Taiwanese tech giant, Asus recently launched three smartphones under the Zenfone 4 series- the Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) (First look), ZenFone 4 Selfie (Dual Camera Version) (ZD553KL), and ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro (ZD552KL) (First Impressions).
The smaller variant of the three- Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) is retailing for Rs. 9,999 in the Indian market. And the USP of the smartphone, as the name itself suggests, is the 13MP front-facing camera, which also offers a Portrait mode for bokeh shots.
The Zenfone 4 Selfie also has decent specifications on paper, in-line with other budget smartphones such as Lenovo K6 Power, Xiaomi Redmi 4, etc. I have been using the Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) as my primary device for the last ten days and here's my complete review of the smartphone.
Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) Review: Design and Display
The entire Zenfone 4 Selfie series sports similar design language. All the three devices are constructed out of metal and the Zenfone 4 Selfie is no exception. The smartphone sports unimetal body design and the highlight aspect is the weight of 144grams. It's astonishing how Asus managed to fit a 3000mAh battery inside the smartphone, keeping the weight minimal.
Also, the weight is evenly distributed, which further makes the device feel light when taken into the hands. The Zenfone 4 Selfie's volume rockers and the power button are present at the right side with the left used by the SIM card tray.
At the bottom, we have the micro USB port, which is flanked by two speaker grilles on either side. At the top of the phone is the 3.5mm headphone along with a microphone.
The Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) comes with three navigation keys- back, home, and recent apps placed below the display. The home button also comes integrated with a fingerprint scanner, which is quick in unlocking the device. Also, it's an active scanner, meaning it even works when the screen is locked.
Display wise, the Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) has a 5.5-inch HD screen. Almost all the competitor devices are offering a Full HD display, but the Zenfone 4 Selfie offers just an HD screen. But this HD screen offers decent viewing angles and gets bright enough in extreme sunlight conditions. As I said in my first impressions article, the display on the Zenfone 4 Selfie is a fingerprint magnet, which even affects the viewing angles.
Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) Review: Hardware and Software
As said earlier, the Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) doesn't offer hardware specifications as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 or 10.or G smartphone, but it gets the job done. Asus has powered the smartphone with Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chipset, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage.
The smartphone delivers decent performance, and a special mention here goes to Asus for optimising the software. The chipset was not able to handle heavy titles such as Mortal Combat 5 or Nova 3, but it runs the games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne, Dead Trigger 2 without any issues.
However, the RAM management in this smartphone is a concern because it wasn't able to keep more than five apps in the memory. The addition of an extra gig of RAM would have changed the entire scenario.
Asus has added all the basic sensors such as an accelerometer, proximity, and gyroscope. All the basic connectivity options such as 4G LTE, VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, and micro USB port.
Software side of things, the Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat based Zen UI 4.0. Asus has tweaked the entire UI of the Zen UI, and the Zen UI 4.0 is a minimal version of the previous Zen UI iterations.
The primary highlight of the Zen UI 4.0 is the removal of bloatware. Asus has removed the entire bloat it packs with Zenfone smartphones, and the Zen UI 4.0 comes with only some preinstalled apps with most of them being Asus third-party apps. Also, Asus promised Android 8.0 Oreo update for the entire Zenfone 4 Selfie lineup.
Coming to the real-life performance, the software on the Zenfone 4 Selfie is optimised well. There are some occasional app crashes, but they can be fixed with a software update.
Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) Review: Cameras
At the start of the review, I said that the USP of the Zenfone 4 Selfie is its front-facing camera. With the Zenfone 4 Selfie lineup, Asus is going after Chinese brands such as Oppo and Vivo who're ruling the Indian market with selfie-centric smartphones.
However, Vivo and Oppo's presence in the sub-Rs. 10,000 price bracket is fairly small, and Asus is looking to make this segment its own with the Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL). The smartphone has a 13MP front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture, which is paired with a soft LED flash. Also, Asus has added its SelfieMaster application in the smartphone, which offers modes such as beauty mode, live broadcast (which we've seen in the Asus Zenfone Live) smartphone.
This 13MP sensor captures some excellent selfies, and the beauty mode even removes the pimples and pores on your face. Furthermore, Asus has taken it to a new level by adding a Portrait mode in the smartphone. The Portrait mode is not perfect, but it gets the job done most of the time. Do make a note that this mode works only in good lighting conditions. Also, the camera app allows you to capture Portrait images with beautify mode turned on.
The Asus Zenfone Selfie (ZB553KL) also comes with a 13MP rear camera with f/2.2 aperture, PDAF, and LED flash support. In a surprising move, Asus has added 3-axis Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) in the smartphone, which stabilises the shaky video footage. The rear camera records videos of Full HD quality at 30fps.
The rear camera captures decent images in good lighting conditions, but the higher aperture doesn't offer good low-light images. Overall, the device justifies the selfie-centric smartphone's tag and is the best selfie smartphone under Rs. 10,000.
Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) Review: Battery Life
This is where the Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) disappoints. In my entire ten-day usage, the smartphone never lasted a complete day, and some days, it even died within 12 hours of usage. That said, I used to get a screen-on time of around three hours.
Also, the standby time in the smartphone is terrible as well. Surely, the software is to be blamed here. Asus optimised the device to perform well, but the company didn't care the battery aspect. Numbers wise, the phone has a 3000mAh battery.
Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) Review: Conclusion
Concluding the review, the Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) is aimed at users who're looking for a selfie smartphone in a tight budget. The phone doesn't offer performance as good as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, but it serves the purpose of capturing selfies. Also, at Rs. 9,999, the Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie (ZB553KL) is the best selfie smartphone you can purchase today. The smartphone is exclusively available on Flipkart.