The Asus Zenfone 5 was one of our favorite smartphones in the sub-10,000 category. The Asus Zenfone 2 was one of our favourite phones released this year. Asus is now marrying the two with the Zenfone 2 Laser, a new 4G budget phone with a unique selling point: laser-guided Auto Focus. But is that enough to overlook flaws?
Specs: 5.5-inch IPS touchscreen with Gorilla Glass 4 (1280×720 pixels) | 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor | 2GB RAM | 16GB internal memory, microSD up to 128GB.| 13MP rear camera with dual LED flash and laser focus, 5MP front camera | Dual-SIM 4G+4G | Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, microUSB | 3000mAh battery | Android Lollipop 5 with Zen UI
Price: Rs 9,999
Watch: First Look: Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe, Laser and Selfie (Click for mobile view)
What’s this laser-guided autofocus thing?
It’s pretty simple. Most phone cameras today use a technology called “contrast detection” to automatically focus on the subject. In that, the camera’s “eye” looks at what it sees and tries to focus on subjects based on their level of how dark they seem. It’s not an accurate system, but it works.
Laser focus cameras try to be more accurate. They emit a tiny infrared laser, which bounces off the subject and back towards the camera, where it is registered by a sensor. The camera already knows the speed of the laser and the sensor notes the time taken. By using the “speed = distance / time” formula, the camera knows the distance to the subject, and focuses accordingly.
All of this happens in an instant and the end result is that laser focus works faster than contrast detection, and also has the advantage of working well in low-light environments—which is a constant problem with contrast detection.
Does this actually lead to better photos?
Apart from the laser focus, the Zenfone 2 Laser has a decent rear camera. Images capture colours well, but details are usually a problem. Still, in this budget, it’s as good as it gets.
The laser focus helps in two specific scenarios for smartphones:
When you want to click a photo quickly, laser focus manages to get a sharp image faster than others. In fact, we compared it side-by-side with the LG G3, which also has laser autofocus, and the time taken to snap a photo was the same.
At twilight or in dim lighting, the laser focus really shines. You get to focus on a subject without having to use the flash, thus getting natural lighting and colours. That said, use the flash if it’s actually dark. While the Zenfone 2 Laser can focus well, the photos still appear grainy.
The only downside of the laser focus is that it works at short distances, not long distances. The further away you are from the subject, the harder it is for the laser focus to kick in. Just for a rough measure, it worked fine in distances of up to 8 feet.
What else do I need to know about the Zenfone 2 Laser?
The Zenfone 2’s specifications are a good reflection of the phone in real world usage.
Performance is good enough for a phone of this class, and you’ll be able to play most games and multi-task without a problem.
The HD screen isn’t as sharp as some others in this price range, but it’s still clear and looks good.
The 3000mAh battery easily lasts for a day, even with 4G on. In fact, Zenfone 2 Laser has strong connectivity, getting a signal in areas where other phones didn’t.
The phone’s volume buttons are on the rear and the power/screen button is at the top, which makes for a weird combination. The power button was especially a bit of a problem and you have to stretch your fingers to reach it. However, Zenfone 2 Laser supports tap-to-wake, so you’re better off using that.
Who should buy it?
Among the 5.5-inch and bigger phablets in this price range, the Zenfone 2 Laser sets itself apart with its laser auto focus and big battery life, but there isn’t much else to make it stand out.
If the camera matters more to you than other parts of a smartphone, then the Laser is a good choice.
Also, if you want a budget phone with the best network quality coupled with a large battery life, the Zenfone 2 Laser would be our current recommendation.
Also Watch: Asus Zenfone 2 video review (Click for mobile view)
What do you think about the new Zenfone 2 Laser? Feel free to share your opinion in the comment section below.