ASUS Philippines just recently launched one of their newest budget Android smartphones, the ZenFone 2 Laser 5.0, which is the latest variant of their ZenFone 2 series.
When it comes to quality computer hardware and electronics, I have always trusted ASUS. My four-year-old ASUS notebook and two-year-old ASUS tablet, which are still perfectly working great as of today, give me enough reasons to believe that they indeed produce high quality products. I don't easily change gadgets until they don't work anymore so I make sure to choose a brand that really lasts long, most especially something reliable while traveling.
I have been eyeing the ZenFone 5 since it was launched last year to replace my Xperia smartphone which has been with me for four years. When ZenFone 2 series was launched this year, I got more excited upon seeing the upgrades in specs and actually purchased the Zenfone Selfie a few months after its release. To be honest, I'm loving it so far!
Meanwhile, ASUS sent me their ZenFone 2 Laser 5.0 (ZE500KL) a few weeks ago, which will be my focus in this review. Don't confuse it with its older brother, the ZenFone 2 Laser 5.5 which sports a bigger screen.
In this quick review, I wanted to highlight the top things that I like about the phone. But first, let me give you the key specs of ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE500KL):
- 5 inch IPS HD display (1280 × 720; 294 ppi); Corning Gorilla Glass 4
- 1.2 GHz quad core 64-bit Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410
- Adreno 306 GPU
- 2 GB RAM
- 16 GB storage (+microSD up to 128GB)
- 8 MP main camera, PixelMaster, laser autofocus, dual tone LED flash, f/2.0
- 5 MP front camera
- Dual Micro SIM card
- LTE, HSPA, 3G
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n; Bluetooth V4.0; GPS
- 2070 mAh battery
- Android 5.0 Lollipop with ZenUI
My top priority when it comes to smartphones is always the performance. Coming from a dual-core mobile phone, the difference in performance in Laser 5.0 is greatly noticeable. I don't need to deal with lagging UI and slow-performing applications anymore, especially in multi-tasking scenarios. In almost 2 weeks of using the Laser 5.0, I haven't experienced any noticeable lags and stuttering so far, which my previous smartphone suffered. Also, switching from one application to another is done without a hitch. Aside from its quad-core processor, Laser 5.0's 2GB RAM really helps a lot in this aspect. It's already 2015 and I think that amount of RAM should be a minimum nowadays.
Although a good indication of performance, I'm not really crazy about benchmarking tests and numbers as it all boils down to real-world experience. Over time, more applications are going to be installed and more files are going to be saved so it's important that your smartphone is capable to handle these. Based on papers the specs look promising to manage this kind of real-life expectations in the future.
I'm not a heavy gamer but am highly satisfied that some of my favorite graphically-intensive games such as Dead Trigger and Asphalt 8 run smoothly. The overall UI is so smooth and responsive that I didn't have to install a third-party Android launcher which I used to do in my other smartphone. ZenUI is also highly customizable which is a plus point for me.
Design and display
Upon receiving the unit, I instantly fell in love with its built, color, and slim design. The Gold variant looks really premium, and the unit has a very nice grip despite its thinness.
The screen size of 5 inches is also another upgrade from my previous handset which has 4.5 inches only. My Selfie, which has 5.5 inches screen, requires two-hand operation but with Laser 5.0, I can manage to use it with one hand with ease. It's a perfect phone for those who don't have big hands like me. Also, it doesn't have any physical buttons in front and sides which contribute to its overall sleek and sexy look.
Another impressive feature of the display is the vibrant colors and wide viewing angles. Unlike my previous phone, Laser 5.0's screen is way better when viewed under direct sunlight. As I love to take photos of beaches and waterfalls, having a bright screen outdoors is a must. Sometimes, you may need to bump up the brightness and it's all good.
I also love the fact that I don't need to put a screen protector on (it's up to you) for scratches due to its Corning protection. In fact, I removed it the first day I had it installed since it attracts more fingerprints and smudges as compared to the actual display!
I believe the main highlight of ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser 5.0 is its camera. The 8-megapixel rear camera has laser autofocus technology which ASUS claims can focus as fast as only 0.03 seconds. Based on experience, it actually has the fastest focus in a camera phone I have ever owned! What I love more is the sharp looking photos despite the speedy auto-focus even in dim light conditions.
There is a bunch of modes which you may find very useful in different lighting conditions. So far Low Light, HDR and Real-time Beautification modes (selfie, anyone?) are really good. I think this phone is really created for the photo-savvies.
While traveling I enjoy uploading photos on Instagram as real-time as possible. And for this, I would need a reliable smartphone that can quickly capture images as good as my DSLR camera. And so far, I'm satisfied with Laser 5.0's camera performance. I've yet to test it during actual travel but I really hope it won't disappoint me.
Call quality and connectivity
Laser 5.0's call quality is superb. It's really a big improvement from my previous smartphone. Also, the ability to connect to LTE is another great feature that I'm happy with. I've been contented with connecting to 3G signal for the past years so having 4G network connection will surely enhance my internet connection speed especially when I need to upload travel photos with big sizes and resolutions when wifi is unavailable.
One thing that impressed me when I bought my ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 is its strong battery life. Luckily, ASUS brought the same battery efficiency in Laser 5.0. During normal usage, the battery lasts for up to 2 days, which is rare in Android smartphones nowadays.
This is significant for me especially while being on the road, to have enough power while browsing the internet, checking the Google Maps or listening to music, while heading to my next destination. However, my ASUS ZenPower is very handy as my back-up powerbank in case my smartphone runs out of juice.
Sample photos taken with ZenFone 2 Laser 5.0:
Comparing with my previous smartphone, Laser 5.0 is really a huge improvement in my mobile phone experience. I trust that Laser 5.0 is gonna be my new awesome travel companion. I can't wait to bring it in my upcoming trip to take photos of beaches, waterfalls and scenery. I will be posting some images on my Instagram soon and update this post with more sample shots.
Finally, what's interesting is that ASUS, being one of the top brands, manages to keep the prices of their ZenFones low without sacrificing quality and features. And Laser 5.0 is indeed a great value for money smartphone.
ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE500KL) is already available for PhP 7,295 only. Visit this link to know more about the ZenFone 2 Laser 5.0.
*ASUS Philippines provided the unit for review. The views expressed here are mine.