With the "selfie" photo becoming the next big thing for the smartphone lover or even the massive social media platform users, there came a huge revolution in the way smartphone uses the front camera. Moreover, people became more addicted to taking selfies so badly that they started looking for a better frontal camera and easier click button. That's where LG's rear camera button became a great hit.
Anyway, catering to the same need, Asus launched its potential selfie shooting candidate called Zenfone Selfie in the Indian market not so long ago. The amazing device which is priced at Rs. 17,999, has a lot to offer. The name "Selfie" is rightly suited to the device as it uses a large 13MP camera module along with the Dual-tone LED flash as a frontal snapper.
Anyway, GizBot has used the device for a while and here is what we have to say about it.
The new Asus Zenfone Selfie largely resembles the company's Zenfone 2 which was launched earlier this year. There are differences though. The rear panel comes with a smooth, near to matte finish plastic build. The device is slightly curved at all the edges (back panel) and that makes it quite likable.
You will see a camera module on the top half of the back of the phone in between the laser autofocus hardware and a Dual-tone LED flash. Slightly below the camera is where you will find the volume rocker. The "ASUS" branding is stamped at the center of the back panel and nearly towards the bottom of the panel lies a speaker grille. The side-edges of the phone is devoid of any buttons. However, on the top edge, the awkwardly placed power key can be found. On either sides of it, you will get to see a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microphone. On the bottom edge, there is a micro-USB port and a primary microphone.
Talking about the build, you are basically looking at a plastic device but the thin frame that binds the phone to one-whole is made out of metal. Strangely, the soft-touch Back, Home, and Tasks keys don't come with a backlit feature. The company could have made improvement here.
Right above the display, there lies a massive 13MP camera module along with the Dual-tone LED flash and a speaker grille.
The phone is pretty big to the hands as well. Measuring 156.5 x 77.2 x 10.8mm in dimension and weighing in at 170 grams, monster device is a not easy to use, esp. if you have a tiny hand.
As said earlier, the new Asus Zenfone Selfie is not a small device. It comes with the large 5.5-inch Full HD (1080x1920p) screen and is protected by Gorilla Glass 4, which makes it sturdier in terms of repelling scratches than the Zenfone 2 - its predecessor.
However, nothing much has changed in the quality of the display. One small complaint would be a poor viewing angles. Despite the use of IPS technology in the display department, the phone fails to offer the best viewing angles to the users.
The display is responsive and colors are very warm. The images turn out to be crispy in the display. However, if you wish to tweak it you can do that as well from the settings option by changing the color temperature. But keep in mind that if you use it, you might add a bluish tinge to the screen instead of fixing the colors.
As far as the brightness is concerned, the display is amazing. You can manage to read PDFs even under direct sunlight by drawing the maximum brightness on the display. Even contrast is pretty good.
Camera is one of the most important aspect of the phone. Moreover, you can say that the phone exists because of its camera in the market. The Zenfone Selfie uses two 13MP cameras that boast of the five-prism Largan lens and Toshiba sensors, and are backed by dual-tone, dual-LED flash. This might have already sounded like one hell of camera to you and yes it is to be frank
Moreover, Asus has also given a laser autofocus hardware to this phone. However, this is just there for the rear camera. According to the company, this helps the camera to focus subjects faster. However, we weren't impressed with its speed as we have already seen a lot of other devices with similar hardware including: OnePlus 2 and LG G4.
Alright let's go a bit deeper. The front camera comes with Asus's PixelMaster imaging technology and aperture value of f/2.2, which is good but not great. It has an 88-degree wide-angle lens, so you can include a couple of friends easily in your selfies. Some of the images taken from the front camera were really impressive. Moreover, the selfies taken during the day light are amazing. However, seldom the camera over- or under-exposes the subject even in the ideal light condition (indoor).
Images taken under low-light were a bit noisy. But thanks to the Low Light mode which can help you in this kind of situation. Picture taken at night using a dual-tone LED flash were good despite a bit of a noise in them.
The camera UI is pretty simple and comes with ample options to play with. You will get to use variety of shooting modes like Beautification, Auto, Manual, Night, Low Light, and HDR and even Depth of Field.
