Asus might not be the first name that springs into mind when you think of a smartphone, but at CES 2015 it went about changing that perception with the introduction of the ZenFone 2.
The follow-up to the ZenFone, first announced at CES 2014, the 5.5-inch ZenFone 2 boasts a brushed metal finish and Full HD IPS display. It might not offer qHD resolution like some of its rivals, but then it's a snip of the price: starting at $199.
That price doesn't mean it's low power, though, with some interesting specification under the hood. Asus has strayed from the Qualcomm, ARM and Kirin options of this world and opted for the latest generation Intel Atom Z3580, paired with 4GB RAM - the first and (currently) only smartphone to offer such a spec - which Asus claims it'll knock even Cortex-A53 processors into shape. Big claims.
The Android smartphone runs Asus ZenUI, a re-skin of the standard Google software, in its latest iteration. That means more of the quirks found in the earlier ZenUI, but some of the new features sound genuinely useful: SnapView for both work and personal accounts via a different swipe login; ZenMotion and its tap/shake gestures to make various tasks happen; and the customisable launcher to choose themes, colours, icons and so forth to make the phone your own.
On the rear of the ZenFone 2 is a 13-megapixel camera with a maximum aperture of f/2.0. Asus claims it delivers "zero shutter lag", but spent more time on stage at its CES press conference boasting about the low-light capabilities, in particular the HDR technology that's available for both front and rear cameras, even in Auto mode. There's also a dual colour flash.
The dual-SIM 4G LTE smartphone also features ultra-fast charging technology, said to be nearly twice as fast as that in other smartphones.
Available in a variety of colour options, the Asus ZenFone 2 will be available from March, priced $199 in the US, with a UK price yet to be announced. If it's as powerful as Asus claims then we may have a new king of the affordable phones market on our hands.