ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser Full Review – Capture Photos At Lightning Speed

After the era of owning a Zenfone 2 and a Zenfone Selfie, we managed to get the Zenfone 2 Laser as well. We were delighted as we are getting most of the upcoming smartphones from ASUS Malaysia to perform our unbiased review. The term laser auto focus started quite some time from LG G3 which started off as a flagship device of LG with a hefty price tag. As the tech and  trend emerged into being common, ASUS started implementing on their smartphones and the Zenfone 2 Laser is one of them which features the laser auto focus.

We could easily guess with the name being ” Zenfone 2 Laser”, there’s no doubt that Laser auto focus is the main selling point of this smartphone. However as a complete package of a mid-ranged phone, will the Zenfone 2 Laser be a great smartphone for those with a mid-ranged budget and have some new features plus some traditional features as well. The Laser works by firing invisible laser beam towards the aimed target and adjusts the focus much accurately than the regular auto focus. Let’s find out how it termed up on our  exclusive review of the ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser (ZE550KL).

Display

We have talked about the display all the time about ASUS’s Zenfone range. All of them are extremely reliable and eye-friendly. With a HD resolution of 1280 x 720 and sized at 5.5-inch, the Zenfone 2 Laser is capable of satisfying your standard need of having a proper display which is able to serve the purpose. This being said, it resulted well when we browsed several websites. Obviously it couldn’t fit as much as how a  Full HD display would do, it is definitely one of the best 720p display featured smartphone ever. It remains with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 for your double protection on scratches and after-drop damage reduction. Together with IPS display, the colors are very vibrant with great brightness levels with wide viewing angles up to 178˚.

During the outdoors, we still managed to view the screen properly with very minimal disruption under the sunlight. Auto-brightness works well and manages to adapt accordingly based on the scene.  Do take note that Zenfone 2 series feature a 20nm anti-fingerprint coating which basically minimize the amount of fingerprints on your screen. However when you apply a screen protector or a tempered glass, the coating wouldn’t help anymore. This also indicates the availability of Glove Mode where you can use your phone when you’re wearing gloves or even slightly wet fingers will be able to still detect on the Zenfone 2 Laser. The ZenFone 2 Laser 5.5’s screen-to-body ratio sits at 72% (ZE550KL), which is 10% better than first generation ZenFone 5 and 4% more than iPhone 6 Plus coverage.

On most smartphones, there are 4 layers between your eyes and the LCD module. ASUS TruVivid Technology on the Zenfone 2 Laser eliminates 2 of those layers(sensor glass and air gap) to improve the clarity, brightness and touch responsiveness to provide comfortable viewing experience even on a bright day.

This smartphone is also well known for its 60ms touch response time. This means when you touch the screen, the response will be very quicky and most of your touch wouldn’t fail to detect. You don’t have to click on it over and over again. This situation usually happens to most of the smartphones out there which have 80ms to 100. The Zenfone 2 Laser is a clear winner here especially during gaming when your fast response touch will be the key to victory.

As we have mentioned before on our Zenfone Selfie review, one of our favorite feature on the software side of display will be the blue light filter. Turn it on and it will actually help your eye-sight by disabling a decent amount of blue light. Some claim that it is much effective during low-light condition and when you’re on your bed but we still kept it enabled all the time as we find it to be really helpful.

Design

The design is very identical to any other Zenfone 2 out there. You can barely notice any difference from the front view. However when you turn it to the back view, the “red” which is the color of our Zenfone 2 Laser is actually matte rather than glossy surface. We actually prefer the matte finish as it is not-so fingerprint magnet. You will also notice the laser auto focus placed on the right side beside the main camera sensor. The dual-tone LED flash is on the left side of the main camera sensor.  The volume rockers which is placed on the back with ASUS’s trademark ergonomic feel much tactile compared to the one on the Zenfone Selfie.

Under the Hood?

Processing Power

The ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser that we have comes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 410  64- bit Quad core CPU. It is of course not as great as the Snapdragon 615 on Zenfone Selfie, however the power management on this is better and not of a greater difference when it comes to performance. What does this mean? Slightly lower performance compared to Zenfone Selfie but better battery life than the Zenfone Selfie. It  is entirely personal opinion on what comes first on your list of attributes that you prioritize.

This smartphone consists of 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage with the choice to expand your memory up to 128GB with micro SD card. Excluding the system reserve of storage, you will have 5.2GB used out of 16GB. So, please do not panic as this is normal and you are not being cheated.  Other than that, you get a 13MP camera and 5MP front camera, 3000 mAh battery and Dual 4G SIM support.

