In markets dominated by Apple and Samsung, it is often hard to see how other companies can see it. Old companies such as Sony and HTC continue to issue handsets that are quite feasible, but although this still has little sales compared with the titans industry.
Others like OnePlus are more successful thanks to clever social media marketing and close interaction with their fans - this is proof that beginners or underdogs can get in on the action if it's clever enough.
Meanwhile, while Google has a lot of power in the smartphone space in terms of software, apps, and ecosystems thanks to its Android ownership, its Pixel phone does not capture trending like the iPhone traction it hopes. Google was able to take a hit and keep the truck, of course. Not everyone has that luxury.
Asus has been around since the donkey years and consistently has legs in the smartphone market. While laptops and the like make up most of its business, ZenFone's series of companies are now long established. The company's latest model is ZenFone 4.
Does ZenFone 4 have what it takes to attract the attention of Apple and Samsung? Or will it fade into the background?
Asus Smartphone ZenFone 4 Review: Design & Display
If there is one thing, Asus consistently gets right, from laptops and tablets, right down to smartphones, it will be a design and aesthetics. There is something very convincing about taking the Asus device and feeling solid metal and glass formed in the hand, and ZenFone 4 is no exception. Asus says that the handset has a "solid aluminum unibody", built "using sophisticated Nano Molding Technology (NMT)", adding that this enabled the phone to be "thin and light, yet very powerful".
I find it rather interesting to know that the phone is indeed aluminum-eyed, because touch metal phones are usually cold and hard, and instantly recognizable; Pick up ZenFone 4 I did not experience any horrible surprises and it actually feels like a high-quality polycarbonate. Regardless, as mentioned, it feels solid and of high quality, certainly worthy of premium labels.
With its laptop, Asus has a habit of using milled aluminum with a circular pattern that emanates from the center, and this is something that is imitated in glass support. Instead of being milled with a serrated texture like aluminum, Asus describes it as having "a detailed scratching and concentric circle that captures light," which I find quite accurate.
Either way, it looks pretty interesting.
The display is a prominent feature. This is not one of 18 aspect ratio 18 settings but still very narrow bezels along side so it is almost edge-to-edge. The technology is a Super IPS + 5.5in LCD with a 600 nits brightness level and although I'm interested in OLED displays, I'm very impressed with the visual quality here.
The color is rich and vibrant, black and dark colors have depth, sharp white, and brightness levels are strong enough to be seen outdoors in a lot of natural light. Nice and wide viewing angles as well, and the sharpness and clarity of the most impressive images, including text fidelity.
Is it better than Samsung Super AMOLED? No.
Do not let that put you off though. It's still a fantastic display by itself and one of the better IPS LCD setups as they go. Watching movies and viewing multimedia is an absolute delight on this screen - for me, the richness and sharpness of the colors are very interesting.
Asus ZenFone 4 Review: Battery Life
Battery life is one of the tricky things because different users run their handsets to different levels and have different expectations. I know, for example, that my toughest use-case scenario is not as rigorous as KYM Rich Editor - he actually puts the phone through their paces every day.
In my opinion, what should be noted as useful information is the level of drying - in terms of percentage points - when running the handset under different scenarios; Basically you can get an idea of how much juice will drip when the phone is on and do something demanding, such as video streaming, and also when the handset is in a more benign and non-functional state.
For that reason we want to run a video test. From a 100% charge, with default settings on the phone (including Wi-Fi enabled), but with maximum brightness, I run The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug from beginning to end. This movie is played from a "saved to device" status in the Google Play Movies & TV library, not broadcast over Wi-Fi.
With revolving credits at the end of the movie, the battery life has dropped by 76%. In my opinion, this is a very high discharge rate for this usage scenario; This is by no means the best we've seen on the market, but up there is a high-end battery category - it's better than HTC U11 and Huawei Mate 9, for example, but under the likes of Samsung Galaxy S8 + and BlackBerry Motion.
When most switch to their own devices and occasionally stab, I notice a drop of ZenFone 4 may be between 8-10% of a typical day. Meanwhile, as mentioned above, for intensive tasks such as films, the film will drop about 17% in one hour (34% during two hours of close film).
From my time with a phone normally used for my daily chores (as I mentioned, it's not as complicated as Richard's typical phone use, so your use case may be different) I've found it will last a good day or two a single bill, again , according to some of the best deals we've seen in recent years, such as the Huawei Mate line.
More intensive activities such as games (which require touch input) or that require a constant stream of data to and from the web will increase the consumption you see in movie tests as well, but whether you watch movies passively, browse the web all day or play games, you may see the costs needed before bed. This phone is indeed a fast charging feature via USB Type-C, so it costs 50% in about 30 minutes.
