Are you trying to decide which ASUS Zenfone variant to get? I understand it can get really confusing. And it doesn’t help when they all employ the exact design DNA, which means you can’t choose based on design. In a good way, you eliminate that “noise” and focus on the real meat, which is the hardware.
What’s good about ZE551ML
The first-generation Zenfone 2 has the fastest processor (Intel quad-core 2.3GHz), resulting in very responsive performance. It supports Quick Charge 2.0, which gets your 3000mAh battery charged up in just over an hour. It also supports NFC, and has more accessories like premium cover. Unfortunately, it also drains the battery faster. Also, the second SIM slot does not support 3G or 4G network.
What’s good about ZE601KL
The latest Zenfone 2 Laser variant has a larger 6-inch display screen which is also much brighter and warmer, has better dual speakers, and laser AF that focuses faster. The battery drain is less excessive, and the battery is removable. But it can get laggy occasionally as the phone struggles to perform at times. And the large screen size might not suit some consumers.
The front camera of the ZE601KL is also more natural than the ZE551ML, which makes my skin tone more yellow. You can also see from the comparison photo below that the ZE601KL front camera is slightly wider angle than ZE551ML. There is no significant difference with the rear camera, hence I did not post sample images.
Which one should you get?
If you absolutely need performance, the get the ZE551ML, still the king among the ASUS smartphones. If speed is not a critical need, and you prefer a 6-inch display, then the ZE601KL will work good enough. Just remember that either smartphone costs around S$379 (street price), an absolute great value. And I am a great fan of ZenUI customisation. So far, all of my friends who bought ASUS over the past year are happy with them.