ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite Review

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What we liked about it:

• Decent cameras
• Better ZenUI
• Good battery life

What we didn’t like:

• Back part is a fingerprint and smudge magnet
• Capacitive buttons do not illuminate
• Slow charging

ASUS has a new smartphone up for grabs, and it goes by the name of the ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite packing two 13-megapixel cameras on both sides of the device. Quite a long name indeed, but does it have what it takes to be the selfie smartphone you need? This is our full review.

Design and Construction

As with the other Zenfones released this year, the Selfie Lite also carries the updated design language of the ZenFone 4 series. At the front is a 5.5-inch IPS display, your usual front sensors, a 13-megapixel front camera, and its dedicated LED flash that sits right beside the call speaker grill.

Two capacitive buttons at the bottom are for multitasking/option switch and the back button, as well as the rounded rectangular home button that also doubles as the fingerprint scanner. The 2.5D curved glass at the front gives the phone a distinct look with a more seamless operation, especially when you move your fingers from the sides to navigate the display.

The top part has the 3.5mm audio port and the noise-canceling microphone, while bottom part houses the micro-USB port, the main microphone, and the speaker grilles.

Separating the front panel with the rest of the device is a polycarbonate unibody reminiscent of the previous Zenfone 4 smartphones we’ve already reviewed. The right side has the volume rocker and the power/lock button. ASUS opted to put its signature concentric ring design only on the smaller key contrary to the volume rockers that follows the color of the unibody shell. The left side, on the other hand, houses the SIM tray. We’re glad to know that the phone supports two nano SIM cards and a dedicated microSD card slot given the measly 16GB internal storage.

Flipping the device on its back and we have the 13-megapixel Pixelmaster camera with an accompanying single LED Flash at its side, housed in a more rounded body with a Deepsea Black color: a black hue that has mineral shine finish and oftentimes resembles a navy blue color when lighted. Despite being protruded by a few millimeters, the camera bump is not that much of an issue as this can be addressed by putting in the jelly case included in the package.

Overall, the device is good to hold and is easy to navigate, thanks to the phone’s lightweight construction and slim profile. Its back cover is quite a fingerprint and smudge magnet despite being not that glossy. The capacitive buttons do not illuminate and may require some work if you’re one who comes from a device with a back button placed at the right.

Display and Multimedia

What you see in the front is a 5.5-inch IPS display with an HD resolution which equates to 267ppi density. It may not be one of the sharpest screens you’ll see, but the resolution is decent enough for everyday use. The colors and contrast are decent. It can be seen in broad daylight, the dimmest setting (accompanied by a five-level blue light filter toggled in settings) is good for bed reading, and it doesn’t change hues when viewed from different angles. It can support up to ten multi-touch points which could be good for multiplayer gaming.

As such, multimedia content is best consumed considering the phones do offer bezels on the top and bottom parts, which could be great areas to hold onto when in landscape mode. Its lone loudspeaker offers decent sound at considerable audio levels that’s good enough to fill up a busy working area.

The included earphones are decent as well, but it’s best to use your own pair of audio gear to fully utilize the company’s Audio Wizard feature built in the device. This offers different pre-made audio profiles that you can use immediately in different scenarios, or customize even down to the EQ levels according to your liking.

Camera

ASUS put in two 13-megapixel camera sensors on the ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite — one on each side — and both offer decent photography for photo enthusiasts and selfie lovers alike. There are pre-made live filters and toggle modes you can use, as well as a direct access to the camera software’s pro and portrait modes.

The rear camera offers decent quality images with nearly true-to-life colors that’s a hit or miss when taking photos indoors. It has good sharpness, and justifiable contrast when used in bright scenarios. Low light scenarios may be a concern as more noise goes in and tends to blur the image to give a more reasonable output. Here are some sample shots:

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Likewise, the 13-megapixel front camera (4:3 aspect ratio, with autofocus) offers a ton of features seen on other selfie-centric smartphones: There’s the ASUS version of beautification which enhances your facial profile as you toggle its settings and a portrait mode that offers an artificial depth of field to enhance your face. Here are sample photos:

Normal Selfie

Portrait Mode

Low Light

With Flash + Auto Beauty

With Beauty mode Features

Videos taken with the ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite offer nearly the same quality as with the photos. Keep in mind that there’s no stabilization feature present so the output may be quite shaky especially for those with shaky hands. Here’s a sample clip:

OS, UI, and Apps

What lies beneath the Selfie Lite is a cleaner ZenUI based from Android Nougat, and it’s a refreshing UI compared from last year. It’s a lot better in terms of the offered initial set of apps — you’ll only see a handful of ASUS and Google suites pre-installed upon the first boot and there’s not much bloatware.

