Roughly three years ago, manufacturers such as Oppo and Vivo started focusing on a niche audience with selfie-centric smartphones. Back then, many people doubted if there is even a market for the niche audience catered to by these selfie-first phones. Fast forward today, and both brands are successful with their respective smartphone series. Asus too has focused on selfie-centric smartphones, and after recently reviewing the Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro, today we have the more affordable variant, the Zenfone 4 Selfie (Dual Cam).
Priced at 14,999, the smartphone is available to purchase exclusively via Flipkart. At its price point, the smartphone will compete with the likes of the Vivo Y66, Gionee A1 Lite and Oppo A57. Other options include the Xiaomi Mi A1, Moto G5S Plus, Lenovo K8 Note and Nokia 6 among others. Just like the Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro, the Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZD553KL) also comes with dual-camera setup on the front, but with lower resolution sensors. I’ve been playing around with the smartphone for the last few days, and here’s my review.
Design and build
The Zenfone 4 Selfie (Dual Cam) is very lightweight and comes with metallic unibody design. The front houses a 5.5-inch HD display, which is disappointing as smartphones priced under Rs 10,000 also come with a full-HD panel. Just above the display, you have the earpiece, LED flash and dual-camera setup with the proximity sensor, while the fingerprint scanner sits below the display. It is flanked by capacitive Android navigation keys for back and task switcher, but sadly they aren’t backlit. ALSO READ: Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro review: For your portrait and wide-angle selfies
On the right, you have the power / sleep button with volume rocker, whereas the dual nano-SIM card slots and a dedicated microSD card slot is on the left. The microUSB port is at the bottom, whereas the 3.5mm audio socket is on the top. On the back, with have the camera module and an LED flash. ALSO READ: Oppo F5 Review: Bringing AI prowess to your selfies
Dual front-camera setup
The key highlight of the Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZD553KL) is the dual-camera setup at the front. The primary sensor has a resolution of 20-megapixel with aperture f/2.0, and it is supplemented with a secondary 8-megapixel sensor of aperture f/2.4, a wide-angle lens with field of view of 120 degrees. The combination lets you take standard selfies and wide-angle selfies. Asus has also added portrait mode, allowing you to add DLSR-like bokeh effects to your selfies. But does it work? Well, let’s take a look at some sample photos below.
I shot a few selfies indoors and outdoors, in both, standard and wide-angle mode, and also in portrait mode. I will start with outdoor shots first – standard photos look good as the sensor is able to capture enough details and skin tones. However, things go for a toss when you activate the wide-angle mode. Besides the drop in quality, the photos looked washed out while adding a darkish tone to the skin. The same happens when you activate the portrait selfie mode. Look at the comparison shots below. ALSO READ: Gionee A1 Lite Review: Affordable selfies for all!
Next, we move on the indoor shots. I clicked two photos – one in standard mode and other in portrait mode. The quality of standard photos look decent, but details are missing and slight reddish tone is visible on the skin. The portrait mode, yet again works well in blurring out the background and keeping the subject in focus. The mode also adds some beauty effects to your skin by making it look slightly brighter, while also minimizing the blemishes and dark circles. Below is a comparison shot.
I also clicked a couple of photos indoors in standard and wide-angle mode. Now, while the photos look good, with enough details, the camera tends to keep the other person slightly out of focus. It isn’t clearly visible, unless you zoom into the photos too closely inspect. And considering most of the users will be uploading these photos on their social networks, it shouldn’t be much of a deal breaker. You can check the samples below. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Mi A1 Review: Truly A1!
The Zenfone 4 Selfie also has a front-facing LED flash to let you click good selfies in low-light conditions. I clicked a couple of photos in very low-light conditions – one with flash and the other without. The result is that the one without flash obviously doesn’t fare well, but the other one with flash looks average, with a lot of graininess visible throughout. But if you are indoors with artificial lighting and then use the flash, the amount of graininess reduces, and it’s a good thing. Here are some sample shots.
Asus has also added ‘live beautification’ mode that lets you add 10 levels of beautification to your skin. While level zero is without any makeup, level 10 adds full makeup to completely soften the skin. I’m not a big fan of these effects and they look completely artificial. The mode also works when you are streaming a video on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
The rear camera is fairly decent. Daylight shots look decent, but with a warm tone. Low-light shots completely go for a toss, whereas close-up shots taken outdoors under proper lighting conditions look detailed, with accurate colors and good depth-of-field effects.
Under the hood, the Zenfone 4 Selfie is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core SoC (Eight Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.4GHz). It is paired with Adreno 505 GPU, 4GB of RAM and 64GB onboard storage. The chipset and RAM combination ensures smooth performance most of the time, together with a good battery life. However, with competitor devices such as Redmi Note 4 and Mi A1 being powered by a better Snapdragon 625 SoC, it is tad disappointing to see that Asus went with the Snapdragon 430 SoC, especially considering the pricing.
On the software front, the smartphone runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat OS out of the box, with the September patch and Zen UI running on top. It’s good to see that Asus has not bundled to many bloatware apps of its own, like it was the case before. Instead, the company has now moved on to Google apps such as Docs, Drive, Calendar, Gmail, Keep, Duo, Photos, Play Music, Maps and Messages. ALSO READ: Moto G5S Plus Review: A slight edge over its predecessor
There are other apps such as Asus WebStorage, Weather and Go2Pay that can be uninstalled. Asus has also added Mobile Manger, where you can check the battery stats, the amount of RAM that the phone is consuming, data usage, battery modes, clear cache and also manage security and permissions.
Overall, performance of the smartphone is decent, and even with some multitasking, you won’t notice much lag. But as you perform some intense tasks, such as live videos or playing graphics intense games, the stuttering is noticeable, and the back of the device does get a little warm. Battery life is average to decent, depending on your usage. With very moderate usage, I was able to get usage of a little over a day, whereas, with heavy usage, the phone would need a charge by the end of the day.
Overall, the Zenfone 4 Selfie is a decent selfie-centric smartphone in its price range. The smartphone is able to capture good selfies and portraits using the front cameras in good lighting conditions. The wide-angle shots tend to look off, especially under harsh lighting conditions outdoors, but that’s a small trade-off due to drop in resolution. Otherwise, overall performance is decent and the battery lasts through the day too.
If you are not selfie obsessed and looking for a better smartphone in the price range, the Xiaomi Mi A1 is a good alternative. It comes with stock Android One OS, dual cameras at the back with 2X optical zoom, along with better chipset and specifications. The Nokia 6 and Moto G5s Plus are other interesting alternatives you could go for.