BERLIN - Not content to make a splash with just one smartphone on display at IFA 2015, Asus crammed its press conference to the brim with five, each with a different type of user in mind. The new handsets include one with a crystal back, another with a 3x optical zoom lens, a selfie-centric device and a phone with a ginormous battery.
Where even the largest phablets max have batteries that max out at 3,000 to 4,000 mAH, the Zenfone Max, has a whopping 5,000 mAh unit. It lacks a rear-mounted volume rocker in order to cram in all that electricity, but I have a hard time imagining big battery afficionados will mind. Combined with the Max’s more power-conscious Snapdragon 410 processor and 2GB of RAM, it should take a lot of effort to kill this Asus in anything less than a day.
Though the Zenfone Max caught our eye, Asus's press conference was headlined by a souped-up version of its flagship device, the Zenfone 2. The new model, called the Zenfone 2 Deluxe, features a massive 128GB of storage and a new crystal faceted backplate with hundreds of angles to fondle and ogle. The Deluxe retains the quad-core Intel Z3580 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 5.5-inch screen from the existing fully loaded Zenfone 2.
Batting second was the Zenphone Zoom, which Asus claims is the thinnest phone to feature a 3x optical zoom. And if that isn’t enough, you can get even closer using the 12x digital zoom so that molehills actually do look like mountains.
For users who prefer the camera on their phone pointed at themselves, there’s the Zenfone selfie which features a 13-MP camera on both front and back. The massive center mounted selfie cam is a hard fixture to miss, and may lead to this Asus taking our top spot for best smartphone selfie camera.
Asus also showed off another variant called the Zenfone Laser, which as you’ve probably guessed features a laser for superfast focus. How fast? Asus claims the Zenfone Laser can lock-on to a subject in just 0.2 seconds.
When I got up close and personal with each of the phones at Asus’ event, it was clear they all shared the same basic design as the original Zenfone 2, with three touch capacitive buttons below the display, a removable plastic shell in back, lock button on top and a micro USB port for charging on the bottom.
There were some concessions made for the extra-large camera module on the back of the Zenfone Zoom, and the Zenfone Laser is a little smaller at just 5-inches and has a 1280 x 720 display, but it's clear that all of these handsets are part of the same device family.
Unfortunately exact pricing and availability is dependent on region, and there doesn’t yet seem to be any information on yet about US availability, though the devices are due out this fall.