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ASUS Zenfone Selfie Review - Asus prepares to destroy Samsung Galaxy series

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ASUS, a huge brand name from Taipei, Taiwan, probably unknown by average people is now getting ready to completely dethrone and destroy the reign of Samsung Galaxy with their Zenfone series. ASUS is mostly known in he personal computer (PC) field, producing computer parts such as CD-ROMs, Blu-Ray Writers, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Wireless Routers, Laptops and more and now they have decided to join the smartphone market with full force unleashing a powerful Zenfone series.

For the moment, the most important thing about the Asus phones is their cheap price, however their prices won’t be low forever as their laptops for example are one of the most expensive, rivaling with the likes of Sony and their Vaio series, paying a higher price just cause its “SONY” branded…. as if it matters!? It’s the same American hardware inside, either AMD, Intel, nVidia, Seagate or Western Digital.

ASUS’s Zenfones are extremely powerful high-end devices meant to pick on the likes of Galaxy S6, Galaxy Note 5 and their new Alpha series but at a much lower price.

Samsung continues to remove more and more of their phone functions and dumb down their Android phones to the level of iPhones, removing FM Radio, Infrared, microSD slot card and even a fixed non-removable battery. Samsung has also slowly but steadily increased their phone prices, making them almost as expensive as Apple iPhones. Taiwan’s ASUS has seized its chance and its already performing way better than anyone ever expected but their road isn’t paved in gold as Nokia is preparing for its 2016 huge come back with Android this time, already having numerous models prepared, C1 being one of them.

First thing that popped out as an inconvenient with the Zenfone Selfie ZD551KL, was that unfortunately for some strange reason Play Store app installations and updates are really slow despite having a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 chipset, two Quad Core ARM Cortex-A53 64-bit CPUs and 3GB of RAM. It simply takes too much time to update the apps. Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and 4 easily beating Zenfone Selfie in this case. Even Note 3 is faster when doing Play Store updates than Zenfone Selfie and this is just weird considering the powerful hardware in this device.

Another inconvenient with this phone is that taking the case off proves to be really difficult for men unless you’re a woman who has long and solid nails. Even women with soft nails could break their nails trying to open the battery case of this phone.

First thing that pops out as a cool feature of Selfie is the triple action button on its back, right below the camera. Yup, that’s not a design thing, that’s a button with 3 functions actually. Volume up, volume down on its sides and camera shutter button in its middle, making it really useful when… taking selfies… after all that’s the name of the phone… and while we’re at it, Zenfone Selfie features a monster 13MP front camera for taking awesome selfies. But wait there’s more, the front camera even has a led flash for taking selfies in the dark and while we’re at it, its worth mentioning that both of the cameras (both front and back cameras) despite being 13MP both, they do not excel in low light conditions at all, however easily beating any Samsung Galaxy phone when it comes to macro photos. Asus is capable of taking photos from really close ranges while Samsung is always unable to focus clearly, giving a stupid red square focus.

Another awesome feature is that there is a builtin flashlight button, right in the notification bar, eliminating the need to install flashlight apps. Galaxy Note phones also come with a flashlight widget instead of a button in the notification bar, BUT the Samsung widget function is quite strange. Why? Well it never lights the led at full potential, but instead its dimmed at some 50-70% of its full capacity. Probably to save battery or something… whatever! So if you want full light from your Samsung led, you do actually have to install a flashlight app.

WiFi also beats new Samsung Galaxy devices because Samsung decided to remove yet another function, further dumbing down their phones to the level of iPhones and even beyond. Which function? Well, by default, Samsung wants to connect to 2.4GHz routers on the N band, despite having an AC band. Their previous Android versions had the option to go to Wi-Fi>Advanced>Wi-Fi frequency band, and manually switch between 2.4GHz for better range/longer distances, 5GHz for faster AC speeds and Auto. Now since KitKat, Samsung removed this option even on their top phones and by default they always prefer to go over the slower 2.4GHz N band! How retarded is that? You have AC but you can’t use it unless you disable the 2.4GHz in your router or have a different SSID for your 5GHz band! It seems that Samsung is getting plagued with more and more problems as time passes. Asus however still has this option available and you can manually switch between bands anytime. Keeping the Selfie on Auto, seems like even the Asus phone prefers to go over the 2.4GHz band by itself but at least you can switch to 5GHz anytime.

