“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein
Lately, a new trend is catching up among smartphone makers i.e., launching products to suit specific needs. Well, that could have been a good thing, only if OEMs could see anything beyond the need of clicking “SELFIES”. Numerous brands have already launched their phones featuring beautify mode, selfie flash, dual selfie cameras, selfie camera with autofocus and what not. So, what’s left? Oh yeah, beautify mode in videos. Well, here it comes – Asus ZenFone Live.
As the name suggests, the Asus ZenFone Live is, as the company claims, “World’s first smartphone with real-time beautification technology for live-streaming to share an even more glamorous version of yourself.” Do we really need such technology? Well, I don’t really want an answer. It’s up to you to decide. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void.
Coming back to the device, Asus ZenFone Live is company’s yet another addition to its wide-range portfolio. It was recently launched in India carrying a price tag of Rs 9,999. So, is it really capable of making you look good? Is it really worth the price? Or is it a just another marketing gimmick? Let’s find out.
Design & Display:
The first thing you notice about the handset is its weight. With a plastic build and a compact body, the ZenFone Live weighs only 120 grams. It feels very odd to hold a device such light weighted. With curved edges and corners, the device offers a decent grip and doesn’t dig into the palms. It has white coloured bezels on the front panel and golden coloured back which might fool you for a metallic body for a moment. But, that’s not the case here.
The power button and volume rockers both are located on the left side and are well within the reach, thanks to smaller footprint of the device. Talking about overall design, the ZenFone Live is definitely not a premium looking device, but I wouldn’t call it cheap either.
It puts on a 5-inch HD IPS display with a 2.5D curved glass on top. The display is certainly not one of the best and won’t please your eyes if you have used an AMOLED display before. But it is decent enough with nice viewing angles and good brightness, even under direct sunlight. There also sits three capacitive buttons beneath the display arranged in the order similar to what Google stock UI offers. Brownie points to Asus for that. The buttons, however, are not backlit making them hard to hit in the dark.
The ZenFone Live features a 13-megapixel rear camera accompanied by a single LED flash. The images captured by the camera in daylight conditions turned out to be good for my liking. The colour reproduction was close to original and images did not come out as undersaturated as we noticed in our Coolpad Note 5 Lite review. The camera app also features Pro HDR mode highlighting the best part of each photo. It works smoothly and doesn’t take much time to capture HDR photos. However, when it comes to indoor photography, the results were grainy and out of focus.
Talking about selfie camera, the phone sports a 5-megapixel front facing snapper with a single LED selfie flash. The default camera app comes with beautification mode switched on by default and also features many different modes to play with. The beautification mode puts too many alterations for my liking which makes selfies look unoriginal.
As marketed, the device also supports live beautification. The ZenFone Live comes with a dedicated app called “BeautifyLive” letting you livestream beautified videos. You can choose among Facebook, YouTube or Instagram to stream the live beatification video. Asus also offers a dial (marked zero to ten) letting you adjust the level of beautification as per your taste. Overall, the live beautification works as claimed, but that alone wouldn’t sell the device. The company has tried to make this feature as the USP of the device, however, that doesn’t really justify the price tag it carries. It looks more of a gimmick rather than a real utility or breakthrough technology. At best, it would appeal to a small niche audience.
Software & Performance:
The Asus ZenFone Live runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow wrapped under ZenUI. I personally liked it and prefer it over UIs offered by Chinese brands. With an app drawer, the ZenUI is pretty close to Stock UI. No doubt, this one is also packed with a lot of bloatware, some of which can’t even be uninstalled. I had to manually disable them to make peace. Along with the bunch of Asus apps, the phone also comes with Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram apps pre-installed.
Disappointing as it sounds, the ZenFone Live is powered by an ancient Snapdragon 400 processor. To give you a perspective, the first Moto G smartphone which was launched in the year 2014 was powered by the same processor. Accompanying the processor, the phone gets 2GB of RAM. As expected, the phone couldn’t stand on the performance ground at all. The app loading time, as well as multi-tasking, was not smooth either. Sweet-coating a mediocre performing device with a gimmicky “live beautification” technology is not the way to please the consumer. Are you listening Asus?
We also played games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne, Mortal Kombat and few other graphic-intensive games on the device. Although we didn’t experience any visible lags while playing the games, but the app loading time sucks the marrow out of your life. The battery also drains very quickly while playing the games. Packing a 2650mAh battery doesn’t help either. With normal usage, it lasts around a day and with anything beyond normal, you can’t expect much.
It is dual SIM smartphone with both the SIMs 4G VoLTE enabled. However, the catch is that only one SIM can access the 4G network while the other is restricted to 2G. It has a hybrid slot for the second SIM which means you have to choose between the MicroSD or second SIM card.
Asus has to realise that sugar-coating a mediocre device with a gimmicky technology is not going to win the market for them. The Asus ZenFone Live packs in an ancient processor, misses out on fingerprint scanner, offers poor performance, and just subpar specs. Above all, the phone sits right in middle of ruthless competition from the likes of Motorola, Xiaomi and Coolpad amongst others.