We unbox the highly anticipated Zenfone 2 ZE551ML!
To say that people are interested in ASUS’ upcoming Zenfone 2 is the understatement of the century. Any time any kind of bang for the buck or mid-range phone is mentioned here on the site, it’s almost always compared to the Zenfone 2. We’ve seen our site crash (multiple times) because of the sheer traffic that ANY Zenfone 2 article brings. It’s pretty safe to say, a LOT of people want the Zenfone 2.
But even among the Zenfone 2 SKUs, there’s one variant that everybody wants over any other. That’s the ZE551ML 2.3GHz 4GB version – the flagship variant of the Zenfone 2. That’s what we’ll be unboxing today.
ASUS Zenfone 2 ZE551ML
- 64-bit Intel Atom 2.3GHz Z3580 quad-core processor
- 4GB of RAM
- 5.5-inch full HD IPS display with Gorilla Glass 3, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 32/64GB of storage, expandable via microSD up to 64GB
- 13-megapixel rear camera, f/2.0-aperture, 5-element, auto-focus lens with dual-color Real Tone flash
- 5-megapixel front camera, f/2.0-aperture, wide-angle 85-degree lens with Selfie Panorama
- Dual SIM
- 3G, LTE
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, NFC
- Android 5.0 Lollipop with ZenUI
- 3000mAh battery
Packaging and contents:
The Zenfone 2 shares the same box design as the Zenfone 5, with a prominent photo of the device (and its color variation) displayed on the front. Just like the Zenfone 5, looking at the side of the box of the ZF2 gives you a quick look at the specs of the phone you’re holding. In our case, the Zenfone 2 has fast charge capability, LTE, a full HD display and Bluetooth 4.0.
Inside the box, you’ll see the phone, as well as a very nice pair of headphones, user manual USB cable and a charger that’s just a wee bigger than normal chargers that you see in other phones. The reason for this is simple: the 2.3GHz version of the ZF2 supports fast charging, only needing about 39 minutes to go from completely flat to 60%.
Initial Impressions: A monster of a phone, at half the price of other flagships
The Zenfone 2 impressed our EIC Carlo when he first laid eyes on it in Barcelona, Spain during MWC, and seeing the device for ourselves, we’re not surprised why. It’s a phone that builds on the design on the Zenfone 5, and manages to address some of the pain points of the previous series of devices. It’s very easy to hold, thanks to the very prominent curved back, which has now received a brushed aluminum finish that gives the phone an extra premium feel.
Once you take the back panel of the ZF2 off, you’ll reveal the two SIM slots underneath and a microSD expansion slot to increase your storage capacity. Our review unit had 32GB of storage on-board, and ASUS has confirmed they’ll also be carrying the 64GB variant as well.
ASUS has also taken design inspiration from LG’s G3 and G2 series of devices and have relocated the volume rocker to the back of the phone, where it sits near the 13-megapixel PixelMaster camera and dual-color Real Tone flash. The power button is located on top alongside the 3.5mm jack. The USB port is located on the bottom of the device.
The display of the ZF2 is a 5.5-inch full HD panel that has Gorilla Glass 3 layered on top of it. ASUS has bucked the trend of on-screen Android navigation keys for Lollipop and decided to go with physical capacitive buttons that sit right below the display.
Bezel thickness is a bit of a disappointment, especially with bezels getting thinner and thinner nowadays but it’s in no way a deal breaker. The ZF2 also retains the aluminum chin with ASUS’ trademark Zen-design on it.
What really makes the ZF2 stand above the rest of its competitors is its 2.3GHz Intel Atom Moorefield processor paired with a previously unheard of 4GB of RAM. We’re not fans the Intel Atom variant used on the ZF5 because of its thermal issues and sometimes sluggish performance, but it seems that Intel has finally figured out how to make a mobile processor that has plenty of grunt without producing the thermal signature of a frying pan. The Moorefiled architecture that we first saw on the FonePad 8 impressed us when we reviewed that device, and it we knew that the top-of-the-line variant would deliver even better performance.
Pair that with 4GB of RAM, and you get a buttery smooth experience like no other. Intel’s previous SoCs typically had a hard time posting good numbers in AnTuTu, but not this time. The ZF2 managed to get 45052 points in AnTuTu, which is an impressive number considering what the previous generation was capable of. This translated to excellent gaming performance with both Real Racing 3 and Asphalt 8, two very demanding games. Having so much RAM will also allow you to open multiple apps without worrying about the phone slowing down which is another plus in our book.
By now you’ve probably seen our camera test pitting the ZF2 against the Galaxy S6, so you have an idea of what the ZF2’s camera is capable of. One thing that we do need to clarify is that the tests were done using ASUS’ test beds, which may not be representative of real-life situations. We intend to revisit that camera matchup in the near future before the full review is published.
Right now no pricing information has been released, and whatever prices that are floating around in the internet is still unofficial and more importantly, not final. ASUS has gone on record before to say that they’re continuously looking to find the correct pricing for the PH market, especially since their sales target for their Zenfones (all variants) is currently pegged at 1 million. It’s a tall order, one that will be greatly affected by pricing. We expect the Zenfone 2 to launch next month, probably sometime in the second week of May.