The Zenfone 2 comes in an eye-catching red retail package (matching the red phone inside). Inside you'll find the usual set of accessories, but nothing special. You get a headset with an in-ear design, tangle-free flat cables and a single-button remote. Extra earbuds are also provided.
There is a two piece charger with a rather short USB-to-microUSB cable. The AC adapter is instrumental in providing that fast charging feature and puts out a maximum of 2amps at 9volts for a whopping 18W of maximum charging power.
The Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML measures 152.5 x 77.2 x 10.9 mm, which is about right for 5.5-inch device. The LG G3 manages a smaller footprint, but it has on-screen buttons eating up screen space. The iPhone 6 Plus on the other hand is even taller at 158.1mm, which goes to show that even premium offerings don't come with an advantage in compactness. That said, the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comes in a body only marginally larger than the Zenfone 2.
The 10.9mm thickness might look huge in today's smartphone world, but the back has a nice curve which brings the thickness to less than half towards the edges, and it's not that big of a problem. At 170g, weight also isn't stellar, but it's bearable.
There are no two ways about it - the Zenfone 2 is quite large and hefty, but in phablet territory, you should be prepared to tolerate a bulkier device for the added benefit of the larger screen.
The Asus Zenfone 2 sports a simple, yet attractive design aesthetic. The front is dominated by the 5.5-inch display, flanked by rather generous bezels. The strip with the capacitive Back/Home/Task switcher buttons is below.
The back cover is certainly more striking. The cover borrows design clues from the LG G3 and sports a brushed steel effect despite its otherwise plastic nature. A more confident Asus logo is joined by an Intel inside inscription to demonstrate its allegiance to the non-ARM camp in the Android realm.
All in all, the rear cover looks great, it doesn't make smudges visible and it's removable at that. Popping it off gives you access to the array of slots inside. You get two micro-SIM slots and a dedicated microSD slot. The battery is sadly not user-replaceable, even though you can access it from here.
The Zenfone 2 has a rather unusual control layout. In another move, inspired by LG, you get a volume rocker on the back right under the camera lens. It's positioned exactly where your index finger typically rests and it's surrounded by a gentle indentation to easily locate it by touch alone.
The main camera lens is immediately above the rocker, joined by the dual-LED dual-tone flash further up.
Towards the bottom of the back you get a speaker grille, but don't let its size fool you as the actual speaker is only a quarter of its size, located at the far left. It was apparently a push for symmetry and the dual-tone flash might have cost a night's worth of sleep to a more obsessed designer.
The sides of the smartphone are both completely bare, if you don't count the thin slit on the bottom right, which is used for removing the cover.
On the top you'll find the power button dead center, flanked by a 3.5mm headphone jack and a secondary microphone. The bottom is home to the microUSB port in the middle and the pinhole for the primary mic.
One thing worth noting is that with a phone this big it's hard to reach the top-mounted power key.
The Zenfone 2 handles well for a 5.5-inch device. The back surface is reasonably grippy and the curve on the back together with the slim sides work to deliver a comfortable feel in the hand. The capacitive keys are well positioned and easy to reach, while the side bezels are large enough to avoid touch input from your thumb.
The power button on top requires two handed use or stretching your index finger, together with repositioning your grip, and is not at all comfortable. The button doesn't have much travel either. Thankfully, the smartphone supports double-tap to wake, so you'll only need the physical button for powering off.