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Best Value Smartphone of 2015 : Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML Gets TechPinas Badge of Excellence

Since it's Valentine's Day, allow me to take time in recognizing the greatness of one of the smartphones that I loved last year (and one that I still love until today), the Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML, by giving it the TechPinas Badge of Excellence.

Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML, Asus ZenFone 2 Philippines, Best Smartphone of 2015

I'm giving this award to this incredible phablet as a user who's had it as a daily driver for more than six months -- and that's something that my colleagues and close friends can attest to. You can even check my Instagram account to see how many times I took a "mirror selfie" or mirfie using this device last year.

Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML, Asus ZenFone 2 Philippines, Best Smartphone of 2015

Many wonderful things have been said about the 2015 Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML but I'm giving it this award on the merit of five stellar qualities, namely, great design, top-notch gaming and overall touch performance, ultra-smooth multitasking experience, above average imaging capabilities, and great value for money proposition.

Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML, Asus ZenFone 2 Philippines, Best Smartphone of 2015

First, let's talk about the design of the smartphone. The polycarbonate back plate - which has an elegant brushed metal look - is curved and tapers sharply on either sides. All the shiny accents - including the strip below the glass face - make this model more expensive than it actually is while the weight and ergonomics make it easy to hold -- even when you're in bed and you're holding the phone in front of your face.

Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML, Asus ZenFone 2 Philippines, Best Smartphone of 2015

In terms of raw processing power and graphics performance, ZenFone 2 can definitely stand shoulder to shoulder with the most expensive flagship level smartphones released in 2015 and not feel a bit shy.


This is made possible by the handset's 64-Bit 2.3Ghz Intel Atom Z3580 chipset that incorporates the beastly PowerVR 6430 graphics card. With this SoC, ZenFone 2 could run the most graphics-intensive 3D games for Android - including my favorites Need for Speed No Limits, Marvel Contest of Champions, and Modern Combat 5 - without glitches all while delivering ultra-smooth screen transitions and touch experience.


Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML is the very first smartphone in the world to have a whopping 4GB of RAM! Having such large amount of memory allows ZenFone 2 to give users a stutter-free, desktop-class multitasking performance. I've tried playing three 3D games on this smartphone at the same time and ZenFone 2 handled it flawlessly.


Like most smartphones these days, Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML has a dual camera set-up: One in front and another at the back. What makes this model special, though, is that both of its shooters are made to deliver clear and crisp shots even in extreme low light conditions. Hence, the tagline "See What Others Can't See".


The one at the back is a 13 MegaPixel autofocus snapper with Toshiba lens, f/2.0 aperture, Blue Glass IR filter, and Dual Tone LED flash.

Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML, Asus ZenFone 2 Philippines, Best Smartphone of 2015

While its rear cam's sensor and lens are hardly the best you can find on smartphone, ZenFone 2 is nonetheless capable of delivering stunning macro and landscape shots when there's ample ambient light. It's certainly above average compared to most other handsets in its price bracket.

Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML, Asus ZenFone 2 Philippines, Best Smartphone of 2015

And with Asus' PixelMaster Technology, the main shooter can even capture subjects in extreme low light environments as it 'sniffs out' even the faintest details on which light bounces on.


ZenFone 2's 5 MegaPixel selfie cam - of course, found on top of the display - has an f/2.0 aperture so its also capable of delivering well-illuminated self-portraits. Paired with Asus' advanced real-time beautification mode that evens out your skin tone, slims down your face, and  highlights your great facial features, you'll get selfies that are instantly ready for sharing on social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram.

Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML, Asus ZenFone 2 Philippines, Best Smartphone of 2015

And finally, the best thing about this model is that the most expensive variant (64GB ROM, 4GB RAM) during its launch had an official suggested retail price of only Php 14,995! That's less than half the price of flagship releases by other international brands that have comparable features and less powerful internal hardware. At that amount, Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML was a definite steal last year and remains to be one even to this day.

Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML, Asus ZenFone 2 Philippines, Best Smartphone of 2015

Oh, and on top of those five reasons, I want to add that the phablet's 5.5-inch Full HD IPS+ OGS display is also one of its main strengths.

Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML, Asus ZenFone 2 Philippines, Best Smartphone of 2015

It's not the most pixel-dense screen on a 2015 phablet but it's certainly large, brilliant, and clear enough to deliver a compelling and enjoyable photo and video viewing experience. Yes, it's not 4K -- but it's also not a resource-hog and not too heavy on the battery.

Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML, Asus ZenFone 2 Philippines, Best Smartphone of 2015

To wrap this up, let me say that Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML is not perfect: It has rather limited uptime; Its WiFi reception is sometimes intermittent; It's still stuck on Android 5.0 Lollipop; And it could greatly benefit from a more powerful imaging sensor. But considering all of the phablet's key strengths and of the fact that it gives consumers unbelievable value for the amount that the Taiwanese charges for this model, Asus ZenFone 2 ZE551ML is definitely worthy of the TechPinas Badge of Excellence.

TechPinas Smartphone Technical Specs Table (TSTST)
Name Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML
Type Slate Form Factor (Full Touchscreen)
Price Category Midrange
Dimensions152.5 x 77.2 x 10.9 mm
Weight 170 grams
Available Colors Osmium Black, Sheer Gold, Glacier Gray, Glamor Red, Ceramic White
Operating System Android 5.0 Lollipop with Zen UI
Display ZE551ML: 5.5 inches (~403 ppi pixel density), 1080 x 1920 pixels, IPS+, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, Gorilla Glass 3
Processor32GB and 64GB versions: Quad Core 64-bit 2.3 GHz Intel Atom Z3580 chipset with PowerVR G6430 GPU
RAM 16GB version: 2 GB of RAM
32GB and 64GB version: 4 GB of RAM
Internal Storage 16GB/32GB/64GB options, expandable via microSD card slot supporting up to 64GB
Camera Main: 13 MegaPixels, 4208 x 3120 pixels, autofocus, Dual Tone LED flash
Front: 5 MegaPixels
Video Capture Full HD 1080p 30 frames per second for main camera, HD for front camera (TBC)
Audio and Video Playback MP3, WAV, eAAC+, FLAC, MP4, H.264
Ports microUSB v2.0, 3.5 mm audio jack
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP, EDR, 3G HSDPA, 21 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps, HSPA+; LTE Cat4, NFC
GPS Yes, with GLONASS and A-GPS
FM Radio Yes
Sensors Accelerometer, Digital Compass, Proximity Gyroscope
Network 2G GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 and SIM 2, 3G HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100, 4G LTE 700 / 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1800 / 1900 / 2100 / 2600 (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 17, 18, 19, 20, 28, 29), TD-LTE 1900 / 2300 / 2500 / 2600 (Bands 38, 39, 40, 41)
SIM Card Type Dual microSIM, Dual Standby
Battery ZE551ML: Non-removable 3,000 mAh Li-Po battery
ZE500CL: Non-removable 2,500 mAh Li-Po battery
Uptime TBD
Value-Added Features Zen UI, PixelMaster camera, Affordable price tag; Top-notch specs, Fast Charging
Announcement CES 2015 ~ January 6, 2015
South East Asia ~ April 22, 2015
Philippines ~ May 15, 2015
Availability Philippines: May 16, 2015
Price SRPs Upon Launch:
32 GB with 2.3 GHz Quad Core 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 chipset ~ ZE551ML : Php 13,995
64 GB with 2.3 GHz Quad Core 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 chipset ~ ZE551ML : Php 14,995

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