Built for people who like taking selfies

Asus ZenFone Selfie.
PHOTO: ASUS

The rather unimaginatively titled ZenFone Selfie is great for, well, taking selfies. If you are a social media junkie who thrives on Instagram likes and Facebook comments, then this 5.5-inch phone could be the one for you.

But the 13MP front camera aside, nothing else about the Selfie really stands out.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 at the heart of the phone is a mid-tier chip, which is to be expected for a $399 phone. But this also means that there is a noticeable lag when processing burst shots, or editing pictures in post-production.

The highlight of the Selfie is its 13MP dual-flash front camera, which megapixel-wise can go toe-to-toe with the rear cameras of many phones out there.

I used it in both bright and low light conditions, and it fared reasonably well in both, delivering acceptably sharp pictures with low noise.

The phone comes with selfie-facilitating software as well.

The default camera app has modes to take selfie panoramas and to select the best facial expression out of multiple shots. Of course, it also has the all-important Beautification mode. With this mode, users can edit their picture in five ways, including skin softening (this helps to gloss over uneven skin tones), enlarging the eyes and even cheek thinning.

After some experimentation, I learnt that putting most of the settings at about a five out of 10 is best. Overdoing it can result in strange alien-like pictures which, while amusing, are probably not the best to post online.

The beauty modifications are also shown in the camera's live view, so you can see the tweaks happening as you toggle through them.

I enjoyed fiddling with the Beautification mode, but it seemed like it could not handle too many faces at once. When I took a selfie with two other people, it detected only two out of three of our faces at a time.

Also, while it is nice to have such features integrated into the phone's default camera app, there are now many other more powerful applications that let you do the same thing (see other story).

Design-wise, the phone is certainly eye-catching. It comes in white, Barbie pink and baby blue, which may endear it to the younger crowd.

My review set had a pearly pink plastic cover, which looked surprisingly elegant. The phone is also gently curved at the edges, providing an easy grip and sitting well in my hand.

The phone's buttons are located at awkward places though. The power button is at the middle of the phone's top edge, which makes it tough to press if you are holding the phone with one hand.

The volume buttons are at the back, just below the rear camera. They are sunk into the casing and have barely any travel distance, making them difficult to use.

In terms of performance, the Selfie will get by without blowing your socks off. While browsing and messaging was smooth, pictures took several seconds to turn up in my gallery after snapping them, and scrolling through menus was sometimes jittery.

TECH SPECS

PRICE: $399PROCESSOR: 64-bit octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 1.5GHzDISPLAY: 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels in-plane switching display with 403ppi density and Corning Gorilla Glass 4CAMERA: (Rear) 13MP, f/2.0-aperture, auto-focus lens with dual-LED flash, (front) 13MP f/2.2-aperture, wide-angle (88-degree) lens with dual-LED flashOPERATING SYSTEM: Android 5.0 (Lollipop)MEMORY/RAM: 32GB storage with 3GB of RAM, expandable up to 128GBBATTERY: 3,000mAh removable battery

RATING

FEATURES: 3/5DESIGN: 3/5PERFORMANCE: 2/5VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

OVERALL: 3/5

Verdict: A great, reasonably-priced phone for the selfie-obsessed, but be prepared to sacrifice performance and ease-of-use for that perfect picture.

This article was first published on September 30, 2015. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.