ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser 5.5S Review

Just last month, ASUS unveiled its Zenfone Laser 5.5S which is an upgrade to last year’s Zenfone 2 Laser. It’s got beefier specs like better CPU, bigger RAM, and bigger storage — with almost the same asking price as before. How does its performance differ from its previous iteration? We find out.

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Note: Since there are some aspects that are identical to its earlier model, we will be using some parts  from the old review and combine them with the updated performance of the new variant.

Design and Construction

Being a member of the Zenfone 2 lineup, the Zenfone 2 Laser 5.5S sports the similar design as the original Zenfone 2. Up front is a 5.5-inch display with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 4 for protection.

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Situated above the display are the earpiece, 5-megapixel AF camera, and the ASUS logo. Found below are three unlit capacitive buttons for navigation and the signature concentric-circle design on the chin.

The left and right sides of the device are devoid of any keys and buttons, but situated up top are the headset jack, metallic power/lock button, and microphone. Placed at the bottom are the microUSB port and microphone.

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Flip the Zenfone 2 Laser on its back and you will see the metallic volume buttons, speaker, the 13-megapixel shooter, dual-LED flash, and the Laser AF which is also found on the Zenfone Selfie.

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Now for the rest of the rear part, this is actually what makes the Laser, or any other Zenfone 2 for that matter, an attractive smartphone. The plastic backplate has a matte metallic finish which helps keep smudges away and gives off a nice glow whenever the light hits it. Its curvature, which thins at the edges, feels nice on the hands and makes the device easy to handle.

Display and Multimedia

The Laser 5.5S comes with IPS display and HD resolution that equates to 267ppi. Pixels are discernible but can still be considered as decent. Viewing angles and colors are good but tend to be on the warmer side. Good thing ASUS included the Splendid app which lets you adjust the color temperature and choose between four screen color modes.

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As for audio, the Laser’s rear speakers are capable of producing loud sounds that can fill a small room. By default, the sounds are inclined towards trebles with barely noticeable bass.

To remedy, the Laser features an Audio Wizard that allows you select between five audio profiles (Movie, Music, Gaming, Vocal, Smart), adjust the bass and treble levels, and play around with the equalizer. In our case, the best setting is to put the bass level to max to balance it out. With that feature on, the Laser has one of the nicest speakers around for a smartphone.

OS, UI, and Apps

The Laser comes with Android 5.0.2 Lollipop out of the box skinned with ZenUI. It’s easy to navigate and visually enticing, however, it feels a bit clunky and doesn’t feel in-line with Lollipop’s simple Material approach. On the bright side, you can install your favorite launcher and customize it to your liking if you’re not a fan of ZenUI.

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ZenUI other features:
* ZenMotion – Touch Gesture, One Hand Mode
* ASUS Cover – allows you to use ZenUI features when using flip cover accessories
* Easy mode – for simple layout and core functions

When it comes to pre-installed apps, the Laser has tons of it. When we check out the apps we need to update after setting up our Google Play Store account, the ZenUi Instant Update prompted us with 31 apps to update. This includes ASUS PixelMaster Camera, ASUS Keyboard, ASUS Calendar, ASUS Launcher, ASUS Messaging, ASUS Gallery, etc. Add to that Clean Master, Dr. Safety, Amazon Kindle, Zinio, 50+ Games!, and Trip Advisor which you cannot uninstall.

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ASUS equipped the Laser with a bigger 32GB of internal storage compared to the previous 16GB. Less the system reserved memory, you have 24.80GB as usable which is still spacious for media files and such. We’re glad that ASUS gave a bigger storage for this new model since we weren’t that happy with the 10.68GB available space of the previous variant.

Camera

One of the Laser’s strongest suits is its 13-megapixel camera. It doesn’t sound much on paper but it uses the company’s PixelMaster Technology, dual-tone LED flash, and infrared-based Laser-guided autofocus system found in its other siblings like the Selfie, Max, and Zoom. Before you get excited, let us tell you that it’s not going to compete with high-end camera-centric smartphones like the Xperia Z5, LG G5, Galaxy S7, and iPhone 6S when it comes to image quality. After all, this is a sub-Php9K device, however, this doesn’t mean the Laser is not a good shooter.

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ASUS claims 0.03-second autofocus time. While we cannot really measure that speed, we’d say that it’s rapid especially in bright conditions. It also performs well in low-light places like bars or clubs. If we’re going to compare, it’s significantly faster than the OnePlus 2 which also features Laser AF.

As for quality, resulting images have good details and colors. The 5-megapixel front camera is good for selfies and video calls but don’t expect the same quality you can find in other cameras with dedicated front shooters. The Laser also has quite a lot of in-camera features, just take a look at the screenshot above. As for image and video samples, we list them down below.

