The Asus ZenFone 2 Laser Review, A Gorgeous Performer On A Budget!

The ZenFone 2 is clearly one of the most popular phones of 2015 and Asus clearly capitalized on that by making a lot of different other variants. Recently, Asus released another set of ZenFone models and one of them is the ZenFone 2 Laser.
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
ZenFone 2 Laser review

Related: ZenFone 2 Laser 5.5 S Unboxing And First Impressions - A Major Upgrade?

The ZenFone 2 Laser ZE550KL is a budget 5.5 inch screened phone which resembles the original ZenFone 2 with a slightly different finish and different internals. As the name goes, the this type of ZenFone has one striking feature that caught my interest, the Laser Autofocus that's usually found in higher end devices.

Asus Zenfone 2 Laser (ZE550KL) Specs

Display: 5.5 Inch HD 1280 x 720 resolution w/ Gorilla Glass 4 protection at 267 ppi
CPU: 1.2 GHz 64 Bit Snapdragon 410 quad core processor
GPU: Adreno 306
RAM: 2 GB
ROM: 16 GB expandable via micro SD card up to 128 GB
Back Camera: 13 MP f/2.0 w/ laser AF and dual real tone LED flash
Selfie Camera: 5 MP f/2.0 and 85 degree wide angle lens
Battery: 3,000 mAh Li Pol
OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop w/ Zen UI
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, LTE, Bluetooth, GPS, A GPS, Dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, proximity, compass, light, gyroscope
Others: Colors: Pure black, ceramic white, glamour red
Dimensions: 152.5 x 77.2 x 10.8 mm
Weight: 170 g
Price: 8,695 Pesos

Unboxing / Accessories

THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
The box

The ZenFone 2 comes with similar looking box with a different print that's quite easy to open. Upon opening the box, you get the unit itself, some paper docs, a micro USB cable and a wall charger adapter. What's missing in the package here compared to the ZenFone 2 is the inclusion of the decent sounding in ear monitors that I actually liked for a freebie.

Update: As per Asus PH officials, the ZenFone 2 Laser will come with a free ZenEar! :)
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
The accessories

Build Quality / Design

THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
The gorgeous back cover

Man, as usual most models of the ZenFone 2 is a looker and they even improved it with the ZenFone 2 Laser. Gone are the mild sharp edges present with the ZenFone 2 phone that my girl has and I like the paint finish better. It still has the same form factor of the original ZenFone 2 that feels great to hold due to that curved back design. The ZenFone 2 laser also still has the same button placements having the volume rocker at the back and capacitive keys in-front with still no LED light.
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
Power button, mic and 3.5 mm jack on top

Weird placement of the power button on top, fortunately it was remedied by the almost Knock code like double tap the screen to wake and sleep function.
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
Micro USB port and another mic below
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
The nice slimness look of the phone due to the curve

What's new here design-wise is the inclusion of a laser autofocus sensor at the back intelligently placed beside the Toshiba rear camera. Asus also improved the glass protection of the ZenFone 2 with the use of Corning Gorilla Glass 4 technology. That made this phone probably the most affordable phone of this setup.
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
Side by side with the regular ZenFone 2

Display Quality

THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
The ZenFone 2 Laser features a nice HD screen

This is one of the nicest HD display out there under 10K if you're not under the sun! It features a 5.5 Inch OGS HD 1280 x 768 resolution w/ Gorilla Glass 4 protection at 267 ppi. It also has the same screen to size ratio with the regular and pricier ZenFone 2 at over 70%. What's amazing here is the sharpness and quality of the images, side by side with the regular ZenFone 2 with FHD display, the difference is hardly noticeable unless you take a really good look at it. 

By default it packs a warm tone that doesn't hurt the eyes even when hours of usage. Then the best part of its display is the customization. You can even adjust the the lighting depending on your mood and even lower the bluelight filter to further protect your eyesight especially when reading. If it has one minor weakness, that would be the brightness as it's not the brightest screen you'll find out there.

Audio Quality

The ZenFone 2 Laser comes with an unknown type of DAC that's paired with a great software called the audio wizard. The Asus audio wizard has the ability to automatically adjust the preset of tunes to the right listening mode. It also comes with a manual effect where-in you can adjust the bass and treble part. Then the best part of it is the custom eq included for your to properly cook your preferred listening experience.

It also comes with with a decent speaker with average loudness. On max volume it can fill my small room with pleasing tunes already. However, it's not as loud as the regular ZenFone 2, but there's nothing to worry that much as it still presents nice details, some bass punch and nice airiness for a phone speaker. The microphone is also clear enough for recording audio and making calls.