This long and short? With ZenFone 4 you look right above the average battery life and should, as a whole, be quite reliable.
Asus ZenFone 4 Review: Camera
The camera is one of the most luxurious dual-sensor settings we now know. Using the Sony IMX362 12MP sensor with f / 1.8 holes, wide angle 120-degree wide lens, 1.4μm pixel, 1 / 2.55 "sensor size, optical image stabilization (OIS), and electronic stabilization (EIS) autofocus detection dual-pixel phase (0.03 seconds), and the Qualcomm Spectra 160 (ISP) image signal processor.
There are also many other features including UQ 4K video capture, object tracking, portrait mode, RAW support, 24 million focal points, second exposure ¼, and RGB color correction.
All the features that look very similar to the kind of setup we've seen in the Samsung Galaxy S8 series, except with the addition of a second lens, making it more like the Galaxy Note 8 in many ways. . What does it mean? On paper at least; good things.
In practice it is a mixed bag - it has moments, and impresses in some areas more than others.
To get a bad one, I was not too impressed with the wide-angle retrieval mode which, compared to images captured in regular mode in the same light, was apparently slightly overexposed and washed out; That's because it actually produces 6MP resolution, so you do not take full advantage of the camera in wide-angle mode.
See the four pictures below for example; The first two are the 12MP standard catch, the following two corners are wide (at the maximum resolution for that mode, which is 6MP).
My other complaint is the low light performance. Although promoted by Asus as a prominent feature of the phone, compared to other setups I've tested, I feel this is a bit lackluster, especially this is a matter of color accuracy; Once again, Asus showed off that the camera has RGB color corrections that may be calibrated by a special ISP, but it turns out to be quite bad, often wearing a yellowish tint on objects, too dark, poor contrast, and some images washed even less. the lighting in the room was bad
Apart from this camera experience is fine. In outdoor lighting and in decent lighting conditions, it looks amazing with excellent sharpness and clarity, and rich colors.
Overall, in my opinion, ZenFone 4 has a decent camera, this camera can not cope well with varying lighting conditions and sub-par.
Asus ZenFone 4 Review: Performance & Software
The onboard Android 7.1.1 Nougat software package with Asus' ZenUI 4.0 is overlaid.
The result is very clean and seamless in terms of visual style, although a bit too colored in terms of application shortcuts in the default state for my taste, however, you can customize the look with a wide selection of themes (many of them at cost, your mind).
Shortcut to the app, I was reminded of the HTC Sense UI here in terms of how Asus has been sticking to my view of vanilla Android while still putting a stamp on things - most UI elements use very neat fonts with white. or black text
UI is also satisfactory in terms of smooth operation - again similar to HTC Sense - it's sliding around with very fluid latency and nothing is annoying.
Asus Zenfone 4 Review: Hardware & Connectivity
I have to mention the built-in audio hardware. While not the best I've heard (once again, HTC BoomSound), it's there with one of the better speaker setups I've faced. It features dual stereo speakers with Hi-Res Audio certification at 24-bit / 192kHz. There's also an onboard AudioWizard app that allows audiophiles to fine-tune their voice, and supports DTS connectivity Headphone: X for 7.1 channel virtual surround sound through compatible headphones.
There's the usual all-round package in terms of connectivity, with 4G LTE, Dual-Band WiFi, WiFi Direct, WiFi Hotspot, Bluetooth 5.0, USB Type-C, GPS, and even FM Radio.
You also get a nice 64GB onboard storage with microSD support for card expansion up to 256GB.
Asus Zenfone 4 Review: Verdict
I'm very surprised by ZenFone 4. It's not perfect, compared to most of the competitions that do not have "future inspection" in the processor department, and although the camera is fair, there are some issues that will not be done. easily folded, especially if you're a real photo enthusiast - if so, this phone is almost endless.
Otherwise, there are many who like it here. Its performance is more than capable for the current market, the display is amazing, and the battery life is very good. I also like the design that is pretty straight but solid, although it would be nice to see some waterproofing.
There's a kicker though. This is a mid-ranger in terms of specifications, even though it's a flagship Android phone. By mid-ranger standards, this is great, but the RRP of £ 450, in my opinion, is somewhat steep for what's offered here considering its price is similar to the OnePlus 5T price with a small portion of processing power and camera capabilities.
I would say that ZenFone 4 is a good value proposition if the price is cheaper than this, say about £ 100 cheaper.
If you are not in the market to get a superior price and can find ZenFone 4 reduced somewhere, this could be a great little handset for you.
If not, I can not recommend it.