Lollipop and Zen UI

Out of the box, you receive Android 5.0.2 Lollipop as the operating system version. As usual, the Zen UI on ASUS Zenfone’s are extremely smooth and we can barely notice any lag. The performance is almost as par as the Zenfone Selfie. You might think with Snapdragon 410, performance is going to be pretty bad or not up to expectation. Based on our usage, it is definitely a great performer and able to cope with most users usage pattern. As usual, ASUS Zen UI comes with useful features such as choosing the screenshot format, easily customize-able drop-down shortcut menu, double-tap the volume rocker to quick-launch camera and off-screen gestures which you can draw an alphabet to launch a preset application. Other notable features on the Zen UI includes changing the Themes which you can customize and download the available ones online and also SnapView. The SnapView is pretty useful for those who worry when they’re out with their friends and tend to mess around with your phone, simply activate the SnapView and activate the regular login so that your contents will remain private. For more details on how to setup the SnapView, refer here.

Camera Performance

When it comes to camera, most of our reader will ask a very familiar question ” Which camera is better, the selfie or the one on the laser?”. Both of them have Laser auto focus with an incredible speed of 0.03 seconds only! It is just too fast and you won’t be able to measure it. To be honest both of them are using the same 13MP Toshiba sensor with f2.0 aperture. This will make us to assume that both will be resulting in same image quality. Well, we did realize a slight difference compared to the Zenfone Selfie. The main camera is actually better on the Zenfone Laser and the Auto White Balance seem to work better. Images taken on Selfie tend to be slightly yellowish while on the Laser images tend to look more natural. However, both of the images output from both devices looks great in their own way and it depends on which one you prefer.

ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser Camera Samples

The laser auto focus has a blazing fast focus speed (only 0.2 seconds) and do keep in mind as the laser auto focus are usually less effective on taking long-range shots. This is due to its small sensor which could lack to be accurate as the distance get further. This does not mean that the photos will be horrible when you take photos with open environment, the 13MP camera with f2.0 aperture does perform well enough to beat most of other 13MP enabled smartphones out there. The accuracy level of capturing detail with a decent range is remarkable. We compared the speed and detail level to other 13MP shooters with normal auto focus and the Zenfone 2 Laser managed to win easily in terms of speed and image quality.

With PixelMaster 2.0 technology which is ASUS’s very own camera software enhancement, you have plenty of modes to choose from such as time lapse, GIF , depth of field, HDR and not to forget the Manual mode which allows greater control of the white balance, focus and ISO. We have to mention that the low light mode on the ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser is extremely good. Even under extremely low light condition, you have to set the mode to “Low Light” and start taking photo. Definitely the best phone so far which is able to capture decent image under poor lightning condition. The PixelMaster 2.0 technology smartly merges 4 pixels into 1 and capturing the light characteristics in the process. At the same time, it will auto adjust the noise level, color and contrast to ensure the quality of final image.

Sound Quality and Loudness

The Zenfone 2 Laser comes with a single built-in speaker placed on the bottom-back left side of the smartphone. It is constructed on five layers of magnet with large chamber which produces better bass and clearer sound quality. We watched few trailers and realized that although the speaker is placed on the back, the sound is pretty loud and best of all is the quality which remains even when the volume is set at 100%.

Audio Wizard 2.0

Together with the default Android Equalizer, ASUS with SonicMaster technology brings the Audio Wizard 2.0 which is an equalizer that allows the user to change with 6 presets modes(smart mode, music mode, movie mode, recording mode, gaming mode and speech mode). Of course you can manually adjust the Bass and Treble but believe us or not, the presets are pretty awesome and will amaze you. Get a good pair of headphones or earphones and hear the magic by yourself.

How well the Zenfone 2 Laser performs?

For gaming purpose, we tried Riptide GP 2 and Dead Trigger 2. These games ran smoothly with no lag and frame drops were not so noticeable with no in-game experience interrupted. The Zenfone 2 Laser didn’t heat up as much as the Zenfone Selfie and it did surprise us on how smooth the smartphone performed with only 2GB of RAM. We noticed more lags and performance drop on other smartphones with 2GB of RAM compared to the Zenfone 2 Laser. This is probably to how well the software is optimized to ensure unnecessary performance disturbance.

Battery Life

Just like the Zenfone Selfie, you get a removable 3000 mAh battery. We always stress that the removable battery is always an added feature for those who prefer to carry extra battery so that you can swap it to another extra 3000 mAh if need. In our case, we didn’t bother to get another one simply due to how well it lasted for us. We could easily get more than 3.5 hours of Screen On Time with the Zenfone 2 Laser and it lasted us  almost full day with a full charge. The screenshot above is just for reference on how a normal person would use a smartphone with slight charging with power bank during the day out.

The battery life is definitely better than the Zenfone Selfie thanks to its low-power consumption Snapdragon 410 processor.  If you’re a smartphone user with an average usage pattern, the Zenfone 2 Laser can definitely last more than a day for you. Since we get a removable battery, the Zenfone 2 Laser does not support wireless charging. Also to mention, you do not get the BoostMaster 1.0 Fast Charging capability like the Zenfone Selfie. It charges at a standard speed from 0%-100% within 3 hours. Within the packaging itself, you get a 1A output charger rather than a 2A output  charger like the Zenfone Selfie. As we always mention, instead of buying an extra battery it is advisable to get the ZenPower from ASUS.  Simply head over to ASUS Malaysia’s online store to purchase the 9600mAh ZenPower ( RM59 ) which helps to charge the Zenfone 2 Laser faster than the wall charger provided.

