We review ASUS’ Zenfone Laser!
After ASUS launched the Zenfone 2 family earlier this year, we wondered what would happen to their earlier range of Zenfones, specifically, the Zenfone 5. While the new batch of Zenfones managed to impress us with their price-to-performance ratio, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that ASUS had to update the highly lucrative Zenfone 5 with something as affordable. A few months later, we had our answer – the Zenfone Laser. Priced at Php 7,695 for the basic 5-inch version and Php 8,695 for the 5.5-inch variant that we review today, the Zenfone Laser is the obvious replacement to the Zenfone 5.
ASUS Zenfone Laser specs
- 1.2GHz qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
- 5.5-inch HD display, Gorilla Glass 4 protection, 1280 x 720 resolution
- 8GB/16GB of storage, expandable
- 13-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 apeture, Laser AF
- 5-megapixel front camera
- 3G, LTE
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS
- Android Lollipop
- 3000mAh battery
It’s the same awesome design that you’ve come to love
Just like the Selfie, ASUS has retained its iconic Zen design for the Laser that borrows heavily from the Zenfone 2. Put the Zenfone 2 and the Laser side-by-side, and no one would be able to tell the difference if they don’t know what they’re looking for, at least on the front. ASUS’ trademark Zen-inspired metal chin is situated on the bottom of the phone, right below the physical capacitive keys.
Once you flip the phone on its back, you’ll see some design cues that clue you in – the most important of which is the laser module on right side of the 13-megapixel camera. In terms of controls, the Laser is identically laid out compared to the Zenfone 2 – it uses the same rear key setup, with the power button on the top of the phone. The speaker grille is located on the bottom of the Laser. The 3.5mm jack is on top, while the USB port is on the bottom.
Like the Zenfone 2 the Laser uses a removable back cover that reveals two SIM slots and a microSD slot, as well as the battery. The Laser’s 3000mAh battery is removable, which should be a godsend to people who have been complaining about the Zenfone 2’s non-user replaceable battery.
The Laser uses a 5.5-inch HD display protected with Gorilla Glass 4, and a lower-priced 5-inch version is also available. Overall display quality is good, though obviously the display isn’t as sharp as the full HD Zenfone 2 or the Selfie, and pixels are discernible if you look hard enough.
The Laser comes with ASUS’ ZenUI overlayed on top of Android 5.0. The UI gives a couple of new features like Kids Mode, AudioWizard (for tweaking audio profiles), Touch Gesture (for launching apps when the display is off) as well as other customization options.
Snapdragon 410 isn’t a fast processor, but it is reliable and doesn’t heat up
The Zenfone Laser is equipped with Snapdragon 410 processor, which is the lowest tier processor that the company has used in Qualcomm’s lineup. It’s not the fastest processor out there (MediaTek’s other, more recent offerings run circles around it to be honest) but it’s more than capable of keeping the phone running smoothly with little to no lag during navigation.
Its AnTuTu scores back up that fact – it scores a measly 22570 in AnTuTu, barely higher than the old MediaTek quad-core processors that were in vouge a few months ago. That’s not to say you can’t game with it – Marvel Future Fight ran on it alright, though there are definitely some lag spots here and there because of the slower SoC. Games like Clash of Clans ran a little bit better since it’s a nicer, more sedate game. Faster isn’t always better – you’ll see later on what you lose in performance (and benchmarks) you later gain in battery life.
Fastest AF for its price bracket
The Laser gets its name from the laser AF system built into the device that’s usually found in more expensive phones like the LG G3. The theory is that focusing times are faster because a laser is used to judge distances to aid the camera’s focus instead of the camera doing all that legwork itself.
We found that that theory is sound – the Zenfone Laser has the fastest focusing speeds we’ve ever seen for a phone in its price bracket and is just as fast as other laser AF assisted smartphones. It makes shooting photos of energetic balls of fluff easier, even in dim light.
Unfortunately, the 13-megapixel camera on the Laser is still leagues behind those hi-end devices. That’s not to say that the camera on the Laser is bad, per se – it’s just that it’s just not as good as the big boys. Photos are bright and vibrant when taken in environs where a lot of light is available, though it does suffer a little in low-light, either through blurry or noisy photos. Just like the Selfie, there’s tons of shooting modes available for you, including a full manual mode.
Battery that goes on forever
Remember what we said about benchmarks and battery life? Well, what you lose in benchmark points you gain in battery life – a lot of it. In our PCMark Battery benchmark test (50% brightness) the Zenfone Laser managed to achieve 9 hours and 47 minutes. That puts the Zenfone Laser on the top of the heap this year since we started using PCMark as our battery drain test. In actual use, the phone lasted even longer – it wasn’t difficult to make the phone last more than two days on a single charge, though the phone usually was at the end of its rope at the start of the second day.
Verdict: A great replacement for the Zenfone 5, and a mid-range phone for people who hate running out of battery
While the Zenfone Laser isn’t as powerful as its siblings, it’s still able to deliver a good mix of performance, camera and more importantly, battery endurance. While ASUS didn’t officially say it, it’s a great replacement for the Zenfone 5 lineup, and solves many of the issues that previous users complained about in the series, namely thermal performance, battery life and camera issues. The Zenfone Laser is another great offering from ASUS and should be one of the phones that you consider if you’re looking to buy a smartphone under 9K.