Updated on 05-18-2015 by Kyle Wiggers: Added details from the New York City press event of availability and features.
ZenFone 2 orders officially start tomorrow. The unit packing 2GB RAM and 32GB of storage will retail for $200 off contract, while the 4GB, 64GB model bumps the asking price up to a slightly-more-expensive-but-still-palatable $300. It’ll be available at the usual brick-and-mortar retailers — Amazon, B&H, and Newegg, and Groupon among others — and as an additional benefit, all purchases include 100GB of Google Drive storage for two years.
The new smartphone comes off the line with some impressive specs, including a quad-core, 64-bit Intel Atom processor. Two models of the ZenFone 2 will be available: One sporting a 1.8GHz version of the powerful Intel-made processor (the Z3580), and one with a 2.3GHz version (the ZE551ML). The processor is combined with 4GB of RAM (that’s reduced to a paltry 2GB on the lower-specced model), and as such, the ZenFone 2 promises a lot of power. ASUS claims it will provide seven times faster gaming performance than its predecessor.
Also popping off the spec sheet for the ZenFone 2 is the revamped camera. The 13-megapixel PixelMaster camera features a wide f/2.0 aperture lens with zero shutter lag. Asus claims it sports “industry-leading” low light mode thanks to pixel-merging technology that ups brightness up to 400 percent without the need for flash. A smaller but still powerful 5-megapixel lens sits on the front of the device and offers a “Selfie Panorama” mode that captures a 140-degree field of view so you can snap photos of you and your friends. And if even greater detail is what you desire, there’s a new 52MP camera feature that stitches together multiple photos into a single image.
The ZenFone 2 will run Android 5.0 Lollipop with a layer of Asus’ own UI over the top of it. ZenUI is the “first fully-customizable UI,” according to Asus. It gives the user control over the launcher, themes, fonts, icons, and more so they can create an experience unique and best fit to them. Within the new UI is also a new gesture control system called ZenMotion that makes common features more accessible.
Asus upped its security measures with ZenUI as well, adding two new features designed specifically to keep users safe. Trend Micro Security is built into the ZenUI browser to provide extra protection while browsing the web while SnapView gives users the ability to keep business and personal information separate and manage the privacy settings of apps and files. There are enhanced parental controls in tow, too, which let you customize the apps kids can access and the amount of time they can use them.
Keeping the ZenFone 2 alive is a 3,000mAh battery, which Asus states will provide a full day of usage. Fast-charge technology allows users to get a 60 percent charge in 39 minutes.