Conclusion – What do we think?

For a price tag of RM799, we couldn’t find any other phone with a Laser auto focus on it. It definitely kills rest of its competitor on this feature. Having said that, we are aware that this is definitely a budget device with a decent processor. Trust us on this, if you need a quick capturing smartphone camera, this will be the one for you. You can never find another one with same price range with the capability of capturing great close-ups and nice indoor shots like the Zenfone 2 Laser.

We are definitely happy with its main camera compared to the Zenfone Selfie. Even the outdoor shooting has been much better and the only main concern of us which we faced during our usage is when we saw some delay to launch the gallery  after taking a photo within the camera application itself. Otherwise, you get a great looking smartphone with good performance and great battery life.

We were also informed that the 6-inch Zenfone 2 Laser will be coming soon to Malaysia. This one features a Full HD display, 3GB of RAM and dual stereo speakers. No doubt this will be a better choice but we have to wait till probably end of this year in order to try this smartphone. Last but not least, if you’re a photography enthusiast, no doubt the 2GB variant will be a great choice for you to try out it’s impressive camera performance. The Zenfone 2 Laser (ZE550KL) is probably the best camera performer on a budget smartphone you can get in Malaysia at the moment.

To make your life easier, click here in order to purchase the Zenfone 2 Laser directly from ASUS Malaysia’s online store.

ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser - At a Glance
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery Life
  • Camera
  • Penny Worth?

Summary

Pros:-
- Fast main camera
- Laser auto focus is a killer feature
- Great outlook and build quality
- Best camera on a budget smartphone

Cons:-
- No fast charging
- No NFC ( Near Field Communication )

4

Full Technical Specifications

Operating SystemBrand-new ASUS ZenUI with Android 5.0 Lollipop
Display5.5-inch, 1280 x 720 HD resolution, with ASUS TruVivid Full Screen Lamination Technology
72% screen-to-body ratio, 267 ppi, IPS display up to 178’ viewing angle
Anti-Scratch Corning Gorilla Glass 4
60ms touch response time
20nm Oleophobic Anti-fingerprints coating
ProcessorQualcomm 64-bit Quad Core Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916) @ 1.2 Ghz
Qualcomm Adreno 306 GPU
Storage16GB eMMC Flash + 5GB free lifetime ASUS WebStorage
Google Drive 100GB free space (2-years)
Micro SD card support, up to 128GB
MemoryLPDDR3 2GB RAM
PixelMaster
Camera
Front = 5 MP with f/2.0-apeture, wide-angle (85’) lens
-          Modes: Selfie Panorama (up to 140’), Real Time Beautification, HDR, Low Light, Night, Photo Effects, GIF Animation, Time Lapse
Rear = 13 MP, with f/2.0-apeture, 5-element auto-focus lens | Laser Auto Focus for 0.2 second focus time | Dual LED Real Tone Flash | Blue Glass IR Filter | Zero Shutter Lag
-          Modes: Back Light (HDR) with ASUS Pixel-enhancing (up to 400% brighter photos and videos), Low Light, Manual Mode, Super Resolution (up to 52 MP resolution photos), Real Time Beautification, Selfie, Night, Photo Effects, Panorama, Miniature, Time Rewind, Smart Remove, All Smiles, Time Lapse
Network StandardsLaser Direct Structuring Antennas for Better Signal Reception
4G LTE (CAT 4) download speed up to 150Mbps
GSM / WCDMA Quad-Band for Worldwide Data Roaming
850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100MHz
Wireless802.11 b/g/n
BT 4.0 with A2DP, Wi-Fi direct
Connectivity3.5mm audio jack, dual micro-SIM, micro USN (support OTG)
NavigationGPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, MDSS
SensorAccelerometer (Gyro/G-Sensor combo), E-Compass, Proximity/Light Sensor combo, Hall-effect Sensor
SIM CardDual Micro SIM, Dual Stand-by (LTE+LTE)
-          SIM1 Support 2G/3G/4G
-          SIM2 Support 2G/3G/4G
Battery3,000 mAH Li-Polymer (removable)
Dimensions152.5 x 77.2 x 3.9 ~ 10.8 mm (L x W x H)
Weight170 g (with battery)
AudioDual Mic with Noise Cancellation for best phone call quality
5 magnet structure sound chamber with louder sound, stronger bass, less distortion
Video1080p HD video recording with video stabilization and one-touch still-capture facility
ColorPremium UV Coating: Pure Black / Ceramic White / Glamour Red
Hairline design: Sheer Gold / Glacier Gray
PriceMYR 799 (inclusive 6% GST)