The new Transformer Book Chi series isn't all Asus had up its sleeve at its CES press conference this morning. The company also announced the ZenFone 2, a slick handset with a curved brushed-metal case, a 5.5" display, and Intel guts.
The ZenFone 2's display has a 1080p resolution that yields a pixel density of 403 PPI. Under the hood, Asus offers a choice of 1.8GHz Atom Z3560 and 2.3GHz Atom Z3580 processors, both from the Moorefield generation. Backing the x86 silicon are a maximum of 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, plus an SD card reader and a "fast-charge" 3000mAh battery that replenishes 60% of its capacity in 39 minutes. Wireless connectivity spans 4G/LTE, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, and NFC.
Asus hasn't skimped on the camera front. The ZenFone 2's rear shooter has a 13-megapixel sensor, an f/2.0 lens, and a manual operating mode that lets users tinker with the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. There are also low-light and HDR modes, and a dual-color Real Tone flash helps to "ensure warm skin tones and accurate color." The front camera isn't as impressive, with a lower five-megapixel resolution, but Asus says it's "perfectly engineered for taking selfies with real-time beautification."
In the software department, the ZenFone 2 features Android 5.0 customized with a new version of Asus' ZenUI interface. Asus promises a "simpler and smarter user experience" as well special gestures and customization options for the launcher, fonts, icons, "and more." Users can also look forward to integrated Trend Micro security in the ZenUI web browser and a "stealth account function for enhanced privacy."
All in all, the phone weighs just shy of 6 oz (170 g). It measures 10.9 mm at its thickest point and just 3.9 mm at the edges.
Asus says the ZenFone 2 will start at $199 with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, presumably after contract subsidies. U.S. availability is scheduled for the second quarter, though Asus hasn't yet announced which carriers will offer the device. You'll be able to choose between five colors, including Osmium Black, Sheer Gold, Glacier Gray, Glamor Red, and Ceramic White.