Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro Review
When a phone is called the Selfie Pro, you'd expect that its cameras are something special, specifically on the front. So, the ZenFone 4 Selfie pro has a 16 MP main camera, a 12 MP front-facing sensor, which can take 24 MP photos via some magic, and a secondary, 5 MP selfie camera with a 120° wide-angle lens. To top it off, we have a DSLR-emulating Portrait Mode, which promises beautiful bokeh behind our subject. Sounds great on paper. How does it perform?
The details that come from the main camera are quite sharp — a pleasure to look at, even. Color reproduction is mostly accurate, but can sometimes be too cold or washed out. We took the phone out on a cloudy day — we had plenty of light with no direct sunlight — and it still struggled with keeping highlights from burning out and shadows from disappearing in a deep black. It's also worth noting that if HDR is left at auto, the phone seems to pick the weirdest moments to turn it on (one time, we pointed the viewfinder at the gravel-covered ground and HDR kicked in, for example). The HDR itself is not terrible, but it's also far from the best. Sometimes, it does very little to save the highlights, yet it boosts colors and shadows in such a way that the image looks a bit flat and unnatural. You can check it out in photos 3, 6, 8, 12, 15 and 23.
The wide-angle camera on the front was actually a pleasant surprise. While it has an inferior resolution of 5 MP, it produces warmer, more pleasing colors. It's also very light on the fisheye effect so you don't feel like a photo has been ruined by the wider angle. However, it's lower resolution is instantly apparent when compared to shots with the "main" selfie camera.
What about that Portrait Mode? Well, don't expect something as advanced as the one on the Galaxy Note 8 or iPhone 8 Plus for sure. It just applies a dreamy blur around your subject and is very, very rough while doing so. Its effect is more along the lines of “dirty lens” than “DSLR emulation”. It also only works if it detects a human face in the picture, so forget about making artsy pet shots.
As for video recording, we can do 1920 x 1080 (FHD) at 60 FPS or go up to 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) at 30 FPS. The camcorder suffers from the same issues the photos do — we've got a very limited dynamic range and the lack of stabilization is even more noticeable. But the detail is pretty good — check out the close-up on the keys in the 4K clip.
The Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro has a 3,000 mAh battery in that slim body. And, we have to say, it's a marathon-runner for sure. Even after testing it with games and taking it out for a photo shoot, the battery still had enough charge to take us through a whole day.
The Asus ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro is certainly not a bad phone. Its hardware is just right for an upper-midrange device, its user interface is smooth and its customizations are actually fun to play around with. Its thin profile and metal build make it look and feel like a premium handset, yet it still holds a rather large battery and definitely lasts a while. Its display is a pleasure to look at and can be set to taste, whether you love super-punchy colors or soft and subdued ones.
But we can't help but judge it on its promise of a great camera.
Its photos may be detailed, but are mediocre in all other aspects. The DuoPixel 24 MP and Portrait Mode features are mostly there to fill a spec sheet. We did enjoy the wide-angle selfie camera, but it's just not enough to save the phone.
These features sound like they should justify a $380 price-tag, but seeing how usable they are, we'd say they don't. If anything, we'd say the ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro's strongest points are its physical look and feel, and if you decide to buy it for that — go right ahead.
Meanwhile, we've got the people's champions — the Moto G5 Plus ($229) and Moto G5S Plus ($279.99) — with the same hardware, clean Android experience, and lower prices making it hard to talk about the ZenFone without mentioning them as alternatives.