Selfie smartphones are slowly gaining popularity among Indian smartphone consumers especially the Younger generation and slowly most brands are launching devices to cateor to this category. Till date, this category is dominated by brands such as Oppo & Vivo and Asus has been late to this party, but finally they are here with two new selfie focussed devices i.e. Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie (two variants, one with a single front camera and other with the dual front camera). We got a review unit of ASUS Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZD553KL, Dual camera) and weused the device as our primary device for one week and this review is based on our experience during that period. Check out the review to find out whether Asus has managed to make a worthy entry in the selfie focussed category of smartphones. ASUS Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZD553KL, Dual camera) is priced at Rs. 14,999.
- Display: 5.5-inch 1080p Full HD IPS 2.5D curved glass display
- CPU: 1.4GHz Octa-Core Snapdragon 430 Mobile Platform
- GPU: Adreno 505
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 64GB, expandable up to 128GB with microSD
- OS: Android 7.0 (Nougat) with Zen UI 4.0
- Misc: Dual SIM, Dedicated MicroSd card slot, Fingerprint sensor
- Main Camera: 16MP with dual-tone LED flash, PDAF
- Front Camera: 20MP with soft LED Flash, f/2.0 aperture + secondary 8MP camera with 120-degree wide-angle lens
- Dimensions: 155.66 x 76.2 x 7.85 mm
- Weight: 144g
- 4G VoLTE, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS / GLONASS
- Battery: 3000mAh
Design and Build Quality
With Zenfone 4 series, the design appears to have improved from the earlier series and . it looks good & premium, yet it is more of a standard design that we see these days in devices in entry and mid level. The back panel is made of polycarbonate with smooth metal finish and feels light weight while holding as it is just 144 grams. The main rear camera uses the concentric circles design which is also visible on the volume rocker & power buttons. On the front, you have the physical navigation buttons which are not back lit, while on the top you have the dual front cameras and the speaker along with sensors. The fingerprint sensor is embedded in the front home button instead of on the rear panel. The Antenna lines are at thetop & bottom of the rear panel. Dual Sim card along with a dedicated microsd card slot is on the left side while volume rocker and power buttons are on the other side. Speaker grills are placed at the bottom of the device which is better placement except in cases of playing games when your hand may cover them resulting in low sound.
Display, Performance and Benchmarks
The phone sports 5.5-inch 1080p Full HD IPS 2.5D curved glass display and looks good, with good color reporoduction with contrast and brightness even under direct sunlight, but it is not as good as what we have seen in AMOLED displays. The visibility under direct sunlight is good for normal usage.
Zenfone 4 Selfie is powered by 1.4GHz Octa-Core Snapdragon 430 Mobile Platform along with 3 GB of RAM. As you know, Snapdragon 430 Processor is one of the recently launched entry-level processor which reflects in performance of the device. The performance of the device is good in day-to-day usage, yet it lacks punch and feel sluggish at times considering the price range.
The device managed to score only 44,000+ on Antutu benchmark, which is just average if you consider devices in the similar price range. Even a more than a year old device LeEco Le 2 priced much lower, managed to score much more in the range of 60,000+. You can clearly feel the lag while opening apps such as tqitter, Facebook but you should expect that in most of the entry level devices. THe normal games like Temple Run, Subway surfer, Angry Birds etc. run fine on the device without any issues but if you play some heavy graphics intensive games such as Asphalt 8 on the device simultaneously with other games and using other apps on phone, the lag or frame drops at random are clearly visible with continuous usage of 15-20 minutes.
The graphics details in the games and HD videos is good thanks to the full HD display. There was negligible heating while playing intensive games, multitasking or using the device for too long with camera or in any other scenario.
We didn't face any issues with the general day-to-day performance or any UI lags or crashes while we tested the device. It comes with 64 GB internal storage out of whcih ~50GB is available for the end-user, along with support for MicroSD cards. There is a dedicated microsd slot which is good addition. It also supports USB OTG letting you use an external USB storage to add more capacity to the device on the go.
