ASUS ZenFone 2 Review: Excellent Android Value

Introduction and Specifications

The rate at which the industry is pumping out smartphones these days is staggering. Even more impressive is the rate at which truly outstanding phones are shipping, even from names that weren't significant just a few years ago. BLU, Xiaomi, OnePlus, and ASUS (just to name a few) have all produced handsets in recent months that rival the best offerings from Apple, LG, Samsung, and other historical greats. It signals a shift in the industry where we've reached a certain level of market maturity at the hardware, software and ecosystem level. It's just that much easier to launch a smartphone in market than it was a few years ago.

The ASUS ZenFone 2 is one of the more interesting devices to hit the HotHardware reviews desk in some time. We spent a bit of time previewing it earlier this month, and now we've assembled a full review after using it more regularly as our daily dialer. The higher-end model, which is what we're testing here, is available widely for just $299 unlocked.

To put that in perspective, most flagship Android phones retail for upwards of $599 unlocked.

ASUS ZenFone 2 In Various Colors
And we're quickly approaching a point where the hardware available in a $299 smartphone isn't just sufficient for those on a budget, but also capable enough for power users that demand more performance and all the latest technologies. Here's a glance at what's inside the ASUS ZenFone 2 and as you'll see, there's a lot under the hood for its modest price tag...

ASUS ZenFone 2
Specifications & Features
Android 5.0 (Lollipop) with Asus' custom ZenUI overlay
64-bit 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor
6430 PowerVR 533MHz 
64GB built-in flash eMMC storage
5.5-inch Full HD (1920x1080 pixels)
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Rear Camera
13 MP PixelMaster Rear-facing Camera
f/2.0 Aperture, 85-degree Wide-Angle Lens
Dual LED Real Tone Flash
Front Camera
5MP Front-facing Camera
GSM / HSPA / LTE; Dual-SIM support
NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz), GPS, GLONASS, QZSS, SBAS, BDS
3.5 mm stereo audio jack, micro-USB 2.0
170 grams
77.2 x 152.5 x 3.9 ~ 10.9 mm (WxDxH)
3000 mAh Li-Polymer (non-removeable) 
Color Options
$299 off-contract and unlocked
ASUS ZenFone 2 In Hand
This ASUS smartphone is one of the few phones to ship this year with an Intel Atom chip inside. Intel is surely looking to get its label onto more handsets as time marches on, but it'll be tough to oust platform players like Qualcomm and Samsung that already have a firm grip. On paper, the ZenFone 2 looks like a mid-to-high range phone, but again, it's the $299 price point that keeps everything in focus.

ASUS ZenFone 2 On Wood Table

Can ASUS' latest (now finally available in the US as well) come close to matching the performance of phones that cost twice as much? We'll find out in the pages ahead.

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