The year 2015 is probably the pinnacle of high-powered, yet budget-friendly smartphones. Different manufacturers have been very clever in creating and designing devices that would approve the taste of the majority, without letting them to shell out a lot of cash. And Asus is one of the few companies who have been pulling it off very well. From the release famed Zenfone 5, to the celebrated Zenfone 2, which delivered top-notch specifications at an unbelievable price tag.
And now, Asus is at it again. We got our hands with the new Asus Zenfone Selfie. The name implies that this may have a lot of novelties inside, but by reading the spec sheet, it looks like it packs a lot of punch — something that’s unsurprising for a device that’s coming from Asus. Shall we start?
ASUS Zenfone Selfie Specs
- Android 5.0 Lollipop
- 5.5-inch (1080×1920 Full HD), ~401ppi
- 1.7GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 (MSM8939) processor
- Adreno 405 GPU
- 2/3GB RAM
- 16/32GB internal storage
- microSD support up to 64GB
- 13-megapixel main camera, with laser autofocus and dual LED flash
- 13-megapixel front camera, with autofocus and dual LED flash
- Wi-Fi a/ b/g/n/ac
- Dual micro-SIM with dual standby
- 3G HSPA+, 4G LTE
- Bluetooth 4.0
- GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
- Dimensions: 156.5 x 77.2 x 10.8-3.9mm
- Weight: 170g
- Li-Po 3000mAh battery
Since Asus have been pulling the trigger rapidly in the recent months by releasing new smartphones instantaneously, it’s no surprise that almost all of the recent Zenfone devices has the same aesthetics’ footprints. The Zenfone Selfie looks very identical to its older brother, the Asus Zenfone 2, with only some few hardware inclusions and upgrades that sets them apart.
And just like the Zenfone 2, it’s also pretty evident how this device resembles the looks that some LG devices have. The curved back, button placements, and the layout at the device’s chin made it look very identical to some LG smartphones like the G3. Whether it’s unscrupulous or not will really depend on your perspective; but for us, it really went well for the Zenfone Selfie. The angled back made the smartphone fit ergonomically in the hands, and the volume controls are easily reachable since it is placed where your index finger usually rests. Although, I have noticed that the volume rocker is kinda hard to press. The buttons themselves are a bit rigid, thus, pressing it may cause the device to lean forward. But on the brighter side, it made the sides super-thin, hence, the curved layout.
Although, what I didn’t understand is why they haven’t also placed the lock/power switch at the back, rather than at the top, which is insanely hard to reach for this gigantic 5.5″ device. But nevertheless, Asus included a lot of off-screen gestures to compensate, so you don’t have to always reach out for that button.
Despite some heavy muscle inside, the Asus Zenfone Selfie is surprisingly lighter; especially when compared to the Zenfone 2. This is probably due to the materials used on this one, which is plastic.
Taking a tour we got a large 5.5″ IPS Full HD display on front that’s covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 4, the ambient light and proximity sensors that are intensely hidden at the upper left side, 13-megapixel front-facing camera with true tone flash, the earpiece that’s symmetrically positioned with the flash, LED notification indicator, and the capacitive buttons at the bottom (Back, Home, and Recent Apps button).
Both left and right sides are empty, while the top has the 3.5mm headphone jack, lock/power switch and the noise-cancelling microphone. The bottom has the microUSB port and the primary built-in microphone.
At the back we see the 13-megapixel primary camera with dual-tone flash, the ultra-fast laser autofocus that’s also symmetrically positioned with the flash, some Asus branding, and lastly, the loudspeakers.
Popping out the back panel shall reveal the dual-sim slots (both capable of 4G connection) and a microSD card slot (capable of up to 64GB of storage). It’s also nice to see a removable 3000mAh battery; a major step-up not only from the Zenfone 2, but also to almost a lot of flagship devices from other companies today. Some smartphones do have removable back panel, but the batteries are still sealed-in, which just doesn’t make sense.
Removing the graceful white back cover shall also reveal the actual speaker. Yup, it isn’t linear as what the grills from the back panel exhibits it. With the device’s price tag, it is a little hard to believe that the company can actually put a large driver in there. But nevertheless, speaker performance have been pretty decent. It delivers well-balanced output for a loudspeaker with some noticeable lows and not exaggerating highs; volume is also respectable. You can hear every dialogue if you’re watching a movie alone, or have your friends enjoy music while hanging out. But if you’re in a crowded restaurant, you’re better off with headphones.
The Asus Zenfone Selfie utilizes a 5.5″ IPS Full HD display with 1080 x 1920 resolution and has 403 pixels-per-inch. These are all wrapped with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on top.