A few notable apps include ASUS’ own Theme store, the SelfieMaster app that has all of your basic photo and video vanity needs, and a Mobile Manager that offers app and battery management. With all apps included on the first boot, the device offers 8.4GB of free space, which can be expanded with a microSD card on its dedicated slot.

Performance and Benchmarks

Armed with a Quad-core Snapdragon 425 chip and 2GB RAM, the device performs decently on times where no resource-hogging social media apps are installed. Install a few such as those from Facebook and you’ll see the remaining RAM space drop down to 400-500MB.

Gaming is also not a problem for the most part: Casual games such as Hungry Shark Evolution and Zombie Tsunami were decently playable with a minimal number of frame skips while playing graphic-intensive ones (Eternity Warriors 4 for example) often resulted to more slowdowns and lags. Here are some sample benchmarks:

AnTuTu: 36,689
GeekBench: 684 (Single-Core), 1,890 (Multi-Core), 1,320 (Compute)
Vellamo: 2,363 (Chrome), 1,179 (Metal), 1,455 (Multicore)
PCMark: (Storage), 4,648 (Work 1.0)
3DMark: 53 (Slingshot)

Connectivity, Call Quality, and Battery Life

Call Quality on the ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite is decent, with an active noise-canceling microphone removing most noise during calls, and the call speaker is audible even in the noisy streets of the metro.

We never had trouble working with connectivity options: Bluetooth works as advertised, WiFi is doing pretty good with catching signals even when 10ft away from the router, and GPS has no issues on distancing routes. Typical sensors are also present such as a gyroscope, which is useful for handling VR environments. It’s also equipped with 4G though it’s only available for one SIM, it can be changed on the settings.

What’s surprising about this device is the battery life it possesses — the device lasts for a whole day and a half of moderate use which consists of calls, SMS, a bit of gaming on the side, and internet browsing either via WiFi or 4G. If we’re to put in popular social media apps which run in the background, the device lasts for nearly a day. Our PCMark Battery Test score gave the device a score of 11 Hours and 19 minutes, which puts it in the same leagues as the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and the Huawei Mate9 based on our own Android Smartphone Battery chart. Video loop lasts a lot longer at 13 hours and 27 minutes.

Recharging is another story. It’s quite a slow one when it recharges as we experienced from 20% to full at around 1.5 to 2 hours using the dedicated charging adapter.

Conclusion

Combining two equally-performing cameras in a 5.5-inch device with a bloatware-free ZenUI and a good battery life to boot, the ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite has something good to offer with its Php7,995 price tag. The device itself is a testament that the company can bring down the now-premium ZenFone device line to the lower mid-range smartphone wars by offering something that could be your choice this holiday season.

With that being said, there are a few gripes with our experience — there’s that smudge-attracting back, the slow charging scenario, and the fact that the market now have a choice to add a few more hundred or thousand bucks for smartphones with better hardware, more decent cameras, or even the power-packed ZenFone 4 Max which isn’t that far away at Php9,995. Nonetheless, the ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite is made for those who aim to look their best every single day, and this precisely does that job.

ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Lite (X00LDA) specs:

  • 5.5-inch HD IPS display
  • 2.5D curved glass display
  • 1.4GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 425
  • Adreno 308 GPU
  • 2GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • expandable via microSD up to 1TB (dedicated)
  • 13MP PixelMaster rear camera with LED Flash
  • 13MP PixelMaster front camera with soft light LED Flash
  • LTE Cat.4 (UL 50Mbps / DL 150Mbps)
  • Dual SIM, Dual Standby
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • ASUS ZenUI 4.0 (Android 7 Nougat)
  • 3000mAh battery

(yugatech.com, https://goo.gl/K773pK)

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