While the audio out thru headphones of the ZenFone 2 Laser isn't on the audiophile level, it's better than most local branded phones in this price range. I would say this one is better than the average. As expected from a Snapdragon powered phone, it was able to give me that warm and thick sound signature to the delight of pop, hiphop and rock music lovers. It's still slightly bass boosted, but it has more balance than the slightly overpowering bass of the regular ZenFone 2. The bass part maintains that punchy with a more controlled meaty heart thumping sub-bass, the midrange is clear and has decent highs.

Note: The driving power of the sound is also a weaker against the regular ZenFone 2


Battery

THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
Long battery life even with heavy usage

The battery life of this ZenFone is a revelation. Why? It's because the battery life of the original ZenFone 2 isn't that good and they managed to resolve that problem here. I'm giving Asus a HUGE props here as they managed to fix that major issue with the ZenFone 2 as this one has an amazing battery life! I was able to use it on a normal mode for 2 days before charging! When it comes to heavy usage it lasted over 9 hours having my the screen, wifi, 3G, bluetooth, gps and a lot of apps open all the time.

Camera

Just like the regular ZenFone 2, the ZenFone 2 Laser comes with a 13 MP Toshiba sensor at the back and 5 MP selfie camera. This time Asus improved it by adding the laser autofocus technology at the back for lighting fast focus. Is it a gimmick? Some may say yes and some may say no, but for me it's a useful kind of gimmick. As the ZenFone 2 Laser was able to almost match the laser af quality of the LG G3 side by side.

It was able to produce better than average photos with nice vivid colors and sharpness in a slightly warm tone. Aside from the given speed of the laser autofocus, Asus was able to compliment it with a quick shutter speed too which is decent enough to capture moving shots with ease. However I saw one small issue though, it has a near second delay when saving photos. The ZenFone 2 Laser also has a burst mode feature which can take up to 100 photos that can be accesses by long pressing either the volume rocker up or down

When it comes to the camera quality, it still has the same goodness of the ZenFone 2 on both the front and back. Then as usual, Asus has one of the best camera softwares out there with manual mode and they we're able to place it in this budget offering.

Sample shots

My favorite dim light bokeh shot with clean blurr and great details
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
Mandatory food shot using the depth of field mode
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
Normal daylight flower shot
Normal dim light shot
Shot taken when we were moving going to EDSA, shows the speed of focus and shutter of the phone
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
The weakness of most phones on max zoom
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
Check out that awesome HDR performance
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
The power of super lowlight mode
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
The default flash over exposed the subject a little when you're too near
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
A lovely night mode shot
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
Pardon my shameless selfie on normal mode
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
With beautify on in dim light

Performance

In the real life performance, the ZenFone 2 Laser actually delivered a bit more than what I expected. It's not the most powerful out there, yet it's one of the smoother performers out there. The Snapdragon 410 processor which usually scores at 19-20k is at over 22k here that did wonders in the overall experience. However, if you open too many apps there are times that you'll feel minor lags in the camera app which is quite normal for phones with this price range.
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
The usual look of the Zen UI

Gaming-wise, those who love to play addicting games like COC will definitely love this as I've mentioned in the spec-sheet, the ZenFone 2 Laser has a 10 point multitouch screen, 5.5 inch big display and a very long battery life. If you're a heavy gamer most heavy and 3D games run here, but you may need to lessen the apps open if you're planning to put it on high setting to avoid lags.
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
Some of my favorite Zen UI features

When it comes to the software, again just like the ZenFone 2, the ZenFone 2 Laser delivers one of the most feature packed and smoothest Android custom OS I've ever used. It's complete from customization, optimization, gestures and even to the smallest details. Some may not like the built-in custom apps, but for me I find most of the useful. I actually loved using the Photo Collage and Mini Movie. There are also other useful feature like the Kids Mode, Easy Mode, Asus Cover, Batter Saver and etc.

Other's may not like the pre-installed apps, but that's definitely on your preference already. Besides this is an Android device where you can remove them from your start-up apps without the need of rooting your phone. By the way I'm also having no issues with the SIM and signals of this phone from 3G to 4G.

In general, the ZenFone 2 Laser is a performs decently for the price.

Benchmarks

THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
Antutu benchmark and multi touch test
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
Geekbench and quadrant
THE ASUS ZENFONE 2 LASER REVIEW, A GORGEOUS PERFORMER ON A BUDGET!
The gpu bench score


Pro's - Almost everything for the expected price, specs, camera, sound, technology used and functions, actual package comes with a FREE ZenEar
Con's - Capacitive keys has no light, camera lag when too many apps are open

Verdict

Asus clearly created a solid phone in the crowded entry-midrange segment. It also has one major advantage over the rest as it utilizes the greatness of Laser Autofocus without the need of shelling out too much cash. It resulted to a slightly better camera performance than the pricier ZenFone 2. I also liked the way Asus was able to improve the aesthetics of this one. So if you're a person who loves photography, social media, needs decent performance, long battery life and a gorgeous looking phone without breaking your bank; the ZenFone 2 Laser is a must have.

GIZ Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
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