Review: Asus ZenFone Live is a treat for Facebook Live buffs
Asus is trying to cash in on the growing popularity of Facebook Live with a new smartphone which offers built-in beautification tools designed to make you look good during your Facebook Live sessions. Dubbed the ZenFone Live, the smartphone is priced at Rs9,999 and will be competing against the likes of Moto G5, priced at Rs11,999, and Xiaomi Redmi 4 (64GB) which is selling at Rs10,999.
Key highlight: Make your Facebook Live livelier
The ZenFone Live’s unique selling point is an app called Beauty Live which is closely integrated with the Facebook app. It is designed to make you look good on Facebook Live broadcasts, by offering tools which can smooth over facial imperfections such as dark circles or marks. To further enhance the quality of your live sessions, Asus has packed the smartphone with dual microphones designed to reduce background noise and improve voice quality. Asus is also bundling a compact tripod with it.
You can login to your Facebook account from within the Beauty Live app. We didn’t notice any niggle while using the beauty tools during Facebook Live.
Design: Light and handy
The new smartphone has a similar design language as the ZenFone 3s Max, but with a plastic finish. Available in blue, black and pink colour options, it is one of the lightest 5-inch screen smartphones we have come across lately. It weighs just 120g and snuggles comfortably in the hand due to its rounded edges. The volume and power buttons are placed towards the right and respond well to the slightest of taps. Like most Asus smartphones, the navigation keys are placed on the bezels beneath the display. Surprisingly, there is no fingerprint sensor so you will have to unlock the screen with a password or pattern.
The rival Moto G5 has a removable metal back and is slightly hefty at 145g, but offers a fingerprint sensor. The Redmi 4 is the best looking of the three with a more premium unibody metal design, but weighs 150g. It offers a fingerprint sensor too and you can use it as camera button as well.
Display: Low resolution yet looks good
The 5-inch IPS display has a resolution of just 1,280x720p, yet it doesn’t feel dull. Colours in videos, photos and Facebook look good. Text looks crisp enough in web pages and social media. Wide viewing angles are good too. The smartphone has a Bluelight filter which can reduce stress on eyes by blocking out blue light. The Moto G5 also has a 5-inch display but looks sharper on account of higher (1,920x1,080p) resolution.
Software: Old Android with feature packed UI
The ZenFone Live runs Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) with a layer of Zen UI. It offers a bevy of features, such as the dual user interface, lock homescreen and online themes. The presence of too many pre-loaded apps and features makes it cluttered and confusing to use.
Moto G5, which runs Android 7.0 (Nougat), offers a simpler-looking user interface with very few customisation tools. When it comes to custom UIs, the MIUI is a step ahead of the Zen UI. It looks more polished and has more features such as Second space, Dual apps and Lite mode. It runs Android 6.0 too.
Performance: Ideal for casual users
Driven by Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core chip paired with 2GB RAM, the ZenFone Live works smoothly with most everyday tasks, including social media, reading and web browsing. Light games such as Big Bash 2016 worked without any niggle or heating issues. However, it struggles when stressed with multi-tasking or heavy games. It offers 16GB internal storage and one can add up to 256GB more to it with a microSD card.
The only niggle is that the memory card slot is built on one of the nano SIM slots. It means you can’t access it if you are already using two SIM cards.
The battery backup is average. The 2,650mAh battery barely lasted a day of modest use.
The Redmi 4 is better placed when it comes to hardware. Not only it runs a more powerful Snapdragon 435 octa-core chip, but offers 64GB internal storage and has a bigger 4,000mAh battery which lasts over a day and half comfortably.
Camera: Poor detail, good colours
The 13-megapixel primary camera can take some good-looking shots if the lighting is good. You need to tap multiple times to get the focus right, though. Colours in the foreground look good and accurate in most cases. However, objects in the background look poorly lit. Lack of detailing shows with the slightest of zoom in, but they are good enough for your every day social media posts. Low-light shots look blurry.
The 5-megapixel front camera comes with flash and can take good and wide-looking selfies. The Redmi 4 has a slightly better 13-megapixel rear camera and can muster more detail in comparison.
The ZenFone Live is a unique smartphone which offers more control to users over their Facebook Live sessions. It also feels amazingly light in the hand. The rest of its elements are a little basic and ideal for a casual user. The Redmi 4 has an edge over it as it can handle tasks better, has a superior battery backup, offers more storage and looks more premium The Moto G5 offers a sharper display and runs newer version of Android with a clutter-free user interface.