So all of the major smartphone manufacturers have announced their flagships for the year, there can’t possibly be any other interesting smartphones for the rest of 2015, right? The beauty of the saturation of the smartphone market is how companies can just jump into the mix. OnePlus was the biggest wave of last year with a budget flagship killer. People seem to appreciate the value for money more and more with smartphones so let’s talk about a great smartphone for a good price: the Asus Zenfone 2. For $300, the Zenfone 2 delivers solid specs with a slight bit of ridiculousness as well. You might not have heard of it; there wasn’t a huge announcement but it’s slowly making its way around all the tech review outlets so I wouldn’t want you to miss it!

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Looks

First impressions are key which is why I almost always mention them; the Zenfone 2 reminds me of the LG G3. The back plate has a similar look by imitating the brushed aluminum appearance plus the buttons are in the same place as well. Definitely a good thing as it gives a quality impression. My only issue is the speaker placement on the back plate, every manufacturer should know better by now.

The Zenfone 2 sticks with a 1080p LCD screen which is reasonably bright and quite pixel dense while maintaining pretty good color reproduction as well. It’s not the best screen but you won’t be disappointed, especially considering the price. And overall, the Zenfone 2 isn’t exactly stunning but it isn’t the worst designed phone either.

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What It Does

This is where the Zenfone 2 really shines in the value department. It runs a pretty good processor while packing an insane 4GB of RAM. The result is a fantastic multitasking experience hampered only by Asus’ own Android skin: ZenUI. ZenUI is the shortfall of the Zenfone 2 with tons of bloatware; no one could ever find a use for all of it. The worst offender is the two anti virus scanners that run into each other all the time. The camera is merely adequate on the Zenfone 2 with the lack of any kind of image stabilization or any fancy features. The photos are ok in good lighting and worsen in dim lighting.

In the end, there is no doubt the Zenfone 2 offers incredible value. However, will you be able to look past the bloatware? Occasionally, you will find an Android skin you love, like I did with HTC BlinkFeed, and the bloatware becomes quite useful. If you can love ZenUI, the Zenfone 2 might be the phone for you.