Hands-on with Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe

Asus announced the ZenFone 2 at CES back in January and its headline-grabbing feature was the fact it was the first smartphone to pack an impressive but seemingly unecessary 4GB of RAM. Nine months later and the ZenFone 2 Deluxe is taking the very same features and packing them into a body that should have a few more people casting their eye over the design as well as the impressive sounding specs list.

From the front, nothing has really changed. You still get those gently curved corners and the generous screen bezel below the 5.5-inch Full HD screen to accommodate the physical navigation buttons. The dimensions and the weight are identical to the Zenfone 2 but it's around the back where things are different.

Watch our Asus Zenfone 2 Deluxe hands-on video

Now there's a bumpy, angular plastic back with a matte finish that's certainly gives the Deluxe a unique look. It doesn't look like it's going to be comfortable to hold, but is surprisingly easy to grip. You still get those LG-inspired back buttons as well although they don't have the same satisfying feel beneath the fingers as the ones on the G3 or G4.

Elsewhere, there's nothing new to report here. It still runs on an Intel Atom Z3580 processor with 4GB RAM, making it the first smartphone to break through the 3GB barrier until the OnePlus 2 turned up. The jury is still out on how much RAM a _phone_ needs, but you can instantly notice just how zippy this _phone_ is. You also have the option of a special editon with a whopping 256GB of internal storage giving you plenty of room to store content.

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It runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop with the Zen UI on top. It's a little more overbearing than most Android approaches with plenty of bloatware littered on the homescreens once you have a look around. Crucially, it doesn't appear to have had an impact on how slick navigating homescreens or launching apps is.

When it comes to taking pictures, there's a 13-megapixel main sensor with a dual-tone flash and a 5-megapixel camera up front. I managed to take a few snaps and it delivers pleasant but far from groundbreaking image quality.

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First impressions

So the Zenfone 2 Deluxe is an update of Asus' flagship phone only in looks but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It succesfully manages to make a plastic design feel a little more desirable without coming across as cheap and tacky. Along with an impressive specs list that's sill in tact and pricing that starts from around £230, this is an Android phone that's set up to punch well above its weight

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