Asus looks to make a dent on smartphones with Zen in 2015

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While we’re sure the shelves at your local electronic or telco store are getting crowded from the amount of names for you to choose from, Asus might be adding its own gear to the line-up, as it announces new phones are coming.

You might know the name Asus from the laptop and tablets out there, as well as the force it is in the desktop computing world, but this year, it feels like the company is going for the jugular in the highly competitive smartphone market, too.

And we’re getting that from the ZenFone range, which this year will consist of two models that aim to deliver button-less edges for one model and a camera-phone with optical zoom for another.

The more premium of the two models appears to be the ZenFone 2, a handset that will boast a 5.5 inch Full HD screen with a curved brush-metal design that tapers to an edge of 3.9mm, though the device isn’t technically that thin altogether.

Regardless, these wafer thin edges won’t really allow for any buttons, and so the ZenFone 2 is doing away with them, borrowing a little inspiration from the LG G2 and G3, and throwing the buttons on the back, with a volume control key on the back where your forefinger would normally rest against, just below the camera.

Inside the smartphone, Asus is calling on an Intel chipset to keep things speedy, with a 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 working here alongside 4GB RAM, more than enough from what we’ve seen from smartphones in the past, and working with Android, though we’re not clear on exactly what version (we’re guessing 5.0 “Lollipop”).

Gorilla Glass 3 will protect the screen, the camera is set to 13 megapixels on the back, and there’s a 5 megapixel front facing camera, as well as 4G LTE connectivity, two SIMs, and support for 802.11ac, so it’s pretty clear the Asus ZenFone 2 has the specs to take the fight to the competition.

It might even have just enough of a point of difference, with some security built into the browser thanks to Trend Micro, a security feature called “SnapView” which apparently lets people keep personal and business information separate (no idea quite how this one works), some “intuitive touch gestures” to make the Asus ZenUI overlay work more seamlessly, and a 3000mAh battery with support for a 60% fast charge in a little under 40 minutes.

“The passion behind the design of ZenFone 2 is our never-ending desire to empower luxury for everyone,” said Jonney Shih, Chairman of Asus.

“We have drawn on our considerable engineering expertise and experience with our popular ZenFone to create a smartphone that embodies this ambition. That device is the incredible new ZenFone 2 — luxury that everyone can enjoy.”

The back of the Asus ZenFone 2.

It won’t be the only phone Asus launches this year, either, with the ZenFone 2 joined by the ZenFone Zoom, a slightly different model with a 3x optical lens that protrudes from the phone and offers up much the same specs as the ZenFone 2 — 5.5 inch screen, 13 megapixel rear camera, 3000mAh battery — but makes that rear camera a little more useful.

This one will have buttons on the edges, and will even include optical image stabilisation for the photography side of things, laser autofocus (similar to what LG offered in the G3 smartphone), and will introduce a manual mode to the camera software which Asus says will bring in “professional-grade manual control of ISO settings, shutter speed and more”.

As with most CES announcements, neither pricing nor availability is a known entity for either of these Asus smartphones, but we’re checking, and will let you know as soon as Asus tells us Australia is getting them.

Asus ZenFone Zoom