The call quality during voice calls was pretty clear without any issues including the VOLTE calls. The dialer app also gives you an option to record calls without installing any additional app or rooting the device. The sound coming out from speakers is loud enough in normal surroundings.
The phone comes with 20MP with soft LED Flash, f/2.0 aperture + secondary 8MP camera with 120-degree wide-angle lens for selfies. The dual front camera offers three modes fr shooting i.e. normal, wide and portrait mode. The portrait mode is available for both the normal as well as wide mode. If you are clicking selfie of just yourself, the normal mode is used while the wide mode is used for group selfies which needs wider view. Portrait mode did clicked some good shots but these are far away from the great portrait shots of high end devices. Perhaps you need some time to adapt yourself to click some good portraits. It can record videos in Full HD quality. The selfies captured were good, yet Asus needs to work a bit more if it really wants to challenge devices such as Vivo V7+ which though are priced much higher. The selfie camera produced good selfies even under low light or dark surroundings.
The camera app now doesn't comes with loads of modes as we have seen in earlier devices such as such as Low Light mode, Selfie mode, night mode, super resolution mode, HDR mode, Panorama mode and much more just like most of the ASUS smartphones. There are only few modes avaiable which can be good or bad, based on the individual user. The manual mode is still there which lets you adjust different camera settings on your own. If you are a professional photographer or geeky enough to play with those settings, it can produce some good shots. Manual mode does shoot better images provided you know how to play with those settings.
The 16MP rear camera with dual-tone LED flash, PDAF produced some good shots under normal lighting conditions with good color reporuction and saturation. Yet the HDR range was not as good as we have seen in other devices. oy can clearly see some washed out portions if you are shooting in varying dynamic range with simulataneous light and shadow areas. It did produce good shots even with low light conditions.
Checkout the images below taken under different light conditions and different modes. Click on the images to enlarge to original full size image. Click on the images for full resolution images on Flickr.
ASUS Zenfone 4 Swelfie comes with 3,000 mAh embedded battery and offers good battery performance. We tested the device with 4G LTE connection always on in addition to second sim for voice calls. Even with heavy use, we were able to keep it away from charger for almost two days easily. During our normal usage, it lasted easily for a day under moderate usage. We even used the device as hotspot for nearly 5 hours a day and still it lasted till the end of the day. We did miss the fast charging support and it takes about 2 hours 30 minutes to fully charge the device.
The fingerprint sensor is embedded in the front home button and is used to answer incoming calls, launch Camera app, or take a picture. The fingerprint sensor is fast enough compared and accurate compared to earlier ones. The only drawback with the front home button here is, the fingerprint sensor won't work unless the display is ON. When your display is off, you need to press the home button first and then only it can read your fingerprint which is odd.
Apart from that, we also expect a fingerprint sensor to offer more customisation option such as ability to use different finger for opening different apps or using different fingers to call pre-configured numbers. Just in case if you are wondering that it is even possible now, then you can check the Coolpad Note 3 Lite Review which offers all these features with fingerprint sensor.
Operating System and UI
The Zenfone 4 Selfie is powered by Android 7.0 Nougat operating system out of the box with ASUS' own user interface, ZenUI on top of it. Thanks to ZenUI, you won't feel any difference even if you have earlier never used a smartphone with Android 7.0 Nougat, but one noticable addiiton is that there are lesser bloatware compared to what we have seen in earlier devices from Asus though we still feel that they get rid of these pre-loaded bloatware. . The performance of the device is smoother and additional options are available in the UI which were not available before, thanks to Nougat.
As with every other Asus smartphone, it comes with Power saving modes such as the ultra saving mode, optimized mode or customized mode for battery which actually work. You can get a better battery life if you switch to one of these modes.
Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie does a good job of taking good selfies with decent performance and good battery life along with decent design & build running Android 7.0 Nougat operating system. But looking at the price of Rs. 14,999 it faces some stiff competition from other brands with devices such as Xiaomi Mi A1.