Reviewing a mid-range smartphone - ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser ZE500KL
Most of the well known smartphone manufacturers have already released their new flagship devices for this year. Still, as the majority of sales happen in the mid-range price category, it is important for us to also review smartphones that do not have a high price tag and that appeal to different segments of the global smartphone market. ASUS, the Taiwanese computer giant, continues its constantly increasing involvement in the mobile consumer area with the release of an interesting series of budget models. This company is more and more active in the smartphone area and, recently, they released a new member of the ZenFone series: ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE500KL). With this mid-range smartphone, ASUS tries to pair an appealing price with robust performance. Read this review to find out what we think about the ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE500KL):
Hardware specifications & packaging
ZenFone 2 Laser comes in a typical ASUS packaging, with a glossy box that has the image of the smartphone on its top side and its main features printed on the bottom and sides. The top area also bolsters the fact that the ASUS ZenFone 2 series has been awarded the 2015 iF Design Award.
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The sliding cover comes off quite easily and inside it you will find the smartphone sitting on top of a cardboard tray. It seems that more and more manufacturers have stop ped using plastic wrappings, probably in an attempt to deliver their devices in a way that is more environmentally friendly.
Inside, together with your new smartphone, you will find the following: the charging and data transfer cable, the power charger, the warranty and a Quick Start Guide.
ASUS offers 6 color flavors for its ZenFone 2 Laser: Osmium Black, Sheer Gold, Glacier Gray, Glamour Red, Ceramic White and Twilight Purple. As you might have noticed from the pictures above, the model we tested is the Glamour Red variant - an upbeat colour that works well for anyone.
The ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE500KL) has a interesting 5.0 inch IPS LCD with an HD resolution of 1280x720 and a pixel density of 294 ppi. This smartphone runs on a quad-core 1.2 GHz processor, namely the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916). This CPU comes equipped with a built-in Adreno 306 video chip (running at 450 MHz), which supports OpenGL ES 3.0 and features unified shaders. Also, you will get 2GB of RAM memory. In terms of storage, the ZenFone 2 Laser we received for testing has 16GB of internal storage space, out of which only 10 GB are actually usable. It seems that ASUS will also offer a variant with even smaller internal storage of only 8 GB. Still, this is not a problem as you can use a microSD card of up to 128GB to extend the storage space. This smartphone's autonomy is handled by a well balanced 2070 mAh removable lithium-polymer battery.
The main camera is made by Toshiba and it has 13 megapixels, 5 element lens, autofocus, dual LED flash, laser detection and HDR capabilities, while the front facing camera has a resolution of 5 megapixels.
Moving forward to the connectivity options, we can tell you that the ZenFone 2 Laser includes a microUSB 2.0 port, a Bluetooth 4.0 chip and wireless networking using the 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac standards. In terms of wireless support, you will be able to connect to both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks. The ASUS ZE500KL also offers the possibility of using two SIM card at the same time, but only the first one supports 4G (LTE and HSPA+) mobile networks. The second SIM card will only offer 2G connectivity .
The ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser has a height of 143.7 mm (5.65 inches) and a width of 71.5 mm (2.81 inches). The smartphone's thickness varies between 3.5 mm (0.13 inches) and 10.5 mm (0.41 inches) , because of the curved back that has a bulky middle and very thin edges. These body dimensions bring the general weight of the smartphone to a total of 140 grams (4.93 ounces).
These are the general specifications of the ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE500KL), but if you want to find out more detailed information, check the this page: ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE500KL).
The ZenFone 2 Laser is a well balanced mid-range smartphone, built on the platform of ASUS' s flagship phone, the ZenFone 2 ZE551ML. It features a good 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM and a 13 MP camera with many interesting features.
Design and build quality
As you might have noticed from the section above, the ZenFone 2 Laser sports the eye catching design of its big brother - the ZenFone 2 ZE551ML. The 143.7 mm (5.65 inch) frame of this smartphone is made out of high quality plastic and features a brushed metallic finish on the lower front area. This makes the smartphone really stand-out, making you think that you are handling a premium device. Still, we would have loved it if this metallic finish continued to the top bezel.
ASUS invested a lot of attention in terms of ergonomics. This obvious care for details is proved, first of all, by the 70.8% screen-to-body ratio, which implies the fact that ZenFone 2 Laser does not have large unused areas.
