my MacBook Pro.

    • *blush*…. too used to talking about my Mac having 16GB of RAM. 16GB of flash storage just defaults in my mind as RAM, since it seems crazy low for storage. Fixed 🙂

    • Fanboy 

      That’s exactly what my MacBook Pro has 🙂

  • Nonsense

    These companies need to stop lying. The law needs to hold these companies accountable. 64GB should mean 64gb not 54.whatever. This shxt is ridiculous that these companies (Apple included) is allowed to get away with this.

    • JayDee917

      But then they would have to make hard drives in weird sizes in order to create partitions and store the OS. Like a true 64GB of free space would need to be 73GB, and so forth.

      • Yeah, and HDD manufactures aren’t going to start doing that. I mean, they could come right out and say how much space you’ll have out of the box, but then that would seem a little weird. You would have to say “I want a 52 GB iPhone 6 Plus” or something odd like that. I understand where you’re coming from, but I think the current system is the best.

      • Joe Dennis Rodriguez

        and the size of OS varies plus bloatwares..

    • Rowan09

      But it’s a 64GB phone but that doesn’t mean you’ll have all 64GB for usage.

    • Dan

      Get used to it, it’s always been like that and it won’t change.

    • Asiz Koju

      Actually its not only the system partition and other os partition that taking the space. Actually 1024mb = 1gb but manufacturer just ignore those 24 and make 1K size as standard. That mean your 1mb has 1000kb not 1024kb and so forth so even if you purchase any pendrives they won’t have space as they mentioned.

    • Zed

      64 GB is 64 GB. Educate yourself. When you transfer 64 GB into Bytes you get 6.4e+10, which is 64GB!!!! DUUUUH! 1 GB = 1024 MB = 1024 KB = 1024 Bytes

  • James

    What camera are you using Jeff?

  • Shams

    A nice perspective side of the review. Awesome job Jeff.

  • Tyler Smith

    Its a decent phone internally i just hate the way android is set up and like you said the bloatware. setting that aside.. holy crap 4gb of ram on a phone? Just imagine an iPhone with 4gb of ram. You could do anything and everything. keyboards would probably run much smoother as well.

    • Shams

      I strongly agree with the bloat ware. Annoying and waste of space. I wished that all manufacturers OEM were on the same path as Google.

      • Dan

        OEM’s are starting to get better though imo, I think Google is putting pressure on them. The new LG4’s skin is almost pure android and most bloat apps can be removed without root. Even touchwiz (which is the worse offender) is a lot more lightweight now.

      • This is true, and yes TouchWiz is horrendous.

      • Shams

        Yes it’s starting to get better I agree. I hope in the future, Google start to have more smartphone lineups that is available to Canadians. We are left out when Google came out a couple of years ago. Their version of HTC phones

  • Dan

    Nice review, although if iDB is going to start doing this, would be cool to see more relevant phones. Ie: the LG4.

    • Thank you. If the feedback is good enough, I think you can expect to see more “from an iPhone user’s perspective” pieces.

      • mp

        Yes good job and I like your wardrobe Jeff. 🙂 just my 5 cents here, however for example 4 cylinder cars 20 years ago compared to today sometimes has me thinking are we focussing on the right thing when it comes to RAM.
        As for power button, please Jeff use your powers for good and not evil. I sometimes use a Lumia 735 with a side power button that really works ****dy well when said phone is placed in a snug vertical pouch clipped on my waist. Yes folks pockets are for hands and loose change. Did I mention the side buttons snag on a snug pouch. 🙁
        Dual sim, well those with a mistress can save on the extra phone 🙂 (just kidding)
        As for the rear cover can it be swapped with a faux brushed black plastic rear or something more daring? I have a pouch with clip you can use that’s ****dy useless for my Lumia with a side power button!
        I recently saw a review of this phone running 4 graphically intense games, with the reviewer ‘hopping’ from one game to the next. I’m not sure how to view that demo in the context of 4GB RAM versus an efficient 1 or 2GB RAM.
        Btw, that wasn’t Sebastien wearing the white watch and flowery clothing? 🙂

  • Merman123

    The white band on silver sport watch looks slick!

  • iPhoneWINS

    iPhone is boring so new we have android on here..

  • I don’t agree with some of your points, but your comment was insightful nonetheless, so thank you.

  • MKB4k

    I would maybe get one of these and flash Cyanogenmod on it.

  • Abdl

    iPhone users gradually crawling out of their iCages…

  • Good feedback perspective video, but I disagree with some of your claims. Including:

    “Android isn’t as optimized as iOS, so it needs more RAM.”

    That’s just outright incorrect and very misleading. Devices as old as the Galaxy S2 still run Android Lollipop smoothly (http://bit. ly/1PzZFAi) with 1GB of RAM. Also, study keeps showing Android to be slightly more stable than iOS (http://bit. ly/1Gtfq6n), I don’t think that’ll be happening with a “less optimized” OS, especially one built to run on a wide range of devices. Android devices offer more RAM ’cause it allows for heavier multitasking, simple. Apple should too, especially as it’s a necessity to have a truly immersive multi-tab web browsing experience without the irritation of tabs randomly reloading.

    The rest, just your subjective opinions, but that’s what makes it “from an iPhone user’s perspective”. Frankly, I think this this is better off just being called an “iUser Feedback: Asus ZenFone 2” instead of a “Review”. If you’re looking to give review, I would suggest removing the clear signs of bias to iDevices.

    • By “less optimized” I was alluding to the garbage collecting process employed by Java powered Android. I didn’t get into specifics because I felt it was not necessary. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree here.

      iOS works better than Android with less RAM and I don’t think that can be debated.

    • mp

      MrE, the clear sign of bias I suppose will always exist/be implied no matter on the title for as long as this site remains named ‘i’DownloadBlog.
      Your point regarding more ram due to heavier multitasking makes sense and seems to correlate with a review I saw on youtube with this phone running four intense games. I’m still not sure when you ‘switch’ apps and that tab remains ‘suspended’, how much ram is needed for it until you return to it as the review I saw demonstrated. Both open side by side is a diferent story if I’m not mistaken. After I purchased a sealed iphone 4S a few years ago, Extremetech was the first article I read claiming android to be more reliable. The evidence since has been quite compelling in favour of android. Lucky my backup Lumia 735 runs windows as no one bothers us. 🙂

  • Android Developer

    @JeffBenjam:disqus How much do the bloatware apps take out of the total storage? And, how much can be reclaimed when you remove as many of them as possible (without special operations like rooting) ?

  • Dondiee

    what would be better iphone 5s 16gb or zenfone2???