The ZenFone 2 range by Asus is a bit confusing,
because there are so many different variants. Different chipsets, RAM,
display resolutions and storage capacities make it a difficult phone to
purchase, and you need to study the spec-sheet and price carefully
before hitting the 'buy' button. As if this wasn't confusing enough,
Asus has decided to launch more ZenFone 2 models, and the one we're
reviewing today is the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE550KL).
leave it to Asus to be even more confusing than you expected, with
multiple models within the ZE550KL sub-model of the ZenFone 2 Laser. The
device we have for review has a 5.5-inch 720p screen, with a Qualcomm
Snapdragon 410 SoC and 2GB RAM on board, while there is also a
Snapdragon 615-powered option with 3GB RAM.
What's so special
about the Laser, you ask? The Rs. 9,999 smartphone has a laser-powered
autofocus system, which fires an invisible laser pattern onto the
subject area to map the scene and properly adjust the focus accordingly.
This should theoretically lead to quicker focusing and better shots,
but is that the practical reality? Read on to find out.
Look and feel
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE550KL) looks similar to the Asus ZenFone 2 (Review | Pictures). Both handsets
are the same size and shape, and Asus retains its distinctive
concentric-circles pattern on the chin of the device. It's
near-impossible to tell the difference between the two phones at the
The sides remain free of any buttons or slots, and the
bottom has the Micro-USB port. The power button and 3.5mm port are at
the top of the device. Touch gestures within the user interface allow you to wake the device with a double tap and launch
certain apps, so you won't really need the power key for much
apart from powering on and off the device.
Like the ZenFone 2, the
volume rocker of the ZenFone 2 Laser is at the back of the device, just
under the camera. Although it takes some getting used to, we eventually
got comfortable with the positioning and it's a convenient place to put
the volume controls. We were also satisfied with the display, which at
720x1280 pixels is suitably sharp for a budget device. Colours and
brightness are adequate as well.
The Laser departs from the design
of the ZenFone 2 in one small way; the dual-tone flash is to the left
of the camera instead of above, and the laser is to the right of the
camera. The rest of the rear of the device is exactly the same as the
predecessor, with a similar curved rear that is just slightly slimmer at
10.8mm, and a speaker grille at the bottom. The back panel is
removable, with the replaceable battery and SIM-slots underneath. The
Laser uses what appears to be a hybrid SIM slot, but you can actually use both a SIM and microSD card, with the storage card slotting in above the SIM.
Specifications and software
has often used Intel mobile chipsets in its smartphones, and all
variants of the ZenFone 2 sold in India thus far use Atom SoCs. However,
the ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE550KL) departs from tradition to use Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets. The
cheaper variant (that we tested) uses a Snapdragon 410 SoC with 2GB of
RAM, while the more expensive variant uses a Snapdragon 615 chipset with
3GB of RAM. The Laser is a bit expensive for a Snapdragon 410-powered
device (considering you can get a Snapdragon 615-powered Yureka Plus for less), but this can be
justified to some extent by the laser autofocus system that is the
signature feature here.
The rest of the specifications are
identical in both devices: 16GB internal storage, 13-megapixel primary
camera, 5-megapixel secondary camera, up to 128GB expandable storage
support, and a 3000mAh battery. Refreshingly for a budget device, both
SIM slots are 4G capable.
The Asus ZenFone 2 Laser runs Android
5.0 with Asus' own ZenUI layered on top. We aren't fans of the look of
the user interface, but it's zippy, efficient and mostly unobtrusive in
its function. It automatically groups certain apps together, which can
be either extremely convenient or irritating, depending on how you look
There's plenty to like in the user interface, including
improved security, customisation in the form of what shows up on the
quick settings bar, screenshot file format, and more. You can also set
the camera to quick-launch on double tapping the volume key, and set
gestures for launching certain apps even when the device is asleep.
