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Asus ZenFone Selfie – Review

“Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all”, the famous lines from the fairy tale, Snow White, had us thinking about how one can be so self-obsessed. But that is exactly how we are, with the obsession for selfies. This trend and obsession has given the opportunity to up the game in mobile front facing cameras.  The Oppo N1 is probably the first mobile to address the selfie trend. It has one powerful camera that can be rotated either ways. The main stream mobile started improving the front camera sensor and today we have mobiles with equally powerful selfie and primary camera. These are called the selfie mobiles. The Asus ZenFone Selfie has a 13 MP sensors for both its front and rear facing cameras. It is a mobile made specifically for the selfi-obsessed crowd.

Design

The ZenFone Selfie has striking resemblance to the ZenFone 2. It is slightly thick at just under 11mm and weighs 170 grams. It is made of good quality plastic. The back is removable. The battery under the back cover is also removable. It has dual SIM slots. The 13MP camera at the rear is flanked by dual tone LED flash and laser emitter. Below the camera is the volume rocker with a metal finish. The power button is inconveniently located at the top. Thankfully, the mobile has tap to wake. The display is a large 5.5 inch screen which supports 1080 x 1920 resolution and amounting to a pixel density of 403 ppi. The menu keys are not back lit. Above the display is the large 13 MP front facing camera. The front facing camera also has dual tone LED flash and laser autofocus sensor. It is available in Pure White, Chic Pink and Aqua Blue variants. The mobile was a bit slippery to hold. It is definitely a huge mobile with its thick bezels around the screen. But it has a solid construction to give a sturdy feel.

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Display

The IPS capacitive display is a 5.5 inch diagonally and supports 1080 x 192 resolution. It has a pixel density of 403 ppi. It has good viewing angles, but the legibility suffers under direct sunlight. The Full HD display has good brightness and contrast levels. The display is responsive and smooth.

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Hardware

The ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL is powered by a octacore Qualcomm MSM8939 Snapdragon 615 processor with Adreno 405 GPU. The 16 GB variant has 2 GB RAM, while the 32 GB variant has 3 GB RAM. Our test unit was the 32 GB variant. The memory is also expandable using microSD cards by upto 64 GB. At Gadgetdetail, we ran extensive performance tests on this mobile. Check out the benchmark scores of the ZenFone Selfie below.

Mobile ModelAntutuQuadrantVelamo MetalVelamo browserVelamo MulticoreGeekbench 3 Single coreGeekbench 3 Multicore
Asus Zenfone Selfie3870718472795154813905272119

This is a mid-range mobile and its performance is a cut about its peers. I never judge a mobile by its benchmark score. In real life, the mobile handles resource heavy applications with ease. There were a few hiccups and frame drops while playing some graphic intensive games, but it did not hamper the gaming experience. The mobile did not heat excessively. On continous gaming for over 20 mint, the temperature went upto 32 degree Celsius. The quality of graphics rendered is good. It runs on Android 5.0 with Zen UI on top. It handles the UI with ease and there is no lag.

The call quality was clear and the signal reception was consistent. However, the rear facing speakers are weak. It lacks audio quality and finesse when it come to sound range. The mobile does not include headphones in the package. I tried it with various headphones and earphones and found out that the audio performance was good.

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Camera

Asus Zenfone Selfie has 13 MP sensors at front and back. The camera is nearly identical. Both the sensors areToshiba T4K37 CMOS BSi sensor. The lenses are 5 element lens on the both the sides. The front camera hs a 88 degree wide angle with maximum aperture of f/2.2. The rear camera has f/2.0 aperture. Both the cameras have dual LED flash and laser assisted focus system. The front facing camera takes brilliant shots. It captures great details and reproduces natural colors. It has various modes, but I liked the normal mode and the selfie panorama mode. Under low light, the selfies are not praiseworthy. At times, I doubt if the laser autofocus on the front really works. Focussing is sluggish at any light conditions. Though it has f/2.2 aperture, the images shot with the front camera lack depth of field. Yet, this is easily the best selfie camera I have seen. With it wide angle, the groopfies are also laudable.

 

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The rear camera is a great camera module, I have seen in this price range. The laser assisted focusing is precise, but not as fast as Asus claims. I compared it with LG G4 and found that the G4 has better speed in focusing. The quality of images produces are exceptional. It performs well in low light and day light conditions. The camera UI is simple and powerful. In the auto mode, the UI controls are simple. Though there are different preset modes, the HDR and Low light mode are automatically suggested based on the light conditions. The gear button reveals the menu for both camera and video. In the ZenFone the manual mode can control the White balance, Exposure compensation, ISO, shutter speed and focus. As for the image quality, under normal or well light conditions the images seems to be good. But on closer inspection you would notice that the Pixel master algorithm smoothens the edges in the name of sharpening and reducing noise. Ideally the algorithm must kick in only for low light conditions. Under low light conditions, the ZenFone performs really well. It produces good details and usable images even under extremely low light conditions. In total, the ZenFone Selfie has 2 camera modules that impresses.

Software and UI

The ZenFone Selfie runs on Android 5.0 out of the box with the Zen UI on the top. The Zen UI has a long list of pre-installed applications. Most of these apps have better alternatives in the Google Play store and these apps cannot be uninstalled. So I would call them bloatware sitting on the mobile and eating the space. I like the Zen Mini movies and SuperNoteapps out of all these bloat wares. Asus has also tried to reinvent the Notifications UI. But this has already been done by the Native android lollipop and I don’t see a pressing need to redesign it. When the Native android experience is really good these days, I don’t see a need to force fit a skin on top of it. Do you need an app and an icon for a function like torch light, or permission manager or auto start manager? Asus must really have gone the Motorola way, which gives “Close to pure android” experience with a few custom appspreinstalled. Zen UI has very little customization possibilities. But overall the UI is fast and snappy. It does not lag and definitely smoother than the likes of Touch Wiz or SenseUI. In total, the Zen UI is a mixed bag.

Battery

Like the ZenFone 2, the ZenFone Selfie is also powered by a 3000 mAh battery. The battery usage is much better optimized when compared to ZenFone 2. It a pity that it does not have the turbo charging feature like the ZenFone 2. It takes well over 2:30 hours to charge from 0 to 100%. My average usage would mean a few minutes on call everyday, constantly checking social media updates, 4G always on, connected to WiFi 10 hours a day, watching video clips and listening to music for a few hours. With my average usage, the mobile lasted for 23 hours on a single charge.

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Verdict

There are a few selfie phones out there like the HTC Desire Eye, HTC 826 or even the MicroMax Canvas Selfie. Compared to those mobile, the ZenFone Selfie has a better camera module at the front for your selfies. It has smooth performance and noteworthy battery life. The 32 GB is priced at Rs 17999 and it is slightly over priced. It isn’t ergonomically comfortable to handle. Apart from the selfie camera, its a mediocre mobile. It will appeal to people who love taking selfies. As the name suggests, it is a selfie mobile and does that job perfectly.

 

Buy it here

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Giridhar

A Technology evangelist, Giridhar reviews gadgets and mobile applications. He is also a passionate photographer and a user experience designer by profession.

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[…] segment. There is a 5 inch, 5.5 inch and now a 6 inch Zenfone Laser. The other Laser mobile was the Zenfone Selfie, which had a laser autofocus mechanism on the front as well. Now if you are still with me, lets […]

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