The quality of the photos taken by both the cameras are equally good. You might also be wondering about the difference between the two cameras. There are none but the rear one comes with a f/2.0 aperture and a laser auto focus module. Because of the slightly less aperture value, sometimes the images taken by the rear camera doesn't match up to the quality of the images taken by the frontal camera. However, you have the laser autofocus as at the advantage here.
After clicking several pictures using both the cameras on the phone, I realized that the phone takes quite a time to process them. Sometimes you end up waiting for more than 2 seconds.
Anyway, at such an amazing price point, you couldn't expect more from a phone. The cameras are worth every penny. They are not the best cameras that we have seen so far but very close to the best.
Power and Processor
Off late, a lot of smartphone manufacturers have started using Qualcomm processors. Asus is no exception to it. The company's most camera centric device in the mid-range category is powered by Qualcomm's mid-end octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor. The fun part is that it comes with a 64-bit CPU architecture and is tuned at 1.7GHz.
That's not it, combine that with Adreno 405 GPU and a massive 3GB RAM and that is the whole Zenfone Selfie. With such hardware, the mid-ranger can run like a top notch device. We played Asphalt 8: Airborne and other graphic centric game titles and were awestruck. The phone is amazing in providing the gamers their kind of graphic handling abilities and speed. However, when we opened a couple of apps at the same time and tried to multitask, the phone lagged but not every time we did that.
The AnTuTu Benchmark tool awarded the Zenfone Selfie 37051 points which is not bad. Anyway, you can't just judge a phone with a benchmark number and not considering other aspects of the phone. So let's continue.
Asus has been using the ZenUI for a long time now. The same UI has featured in the Zenfone Selfie as well. The UI is based on Android 5.0 and therefore, the phone gets all the goodness of the Android Lollipop version. However, the ZenUI has a lot of bloatware and duplicate apps. The worst part is that you can't uninstall these preloaded apps.
Double tap to wake up screen, gesture features, one-hand operations, and glove mode is integrated in the UI, which makes it quite likable.
Moreover, the fun part of using the ZenUI is that you can customize it. For example, you can personalize the toggles to show when you bring down the notifications bar and more. The UI also lets you choose where to store apps (internal storage or microSD card) when you download them.
The phone has an Easy Mode, which removes most of the UI elements and makes the phone easier to use with the help of big icons and simple layout. You can choose which apps and widgets to add on the homescreen.
Overall, the software part is pretty decent. Not the great of all, but more than an average, I should say.
Storage and Connectivity
Zenfone Selfie doesn't have anything new to offer in the connectivity department. You will see 4G LTE / 3G HSPA+, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS support. USB (OTG) capabilities can also be found in the device. The best part is that the Zenfone Selfie is a Dual SIM device and both sim-card slots are compatible with India's 4G network bands.
As far as the storage is concerned, there is 32GB of storage onboard of which around 23GB is user accessible. Amazingly, the smartphone supports microSD cards of capacities up to 128GB, which makes the device more likable.
The Asus Zenfone Selfie draws its energy from a 3000mAh battery but since it uses an 8-core Snapdragon 615 processor, the battery seemed to dry out pretty quick. Not that it is bad but the battery runs out sooner than other 3000mAh battery powered devices with quad core CPUs. But it is better than the Zenfone 2 when it comes to standby times.
When I used the Zenfone Selfie, the battery lasted for about 11 to 12 hours. But that was a regular usage. But when I listened to music, played games and watched videos over the internet, the phone lasted less than 9 hours, sometimes even lesser than that.
Given the price at which Asus has launched the Zenfone Selfie in the market, whatever you are getting in the phone is the best and incomparable. Firstly, the camera is outstanding and really capable of clicking great photos. Moreover, the phone that has 4G support on both the SIM card slots are very rare in India. You are also getting that in this device.
The design of the phone, the display, hardware and even the battery performance are very satisfying if not great. Areas where Asus could have made improvements are the button placements, which are very uncomfortable. Even the touch buttons at the bottom of the display could have been integrated in the display itself.