LAS VEGAS - ASUS's ZenFone is back for round two, and the smartphone is looking as elegant on the outside as it is powerful inside. Launching in March for $199, the new ZenFone 2 features a slim and stylish body, a 13-MP camera and is the first smartphone to be powered by a beefy 4GB of RAM.
The ZenFone 2 builds on its predecessor's slick design, with a curved, brushed-metal backside that sports an LG G3-esque volume rocker under the rear camera. The smartphone's 5.5-inch, full HD IPS display looked crisp and colorful, and is complemented by a barely there 3.3-millimeter bezel that creates a nearly edge-to-edge design. I found the ZenFone 2's 6-ounce construction lightweight and cozy to hold, thanks to its ergonomic rear panel.
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ASUS is targeting mobile photographers with the ZenFone 2's 13-MP PixelMaster camera, which sports a F/2.0 aperture lens with low light mode, Real Tone flash mode for capturing accurate skin colors and HDR for optimal exposure. The handset packs a 5-MP front-facing camera, complete with a 140-degree field of view for group selfies and the same low-light technology as the rear-facing sensor.
The ZenFone 2 runs on either a 1.8-GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3560 or 2.3-GHz Z3580 processor, and is the first smartphone to pack 4GB of RAM. According to ASUS, this allows for up to seven times better gaming performance than the original ZenFone. The handset supports dual SIM cards, and packs a 3,000-mAh battery that's built to charge to 60 percent in 39 minutes and last an entire day.
The Android 5.0-based ZenFone 2 sports an improved ZenUI, which provides a bevy of options for customizing the phone's fonts, backgrounds and themes. The phone's ZenMotion features allows for a bevy of gesture controls, such as writing the letter "E" to access e-mail or making a quick double-tap for one-hand mode. The handset features a kids mode with parental controls, SnapView for separating personal and business files and built-in Trend Micro security for safe Web browsing.
The ZenFone 2's sleek design, feature-rich camera, beefy specs and super-customizable UI make it a bona-fide Android powerhouse, and we look forward to spending more time with it once it hits the market in March.
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