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Asus Zenfone Live Review (ZB501KL) : Live and beautiful !
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Asus Zenfone Live Review (ZB501KL) : Live and beautiful !

While it’s Chinese counterparts have been focusing aggressively on the selfie game in their Smartphones and have been fairly successful, the Taiwan based Asus wants to tap into the live streaming phenomenon with a phone that claims to be the ‘world’s first live streaming smartphone with beautification mode’ . The question that needs to be answered though is will that be enough for the Zenfone Live to sell itself? In this Asus Zenfone Live review, let’s unravel the good beautiful and the ugly side of this Smartphone.

Box contents:

  • Zenfone Live Smartphone
  • Some documents
  • Power adapter
  • microUSB cable
  • Pin to eject SIM tray

Design, Build Quality and Display

Out of the box, the first thought that goes into your mind is ‘this phone is feather light‘ , and it is. It weighs only 120 grams and measures 8mm in thickness. The body is polycarbonate with a metallic finish to it and that helps to maintain a healthy body mass ratio while the metallic finish gives it a sheen and glamour to the look.

Apart from the immediately noticeable light weight, there is nothing exceptional about the design and it is generic. A black border is prominent around the white front. The trio of home, back and menu button at the bottom, and the top face has the the 5-megapixel front camera, LED flash, earpiece grille and sensors.

The back side has the 13-megapixel rear camera at a corner with the LED flash little below it. Two antenna lines at the top and bottom and Asus branding.  There is no fingerprint sensor here nor is it at the front, oh well, there is no fingerprint sensor in this mobile!

At the right side there is the volume buttons and power buttons both offering good tactile feedback and both the buttons flaunting the concentric circles, an Asus insignia.

The bottom has the speaker grille, microUSB port and a microphone. In fact the phone comes with a dual microphone the other one nesting at the top.

The top has the 3.5mm audio jack and a microphone as I mentioned above.

  • 5-inch display
  • IPS LCD display
  • 720 x 1280 pixels resolution
  • 294 ppi
  • 68.1% screen-to-body ratio

For a casual buyer, the screen might look decent and colors well balanced but not if you are a taskmaster. While the color tones look natural and likeable, some deep black would have enriched it. Sunlight readability is pretty average.  This is 2017 and the expectation levels have pitched higher while the Zefone Live would have been more appreciated some quarters back. Neverthless, it is not a bad deal either.

Like the other Zenfone devices, there is the display settings that allows an user to fiddle around with the color temperature, screen mode to customize the hue and saturation and also a bluefilter toggle, so if you know what you do, you can tune the display for better.

Software and UI

Dressing the phone is Android 6.0.1 Marshmalow with ZenUI layered on top. I love the custom UIs if done well, as I staunchly believe the end consumers prefer the added flavour to the UI which is not in the case of stock android. Zen UI has been my favourite for its colorful layout and ease of use inspite of the bloatware they add up. With many bloatware apps pre-loaded with many non-removable, it takes a toll on the storage plus causes the device to lag.  At lease, you could disable them in the settings and I would advice users to do so, if the apps are not relevant for you.

There are the usual features of ZenUI like kids mode, easy mode, glove mode and also game genie app to record your screen especially when playing games.

Performance

  • Snapdragon 410
  • Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53
  • Adreno 306
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB storage (32GB in select markets)
  • microSD, up to 256 GB (uses SIM 2 slot)

The ZenUI is equipped with a Snapdragon 410 chipset which is an entry-level segment and coupled with a modest 2GB of RAM. On average it uses 1GB of memory, with 861MB free. Out of the 16GB of internal storage close to 10GB is user available out of the box. If you are a gamer, this is not the phone to lay your hands on. Even games like Nova Legacy, type of game I would suggest for phones like these with less storage and memory shows signs of frame drops when there are too much action on screen.

The SD 400 is 2 years old and for a phone that sports a tag of Rs 9,999 it is unpardonable. In fact, Qualcomm is pushing the chipset for wearables now. The chipset shows clear signs of lags at many tasks and when you go live it is evident. In short, the phone is sluggish.

The Zenfone Live comes with a mono 5-magnet loudspeaker. At the launch, the company went a little overboard to flaunt the audio capabilities of the phone. It sounds good but nothing to make it stand out in the crowd. It also comes with a pair of MEMS microphones to send clearer noise during video calls and live stream. Network reception is good, I didn’t face any drops or bad call quality.

Camera

  • 13MP rear camera
  • f/2.0 aperture
  • 5P lens
  • 1080p@30fps
  • 5 MP selfie camera
  • f/2.2, 1.4 µm pixel size, autofocus,
  • LED falsh
  • 82 degree field of view

 

Asus had some of the best in the segment camera optics in some of their phones , I quiet liked the camera in Zenfone 3 and the Deluxe totally surprised me with its capabilities but sadly it cannot be said about Zenfone live. Like the rest of the phone, the camera performance is also mediocre. The problem with Zenfone live is many of the other phones in the same price bracket has set the bar much higher. The pictures comes out slightly washed out. The colors are not natural and are dull. Even in bright light, the picture quality suffers. The focus also is not swift, overall the Zenfone Live pictures are not lively enough.

As usual , the ZenUI offers many presets in the camera app like HDR pro, super resolution, low light, QR code, panaroma, time lapse, beautification, children, night.

Now let’s shift to the front camera.

I detest beauty mode but there are many who love it. I like the blemishes of my face to be shown, that is what I am and I don’t hide it but then the Smartphone companies have figured out in the land of ‘fair and lovely’, people love to have a blemish free , smoothened face and the beauty filter is a craze and a hit. So the Asus Zenfone Live comes with a 10 level of beauty filter that even allows the user to make cosmetic changes to their eyes, chin and color! I found the beautification algorithm to be too aggressive, if you like it that way, then good for you.

The main selling point of the Asus Zenfone Live is that it proclaims itself to be the world’s first smartphone to offer live beautification while live streaming. There is a Beauty live app, that allows you to connect with Facebook, YouTube and Instagram account for live streaming. You can apply your desired live filter level and bingo! you can go live beautifully! (with the added makeup to your face)

Verdict

It is hard to recommend the Asus Zenfone Live but it is appreciable fact that Asus want to try something different and come up with the Live beautification mode while streaming live. This feature I feel might become part of the future Zenfone devices and why not? I have seen many people love taking selfies and merrily applying beautification filter. So if they also happen to live stream often, they would definitely hit the beauty mode on live and that is what Asus offers. So the the live beauty feature might be here for a longer run and Asus has taken the lead with it.

0 30 May, 2017 Mobiles May 30, 2017

About the author

The man behind GingerChai Networks from Bangalore, India. His unconventional, non-geeky approach to gadgets and technology lead him to start TechRaman. When not dabbling with gadgets, he also reviews books and movies and drowns himself in cups of tea.

View all articles by Lakshmi Rajan

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