ASUS ZenFone 2 Review: Excellent Android Value

Article Index

Summary and Conclusion

The ZenFone 2 isn't as powerful as the Samsung Galaxy S6 nor the HTC One M9, but it's also half as expensive. When you consider the value proposition (or bang for your buck, as it were), it's hard to really knock Asus' latest. While it occasionally falls a little short on the benchmarking front, we're reaching an time where scores matter a little less, and real-world experience matters a lot more. In real-world use, the ZenFone 2 is speedy enough to please even the toughest critic, and we're of the mindset that it isn't always worth spending twice as much (or more) for a GS6 or One M9 unless you place an high value on gaming.

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For a phone priced at $299 unlocked, we expected some shortcomings and tradeoffs. Amazingly, we found almost none outside of the middling gaming benchmarks, a ho hum camera, and weaker-than-average battery life. The overall build quality and design is superb. It's beautiful, comfortable to hold, and well-built. The attention to detail is really impressive, and we can't find much to gripe about in terms of construction. Hard core gamers might want to look elsewhere, as the latest titles might tax the phone beyond its capabilities. In addition, those who place a high value on photo image quality will likely find more to love in Samsung's Galaxy S6 or Apple's iPhone 6 Plus. Whether or not a superb camera experience is worth hundreds of extra dollars boils down to the level of importance you place on it.

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On the software front, ZenUI is one of the only overlays that we've fully appreciated. The gesture-based shortcut system is a real time-saver, and it feels as if the added amenities were carefully considered -- what's on here truly makes the phone faster and easier to use. We haven't talked much about the Dual SIM support, but that's a super unique feature that'll really make the lives of globetrotters much easier as well. By supporting two SIMs at once, you can easily toggle between SIMs that support networks in different countries. Few phones in the U.S. market support two SIMs, which makes this a differentiating feature to be sure.
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We wouldn't have expected Asus to produce one of 2015's best values in the smartphone arena, but that's exactly what has happened. At $299 unlocked, it offers rock-solid performance, decent battery life, a great design, a gorgeous 1080p display, nice additions to Android Lollipop, and dual SIM support. Canvasing the landscape, it's tough to find too many phones that offer so much for so little.

Hot Hardware Recommended Logo

  • Great display
  • Enjoyable ZenUI overlay
  • Great design and build quality
  • Solid overall performance
  • Fantastic $299 price point unlocked
  • Battery life
  • Middling graphics performance
  • Lackluster camera 

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