Sample video: 1080p at 30fps

asus zenfone 2 laser video

Performance and Benchmarks

Powered by a faster Snapdragon 615 MSM8939 octa-core CPU, a bigger 3GB RAM and an updated Adreno 405 GPU, the Laser still proves to be a solid mid-ranger. We played EA UFC and it was able to run well with minimal lags and without much warming. As for the benchmark results, it got almost double the scores compared to the Laser 5.5 variant that was released last year.

As for the benchmark results, it got almost double the scores compared to the Laser 5.5 variant that was released last year.

  • AnTuTu – 41,022 (from 22,332)
  • Quadrant Standard – 22,731 (from 14,518)
  • Vellamo –  1,708 (Multicore),  999 (Metal),  2,331 (Chrome) (from 1,394/932/1,971)
  • 3DMark Sling Shot ES 3.0 – 480 (from 59)
  • PCMark – 3,388

Connectivity and Call Quality

The Laser comes with your usual connectivity features like 4G LTE, dual-SIM (micro), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. There’s no NFC but that’s not really a huge letdown. Both SIM card slots support mobile data and dual-SIM call forwarding. Call quality is good and has no problems connecting to mobile data as long as strong reception is available.

Battery Life

Equipped with not-so-power-hungry specs coupled with the same 3,000mAh battery, we were able to get good mileage on the Laser as it can last a whole day with constant Wi-Fi connectivity, a few hours of mobile data, light calls and texts, and a couple of hours playing games. On PCMark’s battery bench, we were able to get a solid 10 hours and 32 minutes of battery life.

As for our video loop test that involves continuously playing a video on Airplane Mode and 50% brightness and volume, we were able to squeeze out 13 hours and 40 minutes on this thing.

Conclusion

ASUS still has a strong yet affordable offering with the Zenfone 2 Laser 5.5S. At Php8,995, buyers can get a Lollipop-powered smartphone with a good build and design, decent display and a more capable performance, plus great battery life. Add to that the more than capable 13-megapixel shooter with Laser-guided autofocus which appeals to casual shooters who demand better AF performance.

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ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser 5.5 S (ZE550KL) specs:
5.5-inch IPS HD display, 267ppi
1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 MSM8939 octa-core CPU
Adreno 405 Graphics
3GB
32GB internal storage
Up to 64GB via microSD card
13MP rear camera with Laser AF, LED flash
5MP front-facing camera
Dual-SIM, micro-SIM card
4G LTE
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
GPS w/ aGPS, GLONASS
3,000mAh Li-Po removable battery
Android 5.0 Lollipop with ZenUI
152.5 x 77.2 x 3.9 ~ 10.8 mm
170 g
Gold/red/grey/white

What we liked about it:

  • Good design and build
  • Good camera w/ Laser AF
  • Lots of built-in camera features
  • Better performance than previous model
  • Bigger storage
  • Good battery life
  • Affordable price

What we didn’t like:

  • Lots of pre-installed apps
  • UI looks clunky

Kevin Bruce Francisco is the Senior Editor and Video Producer for YugaTech. He's a Digital Filmmaking graduate who's always either daydreaming of traveling or actually going places on his bike. Follow him on Twitter for more tech updates @kevincofrancis.

12 Responses

  1. abe says:

    saan po ba may available na unit na ito ngayon?

  2. ging says:

    battery draining fast – no running apps – no wifi – help pls tnx

  3. Lem says:

    Can anyone help me with my zf2 laser 5.5s, i have trouble getting signal….. my is getting 3g-4g connection on itz 1st week, but a week aftr… i had a hard time searching for signals… i tried to switch my sim cards on sim 1&2 slot stil no improvement. Updated my phone, no improvement, reset my phone, no improvement…. i also tried to insert my sim on other phone and the signal is good…. thanks in advance for those who can help…

  4. J3K says:

    removable batt?

  5. Wenk says:

    Is it possible to use a 2.0A quick charger?

  6. tiano says:

    Screen off while taking a call…even in fb messnger. Cant cancel the call due to the screen is off. Tried the pressing the power to cncell the call..but no vail. Is there any setting with this. Thanks

    • Nicholas says:

      Natatakpan ata yung proximity sensor mo sa top left ng phone. Baka ng tempered glass or screen protector kung meron man.

  7. Iggy says:

    Where can we buy this one?

    • Sam P says:

      Camera comparison naman po ng zen laser 5.5S at saka oppo a37. Since parehas naman silang 9k ang price.

  8. please include battery charging duration. some phones have large batteries but charge within an hour which is great but for this i doubt

    • devilboy says:

      supported ng quick charge feature ang 615
      https://www.qualcomm.com/products/snapdragon/processors/615

  9. Jude says:

    I can live with its clunky UI. Its the pre-installed apps thats scaring me off. Maganda na ito sa price tag nya. Talking about UI, there are some good and better launchers available at play store. I’ve been using buzz launcher for more than 3 years now and I’ve been designing homepacks. Para gwapo (gaya nating 2, naks!) tingnan ang home screen… :-)

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