The battle for mid range flagship smartphones are being more intense. Xiaomi, Lenovo, Meizu, Acer, and Asus are battling it out for supremacy. Asus has three variants of the Zenfone 2 and we have the most affordable one here. Asus believes that its stong alliance with Intel makes them ahead of the competition. Is it worth your money? We’ll find out with this review.
Asus Zenfone ZE500CL:
- 1.6GHz Dual Core Intel Atom Z2560 processor
- PowerVR SGX544MP2 graphics
- 2GB RAM
- 16GB internal storage expandable via MicroSD up to 64GB
- 5-inch HD IPS LCD display (1280 x 720 pixels) 294 ppi
- Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- 8 megapixel rear facing camera with autofocus and LED flash
- 2 megapixel front facing camera
- Single SIM (micro)
- LTE, HSPA+, WiFi, WiFi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0
- GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
- 2,500 mAh battery
- Android 5.0 Lollipop with Zen UI
Related story – Asus Zenfone 2 ZE500CL Unboxing and Hands On
HARDWARE AND DESIGN:
There’s no denying that Acer borrowed some design elements from LG like the rear volume rocker and curved back. The phone is nice to hold with one hand thanks to its curved back. The ZE500CL’s body is smaller than the top of the line ZE551ML because of its smaller 5-inch screen. Audio quality is superb even its loudspeaker performance is great. Overall we don’t have any complains with the hardware except for the capacitive keys that does not have any backlight and the power button is placed on top of the device.
One of Zenfone’s best feature is the screen. Despite only having a 720p display, it is quite sharp and vivid. It can even withstand the harsh sunlight whenever we use it outdoors. Viewing angles are also good. Worry not about scratches because it is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3.
SOFTWARE AND PERFORMANCE:
Asus has its own custom user interface on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop called Zen UI. We’ve mentioned it before on our review of the Asus Zenfone 5, the Zen UI is lag free and very polished. Same thing with the ZE500CL. We just noticed that bloatware doubled compared to the first generation Zenfone. We even updated more than 50 apps in which about 40 apps are from Asus when we first connect to phone to our WiFi.
Zenfone UI screenshots:
One thing surprised us on the first generation Zenfones is the camera. Nothing has changed with the ZE500CL’s 8 megapixel snapper and 2 megapixel front shooter. Both cameras captures good photos on well lit areas. The improvement we noticed is the software optimizations and better low light shots we’ve taken. The added “Night Mode” and “Low Light” mode improves photos on dark areas. However, it tends to overexpose photos with the use of flash.
The phone is not dual SIM capable. But LTE works fine on both Smart and Globe networks. We never had issues with call quality on both ends of the line too. WiFi and Bluetooth works very well.
Compared to Zenfone 5’s 2,000 mAh battery, the Zenfone 2 ZE500CL’s 2,500 mAh battery is an improvement. However, with now being LTE capable, we noticed that battery performance is the same with heavy usage. With WiFi on and LTE turned off, battery performance showed better results. With LTE on, we got 6 hours of heavy usage before the phone turned red (includes 2 hours of You Tube and I Want TV, an hour of games, social networks, calls and emails). With LTE off and WiFi turned on, we got around 7 hours and 20 minutes with the same heavy usage.
It seems like the Zenfone 2 ZE500CL is a direct successor of the Zenfone 5 . Users of the Zenfone 5 need not to upgrade to this model unless they are after its LTE capability. We recommend that you get the Zenfone 2 ZE551ML instead. But if you are looking for an affordable smartphone with LTE, good camera, and amazing software experience from a reputable brand, well, look no further.