Display quality has been phenomenal. The large display gives a lot of real estate for productivity, and also makes movies and games more immersive. Everything also looks razor sharp and crispy thanks to its 1080p display. Also, in true IPS fashion, colors do pop a lot, but blacks aren’t the deepest of all, as compared to AMOLED displays. Viewing angles and outdoor visibility, on the other hand, is plain impressive.
And just like any other Zen device, this one also has an application called Splendid, preinstalled. This app helps you calibrate the display to match your needs. It’s set to Balance out of the box, but other modes also include Bluelight filter, Vivid, and Customized mode where you can adjust Hue and Saturation. I found the Vivid Mode works best for my taste as it amplifies the colors a bit, although it tends to degrade the contrast.
Despite some of the tip-top features that I have already stated, the device still packs a punch under the hood. The Zenfone Selfie is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615. A 64-bit processor with a clock speed of 1.5GHz, 3GB of RAM, and an Adreno 405 GPU.
But before we start, I would like to cite that I have set the power settings to Performance Mode in the Power Saver app to fully unleash the chipset’s potential. The power management is ticked to Balance Mode out of the box, which may limit the processor’s performance. Now that we had that out of the way, let us get in to my test results.
Processing performance have been satisfying all through my time with the device. Everything feels fast and snappy. You can browse through different social media apps with breeze. Different applications also launches on a snap; and with the help of its spacious 3GB RAM, you can switch between different applications straight away, even if you’re coming from an intensive gameplay.
Speaking of games, the Zenfone Selfie can also be a joy for mobile gamers. Titles like Mortal Kombat and Real Racing 3 ran seamlessly on this one. The Snapdragon 615 carried the large 1080p display well, which results to immersive gaming. Although I have seen it struggle a little with a city-building game called Sim City. As my city and population grows, the processor is having a hard time juggling all the animations caused by all those tiny, yet tons of elements.
Checking out these performance and graphics’ benchmarks results, we can see how the ASUS Zenfone Selfie only achieved a passing score on 3DMark, and how it was able to bust the roof in NenaMark 2. The first benchmarking app uses a more complex and graphically-dense tests, while the latter has a fairly light test.
But on a brighter note, the device doesn’t overheat too much. The Zenfone Selfie starts to amp its temperature in an instant that you start a game, but the warmth is not as exaggerating as what you would experience in other device; not unless of course, you play extensively. The device would inevitably accumulate heat eventually, but still not as fast as with other devices.
The Asus Zenfone Selfi runs on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. The device’s software version is a lead to the older Zenfone 2, which only has Android 5.0. But considering the news spreading around that the Zenfone 2 has an upcoming Android 5.1 update, we can expect the same for the Zenfone Selfie.
But Lollipop doesn’t come alone on this smartphone. Just like any other Zen device, this one also comes with the company’s very own skin, the ZenUI. This particular skin is probably the most bloated I have ever seen. Although, the jam-packed interface doesn’t slow the processor down; unlike what we have seen TouchWiz do to almost all of the Galaxy devices before. The ZenUI doesn’t have the weird and unnecessary gestures and animations that may cause the processor some stress. It’s in the actual look of everything and the long list of preinstalled that makes it heavy. The interface is aesthetically far away from stock Android. From the customized motif of the native-app icons, drop-down menu, lock screen, and a lot more other shenanigans.
Although some settings and implementations are actually usable. To name some; the settings menu on the app drawer is kinda neat. It helps you group apps easily by categorizing them and sorting them in to folders. There’s also some shortcut buttons on the lock screen to quick access some apps, which can also be customized on the settings menu. While Do Not Disturb function turns down upcoming notifications.
ZenMotion for some off-screen gestures and One Hand mode, perfect for this large display. And the list just goes on.
Probably what some user may actually find irritating is the list of preinstalled applications, which some are unfortunately cannot be uninstalled. Some of these apps are third-party, which probably Asus predicted you might actually need; while some are applications that the company actually produced. But despite all that, the space it took from the 32GB internal storage isn’t that alarming.
Speaking of storage, the 32GB internal memory is slashed with almost 7GB of space for system reserve, which leaves us with 25GB to play with. The 4.43GB allocation for apps that pictured above is the combination of all the applications I have picked up on the Play Store, and the ones that comes preinstalled.
If the device’s name still doesn’t made it obvious; the Asus Zenfone Selfie is for trigger-happys. We do have a 13-megapixel primary camera with true-tone flash and laser auto-focus at the back. Right at front we also have a 13-megapixel secondary camera, and also, a tru-tone flash. Yup, the primary camera is as good as the, sometimes neglected, front-facing camera, hence, the word “Selfie” in the device’s title
The primary camera can take beautiful photos, unsurprisingly. For as long as you set the exposure right, or should in layman’s term, if you were able to find the right spot to tap so the camera app can perfectly adjust the settings, you’ll be getting some impressive results. The sample shots below shows snaps with decent contrast, distinct saturation but not overblown, and acceptable contrast ratio. Sharpness is also on point.
