ASUS ZenFone 4 (ZE554KL) review

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Martí Micolau
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We Love Photo.

A little more than a year has passed since the debut of the ZenFone 3 family, which has been very successful on the market and of which we have had the opportunity to test the Max version (HERE you can find our review). Now, ASUS is back on the court with its all-new SAMSUNG 4, which like its predecessor is available in different variants depending on your needs and budget.



The Taiwanese giant launches this new series of smartphones with the slogan "We Love Photo", thus underlining how photography is the main element around which the producer's target revolves, that is, allowing its users to immortalize landscapes and capture the most important moments. beautiful in the best possible way thanks to careful work on the camera.

As a satisfied owner of the ZenFone 3 ZE520KL model, therefore, I can only be curious about what its new little brother has to offer (by launch date), the ZenFone 4 ZE554KL. In detail, we are going to deal with the most powerful version as regards the model in question, that is the one equipped with 6 GB of RAM and support for NFC technology.

Bottle

The product packaging, which in our case differs from the original one as it is the gift version, comes with a generously sized and aesthetically appealing white box that shows, in the center, the ZenFone 4 family logo, or two silhouettes of the smartphones arranged to form a heart which reflect, in fact, the philosophy of the slogan mentioned above. The surprise effect when opening the box is guaranteed, as to accompany us to the discovery of our new smartphone there is a slightly revised version of "What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong hummed by a female voice. A small and appreciable gem that contributes to increasing the wait to try the device.



Inside the package, the phone is placed vertically in a diagonal position between two plastic supports that almost give the idea of ​​a "throne". The content then includes the earphones, the charger, a USB 2.0 Type-C cable and, in an openable compartment, a manual with the information of the smartphone and the necessary to extract the slot in which to insert the SIM.

Design and construction

The ZenFone 4 has a sleek and clean design and is available in three different colors: Midnight Black, Moonlight White and Mint Green. The body is made of aluminum made with NMT technology which makes it thinner and lighter, while both the display and the back are made of glass Gorilla Glass 3 2.5 mm thick. Considering the price range in which the ASUS smartphone is placed, honestly, we would have expected at least the Gorilla Glass 4 given the resistance doubled compared to the third generation; the telephone, however, immediately returns a sense of great solidity, a symbol of one undoubtedly excellent build quality. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for ergonomics, which although it is good is undermined by a small mole due to the slipperiness of the rear glass, which always requires a firm grip and an eye also to the surfaces on which it is rest the device. Of course, the solution would be to use a cover, but if you are among those who like to keep the original look (like myself) you will have to get used to it.

The ZenFone 4 model in question is equipped with a 5.5 ”super IPS + display with 1920 × 1080 resolution which gives a sharp and clean image as well as natural and vivid colors, this also thanks to the ASUS Splendid software that allows you to adjust various parameters according to your preferences. Again, the company could have focused on a 2K panel instead of staying anchored to Full HD, so as to offer even higher image quality and be more competitive with other manufacturers.



Frontally we find one 8 mpx camera and three touch buttons, including the Home button which also works from fingerprint reader useful for unlocking the device as an alternative to the classic password, with a recognition that is precise and immediate. The LED notification light is located “inside” the loudspeaker from which the interlocutor is heard during calls. Compared to the ZenFone 3, the manufacturer has also added backlighting to the two function buttons, making their position immediately identifiable even in dark environments.

On the lower side of the device there is space for the speaker, the microphone, the 3.5 mm jack for earphones and the input to insert the charger cable, while on the upper side we have the microphone for noise reduction. The slot in which to insert the various cards is located on the left side of the smartphone and is only nano-SIM supported, therefore, the other formats are not compatible. It is also possible to use the system in dual-SIM mode, however, giving up an external memory to further expand the storage space up to a maximum of 256 GB. On the right side, however, we find the power button and the buttons used to control the volume. Finally, on the back of the device there is space for the flash and two cameras which we will talk about in more detail in the next section.

Camera

The ZenFone 4 boasts a dual rear camera, mounting a 12.2 mpx lens with a maximum resolution of 4032 × 3024 and an 8 mpx 12mm lens with a wide-angle lens and a viewing angle of 120 °.


As for the videos, the main camera allows you to record at different resolutions, among which the Full HD at 60 fps and the 4K UHD at 30 fps stand out, while the 8 mpx front camera is "limited" to Full HD movies at 30 fps.


