Asus ZenFone 4 ZE554KL Review: A different ZenFone
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Asus ZenFone 4 ZE554KL Review: A different ZenFone




Introduction

ASUS proves that they are very capable of producing high-quality phones. Now, the new Asus Zenfone 4 is one of their latest models. Looking the physical aspect is one of the best that we’ve seen in a while, especially the craftsmanship. However, at a price of above P25,000 is something that we are worrying, since the original line-up of Zenfone smartphones were launched and released in affordable prices. On a good point, the well-balanced specs are on covetable position. The main question here is, is it worth the price? Join us for the full review of the Asus Zenfone 4 ZE554KL.

Key specs:
  • 5.5-inch FHD IPS LCD display, 1920 X 1080 pixels
  • Android 7.0 “Nougat”, ZenUI 4.0
  • Hybrid dual-SIM (nano)
  • 2.2Ghz 64-bit Kryo Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 octa-core processor
  • Adreno 512 GPU
  • 64GB internal storage
  • Expandable microSD slot up to 2TB
  • 6GB RAM
  • Dual 12-megapixel (f/1.8 aperture) + 8-megapixel rear camera (120˚ wide-angle lens), with phase detection auto-focus, and dual-LED flash
  • 8-megapixel front camera, f/2.0 aperture with 84˚ FOV
  • 2160p at 30fps of video recording
  • DTS audio output
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 4G LTE (Category 12 for UL / Category 13 for DL)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth v5.0, apt-X HD
  • GPS, GLONASS
  • NFC
  • FM Radio
  • USB-OTG capable
  • USB Type-C connector
  • 155.4 x 75.2 x 7.5 mm
  • 165 grams
  • 3,300 mAh non-removable battery, Quick Charge 4.0 support (9V, 2A)

Unboxing

Opening up the box, we have some reading materials here like the warranty card and the user guide, with the free soft case and sim ejecting tool. Afterwards, the phone itself.  We also get an Asus earphone with an in-ear design and dedicated microphone. Extra earbuds are also provided. Lastly, the USB cable with Type-C and the charging adapter that provides fast charging with a maximum of 18W at 2 amps and 9 volts. However, Asus claims that the charge is limited to 15W for safety reasons.

Display & build

The Asus Zenfone 4 is a nice looking smartphone and uses some premium materials for a better look. They used Corning Gorilla Glass on both rear and front panels, for added protection. One of the highlights in its physical aspect is the glass back. It looks stunning, absolutely fantastic to hold and feels very premium. It has a concentric circle effect when reflecting the light. Evidently, using glass panel makes the phone prone to smudges, scratches and is a huge fingerprint magnet. We are happy that Asus provided a free case to have better grip and to lessen those things. The 5.5-inch panel embellishes the front part of the device, utilizing a Super IPS panel at 1080p resolution. The viewing angles are good. It’s sharp, rich and vibrant, plus, it is nice to use the smartphone for both indoor and outdoor environment. The phone is also quite slim at 7.5 mm.

The glass panel at the back
Two capacitive buttons and the home/fingerprint button

At the upper front, we have the usual sensors, the 8-megapixel selfie camera, a stereo speaker that act as an earpiece and a notification LED light. Below the main screen are two capacitive buttons, which are now lit as the previous model doesn’t have. Sitting in the center is the home button, that doubles as the fingerprint scanner. The said sensor is pretty accurate and quite fast.

The front side of the phone
The secondary microphone
Hybrid sim card/microSD slot
Bottom part

Going to the up top resides a secondary microphone. The volume up/down rocker and the power key is located on the right, while on the left part is the hybrid SIM tray. The bottom is the busiest part, as it houses the 3.5 mm earphone jack, the USB Type-C port, primary microphone and the speaker.

Multi-touch and so so many Sensors…

Software & UI

Asus Zenfone 4 ships with Android 7.0 “Nougat”. Rather than the usual stock user interface, the Taiwanese company installs its self-developed ZenUI 4.0. It is the soul of all the Zenfone smartphones today. They made a complete renovation on the UI, compared to the previous ZenUI 3.0. It is now simpler, smarter and faster. With the new ZenUI 4.0, lots of pre-loaded application are now reduced. They cut 43% of redundant applications that normally, not in use consistently. Also, unlocking the screen is faster than the previous model, with 34.72%. Opening applications are now faster, up to 61% than the previous, especially social-media applications like Facebook.

Gestures are also quite interesting, at the Settings > ZenMotion, there’s a touch gesture, allowing to turn on the double-tap to turn off the screen and to wake-up. If the screen goes black and the user prefers to open some apps quickly, by drawing letters on the screen, like “W” to launch the Weather app, or “S” to open the camera. Also, the Motion Gesture that allows the user to switch to sleep mode when flipping the phone. Hands up, on the other way, helps the user to accept incoming calls without touching any part of the screen. Just touch the phone into the user’s ear. Glove mode

Here are some of the added features and improvements on the new ZenUI 4.0

  • Safeguard – It allows the user to let their family knows that they’ve reached the places that they went safe. They can track the user’s path online whenever a user sends them the location by using Report Location feature. We can also use the SOS immediately in case of emergency.
  • Game Genie – It boosts gaming speeds and can record or live stream the user’s current gameplay.
  • Twin Apps – Having two accounts in the same app is now easier to use as the twin apps can be logged two accounts at the same time. It currently supports Facebook, LINE, Messenger, WeChat and Instagram.
  • Themes – More themes are now available to download with new dynamic scenes.
  • Wallpapers – New refreshed look with some pre-loaded images available.
  • Gallery – the new Al-powered Gallery helps the user organize their photos using facial recognition and automatically sort into group photos.

