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Asus Zenfone 2 (ZE550ML) unboxed, first impressions

We’ve gotten the first of three variants of the Zenfone 2 that will be released in the Philippines next month. This mid-range variant (ZE550ML) comes with 2GB of RAM and 16GB internal storage in a 5.5-inch 720p HD display.

This model is actually just the 3rd best in the Zenfone 2 line-up since the first 2 actually have full HD displays.

Right out of the box, there’s a 130MB system update which includes updates and bug fixes (graphics driver, LTE network, APN, etc).

The Zenfone 2’s new design is reminiscent of the HTC One M8 and the LG G3, although it’s leaning more towards the G3 with its polycarbonate body, curved back panel and the rear volume keys just below the camera.

With a 5.5-inch display, the ZE550ML looks huge but still feels comfortable in the hands. It’s bigger than the G3 even though they have the same display size. The bezels are also quite thick at 3.3mm, despite Asus’ claims that it’s already narrow.

Based on our side-by-side observation the bezels are as thick (or slightly thicker) than the side bezels of the HTC One M8 and close to 3 times as thick as the 1.15mm bezel of the LG G3. The Android capacitive buttons are still there at the bottom end (Back, Home, Recent Apps) which should have been already replaced by one-screen buttons due to Kitkat/Lollipop UI implementation.

Build quality is really good, feels solid on the hands with a comfortable grip thanks to that curved back; not too heavy or bulky either. The back cover is removable to expose access to the two micro-SIM card slots and a microSD card slot. The first SIM card slot supports up to 4G networks while the second SIM card slot only supports 2G networks.

The battery is visible but cannot be readily removed due to the card slots blocking the battery. The only way to remove is by loosening the screws around the back.

The power button is found at the top together with the 3.5mm audio port. The volume keys are at the back, just below the rear camera and dual-LED flash. The back cover has a smooth matte finish which can be prone to smudges with sweaty or oily fingers.

The 5.5-inch IPS LCD display looks pretty good and surprisingly crisp and clear even with just an HD resolution. It’s quite hard to distinguish the difference in resolution even if you place it side-by-side other full HD smartphones.

The Asus ZenUI looks simple yet really clean and nice with very little footprint so it feels light and almost bloatware-free. The pre-installed Zenlink collection includes PC Link, Remote Link, Share Link and Party Link. Of the 16GB storage, only 11.31GB is usable.

The speakers at the back sounded good, has decent volume range but did not have bass in it. The earphones that came with it are good too.

Running an Intel Atom Z3560 quad-core processor paired with 2GB of RAM worked well with Android 5.0 Lollipop. Navigation and transitions is smooth and snappy. Apps and games run just fine and multitab browsing on Chrome is effortless.

Here are the test results of the benchmarks we ran on the unit:

Antutu Benchmark: 41,968
Quadrant Standard: 18,979
Vellamo Mobile Benchmark:2,985 (Chrome), 1,357 (Multicore), 1,194 (Metal)
Nenamark 2: 59.7fps
PCMark (Ice Storm Unlimited): 8,594

After running a number of resource-intensive applications, the device gets a bit warm but nothing alarming of sorts. So far, even running 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited only caused slight warming of the middle section of the back side.

Here are some sample photos we took as well:

[fancygallery id=”196″ album=”238″]

The limited sample photos above show really good quality of the rear camera.

As for battery life, we managed around 8.5 hours on a full charge using our standard battery bench at 50% brightness and 0% volume.

Here’s the complete specs of this variant that we’re using for this review (we also have the ZE500CL variant that we are working on right now).

ASUS Zenfone 2 (ZE550ML) specs:
5.5-inch HD IPS display, 720×1280 pixels @ 267ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Intel Atom Z3560 1.8GHz 64-bit quad-core processor
PowerVR G6430 GPU
16GB internal storage
up to 64GB via microSD
13 megapixel Pixel Master camera w/ LED flash
5 megapixel front camera
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
GPS with aGPS support, GLONASS
Android 5.0 Lollipop w/ ZenUI
Li-Ion 3,000mAh battery

This review unit was sourced from Widget City. It is available in their online store for Php9,490 (see listing here).

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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13 Responses

  1. Cool one! How’s the battery?

  2. Dhan says:

    any news on the ze551ml?

  3. marugo says:

    sana sinali nlang ung battery test.

  4. aurangzeb says:

    maganda photos pero grainy no? may ilaw na ba yung capacitive nya?

  5. someone says:

    Hello. It is mentioned that it gets ‘a bit warm’ but how cooler/hotter is it compared to the zenfone5 (1st gen) when gaming?

  6. fizzda says:

    Waiting for full review..

  7. Manny says:

    Just got this phone and been using it for almost 2 days already. A lot of noise on both the photos and videos taken, regardless if its low-light or not and regardless if you use the back or front camera. Also, the same quality if you use it for video calling. This phone also gets hot more faster compared to my LG G3 if you play high-res online games. So far, the fastest time that my battery got drained was only about 4 hours (or maybe a little bit less). I played almost 2 hours consecutive online high-res game while connected to LTE, made almost 1.5 hours of video call and used the rest for browsing the web before it got totally drained. While the longest time my battery lasts (from full charged to 0%) was about 9 hours. Mostly, it was in idle mode, wifi turned off and network set to GSM only mode. Lagging happens from time to time especially when you feel that the phone is getting hotter, but overall experience (so far) is still okay. On a more positive note, I didn’t find any issues when it comes to the call quality.

    • ivanz says:

      4hrs of heavy usage is fair.. but 9hrs on idle with wifi OFF and network set to GSM only is demn crap!

      I can leave my Lumia 925 on idle with WiFi ON and network at default.. it would receive notifications yet would last for a full 24hrs or more..

  8. dvancleef says:

    Just noticed, this is the first production handset I’ve seen with Michibiki QZSS support.

    Can someone actually in posession of the PH domestic version of this handset please post what LTE bands it supports (band numbers, not frequencies please).

  9. ivanz says:

    After reading comments all over the web

    Battery Life = Still Sluggish
    Camera = Worst

    Microsoft Lumia 640XL would beat this crap!

    • james says:

      A Lumia would bust almost any Android when it comes to battery life vs capacity because of Windows Phone 8.1 being very optimized. If only the Windows Store had more apps.

    • james says:

      As for the camera being “worst”, I don’t know about you but the samples I see are actually pretty nice, while reviews applaud the 13MP camera. Maybe those users don’t know about how-to basics on a smartphone camera..

      Battery life.. No idea yet. It should last much longer than Zenfone 5’s 2 1/2 hours on 3G (yep, that bad) so..

      I would actually like to know what YugaTech’s standard battery bench is.. 8 hours is quite impressive but I don’t know what kind of usage they did.

  10. kitz valmores says:

    My battery was bloated, is there a chance to replace the damage battery and how much is the price.

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