After some success with the Zenfone 2, Asus seems to want to continue down the same "high-value" path with its phones. The company will soon launch a lower-end Zenfone 2E version that brings some solid features to its low $120 price point.
The phone comes with an older 32nm Intel Atom Z2560, which is a Clover Trail+ SoC with a dual core 1.2 GHz CPU that has a performance level between Cortex A9 and Cortex A15. It also comes with a PowerVR SGX 544MP2 that has a maximum clock speed of 400 MHz per core. The SoC isn't part of Intel's LTE-based SoFIA family, so instead the chip comes with an older XMM 6360 3G modem.
Although it's a budget phone, it has a rather large 5" screen with a 720p resolution, neither of which are especially typical on smartphones that cost this little. Most other competitors have 4.5-4.7" screens with 950 x 540p resolution to conserve battery life as well as to cut costs.
Either way, Asus claims 19 hours of talk time on a single charge, which may have more to do with how efficient the 3G modem is than how much power its screen uses, considering the display is usually turned off when you put it next to your ear. It also helps that it has a rather large 2,500 mAh battery for its price point.
The Zenfone 2E comes with 1 GB of LPDDR2 RAM, which is now standard on $100+ smartphones, 8 GB of flash storage, microSD card support up to 64 GB, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and a microUSB 2.0 port.
The cameras are 8MP resolution in the back and 2MP in the front, which is typical of lower-end smartphones, but quality can vary significantly from one sub-$150 phone to another.
The Zenfone 2E's rear camera arrives with an f/2.0 5-element lens, and according to Asus, a mode that captures "400% more light" in low-light conditions. The camera is also supposed to have a "zero shutter lag," which is a feature we haven't seen promoted since the Android 4.0 days. When Google first announced it in the Galaxy Nexus, it did indeed take photos much faster, but often at the cost of proper auto-focus, which resulted in many blurry pictures. Chances are Asus and other smartphone companies have fixed this by now.
Asus' smartphone will run Android 5.0 along with the company's own "Zen UI" on top of it, which is a new, easier to use, material design-inspired user interface.
The Asus Zenfone 2E will be available on July 24 on AT&T's network exclusively, with the carrier's GoPhone prepaid plans, and it will only cost $120. The device will also be available at retailers such as Walmart and Target, and in Best Buy's stores starting on August 2.