In the photographic field, the 12.2 mpx primary camera has the sensor Sony IMX362, which allows you to take pictures of excellent quality in daytime and very good in low light conditions. Below you can view some night shots (to really test the sensor) with active HDR made with ZenFone 3 and ZenFone 4, with the latter coming out as a winner thanks to better brightness. Obviously, the most experienced of photography can use the Pro mode which allows you to manually adjust brightness, exposure and other parameters to achieve the perfect shot.

Taken with ASUS ZenFone 4 (12 mpx) - HDR On, Flash Off, Auto Mode

 

Taken with ASUS ZenFone 3 (16 mpx) - HDR On, Flash Off, Auto Mode

Taken with ASUS ZenFone 4 (12 mpx) - HDR On, Flash Off, Auto Mode

 

Taken with ASUS ZenFone 3 (12 mpx) - HDR On, Flash Off, Auto Mode

The sensor is very fast in the automatic focus as well as in the management of light changes; in addition, the camera has a 4x optical zoom and face recognition function. In the settings you can choose between nine filters and eight different shooting modes, including time-lapse and super resolution at 49 mpx, in addition to the Portrait option that blurs the background giving priority to faces. Finally, a Dual LED flash which can also be used as a flashlight.

Audio

The ASUS smartphone leans on a double loudspeaker to offer a good audio experience, with a clean and strong enough sound even in the presence of surrounding noises. Thanks to the equalizer, then, it is possible to select among some predefined profiles or individually adjust the frequencies to create the one that best suits our ear. Also, thanks to technology DTS Headphone: X you can enjoy virtual 7.1 surround sound with headphones, taking sound quality to a new level.

Hardware

The hardware is undoubtedly one of the strong points of this model of ZenFone 4, which is first and foremost based on the new mobile platform Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 64-bit at 14nm. The octa-core processor, equipped with a 260 GHz quad-core Kryo 2.2 CPU and a 260 GHz quad-core Kryo 1.8, is decidedly fast and performing; combined with the 6 GB of LPDDR4X RAM, then, the result in terms of performance is excellent, as we have not noticed freeze or obvious system slowdowns even with various applications open in the background.

La Qualcomm Adreno 512 GPUFurthermore, it offers good performance in games, although in heavier ones it struggles to cope with maximum graphics settings. In general, however, the gameplay is fluid and allows you to fully enjoy the gaming experience.

In reference to connectivity, we find the Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac with 5 GHz band, 4G LTE data network, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, FM radio and NFC technology. Finally, the internal storage space is 64 GB, of which 52 GB are available to the user.

For complete technical specifications, please refer to the following link: ASUS ZenFone 4 ZE554KL.

Software

On board the ZenFone 4 we have Android 7.1.1 Nougat as an operating system, customized by ASUS with its new interface ZenUI 4.0 which is aesthetically more beautiful and simplified than the ZenUI 3.0. The software works very well and is responsive and fluid in any situation; there OptiFlex technologyIt also speeds up the launch of any app we are going to use. As per tradition, it is possible to freely customize themes, wallpapers, screensavers, icons, widgets and so on by choosing from a wide variety of options, all to give the touch of uniqueness that we prefer most to our device.

Among the most interesting pre-installed applications we find GameGenie, which allows you to capture game clips and stream, Page Marker, thanks to which we can save Internet pages to be able to consult even offline, and Twin Apps, which allows you to log in with two accounts at the same time on the same app (for example Facebook). Finally, the default browser for browsing the Internet is Google Chrome, which performs very well and has never shown signs of sudden freezes or crashes.

Autonomy

Despite being equipped with hardware capable of guaranteeing excellent performance and, consequently, quite energy-intensive, the battery from 3300 mAh in lithium polymer allows the ZenFone 4 to arrive safely at the end of the day with an average use, while with a very intense use you will need to recharge it at least once within 24 hours. Technology ASUS BoostMaster, however, it guarantees an autonomy above the average and thanks to the fast recharge you reach 50% charge in just over half an hour if you use, of course, the charger provided by the manufacturer.

Price

The model in question, at the time of the review, can be purchased at an average price of about 500 €, quite high considering that the novelties compared to the ZenFone 3 are not exactly screaming. Overall, however, the quality / price ratio is good and you will certainly be satisfied with the possible purchase of this medium-high-end smartphone.

Final comment

In conclusion, this model of SAMSUNG 4 it looks like a solid smartphone with excellent performance, even if a couple of features made us turn up our noses a bit. If you love to photograph your best moments or landscapes, the dual camera system will satisfy your needs, as long as you are not looking for excellent quality without defects. Although it could have "dared more" in some respects, ASUS has still managed to create a very good product that certainly will not disappoint users' expectations.

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