The top bezel features the 5 MP selfie camera on the right and the ear speaker on the center.
The top edge of the smartphone features the all-important power button, which, in our tests, seemed quite easy to reach while using the smartphone with only one hand. Next to it you will find the 3.5 mm audio jack for your headphones.
The bottom edge accommodates the micro-USB connector which will allow you to easily transfer content between the ZenFone 2 Laser and a computer, and also charge the smartphone.
On the bottom, just above the brushed metallic finish of the front, you will find the three capacitive buttons that allow you to easily access and use any Android-powered device: Back, Home and Recent Apps. These physical buttons worked flawlessly and their backlights are quite nice.
One of the most interesting features of the new ZenFone 2 smartphones is the redesigned volume rocker. We are talking about the relocation of t his button on the backplate of the smartphone, under the main camera. ASUS made this change with ergonomics in mind, as the thin sides could not accommodate any serious buttons. Still, it is a great decision because this new positioning makes it easier for you to use this fairly large device with only one hand and, of course, this is also more comfortable. Also, because there are no side buttons we did not have to worry about accidentally pressing one of these keys while holding it in our hands.
ASUS's care for ergonomics is also visible in their choice to go with a curved back panel which has the bulk of the weight in the middle area. This design feature together with the thin edges give this smartphone a great grip and a comfortable hold. The matte finish of the backplate also helps in getting a firmer grip on the handset.
ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser comes with a 5-inch display with an HD resolution of 1280x720 and a pixel density of 294 ppi. Because it uses an IPS panel, the screen offers great contrast, wide viewing angles and, of course, a good color saturation. It also means that you will be able to easily use the ZenFone 2 Laser in both indoor and outdoor areas and even in direct sunlight.
ZenFone 2 Laser (ZE500KL) is a mid-range smartphone with a body design that mirrors the great looks of ASUS' s flagship ZenFone 2 ZE551ML but in a smaller form. The nicely curved back panel and its fairly thin edges make this smartphone fit comfortably in any hand. The robust build of the ZenFone 2 Laser, together with the ingenious repositioning of the power button and volume rocker, shows that ASUS pays a lot of attention to the ergonomics of this smartphone.
The smartphone experience on ASUS ZenFone 2 ZE500KL
In terms of connectivity, the ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser works well with 4G mobile networks and the radio signal seemed to be quite stable in our geographic area. This allowed us to have good quality phone calls. We got a clear sound that made the voice of our callers highly audible and easy to understand. It even makes it easy for you to have a decent phone conversation in a noisy environment.
We have to also remind you that ZenFone 2 Laser is a smartphone that supports two different SIM cards, that can be active simultaneously. Still, when it comes to 4G mobile networks, the SIM cards work in a different way: while the first one will support speeds of up to 150Mbps (LTE and HSPA+) for downloads, the second one will stop at 2G networks. Also, unfortunately, this second SIM card slot doubles as the microSD tray, which means that you will have to choose between expanding your storage or using a second mobile service provider.
If you are wondering about sound quality when listening to music or when watching movies, we can tell you that the ZenFone 2 Laser will not disappoint you. You will find that the rear-mounted speaker offers a well-calibrated sound, without distortions. We liked the way it handled any music genre and the fact that it packs quite a powerful punch when it comes to its maximum volume. As we mentioned earlier, you will find the 3.5 mm jack on the top edge, but, unfortunately, we did not receive any headphones with the smartphone so we tested the sound with a pair of standard Nokia ones. They worked quite well and the sound quality was great.
ZenFone 2 Laser runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop with the ASUS Zen UI installed on top of it. We can tell you that Zen UI is applied to all Android powered smartphones made by ASUS and it offers additional features that enhance the standard Android operating system. Also, this highly customized graphics interface integrates a large number of preinstalled apps that will help you solve any task you need them to.
The 2070 mAh battery will allow you to use your smartphone for 10 to 12 hours in normal usage scenarios or 6 to 7 hours in heavy duty usage. It can, probably, allow you to use it for a day or more if you set the brightness to 50% and then make a few short calls, send a few messages or do some light browsing. As with all smartphones battery stamina is strongly related to your personal habits.
Overall, ASUS ZenFone 2 Laser is a mid-range smartphone that will offer you plenty of features. It works well with 4G networks and the signal reception is stable. Phone conversations are clear and highly audible on both ends, even in lower signal conditions.