To prevent apps running in the background, open the Auto-Start Manager. It helps the phone to free more memory and optimize the phone’s performance. It can also help to extend the battery life. This feature is part of what we called the “Mobile Manager”. It is an all-in-one system optimizer that allows scanning the device to save power and enhance memory.

Performance & Audio

The Asus Zenfone 4 is powered by the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset, with eight Cortex-A53 cores, with a maximum frequency of 2.2 Gigahertz. The GPU now uses the Adreno 512 that brings 30% boost in performance. There’s also large 6GB of RAM, along with 64GB of native storage, that can be expanded using microSD card, and it can support up to 2TB. Further, there’s another variant of the phone, but with 4GB RAM, Snapdragon 630 and Adreno 508 GPU. For a few days of using this phone, we never experienced any lag. Throughout our tests, the UI performance is fast and fluid. Apps start up pretty fast. Below are the screenshots from the usual benchmarks that we have used for testing on how the phone would perform. We achieved fairly good results.

Antutu and Geekbench
Vellamo and 3DMark

Examining the acoustic department, there are dual stereo speakers here. As we play music, the speaker is loud and clean. Distortion is not obvious even in maximum volume level, while the bass is hard to hear. If the phone is using outside, just check the outdoor mode in volume controls for more louder sound. Keep in mind that the 3.5 mm earphone jack support hi-res audio and DTS headphone X for 7.1 virtual surround sound. Better to use a pair of earphones for a fine listening experience.

Camera

Asus commits a nicer camera experience, as the Zenfone 4 carries a dual-camera configuration at the back. The primary, a 12-megapixel lens with a class-leading Sony IMX362 sensor with a wide f/1.8 aperture that allows more light to the sensor and captures clear photos in a low-lighting condition, a large 1.4µm pixel size that gives light sensitivity that achieves 5X brighter photos compared to other smartphones, and the Dual Pixel autofocus system that offers a mere 0.03 seconds of fast capture. Adding to the features, it has an RGB sensor that catches natural colors and PixelMaster 4.0 technology. The secondary lens, an 8-megapixel sensor with a 120-degree field of view, an Omnivision OV8856 sensor and a f/2.2 aperture, is perfect to use in capturing a landscape scene, and a large confined spaces. On the front camera, we find the 8-megapixel shooter here with f/2.0 aperture, Omnivision OV8856 sensor and 84° field of view.

Using the camera app, there are so many options that the company provides, including the Pro mode, Super Resolution that produces up to 48 megapixels, Slow Motion and Time Lapse. To sum up the results, in daylight scenery, images are crisp, bright and clean with nice exposure. Using the 4X digital zoom, details can be seen and the texture is good, but not at its best level. It suffers in low light shots as the noise became increasingly notable and the focus is not that great as it tends to be shaky. On the other side, selfies are quite good too. In a scene with almost no amount of light, just enable the screen flash to capture more radiant. A beautification mode is also available for putting blemishes in our faces, smoothen the skin and polishes our wrinkles.

Rear camera

Wide-Angle, without HDR
Normal shot, with HDR
Daytime shot (1)
Daytime shot (2)
Nighttime shot (Auto mode)
with Flash
Night mode
Super resolution mode
4X zoom
“bokeh” mode

Front camera

Auto beautify mode
Beautify mode (Level 4 – Soften and brighten skin)
Indoor shot (Groufie)
Indoor shot, with good amount of light
Indoor shot again (Eating pizza!)
Night shot
Daylight shot (1)
Daylight shot (2)
Using screen flash

Connectivity

Asus Zenfone 4 supports the Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac in the 2.4 and 5 GHz networks. It shows a superb signal strength and a consistent connection. Connecting in LTE is good and achieved a very fast speed result. It can also employ GPS, A-GPS, and GLONASS for localization. In our GPS app test, the phone pinpointed our position quickly and with high accuracy especially when we out. It’s sufficient for everyday app use. The call quality sounds good from both the receiver and transmitter.

Wi-Fi, Data and GPS tests

Battery Life

Inside the phone, there is a non-removable 3,300 mAh capacity. Generally speaking, it can last up to 2 days of mixed usage on a single charge. On our battery benchmark tool, it scored a solid 11 hours and 15 minutes of continuous usage. Charging the phone is great too, as it supports Quick Charge 4.0 using Asus BoostMaster. It can refill the juice within 100 minutes.

The Zenfone 4 has several battery modes here you can use which include performance, normal, power saving, super saving and customized for personalizing power saving.

Verdict

The new Asus Zenfone 4 ZE554KL places in the upper mid-range category with solid features. For some people, the phone tends to be pricey, but for us, it is okay. There’s not too much criticize in using the smartphone, especially the performance, and solid build quality. It is very fast and pleasing to use and hold. It has plenty of power that will be sufficient for all latest applications and games. The cutting-edge features are on point, with the new ZenUI 4.0.

Pros

  • Asus ZenUI 4.0 looks cleaner than the previous version
  • Expandable storage via memory card slot
  • 4G LTE connectivity
  • Large amount of RAM for seamless performance
  • Double tap to wake and sleep
  • Wider Wi-Fi coverage (MiMO antennas)
  • Impressive rear camera quality
  • Loudspeaker
  • Hi-res audio (better than CD quality)
  • Above average battery life with fast charge support
  • Fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate

Cons

  • Hybrid SIM/microSD slot
  • Front camera is average
  • Pricey

Get the Asus Zenfone 4 ZE554KL from Widget City using this link.

 

 




  • Display4.5
  • Performance4.5
  • Audio/Loudspeaker4.5
  • Camera4.3
  • Battery Life4.5
  • Price3.5
4.3Overall Score

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