ASUS recently launched its new ZenFone 4 Selfie series in India, and I had some time to play with the Selfie 4 Pro and the dual front-camera ZenFone 4 Selfie as well. The dual-camera ZenFone 4 Selfie (ZD553KL) is the most interesting of the bunch, it is now available at Rs. 1000 discount for Rs. 13,999. It offers dual-front cameras, unibody design, and dedicated slots for two SIM cards and a microSD card, which is not available on most phones in this price bracket.
First, let’s get the specifications out of the way:
- 5.5-inch HD IPS Display, 720x1280 Pixels, 2.5D Curved Glass
- 1.4GHz Octa-Core, Snapdragon 430 Processor
- Adreno 505 GPU
- 4GB RAM, 64GB Storage Expandable up to 2TB with dedicated MicroSD Card
- Android 7.0 Nougat with Zen UI 4.0, Upgradable to Android 8.0 Oreo
- 16MP Rear Camera, LED Flash, PDAF, EIS
- 20MP + 8MP Dual Front Cameras, Soft LED Flash, f/2.0 Aperture
- Fingerprint sensor, Dual-SIM
- Thickness: 7.85 mm; Weight: 144g
- 4G VoLTE, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS / GLONASS, along with'BDS’
- 3000mAh Battery
Build and Design
In the front, you get a large 5.5-inch HD display which is covered in 2.5D curved glass, with fast touch response and good color reproduction. Just below the display, you have the capacitive keys for back and recent apps with the home button sandwiched in between. The capacitive buttons are not backlit but you do get a fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button. It works fast and unlocks the phone instantly. You can add up to five fingerprints on the phone.
Above the display is where things get really interesting. You get dual front cameras here along with a soft LED flash. There’s a 20-megapixel main shooter accompanied by an 8-megapixel secondary camera with 120-degree wide-angle field of view. The second camera allows for capturing more of your friends in a single shot and also lets you capture portrait shots with blurred background. In fact, you can capture portrait images or images with background bokeh from both the front and rear cameras. Now, along with those dual cameras, you also have the proximity and light sensors up top along with the earpiece.
The Zenfone 4 Selfie Dual-cam features a dedicated microSD card slot.
Moving to the right of the phone, you find the metal volume rocker and power buttons. Both are sturdy and offer a great tactile response. They don’t wobble even a little bit. While on the left you have the SIM tray which houses separate slots for Dual-SIM cards as well as the microSD card slot to expand the 64GB of internal storage.
The micro-USB data-syncing and charging port can be found at the bottom with the primary microphone and the speaker, which in turn is quite loud as well. At the opposite end, you will find the 3.5mm headphone jack, much appreciated.
The sides of the phones are rounded which makes the phone easier to hold and grip while the back has a metallic texture, available in pink, black and gold color options. The ZenFone 4 Selfie is primarily made of plastic but it still feels premium thanks to its ergonomic design and unibody construction. But that does mean that the 3000 mAh battery is non-removable.
At the back, you will also find 16-megapixel main camera with a slight bump and the LED flash. Above the camera module and at the bottom you have thin lines which are more for aesthetics than function.
Overall the phone feels great to hold in hand and the plastic build helps keep the weight down. The unibody construction also makes it more rigid, but there’s no creaking or flex anywhere.
Cameras have now become the major differentiating factor between smartphones. With even the most basic chipsets capable of performing great in day-to-day tasks, most manufacturers have been trying to their up their game in the camera department.
ASUS has been focusing a lot on cameras of late and their PixelMaster technology has improved a lot over the years. In its current iteration, the camera app is capable of taking portrait shots from both the front and rear cameras. You can take portrait images from either of the front cameras.
Dual-front cameras with a 120-degree wide-angle lens and soft LED flash.
Unlike other smartphones in the segment, the ZenFone 4 Selfie offers a second 8-megapixel front camera with a super wide 120-degree wide-angle lens. This allows for capturing selfies with a group of friends and no need for a selfie stick. You can also capture a beautiful scene without losing out on the details.
Then there’s the 20-megapixel main front camera which gives you sharper detail. With larger pixel size and f/2.0 aperture, it lets more light in which makes images tad bit brighter. So even in lower light, the camera is capable of letting in more light for sharper selfies. You can always fire up the soft LED flash as well.
ASUS has also added specific features to its selfie line-up including live photo and video beautification. You can also create photo collages as well as slideshows from within the phone, no additional apps required. There are some neat filters to up your selfie game.
The camera interface is very intuitive to use as well. The options to switch cameras, as well as portrait mode, are available right on the main interface and then you have several modes available too. You also get a professional mode which allows you to change the ISO, exposure, set manual focus and capture in RAW. The 16-megapixel rear camera features phase-detection autofocus which electronic image stabilization. It can capture crisp 1080p videos and EIS helps keep them stable. The images taken with the rear camera have good color reproduction, but they do appear slightly over-sharpened. The PixelMaster camera app does reduce noise in images especially in low-light. The night mode helps too.
Although the software enhancement is a bit more aggressive at times, there are several modes you can play with and tweak to get the best shot. There is quite a lot of control on offer, and even the automated modes work out really well.
Being one of the most hotly contested price brackets. The ZenFone 4 Selfie finds itself in a very crowded spot. On one hand, you have the dual-camera bearing Moto G5s Plus and on the other the Oppo F3 and Vivo V5s. If we come to the selfie cameras, the ZenFone 4 Selfie takes the cake with better cameras and a wide-angle lens. Moreover, the offerings from Oppo, Vivo, as well as the Samsung J7 Max, are all priced above Rs. 17,000 while the ZenFone 4 Selfie is available for Rs. 13,999.
Dual front cameras at this price point is unique to the ZenFone 4 Selfie with solid build quality and performance to boot. It packs in 4GB RAM and 64GB of expandable storage which is another bonus and I really like that the phone has separate slots for SIM cards and memory card, that would really come in handy if you take a lot of photos.
ASUS has also toned down ZenUI and in its new avatar, it offers better performance and good battery life. Moreover, the company has removed a lot of the bloat from Zen UI which has always been a sore point earlier. The newer Zen UI 4.0 is leaner and still offers a lot of features. You have twin apps available using which you can use two WhatsApp or Facebook accounts on the same phone.
Then there are a plethora of gestures available including double-tap to wake and sleep along with some motion gestures which allow you to open apps by drawing on the screen with the display off. The UI is fluid and you can customize the launcher with themes.
The ZenFone 4 Selfie offers a unique proposition with dual front-cameras for selfie lovers. Even the rear camera does a good job and all this comes in a premium looking package with solid build quality. Moreover, ASUS is also promising an upgrade to Android 8.0 Oreo in the future for its entire ZenFone 4 series.
ASUS has always made good smartphones, and finally, they have got the pricing right with the ZenFone 4 Selfie. It should definitely be under consideration if you are looking to buy a phone under Rs. 15,000.