Taiwanese smartphone maker Asus has been in the Indian Smartphone market for a while now. The ZenFone series was first showcased at Consumer Electronics Show early this year and is now officially available on Flipkart. We got our hands on the Asus Zenfone 4 i.e the CG450 and here is our review.
Asus has followed a minimalistic approach when it comes to packaging the phone comes in a tiny box. The packaging is the same for the entire ZenFone line up. The box contains the Zenfone 4, the charger and the detachable data cable.
Hardware & Design
The ZenFone 4 has the same design as every other phone in the series, nonetheless it is good to look at and the build quality though plastic feels sturdy. There are two models under the Zenfone 4 branding. The one we reviewed is the CG450 model and as the name suggests the device has a 4.5 inch IPS display with a resolution of 854×480 pixels. The display is strictly ok and has good viewing angles. There is a metal speaker grill at the top of the display with the ASUS branding below it. It also has a 0.3 megapixel front facing camera next to the speaker. There are 3 capacitive touch buttons present below the screen, but sadly these are not illuminated so they are a hit or miss in the dark.
All the buttons are placed on the right side of the device. The placement of the power and volume buttons are convenient for one handed use. On the bottom of the device is the microUSB port and the microphone. The back houses a 5 megapixel camera and gets an LED Flash(which was missing on the CG400 model). The speakers are present below the ZenFone branding covered under a huge speaker grill. The back cover is removable and under it is the non removable battery and the dual SIM slots.
The ZenFone 4 is powered by an Intel Atom Z2520 chipset which is a 1.2Ghz Dual Core processor. The phone has 1GB of RAM onboard, something soon becoming common on phones under Rs. 10,000. In terms of storage the device has 8GB of internal storage. An added bonus is the microSD card slot present on the device which accepts cards up to 64GB.
Software & Performance
The phone comes with a customised UI from ASUS called the ZEN UI which runs on top of Android 4.4 Kitkat. It is also expected to be updated to Android Lollipop sometime next year. The UI looks clean and makes the user experience more engaging.
There are shortcuts present on the lockscreen, the preset ones are for the camera, phone and messaging. Swiping from these icons will launch the respective app. We couldn’t find a way to assign other apps on the lockscreen. Swiping the phone icon from the lockscreen will take you directly to the dialer and you could get calling quickly. Tiny details like these improve the user experience.
The phone also has audio modes which can be set using the Audio wizard app. This lets the user customize the audio based on the situation. The options available are Music, Movies and Power saver mode an extra which we think should’ve been automated instead of being user defined.
Easy mode is present on the phone; something quite similar to what Samsung provides is some of their phones. Easy mode dumbs down the whole interface to make it easy to use. The apps are arranged in an alphabetical order in a serial layout. This is a boon for someone coming from a feature phone and is not comfortable with the default look of Android.
The ‘What’s Next’ app does stuff quite similar to Google Now but we like the extra effort it makes to convey detailed information to the user. Information from the app like the weather and appointments are directly available on the lockscreen, something that Google Now does not do yet.
We played some games on the phone for a while and found that the phone took some time to load the game up, but it was smooth sailing after that. The device performed flawlessly and we faced no lags during gameplay. The graphics are good and we did not notice frame drops, we’d say the phone is good for casual gamers.
The 4.5 inch IPS display on the device and has Gorilla Glass Protection. There is no ambient light sensor hence the brightness has to be adjusted manually. This is disappointing because cheaper phones like the Huawei Honor Holly and Micromax Canvas A1 have the Ambient Light sensor that the ZenFone misses out on. If you are fine adjusting it manually be prepared to wipe the screen every few minutes as well, it is a fingerprint magnet and picks up human grease easily.
Asus has offered a customization tab in the settings menu, the menu button can be mapped as per the preference of the user and can be used to do different stuff. For instance it can be remapped to show recent apps or to click a screenshot.
We observed that the notification bar changes colour based on the app running on the phone. The calculator had a grey layout which changed the notification bar colour to grey. An app preloaded on the phone called Splendid allowed us to fine-tune the display as per our liking. Other than colour temperature, the enhancement tab gives an option to change the Hue and Colour saturation of the display.
The camera is a 8 megapixel autofocus unit with flash. The camera has modes which helps the user to get the best possible setup before clicking a snap. These modes are easy to select and looks a lot like the ones on Samsung phones. The settings are easily accessible and there are a wide range of options to choose from. A tutorial present in the settings helps you make the best use of the camera onboard. The 8 megapixel sensor is capable of Full HD video recording. The camera is good and is capable of competing with other phones in this price bracket.
To conclude the phone offers decent hardware for the price but there are better Android phones at this given price. If you like devices that have a good sturdy build then you’ll be impressed with the ZenFone 4. But if you are value conscious then the Xolo One is available for a price of Rs. 6600 is good value for money.