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It's quite surprising that Asus is not making efforts to push the 2GB RAM variant of the Zenfone 2. The device, with its new Intel processor, performs better than any other sub-15k smartphone, and though the phone has a few weaknesses, it's without a doubt the best buy below 15k right now as long as you don't mind the generous form factor.
When you announce a smartphone with 4GB of RAM, you’ve got the intrigue angle right. Every one has been interested in the Asus Zenfone 2, buyers and reviewers alike. The 4GB RAM variant of the device though, has overshadowed what could be the more important variant of the Zenfone 2, the one with 2GB of RAM.
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Why you ask? Because the 2GB variant competes in a very difficult market segment, and against perhaps the toughest competitor, Xiaomi. The 1080p, 2GB variant of the Zenfone 2 costs Rs. 14,999, putting it squarely in competition with the Mi 4i. That said, in a price sensitive market, the extra two thousand bucks leaves a lot of ground to cover. So, the question that remains is, does the Zenfone 2 justify the extra cost?
Before we get to that, let’s take a moment to look at what’s actually different in this Zenfone 2 compared to the variant with 4GB of RAM. The display, battery size and camera all remain the same, so you can read about those elements in our other review of the Asus Zenfone 2. What changes here is the processor, a 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z3560 SoC is fitted in this one, along with 2GB of RAM.
Like it’s older brother, with its 4GB RAM, the real hero of the 2GB variant of the Zenfone 2 is its performance. While the CPU performs at somewhere between the Snapdragon 800 and 801, the GPU is at the OnePlus One level. What does this mean? If you’re a big mobile gamer, then this is the best phone you can buy in the sub-15k segment today.
The Zenfone 2 has a PowerVR G6430 GPU. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Apple used this same GPU on the iPhone 5S. Now that doesn’t automatically mean that the Zenfone 2 is as good a gaming performer as the iPhone 5S, but it gets closer than any other phone worth 15k.
Performance wise, the phone is far ahead of the Xiaomi Mi4i, or indeed, any other smartphone in the sub-15k segment. In terms of benchmarks, the Zenfone 2 racks up double the performance of the Mi4i. The extra four cores on the Mi4i, allow it to offer slightly better multi-core performance on benchmarks, but the Zenfone 2 overshadows the Mi4i in real world performance because of less intense heating issues.
The battery performance is a tricky part in the 2GB Zenfone 2 variant. The Intel Atom Z3560 SoC seems to be heavily optimised for video performance, allowing it to last up to 20 hours in video tests. In more real world simulations though, the Zenfone 2 actually comes out behind the Xiaomi Mi4i. If you’re using this as your daily driver, then you’ll have to make good use of the power saver modes in order to get the phone to last you a full day. At best, the Zenfone 2 can give you 10-12 hours of battery life without using any of the battery saver modes.
Even when you’re using the battery saver modes, over extended periods of gaming, the Zenfone 2 will drop about 15% battery over 15 minutes of gaming. What it won’t do in that time though is heat up abnormally and hence, performance won't take a hit because of throttling. Also, the version we're talking about here has a 1080p display, so the battery life should be a little better for the 720p version.
The Asus Zenfone 2 provides the one thing that the Xiaomi Mi4i lacks, which is the performance, while it is not as good in camera quality. As a consumer, this makes the decision quite simple. If you’re looking for best in class performance, then the Zenfone 2 is the one to go for. It is important to note that while the Zenfone 2’s camera is not as good as the Xiaomi Mi4i, it can still take some respectable photos in proper light conditions.
In terms of overall value for money, the Zenfone 2 seems to be the better smartphone as compared to the Xiaomi Mi4i. While both phones have their strengths and weaknesses, the Zenfone 2’s camera and battery life are both respectable, which means that combined with its performance, this is the best phone to buy in the sub-15k smartphone segment right now.