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ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro Review - Speedy Midranger, Selfie Cameras Needs Improvement

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ASUS is officially back in the selfie-centric smartphone line this year w/ the ZenFone 4 Selfie line. The best of the bunch is the ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro.
ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro review

In case you missed it, the ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro is basically the ZenFone 3 w/ newer ZenUI and steroid enhanced dual selfie camera setup.

In particular, this midrange handset boasts a 12MP Sony IMX362 f/1.8 w/ Dual Pixel PDAF and 4K UHD video recording + 5MP f/2.2 w/ 120 degrees wide angle lens.

ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro Specs

Display: 5.5-inch FHD Super AMOLED 1920 x 1080 resolution w/ 2.5D curved glass and Gorilla Glass protection at 401 ppi
CPU: 2.0GHz 64-bit Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor
GPU: Adreno 506
RAM: 4GB
ROM: 64GB expandable storage via microSD card slot up to 128GB
Main Camera: 16MP f/2.2 w/ PDAF and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 12MP Sony IMX362 f/1.8 w/ Dual Pixel PDAF and 4K UHD video recording + 5MP f/2.2  w/120 degrees wide angle lens
Battery: 3,000mAh
OS: Android 7.0 Nougat OS w/ ZenUI 4.0
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, LTE, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, dual SIM (hybrid)
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic
Others: Fingerprint sensor, Colors: deepsea black, sunlight gold, rogue red
Dimensions: 154.02 x 74.83 x 7.0 mm
Weight: 144 g
Price: PHP 18,995

Disclaimer: This unit was borrowed from ASUS Philippines for our honest review.

Unboxing / Accessories

#WeLovePhoto box
#WeLovePhoto box

ASUS has improved their package coming from the ZenFone 3. It now looks cleaner and has better freebies inside.
Everything inside

It comes w/ a 2A USB wall charger, USB to micro USB cable (sadly ASUS it isn't USB Type-C anymore), ZenEar w/ mic, SIM ejector tool, and a FREE silicon case.

Build Quality / Design

Metal clad body!
Metal clad body!

ASUS ditched the "more premium, but more fragile" sandwiched glass design in favor of the safer and standard metal unibody construction.

Construction is standard and sturdy enough for the price!

The unibody design is mostly made out of metal w/ nice chamfered edges and proper curves. The 2.5D 5.5-inch AMOLED panel in front is protected w/ an unspecified version of Corning Gorilla Glass.
Mic on top
Mic on top
Headphone slot, mic, micro USB port, and single five-magnet speakers below
Headphone slot, mic, micro USB port, and single five-magnet speakers below
Hybrid SIM slot at left
Hybrid SIM slot at left
Power button and volume rocker at right
Power button and volume rocker at right
Design is good! It isn't 18:9 yet and original looking, but, it looks quite premium and sleek enough for the price.

Good safe design!

I personally liked the textured finish behind, its nice curves all over, and slimness at just  7.0 mm! Side bezels are also slimmer than ever! It has a slight camera hump behind, but it can be easily protected by the FREE TPU silicon case.

In terms of ergonomics, the phone is generally easy on the hands. It isn't as slippery as expected as well. The fingerprint scanner in front is easy to reach like the power button and volume rocker.

Display Quality

AMOLED!
AMOLED!

The ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro comes w/ a color rich and well saturated 5.5-inch FHD Super AMOLED 1920 x 1080 resolution display at 401 pixels per inch. It is also sharp enough, has deep blacks, and good contrast!

AMOLED is love!

Viewing angles are mostly excellent and it go quite bright at 500nits. That brightness level is good enough to let you enjoy its good AMOLED display even under direct sunlight hit.

On the software part, it has a Screen color mode where you can adjust the color temperature according to your preference. It has an accurate light sensor and has 10 points of touch as well.

Audio Quality

One of the better speaker at this price
One of the better speakers at this price

The five-magnet speakers driven by NXP Smart AMP that ASUS used here is quite good! It is actually close to flagship grade. As a matter of fact, it is almost as clean, full, and loud sounding compared w/ my personal daily driver, the Huawei P10 Plus. Its highs is just a little peaky in opinion, but that is very forgivable at this price point. Distortion is minimal even on max loudness as well.

Loud and detailed speaker!

For headphones and earphones, ASUS boasts that that this handset is Hi-Res Audio certified. It means that it has 24-bit/192kHz lossless audio playback support. In addition, it has ASUS's new AudioWizard and DTS 7.1-channel virtual surround sound support.

As a result, audio out through our favorite HiFi grade in-ear monitors are quite balanced in sound and pretty detailed. Bass response is good, deep, and tight too. It was also able to enhance the not that big soundstage of my UiiSii BA-T8S too. However, even if the mids are well layered, it is muddy at times.

The microphones are clear and clean enough for calls and recordings.

Battery Life

Average battery score
Average battery score

Like the ZenFone 3, the ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro has the same 3,000mAh battery. But, based on our PC Mark battery test, the battery performance of the older ZenFone 3 is better than the ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro. It only clocked 8 hours and 26 mins of work battery life here versus the 14 hours and 7 mins of the ZenFone 3.

That battery performance is still average though. In our actual test, we recorded 3 hours and 35 mins of screen on time on very heavy usage. Our usage includes: taking a lot of photos, WiFi or 4G and hotspot on all time time, heavy use of social media apps, and occasional gaming.

Charging time is 2 hours from 0 to 100 percent.

Camera

16MP main camera
16MP main camera

ASUS loves photos. That's why the main highlight of this handset are its cameras. At the back, it has a 16MP f/2.2 primary shooter w/ PDAF and LED flash.
Manual camera interface
Manual camera interface

It has an improved and simpler camera interface that has auto HDR, portrait mode, and pro mode. The pro mode has advanced adjustments for focus, shutter (1/10000 to 32 seconds), ISO (25 to 3200), EV (-2 to +2), and white balanced (2750K to 6250K). The pro mode also has levels and grids for guides.

