Roughly a year after the first model in the Zenfone series made its debut, Asus (TPE:2357) has announced the second-generation version. Dubbed Zenfone 2, the device retains some of the design ethos of its predecessor, but comes with a host of changes, including 4 GB RAM — a first in the mobile segment.
The most noticeable design change is the inclusion of volume buttons at the back, a move that is reminiscent of what LG (KRX:066570) has done with the LG G2, and then the LG G3. Volume buttons at the back allowed Asus to trim the sides of the device, with the back slightly curving away from the edges. The end result is a device that feels comfortable to hold and use on a daily basis. The power button has been moved up top, which may be a concern for some given the size of the handset. The finish at the back looks like it is brushed metal, but is in fact textured plastic.
Coming to the hardware, the Zenfone 2 comes with a 5.5-inch full-HD display, 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core processor clocked at 2.3 GHz, internal storage variants of 16/32/64 GB, 13 Mp camera and 5 MP camera at the front with 85 degree wide angle lens. In terms of imaging, users will be able to access low light mode, backlight (HDR) mode, enhanced beautification mode, manual mode, and zero shutter lag. There’s also dual-SIM connectivity, LTE Category 4 modem, Wi-Fi ac, microSD card slot, Bluetooth 4.0 and 3,000 mAh battery. When it comes to software, the Zenfone 2 runs Android 5.0 with Asus’ ZenUI.
Asus has announced that the Zenfone 2 will be available from March for $199, and that the device will be available in a multitude of color variations including Ceramic White, Glacier Gray, Glamour Red, Osmium Black, and Sheer Gold. Chinese vendors like Xiaomi, Meizu, Huawei and others already offer several value for money handsets in this segment, but Asus will be looking to differentiate itself with a unique design, strong internal hardware and software-based features.
Along with the Zenfone 2, Asus also unveiled the Zenfone Zoom, which the Taiwanese manufacturer claims is the “world’s thinnest 3X optical smartphone offering up to 12X zoom-in effect.” Like the Galaxy K Zoom, the Zenfone Zoom features a sensor that provides 3X optical zoom. The hardware on offer is similar to that of the Zenfone 2, but the storage has been increased to 128 GB, and there’s OIS. The price for the imaging features is quite high, as the Zenfone Zoom is set to retail for $399.