The inclusion of laser auto-focus is appreciated; although the difference between having this and a standard focus system isn’t that substantial.
The camera app also has tons of features to play with. Our favorite would definitely be the Manual mode, which gives us the ability to manually set ISO, Exposure Value, Shutter Speed, White Balance, and of course, Focus.
Now to the highlight of this device, the selfie camera. Since we do have the same sensor with the primary camera, we can expect the same photo quality. But since the whole experience doesn’t only depends on the hardware per se, we’re taking a closer look at the camera app. Both cameras also uses the same software, but for this one,i’ll give emphasis to the Beautification mode, since this is would probably the most used feature. This helps the user to look more pleasant when taking selfies by virtually whitening their skin, cheeks thinning, or removing blemishes and spots. We’ve seen other devices do this before, but the end result of those are hideous, thanks to their low resolution camera. The high-res sensor on this thing can produce a more realistic photo, despite some heavy software interventions.
The app also lets you to slide up the shutter button to easily set the timer. Plus, the front-facing true-tone flash can give a helping hand for those low-light self portraits, without overblowing the exposure, which usually happens on standard flashes.
The front camera also uses an f/2.2 aperture and a lens with a 88-degree wide view, perfect for those group shots.
The device can also shoot 1080p videos. The quality is identical with the stills that it can make. Although, as I said earlier, you should take the exposure right to maximize its potential.
We do have WLAN 802.11 b/g/n/ac on this one, plus Bluetooth 4.0. These may not be the latest and the fastest antennas in the industry today, but it still does a great job. The Zenfone Selfie is also packed with cellular connectivity with dual-sim capability. Both sim card slots are capable of 2G/3G/4G networks, which has a pretty stellar performance. Although, we must admit, ISPs in this country are still coping up.
There’s a removable 3000mAh battery on this one, a feature that’s starting to go extinct on today’s flagships devices. I would like to commend ASUS for still keeping things traditional; in contrast to other companies today that are changing path in a direction nobody wants. What is more worth mentioning is the battery’s weight. Despite its large capacity, it doesn’t add that much heft on the device.
Now let’s talk about battery performance. The 3000mAh does look sizable, but it doesn’t mean it delivers extraordinary battery longevity. The ratio between the Zenfone Selfie’s battery capacity and the overall hardware that it feeds is just reasonable. Remember, we’re powering a 1080p display and an octa-core processor.
With that having said, our tests concluded some standard, to impressive results. Screen-on time exceeded the four-hour mark. That’s hours of continuously shifting from playing games and watching YouTube videos, with the Power Management settings set to Performance Mode. While moderate usage like occasionally browsing the web, social media surfing, and casually sending/receiving SMS lasted the device for more than twenty four hours, with still some juice to spare, and the Power Management set to Balance Mode.
Taking a detailed look at the Battery Modes under the Power Management app; we do have options to manually select Battery modes (Performance, Balanced, Smart-saving and Ultra-saving). We can also enable the app to auto-switch to Ultra-saving mode when the battery reach either 5% or 15% of juice. We can also auto-switch from any different modes, at any preferred time of the day.
Probably the only bummer on this one is the omission of a fast charger, which one of the pillars of the Zenfone 2. The included standard, yet a bit bulky charger refuels the device back to 100% for two to two and a half hours.
The Zenfone Selfie is probably one of the best, if not the best, smartphone in its category today. It’s easy to build a powerful device for an mid-range price, but it goes a long way to include some more useful features.
Considering the price tag, there’s a lot to like about the Zenfone Selfie. The powerful Qualcomm processor with 3GB of RAM and the large 1080p display is perfect not only for media consumption and gaming, but also for productivity junkies. Dual-sim cards that are both capable of 4G connections are perfect, Especially for those travelers out there. And of course, the large and removable battery is a big relief.
On the other hand, I think Asus should go easy with the software. I appreciate the effort, but for me, everything about designing is delicate, thus, everything should be just nice and simple. Also, if I’ll be nitpicking, I kinda wish the device has a better build quality, NFC, or even front-facing stereo speakers to fully unleash its media capabilities. But then again, we’re just being excessive, considering it’s being retailed for only Php11,995.00.
The Asus Zenfone Selfie isn’t a sequel to anything. And if there’s a second part to this, I am excited.
- Large and sharp display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4
- Powerful processor, 3GB of RAM
- Tip-top cameras
- 4G, Dual-sim
- Large and removable battery
- Slightly bloated software
- Hard to reach lock/power button, stiff volume controls
- No NFC