It’s really heartening to see ASUS going all out on social media to promote the Zenfone 2 series of smartphones. It started when they appointed Michelle Chong to endorse the Zenfone Selfie, followed by engaging many lifestyle bloggers to try out a Zenfone unit and to blog/tweet/instagram/facebook about it. When I received the new Zenfone 2 Laser (ZE601KL) for review, I did some research and came across a tongue-in-cheek “auntboxing” video by “Aunty” Soh.
Unlike Irene “Aunty” Soh, I was not given the unit. But I’m not saying that out of jealousy! I was already given a unit of the Zenfone 2 ZE551ML a few months back, and it’s still working great. This is just a disclaimer that many readers (and an industry practice) are looking for.
I believe consumers are really confused with the different models of Zenfone series. In 2014, ASUS clearly distinguished the models with a number to denote the screen size (Zenfone 4, 5, 6). In 2015, ASUS named the successor “Zenfone 2” with no less than 5 variants (ZE500CL, ZE550ML, ZE551ML 2/3/4GB). Months later, ASUS launched the “Zenfone 2 Laser” series with 3 variants (ZE500KL, ZE550KL, ZE600KL) plus a standalone “Zenfone Selfie” (ZD551KL) model and the lowest-end Zenfone Go (ZC500TG).
This new Zenfone 2 Laser ZE601KL is the flagship of the Zenfone 2 Laser series. It’s identical to the ZE600KL in size and specs except: a full HD 1920×1080 resolution display, 3GB RAM (vs. 2GB), 32GB storage (vs. 16GB).
So, after all that I’ve described above (and familiarised with all the model numbers), how is this new ZE601KL different from the other Zenfone 2 smartphones that launched before it?
6-inch Full HD
The Zenfone 2 Laser ZE601KL comes with full HD 1920×1080 display in 6-inch, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4, which did not incur any scratches over my 2 weeks of review. In fact, I also don’t apply screen protector over my smartphones, and they all work well for me.
In terms of screen display quality, the new ZE601KL edges the Zenfone Selfie and the original Zenfone 2. It is the brightest, and appears to be less blue, which is more comfortable to view. You would only perceive the colour cast difference when put side by side. But when used on its own, the screen colours look crisp and clear.
At 6-inch, the ZE601KL is certainly a handful to handle. The advantage is better viewing experience for those who prefers a larger screen. I could configure the home screen to fit 5×5 apps rather than the usual 4×4, which means less swiping around pages to look for apps (I love how ZenUI allows such detailed customisation).
Slightly higher processor specs
The ZE601KL runs on Snapdragon 616, with 4 cores running at 1.7GHz, and another 4 cores at 1.2GHz. It is marginally faster than Snapdragon 615 (Zenfone Selfie), and the Antutu benchmark reveals (photo above). In reality, I would say it runs with similar response to Zenfone Selfie, and has the same occasional lags when switching tasks or pressing an icon. If you are a heavy user, you could regularly clear the RAM with “Power & Boost” app, and run the “1Tap Hibernate” to close background apps to conserve battery and improve speed. It’s times like this that I appreciate the Zenfone 2 ZE551ML.
Here, the Zenfone 2 Laser ZE601KL comes loaded with 2 speakers for stereo sound. The sound quality is better than any other Zenfone smartphones, with more distinct mid-range and high bass. Overall sound is also warmer and less tinny compared to the others. Still, I hope ASUS can consider shifting the speakers to the front. It just doesn’t make sense to face the speakers to the rear, chaneling the sounds away from the user and losing the in-your-face immersive audio.
The Same Zenfone Goodness
And like the other Zenfone 2 Laser models, the ZE601KL is loaded with features like 4G LTE, dual SIM slots, micro SD slot, 13MP rear camera and 5MP front camera. The entire design and material is also identical to all the other Zenfone 2 variants. Even the battery is the same – good news for interchangeability. It doesn’t support NFC, but that’s probably the least-used hardware. Visit here for detailed specs breakdown.
The ZenUI is one of the most feature-rich launcher among all the smartphone brands. I wanted to write more about the ZenUI but then their website is already full of information, so I’m going to just link you there for you to read up. http://www.zenui.com/. To find out about my personal thoughts on the ZenUI, read my Zenfone 2 review. Zenfone 2 apps are constantly updated, so you can be assured of regular new features and bug fixing (if any).
As for battery life, I did not detect any excessive drain compared to the Zenfone Selfie. The ZE601KL lasts me the whole day comfortably, ending my work day with about 35-50% remaining (depending on the usage load). If you are going out in the evening, you might want to charge it up a little, in case you want to use a lot of the phone.
The Zenfone 2 ZE551ML has fast processor, the Zenfone Selfie has spectacular front camera, the Zenfone 2 Laser ZE601KL has a large screen and stereo speakers. Each has its own advantages, and what’s important is that ASUS has one that meets your needs. I’m glad that the flagship Zenfone 2 Laser is finally launched so that I can recommend this to friends who needed a 6-inch phone. If there’s anything that I don’t like, it would have to be the periodic lags and unresponsiveness, just like the Zenfone Selfie.
The Zenfone 2 Laser ZE601KL retails for S$379 at all telcos and ASUS authorised dealers.
For opinions of this smartphone from other bloggers:
- AhSoh (Irene Soh) – http://ahsoh.sg/technology/5-reasons-why-i-am-lovin-the-asus-zenfone-2-laser-ze601kl/
- Follow My Wanders (Jing Ting) – https://followmywanders.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/asus-zenfone-2-laser-full-hd-ze601kl-review-by-singapores-beauty-blogger-tina-loh-part-2/