ASUS is one of the few tier-1 tech companies that did not start making smartphones until just a couple of years ago. By the time the company entered the market, companies like Samsung and Apple were already established at the top, but the revolution at the mid-range and entry-level segments of the market was yet to stretch beyond the confines of the Chinese borders. It was at this stage that the Taiwanese tech major known mostly for its high-quality PC components like motherboards and graphics cards, decided to jump onto the Android smartphone bandwagon with the announcement of its ZenFone range of devices at the CES 2014 trade show in Las Vegas.
Faced with a stiff competition from established incumbents like Samsung at the premium end, and aggressive startups like Xiaomi at the mid and entry-level segments, not many gave the company a chance to gain a foothold in the market. However, two years on, the company has not only proven naysayers wrong, but has established itself as one of fastest-growing smartphone brands worldwide with affordable devices that don’t compromise on quality and deliver on the company’s old tagline of ‘Rock Solid. Heart Touching’. At the heart of its ZenFone and ZenPad devices is the ZenUI Launcher that is now available for “all Android mobile devices running version 4.3 (Jelly Bean) and above” according to the app’s listing page in the Google Play Store.
Of course, ZenUI is not without its controversies. While a section of users simply love the launcher and the entire UI for being, in equal measures, intuitive and aesthetic, others have complained about too many tweaks that take away from the ‘true’ Android experience. Whichever camp you’re in, the fact still remains that the ZenUI interface is fast, uncluttered and highly customizable without bringing in the overt complexities of apps like Nova Launcher, Apex Launcher, or other such pieces of software that target tech-friendly users for the most part. ASUS also offers a number of extremely interesting themes that can be downloaded via its ‘Themes’ app, and there are a million options to personalize icons, fonts and colors. While some may find it a bit of an acquired taste at first, the company advertises ZenUI as “Google Play’s top-ranked Launcher”, which probably isn’t a stretch, seeing as it is currently rated at 4.7 stars on the Play Store with between 10 and 50 million downloads.