Travel Must-Haves: The ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0

When my trusty Nexus gave up on me early this year, I felt paralyzed: no phone means no internet, no social media, and consequently, no means of “social media blogging” all day! As a blogger, a handy, fast, and reliable phone is essential as I depend heavily on social media sites to promote new posts and connect with friends and readers. Thus, that same day—after asking my techie friends what the cheapest yet best phone currently is—I rushed to the nearest gadget store and bought myself an ASUS Zenfone 5. (Red, of course.)
Left: my 5.5-inch Zenfone 5; right: my new Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0
I could’ve gotten a more powerful phone, but why Zenfone? Well, first of all, I’m a cheapskate (or maybe, just practical). I find no reason spending thirty thousand pesos only to use Facebook and Instagram, or take good photos when I have an incredible, handy Lumix camera. Second, I’ve said more goodbyes to phones than to romantic affairs, and in most occasions, it was because of mugging (I’ve grown a phobia for two words: holdap 'to). After the last incident, I said to myself, I’ve had enough—I’m never buying another flagship phone, LOL!

My Zenfone 5, it actually wasn’t bad. It was a powerful budget phone—with a crisp design, a cute look, and a capable camera. Fast enough to do multi-tasking, it could catch up with my fast-paced lifestyle. But back then, even the regular Zenfone 2 wasn’t out yet so imagine my excitement when ASUS Philippines invited me to check out the newest Zenfone model—the ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 ZE500KL

An upgraded form of Zenfone 5, the ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 is the perfect budget smartphone for photography enthusiasts (and Instagram addicts) like me! Its signature feature—the laser autofocus—sets itself apart from other budget phones, with the 8-megapixel primary camera shooting images that are crisp and accurate. Finally, an affordable phone I can take with me to my food trips and travels!

If you’re the type of user who’s more into performance and basic functions rather than porma and superfluous features, I think the Zenfone 2 Laser is something you should consider. The phone delivers a lot for its price, and its camera can accompany your daily Instagramming and stuff. Read on to find out more of its features.


Look, Feel, Design and Display

The ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser has a similar sleek, ergonomic design as the Zenfone 5. The curved back fits perfectly on the palm, and the 3.9-mm edge, while thin, still offers a good grip. However the similarities end here.

There are no buttons on the sides—instead, the volume keys are under the camera at the back. The power button sits on top along with the 3.5-mm port. Some might find this inconvenient, but you can actually wake the device by tapping the screen twice.

The 8-megapixel camera, dual-tone flash, and laser are located at the back. The back cover features a sleek hairline metallic finish. Pry open the cover and you will find the battery, the SD card slot, and 2 slots for SIM cards, which both have mobile data connectivity.

I like the fact that the phone has 2 SIM card slots since I use two service providers and sometimes prefer using both in just one phone. The primary SIM is eligible for LTE/4G connectivity. The phone also supports Wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and A-GPS.

The phone has a 5-inch Corning Gorilla Glass 4 HD display (720x1280), which offers excellent text and graphics displays. The colors are vivid yet realistic (not too vibrant).

The Camera

Here comes the most important part: the camera performance. The ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser’s camera works wonderfully in daylight and decently in low light conditions. It uses an f/2.0-aperture Toshiba lens, which, combined with laser technology, manages to focus the subject in a snap (as fast as 0.3 seconds), enabling you to capture that perfect moment.
sunset in Boracay
The camera is accessible via a simple swipe even when the phone is locked so if you need to capture something very quickly, the Zenfone Laser 2 can do the job. Imagine seeing something so awesome or funny and missing the moment because your phone is sluggish.

In terms of colors, I found that the Laser’s outputs are more accurate than those of Zenfone 5. This was a problem I’ve noticed in my Zenfone 5—the blues become too violet, the image becomes oversaturated in brightly-lit areas, etc. See below comparison: Boracay’s sky is more light blue than blue-violet—Zenfone 2 Laser renders it better than Zenfone 5 (same AUTO settings).

The ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser camera boasts of a selection of modes as well, each one fit for a specific photography need. It has a Depth of Field mode which allows you to adjust the level of blur of your photo’s background, as well as a Manual mode that gives you the freedom to tinker with ISO, white balance, exposure, shutter speed, etc. Pretty neat, huh? Check out sample photos and all the other modes below.

When it comes to low light, the Zenfone 2 Laser’s camera can be pretty decent, especially when taking photos inside bars or restaurants. This is perfect for me especially when I left my Lumix at home and I have to go to a spontaneous food trip or drinking session. However, in extremely dark areas, the output can be incredibly grainy.

Of course, since it runs on Android Lollipop, you can download your favorite photo editing apps and post-process your photos as needed. My favorites are VSCOCam and Snapseed. Take a look at some before-and-after shots below.

Edited using Snapseed:

Edited using VSCOCam:

The front camera has 5 megapixels and has this Beautification mode that allows you to use interesting effects like skin softening, skin brightening, blush, eyes enhancement, and cheeks thinning.

Other Features

For the battery, the ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser lasts for about 9-10 hours even with the 4G turned on. This was a problem I encountered with the Zenfone 5, which always gets drained and heats up fast. In addition, Zenfone 2 Laser's battery is removable.

The only thing that I found bothersome with ASUS is the presence of too many bloatware. Some pre-installed apps cannot be uninstalled. However, the phone makes up for this with the SD card slot availability.

Ensure privacy and protect important data by enabling Kids Mode, which permits users to make only selected applications accessible, block calls or notifications, and set passcodes for answering calls. This is especially useful if you have business stuff stored in your phone which unknowing kids might accidentally mess up.

The ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0: Reliable and Capable

In general, I find the ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 to be a mightily capable phone for my everyday needs as a blogger, photography enthusiast, and Instagram addict. It has a great, fast camera and its battery is long-lasting, allowing me to share photos and surf my social media sites all day! Anyone who shares these sentiments with me can definitely put Zenfone 2 Laser in his wishlist—especially this coming Christmas!

And oh, this phone is not too pricey so you can give it away to those nasty robbers. :p

  • 152.5 x 77.2 x 3.5 mm, 170 grams
  • 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
  • 5-inch HD display, Gorilla Glass 4 protection, 1280 x 720 resolution
  • 8GB/16GB of storage, expandable
  • 8-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 apeture, Laser AF, dual-tone flash
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • Dual-SIM
  • 2G,3G, LTE
  • WiFi 802.11, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, A-GPS
  • Android Lollipop with Zen UI
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Colors: black, ceramic white, silver, purple, aqua blue, sheer gold, glamour red
  • Price: ~PhP7,695

ASUS Philippines

Are you an ASUS user? What do you think of the new Zenfone 2 Laser?

My ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser 5.0 was provided by ASUS Philippines for review purposes. All opinions, however, are my own. All photos without the Pepe Samson watermark are owned by ASUS Philippines.

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