Hands-on: Asus ZenFone 2 Laser can shake budget camera phone segment

first_imgAsus launched as many as three new smartphones in India on Thursday at its ZenFestival event held in New Delhi. While the ZenFone 2 Deluxe and the ZenFone Selfie each look very promising on paper it’s the company’s third offering, the ZenFone 2 Laser that is particularly interesting.Also Read: Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe, Laser and Selfie variants break-down: Everything to know In a nutshell, the ZenFone 2 Laser aims to become the new hot favorite of buyers looking for a ‘good’ camera phone at a budget. How? By bringing in a camera gimmickry that was well until now limited to high-end premium phones like the LG G4 and very recently the OnePlus 2 (a mid-range phone) to the affordable segment. We are talking about laser autofocus technology.Not to mention that Asus likes to take a fair bit of inspiration from LG from time to time, be it in the design department or now the camera. But, the fact still remains that both the ZenFone 2 and now the ZenFone 2 Laser cost peanuts in comparison to LG’s high-end smartphones.Moreover, the ZenFone 2 Laser is the only phone in its segment to offer laser autofocus technology, which makes it quite a killer deal on paper if you’re looking for a good camera phone at a budget.Also Read: First impressions: Asus ZenFone 2 Deluxe  The ZenFone 2 Laser starts at Rs.9,999 for the lower-end model that comes with a 5-inch 720p display, Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410 (quad-core) CPU with 2GB RAM and 2,400mAh battery. The second variant with a 5.5-inch 720p display has been priced at Rs.13,999 and comes with the same Snapdragon 410 CPU, but with 3GB RAM and 3,000mAh battery.advertisementThe third variant of the ZenFone 2 Laser has a 6-inch FullHD display and has been priced at Rs. 17,999. It is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 processor coupled with 3GB RAM and has a 3,000mAh battery.We played around with the 5.5-inch variant of the ZenFone 2 Laser and here are our first impressions?To begin with, the ZenFone 2 Laser has exactly the same design as that of the ZenFone 2. In fact, all the three smartphones launched by the company have the same design contours. The ZenFone 2 Laser, being the cheaper one of the lot is built rather ‘cheaply’ in comparison. Not that it’s bad, but you can make out the difference in the quality and craftsmanship which is slightly on the lower end of the spectrum.The front is still characteristic ZenFone-like with the familiar metallic strip on the front lower end featuring concentric semi-circles. The screen comes aided with Corning Gorilla Glass 4, which is nice.The back is plastic with a slight matte finish and still houses the LG G2-like volume rocker. The power button – much to our disappointment – is still on the upper edge (like the ZenFone 2) which means using it on a 5.5-inch phablet is still a frustrating affair.The 5.5-inch variant of the phone comes with an HD 720X1280 pixels resolution and 294ppi density which translates to a decent screen, with a decent output and adequate viewing angles. Brightness levels could have been slightly better though.The phone is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410 processor with 3GB RAM. In our brief usage we found the processor pretty nippy and multitasking was handled pretty well too, but we still need more time with the device to give out a final verdict. At this price it competes with the likes of the Motorola Moto G (Gen 3), the Xiaomi Mi 4 (and the Mi 4i) among others. We reviewed the new Moto G recently and that thing was smooth as butter. The Mi 4i, not so much, but the Mi 4 is pretty fast and smooth as well.The ZenFone 2 Laser runs Android 5.0 Lollipop out-of-the-box with the company’s ZenUI on top, which is pretty responsive, however it comes loaded with bloatware, which we did not like.The ZenFone 2 Laser sports a 13MP rear camera with laser autofocus and dual-LED (dual tone) flash along with a 5MP camera on the front.The laser autofocus system to adjust the focus of the handset’s rear camera over regular autofocus is the phone’s key marketing gimmick. Whether or not it is able to excel in real-world usage is yet to be seen.In layman’s terms, the laser autofocus gimmickry is supposed to help in low light conditions, meaning better low light photos.We clicked some photos with the phone (in low light) and the results were a mixed bag. That said, some of the photos clicked with the phone’s rear camera came out pretty good, with good detail and colours that were punchy and almost true to source. There was some noise. More on that later.advertisementThe ZenFone 2 Laser uses a 3,000 mAh battery and supports 4G LTE. Our first impressions of the ZenFone 2 Laser are mostly positive, more so because the price at which the company is selling this phone seems quite well put out. It has the same processor as the new Moto G (but more RAM) which is nice. This doesn’t mean it’s smoother than the Moto G though, but considering that the original ZenFone 5 that was launched at a similar price point sold like hot cakes, chances are this one may see similar response. The camera gimmickry seems well put out too (unlike the Xolo Black where too much technicalities killed the fun).Also Read: Asus globally announces ZenFone Max with 5,000mAh battery in Indialast_img

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