After creating ripples in the market with the Zenfone 2, one of the first phones to come with 4GB RAM, Taiwanese smartphone maker Asus is all set to leverage the smartphone brand by introducing different variants of the phone.

The Zenfone 2 Laser is part of the new lineup of phones from the Zenfone series and boasts of a laser auto-focus camera at a budget price point. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor unlike other members of the Zenfone family that run Intel processors. We used the phone for a few days to find out if it's the best budget Android smartphone...

Build, design and display
Asus Zenfone 2 Laser (5.5-inch variant) almost has the same dimensions and weight as the Zenfone 2.

Asus decided to embrace the 5.5-inch display size (diagonal) which somewhat falls in phablet territory but the company has made sure the overall dimensions are not very different compared to the 5-inch screen-equipped Zenfone 5 and has a 72% screen to body ratio.

The front features the 5.5-inch HD (720x1280p) IPS display which offers vibrant colours, good brightness levels and wide viewing angles. Although we would have preferred a full-HD display, even the 720p panel is not too bad when it comes to rendering text and graphics. Sunlight legibility was also good and viewing angles were pretty wide.

The phone comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection to guard against scratches. Even the top-end Zenfone 2 models just feature Gorilla Glass 3 protection. Touch response was also pretty good during our use.

The phone is slightly large for one hand use especially if you have small hands but Asus has included a special mode for single handed use that can be invoked by double tapping on the Home button (just like Apple's Reachability) if enabled in the phone's settings. Interestingly this mode also features on-screen navigation keys.

Another bit that we found a little intimidating was that the phone's power/screen lock switch is located at the top edge. Most large phones launched in the recent past come with side buttons for power/screen lock for easy access.

Just below the display you'll find the three capacitive touch buttons for navigation and a metallic strip that sports the same reflective pattern seen in the company's other devices and Zenfone 5. Unfortunately, just like the Zenfone 2, navigation keys on the Zenfone 2 Laser are not backlit.

The Zenfone 2 Laser sports a removable back panel that features a matte finish and is slightly rounded. Our demo unit was red in colour but Asus plans to introduce other colour variants including white and black ones.

Taking a page from LG's design book, the Zenfone's metallic volume rocker key is located at the back just below the camera lens. While the positioning is intended to make using the phone more convenient, some people may find it awkward.

The back features some Asus and Zenfone branding and a speaker grill in addition to the camera lens and dual-LED flash.

Removing the back panel is easy and you'll find a sealed battery and slots for two micro sim cards (both are 4G LTE capable) and a microSD card slot stacked on top of the sim slot.