NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Not to take anything away from the best Android phones today, including those from Samsung (SSNLF), HTC, LG and others, but there's another manufacturer that's finally bringing a killer smartphone to the U.S. -- the Asus Zenfone 2.
Asus' first Zen smartphone was a good device and sold well in a very limited number of world markets but the company never felt it was ready for the U.S. But, the second-generation Zen device is a different story. This is a real, well engineered standalone smartphone and its best feature is the affordable price.
The 16GB version of the Padfone 2 retails for $199, while the 64GB model sells for $299. By comparison, either of the Samsung Galaxy S6 phones or Apple iPhones are more like double that price.
So far, the Zenfone 2 is this year's unexpected sleeper similar to one of 2014's best - the still hard-to-find OnePlus One. Unlike the OnePlus, which ran on a very special version Google's (GOOG) mobile operating system, the new Asus relies on the Android 5.0 Lollipop.
There are actually two new Zenfone 2s -- one with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage and the other (our test model) has a whopping 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. Both can also handle an additional 64 GB of microSD card expansion.
To go along with that are the processors, with Asus selecting the quad-core chips made by Intel (INTC). There's a 1.8 GHz Atom Z3560 processor in the 2GB phone and a faster 2.3 GHz Z3580 version in the 4 GB model.