Zenfone Selfie also has LTE 150Mbps with lots of bands supported but unfortunately not all, unlike the LG G3 and G4 which support all possible LTE bands. Of course they aren’t all enabled but at least you can go to a secret menu and manually enable them. Unfortunately you can’t do that with Asus, nor with Samsung for that matter.

The screen is a huge 5.5 FullHD jewel (1920×1080) powered by a Adreno 405 GPU and protected by the newest Gorilla Glass 4, better than Zenfone 2’s Gorilla Glass 3, making the phone basically a phablet, competing with the likes of Galaxy Note series.

Selfie comes with Android 5.0.2 Lollipop out of the box and as soon as you connect it to a Wi-Fi, it will immediately ask you to do a huge ~400MB update. During our tests, we haven’t updated the phone’s OS because we wanted to have an out of the box experience with this device. Maybe updating it would fix problems like the slow Play Store app updates.

The battery on this device is not that impressive despite having a decent 3000mAh rating. Don’t get us wrong the battery isn’t bad at all but it just gives room for better, it gives the feeling that they could have done a better job. And last but not least, Selfie is a dual SIM, which is an awesome bonus, and that’s exactly why this phone should have had a better battery. Maybe Asus will start building Extended batteries just like Samsung in the near future. Who knows? Buying an improved 4000mAh would definitely worth the upgrade.

For some bizarre reason, Asus phones are Made in China! But the question is WHY? Don’t Taiwanese people need anymore jobs? Not that long ago, almost everything was made in Taiwan. Now these days it seems that everything is made in China. Even Taiwanese brands… and this is really weird since Taiwan and China aren’t exactly friends, with China considering Taiwan as a “rogue terror state protected by US imperialists”. Besides products made in Taiwan have longer lifespan on average than products made in China.

The phone scores a decent 37527 points in Antutu Benchmark right below the Galaxy Note 4.

Overall the Zenfone Selfie is a decent phone, not necessarily THE king but it does pick on the king’s shirt quite aggressively. The phone is packed with lots of features, including the good old FM Radio, incorporated flashlight app, awesome dual 13MP cameras really great for close-up photography, a removable battery, something which is nowadays a luxury in Samsung phones and lots of other features.

+Price! Only about $250-300 as opposed to Galaxy Notes that now cost even up to $1000 in some stores
+Decent hardware
+64-bit making it future-proof
+Impressive 13MP cameras
+Wi-Fi band selection
+Built-in flashlight app
+FM Radio
+Removable Battery
+Feels like a quality product in hand
+All accessories are nicely Asus branded, headsfree, charger, even the USB cable itself, really makes it feel like a quality product
+Awesome design when compared to Sammys but too similar to HTC phones, looks almost like a complete copy of HTC
+IPS screen which is 1000 times better than AMOLED, not in terms of image quality but in terms of screen burn. AMOLED screens are extremely vulnerable to screen burns in many cases just after a couple of months of usage, making them literally junk screens, yet Samsung keeps insisting on using AMOLEDS

-Slow in PlayStore
-Backcover too hard to remove
-Battery is not that good (but also not that bad)
-No extended battery upgrade directly from Asus yet Asus warns you of not to use any other aftermarket battery because it may cause physical harm, and yes, there have been numerous cases of aftermarket batteries blowing up out of the blue, injuring hundreds of people around the world and even killing a couple of people in some extremely rare cases
-No Stereo Speakers
-No Infrared
-Simply too much bloatware, to the point of being disgusting
-Made in China instead of Made in Taiwan
-Fast battery charging works only with its own charger, try to charge it with a Sammy charger rated at the same output of 2A-5V and it will charge like a snail

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