Asus Zenfone 4 Review
If someone mentioned the name Asus, you’d probably think about their laptops first, right? But did you know they make phones too? Of course you didn’t. That’s because they’ve not been to prevalent within the mobile phone industry of late, but they’ve got some pretty interesting offerings including their Zenfone AR which included Daydream and Tango AR software from Google.
But sure, they’re very innovative with their phones, but they’ve got to appeal to a mass market like the others right? This is where I want to talk about the Asus Zenfone 4, their budget to mid-range handset which price wise sits along side phones like the OnePlus 5T and Honor View 10, which we took a look at not too long ago.
The biggest shame about the device however is it’s pretty plain. It’s a functional phone, and we’d get into that in a moment, but considering the OnePlus 5T has the Amoled screen, and the View 10 has the 18:9 ratio, I would have liked to have seen Asus pull a few more design features out of the bag on this one.
However, for the price, you are still getting a pretty smart looking handset which definitely takes some inspiration from an iPhone 7 and maybe a Samsung S8. It’s completely covered in glass and has this really wonderful finish that glistens when catching the light thanks to its trademarked diamond cut finish. It’s not quite black, but more of a very dark grey. However, it’s very slippery in the hand and is a bit of a fingerprint magnet too.
Volume and power buttons are where you’d expect them to be, and are quite easy to get to if you can get a grip on the device. On the left you will find a dual sim card slot for those of you with two numbers. If you want to use one sim card however, the secondary tray turns into a storage slot. The fingerprint scanner and home button on the front is slightly embedded into the device so you can feel for it in less than ideal lighting conditions, and does react rather fast to the touch too so there’s no delay in unlocking the device.
On the bottom, Asus has decided to keep hold of the treasured 3.5mm headphone jack so kudos to you for that, and as a bonus, they’ve included the newer USB Type-C port as well for charging purposes.
I want to say now that on paper, the Asus Zenfone 4 when placed against other mid-range handsets looks like garbage. They’re not. Asus has opted to use a newer Snapdragon processor, the 630 octacore powerhouse. Yes other phones are opting for the 8 series Snapdragons, but don’t let that deter you from this device. I never noticed any kind of slowdown when zipping form menu to menu, and even playing games like Pokemon Go, it was absolutely fine.
It also has an Adreno 508 graphics chip to help with some more detailed stuff like gaming and photo/video production, and it has 4GB of RAM backing up its processor. I was more than happy with the performance of this handset. I’m not even going to bother giving over the numbers from the benchmarks, because yes, in reality, they’re absolutely swamped by those from OnePlus 5T, but in real world talk, I noticed no difference between the handsets.
The battery performance will give you a day or so of mid-use, so no heavy gaming sessions on your way to work or else you’re going to be in trouble. There is a fast charging plug included with the phone which does give you a quick boost of power when you find a plug socket.
The two cameras on the back of this phone work in very different ways compared to working together to improve a picture quality like on so many other smartphones. The first camera is a super wide 180° camera which offers a pretty decent picture with minimal distortion at the corners like you’ll find on something like a GoPro. The second is a telephoto lens for those zoomy shots.
However, it only comes in at 8-megapixel compared to the standard 12mp of the other lens. It’s a noticable difference, but it still didn’t put me off too much taking those super wide shots. The main camera has a decent sensor inside with dual pixels which means fast focusing, which it is.
The front facing 8mp camera has something here called the Asus Selfie Master, which works as an app and is used for beatifying your face, which means make it smooth and free from imperfections. It’s similar to what Samsung call their Beauty Mode. It makes you look very smooth.
Video performance is on point, giving users the chance to shoot at 4K at 30fps. If you want more, then you will need to drop the quality. 1080p recording does 60fps, and if you want up to 240fps for slo-mo, then you’re looking at a quality drop to 720p. Hardly unexpected, but those numbers are pretty impressive, and video quality is pretty decent too. We’ll include them in our video review over on our YouTube channel.
The Asus Zenfone 4 ships from the box with Android 7.1.1 Nougat but has the ability to upgrade to 8.0 Oreo too so you’re not going to be stuck in the past here. It also has the ZenUI which is now on its forth revision and comes with some very welcome changes.
The first is the ability to log into two Facebook accounts at once. I’ve been in the position before of having to log out of one and into another, when apps like Instagram and Twitter do this so well with the touch of a screen. But the ability to have a work and personal Facebook account both logged into the phone at once is a time saver definitely.
There’s a memory booster utility as well as some AI based gallery sorting application which lets users sort their photos by the person in them. Facial recognition and all that. They’re not much to shout about and probably won’t be used much as they don’t really offer a huge improvement to the performance of a phone. I’m sure people would rather their photos be in date order too no?
Asus has also scaled back on the pre-installed bloatware from third-party companies which is nice to see. It always frustrates me when a new phone comes along and it’s full of garbage that will never be used. All together it’s a much more polished version of Android than I was expecting to be honest, and that’s a really good thing.
For what it’s worth, the Asus Zenfone 4 does a lot of things right. One things wrong though is the price tag. The OnePlus 5T will set you back the same price as this, and has a faster spec, with no real noticeable real world advantages over the Zenfone. Asus have done a superb job in the design, and I must say with the diamond cut back it has to be one of the best looking mid-range handsets. Their Android skin has vastly improved over previous iterations of the phone and the camera is actually pretty decent.