ZenUI offers an impressive level of customisation and is one of the
better custom overlays amongst the budget Android lot. There are some
useful apps and tools, but there is also a bit of bloatware which can't
The Asus ZenFone 2 Laser is named so
because of its signature feature; laser-autofocus for the primary
camera. The 13-megapixel rear camera is at the top center and is adorned
by a dual-tone flash and laser, while the 5-megapixel front camera sits
near the top-left corner. On paper, the rear camera really stands out
among the rest of the spec-sheet. This is the kind of camera
configuration we're used to seeing on high-end devices; the laser
autofocus system was recently seen on the LG G4 (Review)
and the OnePlus 2 (Review | Photos).
camera itself is decent in both well-lit and darker indoor settings,
but tends to produced washed-out images in daylight. This can be fixed
to some extent with the use of HDR mode and some careful focusing, but
it's still definitely a problem worth noting. However, the rest of the
colour range is good, and sharpness and detail and adequate for a
sub-Rs. 10,000 device.
(Click to see full-size image)
Bear in mind, the laser autofocus system is
less effective over longer distances and open environments, because the
receiving sensor is too small to capture the reflecting laser beam at
times. Furthermore, this leads to a lack of ability to accurately focus
on moving objects. The phone's software does revert to the traditional
contrast detection methods of focus when required, though. However, the
ZenFone 2 Laser is best when shooting over shorter distances.
up close produces excellent results, capturing plenty of information
quickly and accurately. The laser-autofocus system works well to quickly
and properly focus on objects within a reasonable close shooting
sphere. It also quickly adjusts to slight movements. Although the laser
system is only slightly (and usually negligibly) faster than a
traditional autofocus system, it's definitely more accurate and usually
gets the focusing of the subject spot on.
The camera app is
comfortable enough to use, with plenty of options in terms of modes and
tweaks. Most key settings are easy to reach and quick to toggle, and
there are some excellent filters and modes, including time lapse, depth
of field, and a GIF creator, to name a few. The manual mode has a long
list of professional options, along with a level indicator to ensure
(Click to see full-size image)
camera performance is generally favourable with the Asus ZenFone 2
Laser, it's important to note that the device is an entry-level
smartphone with specifications that are good for only basic performance.
However, despite that we were impressed with the way the phone handled
standard smartphone functionality. Dead Trigger 2 ran smoothly, with
minimal heating and battery drain issues. Our test videos also ran
smoothly, including the heavily encoded samples. The user interface
itself is comfortably snappy, but there is a bit of noticeable delay
when starting up apps and unlocking the device. This shouldn't bother
budget users too much, though.
We ran the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser
through our usual suite of benchmark tests, and results were more or
less in line with other Snapdragon 410-powered devices. GFXBench and
3DMark returned scores of 9.5fps and 5298 respectively, while AnTuTu and
Quadrant produced scores of 23545 and 13872 each. While better
performance can be attained at the same price, it's important to
remember that you're paying a premium for the technology behind the
camera and the improvements it brings to the phone's photography
Finally, the phone performed well in our video loop
test to determine battery life, going for nearly 14 hours on a full
charge. The large 3000mAh battery is certainly a contributor to this,
and the rest of it can be put down to specifications that work
efficiently with the system. With regular usage, the Laser is expected
to go over a day on a full charge.
The Asus ZenFone 2
Laser is a bit of a misfit among other phones in the sub-Rs. 15,000
price bracket, because of the use of laser autofocus technology. The
phone is essentially a budget device with budget specifications and an
entry-level chipset, but the addition of some nifty camera technology
that actually works well sets this phone apart. Provided you concentrate
most of your photography in closed, short-distance environments, you're
unlikely to find a quicker and more capable camera phone at this price.
shooting, underwhelming performance compared to some of its peers, and a
slight delay when opening apps are the only real weaknesses of the Asus
ZenFone 2 Laser. However, there is a sense of consistency and
reliability in the device, and it won't fail you when you need it to
work. Furthermore, it looks decent, is built well and has great battery
If you're willing to spend a little more, there is even the
option of the Snapdragon 615-powered ZenFone 2 Laser, which comes with
3GB RAM and is expected to offer better performance on paper, though we
haven't had a chance to test it yet. However, at under Rs. 10,000, the
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE550KL) with 2GB RAM is probably the best
closed-environment camera performance on a budget smartphone, and it's
worth checking out if you're a photography enthusiast.
Asus ZenFone 2 Laser in pictures