Asus launched its ZenFone 4 series phones today. As is wont with Asus, there were three phones announced today and will be entering the markets on 21 September via its exclusive partner Flipkart. The three phones launched were the Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro, the Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie (with dual front cameras) and a new device, the Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie (with single front camera) at Rs 23,999, Rs 14,999 and Rs 9,999 respectively.
Asus has been known to segment its devices according to the use cases, and it has been refining on it over the years. With the ZenFone 4 series also, Asus has decided to address most segments of the market - pro users, selfie enthusiasts, those wanting a long lasting battery - and you never know, Asus may release even more phones before the next upgrade cycle. This time around Asus has released three selfie-centric smartphones across budgets.
I got to spend some time with the Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro, which is Asus' high end selfie-centric phone. So here are my first impressions of the ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro. Yes, get used to the Asus naming conventions.
Build and Design
The Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro is a well built device. It is encased in a metal unibody and the rear surface of the phone has a matte finish. Chamfering is seen on edges on both the front and the back, which adds a glossy chrome layer to the design. Two horizontal antenna lines are prominently seen on the rear side at the top and bottom. While the camera section occupies the top half, the centre portion sees the Asus branding. It is quite slim at 7 mm thickness and weighs around 145 grams.
Going around the edges, you have the power/standby and volume rocker buttons on the right hand side. The volume rocker is a single button, but it has a depression in the centre to help you demarcate the volume up from volume down and the power standby button has a textured finish. These are minor details, but show the attention Asus has paid. On the top edge, you just have the microphone. Coming to the left hand side, you get the hybrid dual nano SIM card tray. Finally, the bottom edge houses the 3.5 mm jack, microphone, microUSB port and the speaker section.
Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro comes with a 5.5-inch FullHD AMOLED display. There is a fixed physical home button which also houses the fingerprint sensor. At the top you have the earpiece speaker, ambient light and proximity sensors. To the right-hand side of the earpiece speaker lie the two front cameras and on the left, you have the front-facing softlight flash unit.
Chipset, Storage, RAM
The Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro houses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset which houses an octa-core Cortex A53 processor clocked at 2.0 GHz, paired with the Adreno 506 GPU. The phone houses 4 GB RAM and has 64 GB of on-board storage out of which around 52 GB is usable. The Snapdragon 625 with 4 GB RAM has become a standard configuration for a mid-range device. In the limited time that I played with the device, there wasn't any noticeable lag. But that is not saying much as there are many other parameters such as the heat control, real life use case which still needs to be thoroughly tested. Storage is expandable to 256 GB by using a microSD card.
OS and Software
With the Asus ZenFone 4 series, Asus has revamped its ZenUI which is seen atop the Android 7.1.1 Nougat OS. The ZenUI 4.0 looks quite clean as compared to the previous version. According to Asus it has brought down the number of preinstalled apps from 35 to 13, which is welcome. While there is bloat on the device, it is thankfully less as compared to what we had seen with the ZenUI 2.0 and ZenUI 3.0. Facebook, Instagram and Messenger are pre-loaded. There are surprisingly limited number of proprietary Asus apps, which is refreshing to see. It was a pain to see a lot of them on the ZenFones earlier, most of which had more popular and powerful alternatives. It also supports Twin apps which basically lets you have two instances of he same app. The quick settings menu has features called Audio Wizard (for audio settings adjustment), Power Boost (to clear RAM), a multi-window feature and more. After having tested previous generations of Asus ZenFones with the ZenUI bloat, it will be interesting to see how Asus has improved the user experience this time around.
The primary camera on the ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro is a 16 MP unit with a Sony sensor with phase-detect autofocus (PDAF). It comes with Electronic image stabilisation (EIS) for the 4K UHD video recording it supports. The image processing on the rear camera as well as the two front cameras is done by the Asus SuperPixel engine. The rear camera also lets you shoot images in the RAW format. The camera user interface has also undergone some design changes. It comes with features such as beauty mode, Pro mode, super resolution mode, GIF animation mode, portrait mode. You also get slow motion and time-lapse modes.
The highlight of the ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro is the front-facing camera, rather the dual front facing cameras. One of the cameras comes with a 1/2.55-inch 12 MP Sony IMX362 sensor with an f/1.8 aperture and a pixel size of 1.4 microns whereas the other is a 5MP Omnivision sensor. Asus claims that the front 12MP camera uses the DuoPixel technology to extrapolate the 12MP images to 24MP size to give you more details. The Sony sensor is a dual pixel sensor which allows Asus to get a 24MP image. The image processing task is divided between the Asus SuperPixel chip and the Snapdragon 625 chipset. We will need to test this particular feature out. The front camera comes with a 120-degree wide-angle lens that lets you take group selfies with ease. It also lets you shoot 4K videos. There's definitely a lot happening on the front camera portion and we will need to test it so see how all this holds up in the real world and its impact on battery life.
Battery and Connectivity
The Asus ZenFone Selfie 4 Pro houses a 3,000 mAh Li-ion battery. In terms of connectivity, you get a hybrid nano SIM card slots which can take in either two 4G SIMs or one SIM and one microSD card. There's support for Wi-Fi b/g/n. Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth v4.1 LE, GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS, FM Radio among others.
With the Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro, the focus is clear - Asus wants to target not just the selfie-enthusiasts out there but more specifically the vloggers who do a lot of front-facing videos. The wide-angle front camera and the beautification mode are features that may appeal to this segment. While we will reserve our final verdict till we thoroughly test the phone, one thing is for sure - this selfie-centric camera space is getting crowded and Asus surely has stiff competition at hand with the just released Vivo V7+ and the older Oppo F3 Plus among other such phones.
Updated Date: Sep 14, 2017 18:21 PM