Though budget smartphone category is considered as the most essential smartphone market globally, a few mid-budget smartphones received huge attention once they got released. Last year Chinese smartphone-maker OnePlus debuted globally with its first ever smartphone OnePlus One and received the 'Flagship Killer' tag from the experts. Simultaneously, major hardware manufacturer received a lot of attention since the day they announced its 4GB RAM-equipped ZenFone 2.
Both the smartphone packs superior hardware, great camera, latest OS in a well-built body. Available in several editions the Zenfone 2 ZE551ML 4GB edition 64GB and 32GB editions are priced for ₹22,999 and ₹19,999 in India. On the other hand, the OnePlus One 64GB and 16GB editions are available exclusively through Amazon India for ₹21,998 and ₹18,998 respectively.
[Read More- ASUS Zenfone 2 ZE551ML Review]
Design and Build
The OnePlus One design has received immense acclamation from the fans for its rugged build quality. The brushed matte polycarbonate rear with a metal finished bezel has given a rugged feel to the device. Available in Sandstone Black and Silk White editions, the phone deserves a pat for the build quality it offers.
The ZenFone 2 features an all-plastic casing with a brushed metal exterior. The curvy back sports a decent build quality either and feels tough yet ergonomic in hand. But due to the odd placement of physical buttons, the Zenfone 2 is a bit difficult to operate single-handed.
But while comparing both, you can easily make out the unibody design language of OnePlus One feels much sleek, rugged, compact and ergonomic in use. Naturally this round goes to OnePlus One.
Winner: OnePlus One
Both the smartphones feature a 5.5-inch touch display and features quite similar screen-to-body ratio (70.1% of ZenFone 2 with 71.9% of OnePlus One). Both the displays feature 1,920x1,080 pixel resolution, but the Zenfone 2 features slightly higher PPI count (403PPI) than the OnePlus One (401PPI).
With prolonged use, we found the ZenFone 2's display produces over-saturated colours while the OnePlus One's display seems balanced while producing texts and icons. Kindly don't count the over-saturated word as an abusive word as the ability sounds decent to some users for its jazzy and vibrant colour reproduction.
Winner: OnePlus One
Both the smartphones runs on the latest Android 5.0.2 Lollipop OS, but while OnePlus One is powered by Cyanogen OS 12 (after update), the ZenFone 2 comes with its home-made ZenUI skinned interface.
While Cyanogen OS 12 features a lot of customisation, ZenUI tries to compete with its updated gestures.
While the Cyanogen OS is easy to set up and use, the ZenUI doesn't feel heavy in use for its power-packed hardware. Both the interface retains the much-necessary app drawer and allows customising your phone in your own way.
Being a fan of stock Android OS, we liked the Cyanogen OS 12 more than the ZenUI, but again the taste will vary to every individual.
Hardware and Performance
In this segment, ASUS played a clever trick by featuring 4GB RAM into our review unit. In fact ASUS ZenFone 2 is the first smartphone to offer 4GB RAM in a smartphone.
While the OnePlus One runs on a 2.5GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon 801 SoC, the ZenFone 2 features a Atom Z3560 processor clocked at 1.8GHz. In comparison to ZenFone 2's 4GB Ram memory, the OnePlus One packs 3GB RAM memory stick.
But the configuration doesn't help ZenFone 2 much in synthetic benchmarking test. With AnTuTu Benchmarking 5.7 suite, OnePlus One scored 48843 in comparison with ZenFone 2's 47473. Even through GeekBench 3 suite the OnePlus One beaten ZenFone 2 easily by scoring 48 and 96 higher in Single-Core and Multi-Core respectively.
Beyond web performance, the benchmarks gave the OnePlus One an overall lead on the ZenFone 2.
ZenFone 2 and OnePlus One open applications and web pages in a whip and we didn't notice any performance problems.
Tasks such as graphic-heavy 3D games and intense multi-tasking, we found out that both the devices are impressive. Both the phones are capable of running most system heavy applications free of stutter and chug.
Winner: OnePlus One
Both the phones pack a 13MP rear camera with dual-tone flash and a 5MP front camera for selfie and video-calling needs. Both the rear cameras also feature similar f/2.0 aperture for snapping better photographs in challenging lights.
In our test, we clicked photographs in same lighting condition and also clicked the subjects from similar distance. Through the below sample shots you can easily differentiate the image quality of both the phones.
While the OnePlus One enhances the images by brightening them up to a certain level, ZenFone 2 images features great colour balance. Simultaneously, the OnePlus One produces better low-light images than Zenfone 2.
In macro department, we also found OnePlus One's rear camera had been able to focus the subject from the closest possible range. From similar distance, the ZenFone 2 rear camera wasn't been able to focus.
On selfie test we found the ZenFone images better than the OnePlus One images for their richer and balanced colour tones.
Winner: ZenFone 2
Battery and Storage
In comparison to ZenFone 2's 3,000mAh battery, the OnePlus One packs a 3,100mAh battery. Both the smartphone features non-removable battery, hence no luxury of swapping hot batteries if required. In real life test both the devices offers around a day and half out of the phones. But the OnePlus One battery stands out couple of hours more than the ZenFone 2.
While the ZenFone 2 storage is expandable up to 64GB more via Micro SD card, the OnePlus One sacrifices the Micro SD card slot for better performance. Practically, the in-built storage offers much faster storage access for added performance.
Winner: ZenFone 2
Price and Conclusion
The OnePlus One has won three rounds to the ZenFone 2's two, making the OnePlus handset winner in the head-to-head review.
But we're not writing off the ZenFone 2 either. Going through the above-mentioned tests and their results in individual departments, you can easily make out which phone you should go for. ZenFone 2 offers better built quality, better performance and the power of Cyanogen OS. It also offers better selfie images, memory expandability and a jazzy display.