Irrespective of the utterly confusing naming tradition Asus is infamous for, the company enjoys a significant share of interest and popularity when it comes to lifestyle-oriented phones. The company today announced three new smartphones from its Zenfone 4 series, all of which are focused on the selfie needs of the present day consumer. I spent some time using the Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro, Zenfone 4 Selfie Dual Cam and Zenfone 4 Selfie at the launch event, and here are my first impressions.
Let us first get the names right; the Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro packs a dual camera on the front, but has a higher specification as compared to the Zenfone 4 Selfie Dual Cam. Hence, it is also priced the most in the trio at Rs 23,999. The Zenfone 4 Selfie Dual Cam, priced at Rs 14,999, also features a dual camera setup on the front, hence the name. Lastly, the one model without a dual camera is named simply as Zenfone 4 Selfie and costs the least of the trio at Rs 9,999.
Now that there is some clarity about the names (or perhaps still a lack of it), let’s get into the difference in terms of specifications. For easy understanding, all three smartphones are Android Nougat-powered with ZenUI 4.0 out-of-the-box, feature 3,000mAh battery, 5.5-inch displays, and have slots for storage expansion or second SIM. ALSO READ: Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro review: For your portrait and wide-angle selfies
We have already done a review of the Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro, which you can read here. As for the Zenfone 4 Selfie Dual Cam and Zenfone 4 Selfie, the differentiating factor is the RAM and storage, in addition to the camera. The one with dual camera features 4GB of RAM with 64GB of expandable internal storage while the standard model has 3GB of RAM with 32GB of internal storage.
If the Zenfone 4 Selfie Dual Cam and the regular model are kept face down, it is impossible to distinguish between the two. The design language, rear camera module, even the available color choices is identical. You need to find the dual lenses on the front to ascertain which one is the costlier of the two.
Nonetheless, the clone-like phones are extremely light, sleek, and are ergonomically designed to fit just right in the palms. If you’re used to a smaller display, like I am, you won’t feel the Zenfone 4 Selfie Dual Cam and standard model difficult to operate. Even as these are designed for comfort, there is nothing extraordinary that Asus brings to the front in terms of design. Even a different color option, just like the red one available in the Pro model, would’ve added a little frill to the otherwise mundane-looking phones.
Coming to the displays of the phones; both are equipped with 5.5-inch HD IPS screens. At the given prices, we do have phones with higher display resolution such as the LG G6, Moto G5 Plus, and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, which boast full HD displays and are priced under Rs 15,000. Nonetheless, the displays on the Zenfone 4 Selfie Dual Cam and standard model are responsive to touch and adapted well to the given lighting conditions. The 2.5D curved glass adds the necessary finesse to the affordable, polycarbonate-body phones.
Both the phones are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC, which also powers some competing phones including the Nokia 6, LG Q6, and the Yu Yureka Black among others. The chipset is designed to power mid-range smartphones. While we know its performance based on competing devices, it needs to be seen how it functions on the Zenfone 4 Selfie, especially the one with dual-camera setup, which is likely to require more power. In the limited time of experiencing the devices, there were no instances of app crashes or lags. However, a prolonged usage will help gauge the true strength.
Coming to the highlight of the Zenfone 4 Selfie Dual Cam; its combination of 20-megapixel primary sensor + 8-megapixel wide angle sensor with 120-degree field-of-view. The talking point here is that the dual-camera setup is not at the rear of the phone but at the front. So essentially, all the DSLR-effects are possible for self-portraits. Dual cameras are the new black in the smartphone industry and brands are trying to milk it the best way possible. Popularized by the premium iPhone 7 Plus, we have all kind of players trying to get their share of success with the dual-camera technology. We have already seen the reduced usage of standalone cameras, now with the coming of dual cameras, it is possible to capture the depth in photos for a professional touch.
The Zenfone 4 Selfie Dual Cam got most of its calculation correct during the brief time I used it at the launch event. It was able to capture me in crisp details, while keeping the background a soft blur owing to the use of Portrait Mode. With the wide angle sensor, more background detail was captured. As with other phones by Asus from selfie category, this one also comes with beauty mode and supports live beautification. In the controlled settings, the output was decent, albeit only with the use of beauty tool. With the auto mode, there seems to be a bit of grain in the overall image quality. We will reserve our verdict on the front camera performance till a thorough review.
One of the interesting elements in the phones is that in addition to a front Portrait Mode, both the Zenfone 4 Selfie Dual Cam and standard model, can capture depth from their rear cameras as well. The dual camera model packs a 16-megapixel sensor at the back, while the standard version packs 13-megapixel cameras at both ends. For the standard model, the Portrait Mode is like a little perk to the slightly lower specs. On the whole, the standard model costs less as compared to the other model, but also compromises on the camera and storage front.
Both the Zenfone 4 Selfie Dual Cam and Zenfone 4 Selfie have an identical design, with near-identical innards. However, cameras being the talking point here, the dual camera model serves as a wiser choice. In the sub-Rs 15,000 category, the Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie Dual Cam and Zenfone 4 Selfie do bring an interesting combination of features, along with a decent battery capacity of 3,000mAh on both phones, a metal finish design, along with fingerprint sensors. At the given price, you have the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 – one of the best selling mid-range smartphones in the country – available in various storage models, yet it doesn’t feature a dual camera module. On the other hand, the battery backup on the Redmi Note 4 stands at 4,100mAh.
At the end, the battle of brands appears to have moved beyond just specifications. The war is about bringing the right kind of consumer experience. Earlier, the consumer demands were for more battery or a robust design, but now the needs swing between design, camera, and security. It will be interesting to see how these new-age features transform the smartphone as a technology product and the market as a whole.