Taiwanese company Asus is trying to cash on the selfie craze with a series of smartphones offering powerful front cameras in all price segments. In the mid-segment, there is the ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro (Rs23,999), while for entry-level buyers there is ZenFone 4 Seflie (Rs9,999). For users who are willing to spend a little more than the latter, the ZenFone 4 Selfie DC is a better bet. It is priced at Rs14,999, and as the name suggests carries two front-facing cameras. You can buy it from Flipkart.com.

Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie DC’s 20-megapixel camera is for regular selfies, while the 6-megapixel camera is for wide-angle shots.
Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie DC’s 20-megapixel camera is for regular selfies, while the 6-megapixel camera is for wide-angle shots.

Camera: Treat for selfie fans

The phone’s main attraction is the dual front cameras. The 20-megapixel camera is for regular selfies, while the 8-megapixel camera is for wide-angle shots and can accommodate multiple people in a single frame. To make your selfie fun, the camera app packs in beauty mode which comes with a number of manual controls that are usually not available in default camera apps. With these controls, users can brighten/soften the skin tone, enhance the size of the eyes, make the cheeks look thinner before taking the shot. You can also create selfie panoramas, or GIF animation. There is a portrait mode, similar to iPhone, which can enhance your selfies by blurring out the background.

Images in beauty mode look a bit unrealistic compared to images edited with a photo editing app. Regular selfies look pretty impressive, and even in limited light, the photos look well lit and crisp enough for social media posts.

The rear camera is a 16-megapixel affair and has its own set of camera modes such as Super resolution, Time lapse and Pro mode. In Pro mode, you get extra features such as image histogram, the image leveller, multiple focus along with the option to adjust the shutter speed, ISO and exposure value. Super resolution combines multiple shots to produce a 64-megapixel image, but doesn’t really look a lot richer than regular shots. Also, you have to wait a bit longer and hold the camera still to get stable shots. Its good with colours and doesn’t try to oversaturate them for effect. However, due to poor detailing, the overall image looks soft in landscape shots. Close-ups look a lot better. Low-light shots look blurry. We have seen better rear cameras at this price point.

Like all new Asus smartphones, the metal chassis covers the entire side and back panel, giving it a solid feel in the palm.
Like all new Asus smartphones, the metal chassis covers the entire side and back panel, giving it a solid feel in the palm.

Design: Light and handy

The ZenFone 4 Selfie doesn’t really stick out in terms of looks. The wide bezels around the 5.5-inch screen on the front feel a bit dated compared to the screen on LG Q6 or Micromax Canvas Infinity which offer a more edge-to-edge screen. Like all new Asus smartphones, the metal chassis covers the entire side and back panel, giving it a solid feel in the palm. The rounded edges feel good in the hand. What really makes it handy is the light form-factor. At 144g, it is one of the lightest 5.5-inch screen smartphone around.

The slightly jutted out back camera is prone to scratches. The other notable design elements include a non-clickable home button on the lines of OnePlus 5. It support touch and also doubles up as a fingerprint sensor. It’s accurate to use and unlocks the smartphone instantly. The navigation keys are not backlit. The SIM tray has three separate slots for the two nano SIM cards and one for the microSD card.

Display: Big but dull

The 5.5-inch screen has a resolution of just 1,280x720p, resulting in a pixel density of 320ppi. This gives the screen a slightly dim look, affecting movie playback and gaming experience. A resolution 1,920x1,080p would have been more appropriate and it is not a big deal at this price point any more. Most of the rivals, including the Xiaomi MiA1, offer a 5.5-inch screen with 1,920x1,080 resolution.

We didn’t notice any reflectivity issues under bright light or visibility issues from wide angles.The smartphone offers a blue light filter too, so one can read on it for long hours in low light without straining eyes.

The smartphone runs Android 7.1.1 with the Zen UI.
The smartphone runs Android 7.1.1 with the Zen UI.

Software: Looks complex but offers a lot

The smartphone runs Android 7.1.1 with the Zen UI which feels more cluttered than any other custom UI. Asus has made slight changes in the interface to make it feel less dramatic. The icons in the launcher settings look plain and less blingy. What we like about it is the many customisation options it offers. One can apply new themes, modify the size of app icons and switch between two-layer mode (app drawer mode on the lines of plain Android) and the single layer mode.

Performance: Capable but not powerful

Powering the Asus smartphone is Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor coupled with 4GB RAM. It is an entry-level processor and common in smartphones in this range. It has also been used in a number of Asus smartphones from last year such as ZenFone 3 Max (5.5-inch variant) and ZenFone 3 Laser. It can handle most basic tasks well, but doesn’t feel very smooth to use. We also noticed stutters with heavy tasks and games such as Asphalt Xtreme. Internal storage is 64GB and you can expand it to another 128GB via microSD cards. The 3,000mAh battery can last a full work day if you don’t stress it much.

Verdict

The Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie DC is a budget smartphone with dual front cameras. At this price, we can recommend a number of smartphones with better processor, sharper screen and less cluttered UI, but there are very few which can match its dual front cameras at the same time. If you are looking for a more powerful smartphone which can handle heavy tasks and games better, there is the Xiaomi MI A1 (Rs14,999). It has a superior-looking display and offers pure Android experience. If you are looking for better selfie camera smartphones, you can consider the Honor 9i (Rs17,999). It offers a bigger (5.9-inch) display with 18:9 aspect ratio, runs on a more powerful Kirin 659 octa-core processor, and offers dual front and dual rear cameras.

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