Asus released an updated version of its Zenfone 2 smartphone, called the Zenfone 2 Laser, which brings a few significant changes, including laser autofocus, Gorilla Glass 4 protection, 3 GB of RAM and Bluetooth 4.1.
Asus built a Zenfone 2 that came with 2 GB of RAM and a quad-core 1.8 GHz Intel Atom processor for $199, and a higher-end model that came with a 2.3 GHz CPU, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage for $299. The new Zenfone 2 Laser is more of an updated model to the $199 variant and costs the same, too.
The Zenfone 2 Laser replaced the 1.8 GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor for an octa-core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 chip (four cores are clocked at 1.0 GHz), as well as the PowerVR G6430 for Adreno 405. It gets the same 5.5" IPS LCD with a 1080p resolution, but now it's protected by Gorilla Glass 4, rather than Gorilla Glass 3. Gorilla Glass 4 is touted as being twice as resistant to shattering when it falls down, but it accomplishes this by compromising some of its anti-scratching resistance as well.
The main reason the device is called "Laser" is because its 13MP rear camera is now matched with a fast laser autofocus, so far used by LG in its LG G3 and LG G4, and by the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P.
The way laser autofocus works is that it sends a laser light from the back of the phone onto the objects in front of it, and then that light is reflected back onto the camera sensor. The phone calculates how much time it took for the light to arrive back and derives the distance where the camera should focus from that. This makes laser autofocus very precise and fast.
The 13MP rear camera doesn't seem to have changed much. It's matched with an f/2.0 aperture, 5 element Largan Lens, and dual-tone LED flash, and it can shoot 1080p video at 30 fps. The front-camera is 5MP just like before, but this time it also has autofocus, whereas before it did not.
The device also has 3 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage for $199, or 32 GB of storage for $249, and it comes in Silver. It also supports microSDXC cards up to 128 GB, offers Cat. 4 LTE, Bluetooth 4.1 with AptX, and has a 3,000 mAh battery. Although Android 6.0 is already out for Nexus devices, the new Zenfone 2 Laser will launch running Android 5.0 with Asus's Zenfone UI 2.0 on top.
The Zenfone 2 Laser will be available at Newegg and Asus's store this November. Canadian availability includes a price tag of $270 CDN, and you can get the phone north of the border at Staples, Canada Computers, NCIX and Memory Express.
Update, 11/2/15, 12:25pm PT: Added Canadian pricing and availability.
Lucian Armasu joined Tom’s Hardware in early 2014. He writes news stories on mobile, chipsets, security, privacy, and anything else that might be of interest to him from the technology world. Outside of Tom’s Hardware, he dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.