However, ASUS has removed some of the useful features like the night mode, GIF animation, and super lowlight coming from the ZenFone 3.

Going to the photo quality, at first we thought that its shooting speed and focus is fast. But, even if it may look fast, photos will be blurry if you have shaky hands due to its lack of optical image stabilization.

If your hands are steady enough, images that this handset can produce are quite sharp. It is also decent in camera performance at times. However, color reproduction is inconsistent. It can be too cold or washed out in daylight or violetish in lowlight. Highlights, shadows, and dynamic range aren't that great as well.

In lowlight, it performance needs improvement. It is grainy and loss of details are very evident. Use the pro mode or flash in most of your lowlight shots.

Rear Camera Samples

Pretty washed and oversharpened HDR shot
Pretty washed and oversharpened HDR shot
This is a good one. Slighty oversaturated, but details are on point!
This is a good one. Slighty oversaturated, but details are on point!
Good indoor shot
Good indoor shot
I tried the portrait mode on my watch (your hands must be very steady)
I tried the portrait mode on my watch (your hands must be very steady)
Lowlight
Lowlight

For selfies, it is a "Selfie Pro" according to ASUS. Why? It features one of the best camera specs we saw in front. It highlights a 12MP Sony IMX362 w/ f/1.8 aperture size and Dual Pixel PDAF focus. It even has this DuoPixel mode that lets you shoot 24MP large images. It even has beauty, portrait mode, and flash in front! Sounds fun right?

However, do not expect too much from it. Like the main camera, if your hands are shaky, shots would be blurry.

The primary 12MP sensor is decent in performance w/ acceptable colors and sharp enough details. However, it is inconsistent in quality. There are times where we get nice looking photos. But, there are multiple times where our shots where washed, soft, and lacking in details. Dynamic range is isn't great too.

The DuoPixel shoots too slow to even try. Besides, the quality is the same even after you complete the shot. It will just make the resolution and file size bigger.

The portrait mode is interesting. It can blur the background quite well. But, it won't be as deep as the Nova 2i and as clean as the Vivo V7+.

The secondary 5MP wide-angle camera can really shoot 120-degree shots. It also has slightly better color reproduction than the 12MP cam. But, quality is hit or miss as well. It is noticeably grainier than the main selfie camera.

Fortunately, ASUS has seeded some updates to lessen those inconsistencies. However, it still lags behind most of the modern selfie-centric phones from competitors.

The flash in front is good though!

Selfie Camera Samples

Normal daylight shot
Normal daylight shot
Wide angle stretched arms
Wide angle stretched arms
Close-up wide angle mode
Close-up wide angle mode
Portrait w/ face beauty level 3
Portrait w/ face beauty level 3
Surprisingly nice shot in lowlight
Surprisingly nice shot in lowlight
Selfie flash
Selfie flash

See also: ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro: First Camera Samples

For videos, both can shoot up to 4K UHD videos w/ 30 fps. But, for best results, shoot in 1080p 60 fps for both the back and front cameras. Video shooting quality behind and in front are identical. In front, you can shoot selfie videos in wide angle mode. Both have no OIS for stabilization. Fortunately, they're not that shaky in quality.

Note: It has a Selfie Master app that lets users apply 10 levels of beautification for live videos.

Video Samples


Performance

Benchmark scores

Like the ZenFone 3, this phone boasts pretty good internals for a midrange smartphone. It has a 2.0GHz 64-bit Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor, Adreno 506 GPU, 4GB RAM, and 64GB expandable storage via microSD card slot up to 128 GB.

Good and snappy performance!

In our test, those above-mentioned specs are great enough to keep the phone snappy and good in multitasking all the time.


The 64GB expandable storage is also more than enough for most. The GPU is also quite good for gaming. Thermal management is nice as well.
New and improved ZenUI 4.0 skin
New and improved ZenUI 4.0 skin

Software-wise, ASUS has improved the ZenUI 4.0 skin based on Android Nougat OS. We noticed that it is now less cluttered and has more modern icons. The bloatwares are minimal as well. It still has Mobile Manager to keep your phone fast and optimized most of the time.

What's new? It now has Twin Apps that can install two copies of an app to keep different accounts, AI on the gallery app w/ facial recognition, and Safeguard SOS mode for emergencies.

However, it isn't as feature rich and intuitive  versus most of the popular Chinese skins.

The fingerprint scanner is fast, accurate, and has gestures for shortcuts. The rest of the telephony experience is stable as well. GSM / LTE / WiFi signals are strong, Bluetooth is stable, and OTG works.

Pros - Slim design, great screen, snappy performance, accurate fingerprint scanner, good audio quality
Cons - Both the main and selfie cameras needs improvement, battery life is noticeably weaker vs the ageing ZenFone 3

Verdict

The ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro is a good midrange smartphone for gaming and general performance. It even has one of the nicest screen and speaker audio quality for the price.

But, it isn't as good as it is on paper for photography and selfies. It is inconsistent in that regard. 

Fortunately, ASUS is committed when it comes to updates. As a matter of fact, the company has already seeded some updates to improve its camera performance.

However, it is still not enough. The ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro is still not as good versus the competition when it comes to photography and selfies as of this writing.

Hopefully, ASUS can further improve the camera performance of this handset to make it earn the "Selfie Pro" moniker rightfully.

Build / Design - 4
Display - 4.25
Audio - 4.25
Battery - 3.75
Camera - 3.75
Performance - 4.25
Average - 4.04 / 5
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