Asus Zenfone Selfie Review: A budget smartphone for Self(ie) obsessed users

Asus Selfie 1
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With Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat taking over our lives, we always want to look great taking those selfies. Today, smatphone cameras have become so advanced you can’t differentiate between a photo taken from a phone and a digital camera. Leveraging the selfie craze, Asus is taking things to a new level by adding a new phone to its line of Zenfone series. Here’s introducing Zenfone Selfie; yes, the name itself cuts to the chase with the phone specifically targeting the self-obsessed selfie lovers.

Fourth phone in the new range of Zenfone series after the successful Zenfone 2, Zenfone 2 Deluxe, Laser, the company is planning a couple of more phones before it releases its flagship phone Zenfone 3 next year.

The phone that we received for the review was the chic pink model, a colour which many would not like to sport but the other colours which are on offer are more vibrant and uniquely positioned to target the youth.

Design

Design wise, Asus Zenfone Selfie is nearly identical to Zenfone 2, except it is slightly wider and longer than the latter. The addition of the giant camera sitting on the front of the phone with a dual LED and ear piece to give it a more complete look, making it a larger phone among its peers in the 5.5 inch category.

The phone dons the same plastic body with the cylindrical design metallic chin and a glossy back cover. The power button continues to sit atop with the 3.5 mm headphone jack space and the volume rockers remain on the back. This could be a little tricky for someone who is used to having buttons on the side of the phone but a little practice will make things easy. The microUSB and data port are at the bottom and the loudspeaker is at the back. The three soft-touch buttons in the front – Back, Home and Tasks – aren’t illuminated for convenience.

Weighing 170 grams, Selfie does feel a little heavy and cannot be used for more time and is certainly not the phone for a single hand use. The glossy back-cover is prone to scratches and gets easily dirty due to the lighter shades. A protective cover is a must!

Asus Selfie 6

Hardware

Being a sibling of Zenfone 2, Selfie does not have the same blood. The internals of Zenfone have been tweaked, instead of Intel processors, Asus has gone for the mid-end Octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor that is designed on 64-bit CPU architecture. Packed with 3 GB and the clockspeed of 1.7 GHz, the phone easily competes with other Rs 20,000 phones in the category.

The 3,000 mAh removable battery is similar to the one in Zenfone 2, the phone has an in-built storage of 32 GB, and supports microSD cards up to 64 GB along with dual sim cards, which is a fad these days among the mid and lower segment phones. Both the sims are compatible with 4G network bands, which are available in India.

Software

Like all Asus phones, Zenfone Selfie has ZenUI on top of Android which is similar to Zenfone 2. The phone runs an in-box Android 5.0 (Lollipop) with a lot of bloatware and apps which are not really required but are still there on most phones. You can disable these preloaded apps but certainly can’t uninstall them, which take away a lot of your in-built memory.

Additional to these, Selfie also has Touch Gestures with double tap to wake-up or sleep the phone among many where in you type the letters to start the particular application right from the lockscreen, one-hand operations allows you to scale down the screen to be used via one hand and glove mode (allows you to operate the touchscreen even while wearing gloves).

Camera

Coming to the selling point of the phone, the dual 13 megapixel cameras which sit on the front and the rear possess 5P Largan lenses and Toshiba sensors, with dual-tone, dual-LED flash.

The rear camera gets a laser autofocus like Zenfone 2 Laser for faster focus, but the focus time is pretty much average and sometimes you have to go for the touch focus to get things right.

Asus Selfie 3

The front camera boasts of Asus’s PixelMaster imaging technology and aperture of f/2.2, and 88-degree field of view allowing you to fit in more people for your group selfies. The camera app does have a number of modes one can play around to get the perfect image. Modes include Auto, Manual, Night, Low Light, HDR, Depth of Field and Beautification.

Beautification mode, only available in the Selfie mode lets you tweak yourself a little just to get that flawless picture perfect image removing the imperfections from your face. The mode works well when a single person is clicking the photo but does not capture a person’s face when multiple faces are detected. Also, the mode has timer of up to 5 seconds which allows you to time your images and pout yourself to that ultimate image.

Asus Selfie 4

The photos taken from the front camera in daylight produced good images with the actual colour being reproduced and great level of detail seen in the photos. Although the photos captured indoors with decent amount of light and the dual-led flash present produced noise and were not much to talk about.

Photos taken during the night and dark areas with the flash turned on were a little superior in the terms of noise, though grains were still visible in the background.

The rear camera proves to be the better of the two, the photos clicked are crisp and with the laser autofocus the phone provides detailed images.

Asus Selfie 5

Display

The 5.5 inch Full HD (1080x1920p) IPS screen with a Corning Gorilla Glass 4 sits nicely on the phone, making the phone more resistant to scratches compared to Zenfone 2 which has Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

The viewing angles are not so great on the phone and one cannot have more people viewing the content on the phone, be it videos or photos from different angle. The screen is a little dim and the colours look a little washed out and dull.

Reading and viewing under direct sunlight is not a problem and you can easily watch a video or read an e-book on the go. Brightness and contrast levels are well set and a few adjustments here and there can have the phone working well for the best viewing possibility throughout the day.

Performance

Moving from Intel chips from its flagship phones, the company has Snapdragon’s mid-end chipset 615 processor here. Pairing it with 3GB of RAM in the 32GB model, Selfie handles most of the high end games like Asphalt 8, Vainglory and Dead Trigger 2 with much ease along with the multitasking happening in the backend. The smartphone also does not heat up with so much activity and does cool down quickly.

Asus Selfie 2

The 3,000 mAh battery in Selfie is another beauty which sustains the phone for a day with a heavy usage of 2 and half hours of video content, 1 hour of games, constant emails and connectivity to internet throughout the day. With a moderate usage, the phone can extend its life more three more hours and with that when you switch to ‘Ultra Saving Mode’ more juice can be extracted from the phone.

The areas which take the phone a few steps back are its viewing angles and ‘not so loud’ speaker at the back. Sometimes while watching the videos, you tend to put your hand on the speaker and the sound gets muffled and viewing can get disturbed with you trying to gets your hands in the correct position each time.

Conclusion

With the price tag of Rs 17,999 for the 3GB RAM and 32GB internal memory and Rs 15,999 for the 2GB and 16GB model the phone is fighting in the already crowded mid-segment price category with other phones like Sony Xperia T2 Ultra Dual, Samsung Galaxy E7,  Panasonic Eluga Switch, Xiaomi Mi4 (64GB) and recently released Motorola X Play. This one takes the cake for its camera and the wide viewing angle for the front camera and performance but lacks in the multimedia segment.

All in all a good phone but the company’s Zenfone 2 is in itself a competitor at a similar price point. The phone is the one for the selfie lovers but it also has muscle to take on the heavy duty apps and multitasking. Areas the phone could have improved are – the backlit buttons and placement of the volume rockers and power buttons.

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