ASUS has been getting more invested into the smartphone market, both in the US—where we recently talked about the ZenFone 2 Laser and ZenFone 2—and in their closer-to-home markets in the Eastern Hemisphere. This review will focus on two models that will not make it to the US, but should be of interest to those in Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, and elsewhere. The main focus will be on the ZenFone Selfie, which is much like the familiar ZenFone 2 and ZenFone 2 Laser but with a high-quality front-facing camera sensor. I will also discuss the ZE550KL model of the ZenFone 2 Laser, which is available in some non-US markets.
ASUS is riding high on ZenFone Fever, and at an event in India called - wait for it - Zenfestival, the company announced a slew of new ZenFone models. ZenFone 2 Deluxe, ZenFone 2 Laser, ZenFone Selfie, and ZenFone Max. Well, actually, only one of them was new - the ZenFone Max. The Laser, Deluxe, and Selfie were all announced previously, but the Max is the only really interesting one anyway (it even has a laser, don't worry).
The ZenFone Max is clearly targeted at emerging markets, blending an extremely large 5000mAh battery (how thick is this phone?) with a much more modest Snapdragon 410 processor, compared to the speedy if power-hungry Intel Atoms in the standard ZenFone 2.
Windows Phone, eat your heart out. Android is now capable of virtualizing a full and up-to-date Windows desktop operating system. Well, one phone is at least, and it's probably not one you would have guessed: the ASUS ZenFone 2. XDA-Developers forum member ycavan managed to get Windows 7 running on his phone using a variety of custom tools, some impressive technical skill, and quite a lot of patience. Check it out in the video below:
To be clear, this is Windows 7, virtualized, running on a local virtual machine client accessed via the aSPICE KVM client for control. Windows is not being emulated (it's been done with older versions).
Despite some impressive tablet, laptop, and combination devices, ASUS has left its smartphones mostly in the budget and mid-range end of the pool. That changes with the Zenfone 2 announcement at CES: while the new device probably won't set the world on fire, it's a definite competitor to offerings from the likes of HTC, Samsung, and LG at an amazing price. The ZenFone 2 is the first phone anywhere to be equipped with 4GB of dual-channel RAM (on the high-end model), and the rest of the specs are no slouch either.
The phone is impressively styled, with a brushed metal body that tapers to just 3.9mm on the edges, not unlike the Moto X.
Asus has been teasing a new phone announcement for CES, but phones need wireless certifications, and sometimes those documents give away more than intended. Such appears to be the case for the "ZC451CG," which the product description submitted to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group calls a successor to the ZenFone. This might be what Asus plans to unveil at CES.
As CES 2015 approaches, ASUS is trying to build anticipation for their presentation. Using a short video, they are teasing an updated ZenFone with what appears to be a new camera feature. In their usual style, the video is pretty cryptic and feels like it’s loaded with subliminal messaging. Still, you can get a pretty good look at the device if you know where to look.
There is not much to the video since it is only 10 seconds long, with about half of that time containing the “see what others can’t see” text overlay and ASUS logo (our copy editor would not be a fan of that redundancy).
We just got back from a meeting at ASUS's CES suite, and we had a chance to go hands-on with the full portfolio of the company's new Android products (apart from Padfone X, which sadly sat walled off in a glass case). Of great interest to some of you, no doubt, are the company's new ZenFone handsets. Johnny Shih, ASUS's enthusiastic chairman, announced the ZenFone 4, 5, and 6, would be priced at $99, $149, and $199, respectively. With all three phones utilizing dual-core Intel Ivy Trail+ chipsets and powered by Android 4.3, that's certainly an attractive proposition. Were there any immediately apparent downsides, though?
ASUS is breaking out its phone lineup at CES in a big way. The new "ZenFone" series is coming in 4-inch, 5-inch, and 6-inch versions to suit just about anybody, and each one of these new devices will be sold in a variety of metallic colors. Features and specs vary a bit between models, but the basic gist is that you pick your screen size and work up from there. All of them are on the low end and aimed at price-conscious buyers.
The ZenFone 4 is at the bottom of the spectrum, featuring a 4-inch LCD 840x400 screen. (Remember those?) It's powered by a 1.2Ghz Intel Atom Z2520 processor and comes with 1GB of RAM and a 5MP rear camera.