The Asus Zenfone 4 and 4 Pro: 2 really confident phones with the dual cameras as the heart of their creation.

A couple of days back(17th Aug ), Asus unveiled the much awaited Zenfone 4 family of phones in a press event held in Taiwan. And yes, I did use the term “family” because Asus has 6 phones in their line up (Technically there are 3 models – Zenfone 4, Zenfone Selfie & Zenfone Max with a PRO version of each)! It starts of with the entry level  Asus Zenfone Selfie and goes all the way to their flagship device – The Zenfone 4 Pro. The launch event didn’t reveal anything unexpected, given Asus themselves leaked the devices along with the specs and the price on their French website by-mistake (of course, it was taken down very quickly). Jeez, a lot of these “leaks” by the makers themselves has been going around. Anyways, in this article I’ll focus mostly on the Zenfone 4 and the Zenfone 4 Pro.

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Asus Zenfone 4: 

This is their primary phone out of the bunch and in my opinion, the most interesting one. I feel the Zenfone 4 provides you the most value for your money. Starting at $399 (around Rs. 25,500),  you get a 5.5 inch Full HD (1920 x 1080p )screen 2.5 D Corning Gorilla Glass for protection and the screen is quite bright at 600 nits. The phone is build out of glass on the front & back and is complemented well by the metal frame. As for the hardware packed inside, you get the all-new Snapdragon 630 quad core processor, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. As for the battery, you get a healthy 3300mAh battery, and Asus also introduced their new Asus BoostMaster Fast Charge technology which apparently charges your phone up to 50% in just 36 min.file_003.png

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The Zenfone 4 also comes with dual stereo speakers (earpiece which also doubles as a speaker + rear speaker) and support for Hi-Res audio. The Zenfone 4 is the very first phone to have DTS audio technology. It provides 7.1 virtual surround sound when you plug in supported headphones /earphones.

If the Snapdragon 630 isn’t juicy enough, you can upgrade to it’s big brother – The Snapdragon 660. And this model also comes with 6 GB of RAM. Unfortunately, the pricing for this model wasn’t revealed but expect it to be around $499(Rs. 32,000). The SD 630 & 660 have some cool new features like support for NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, USB type-C and Dual camera all which have been included in the Zenfone 4.

The Camera:
Like I mentioned before, the Camera/s has been the headlining feature of the phone. Asus spoke a lot about the cameras on their phones. And by a lot, I mean almost 75% of the presentation. And to support this notion, they included some really beastly cameras and quite a few camera technologies in the phone. The phone features a formidable trio of Sony Sensors. On the back, you get a dual camera setup – a 12 MP primary camera f/1.7 with Sony’s best – IMX 362 sensor and a 8 MP 120-degrees wide angle lens with a Sony IMX 351 sensor. This setup provides you 2x optical zoom and 5x digital zoom. Thanks to Asus’ new Pixel Sense Technology, and the dual camera setup, Asus claims the photos are around 8 times brighter in low light and night photos. But this claim is yet to be tested.

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                         Low light photos taken by Zenfone 4

 And just like any other phone advertising a dual camera setup, even this one has the portrait mode which provides a depth in field thanks to the secondary camera.  Oh, that’s not all the secondary wide angle lens does, it increases the field of view by a whopping 200% to help you get those gorgeous wide angle shots. To complement these cameras, you get OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) , EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) and PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus), to help you get perfect crisp pictures at blazing speeds. On the front you have a 16 MP f/1.9 Sony IMX 319 sensor with EIS as well and a soft tone LED flash.

  Sample shots taken on Zenfone 4: 

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                     shot with wide angle lens enabled

Asus Zenfone 4 Pro:

The Asus Zenfone 4 Pro is just what you expected it to be, a more enhanced version of the Zenfone 4. On the outside, it looks just like the Zenfone 4. The only difference is that the there isn’t any camera protrusion as found on the Zenfone 4, on which it is quite prominent. And on the front, you are greeted with the same 5.5 inch FHD display, but this time it has an AMOLED screen. File_009 (1)I should say, I’m a little disappointed that Asus still went the same 1080p resolution instead of opting for a 1440p res screen which would make more sense given the slightly above average price tag and it being their flagship device. Since, we’re talking about the screen, I should say it does look quite ordinary. You can see, the phone doesn’t exactly have an edge to edge, bezeless display like other flagship smartphones that have come out this year. Looks like a missed opportunity here.

However, under the hood almost everything is upgraded. The phone is powered by the extremely powerful top of the line – Snapdragon 835 with advanced 10nm architecture and the Adreno 540 GPU. You get 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage which can expanded up to 2 TB via micro SD slot thanks to the first of it’s kind Triple Sim tray (2 sim slots + 1 Micro SD Card Slot) which is also present in the Asus Zenfone 4, Asus Zenfone 4 Selfie, Asus Zenfone 4 Pro.file_007-3.png The SD 835 consumes 25 % less power than the earlier SD 820 processor, this coupled with the fairly large 3600 mAh battery is surely going to get you throughout the day on a single charge without a problem. And just like Zenfone 4, even the Pro comes with Asus BoostMaster Fast Charge technology which charges up to 50% in 32 minutes.

Not too much of a change in the camera dept. Instead of the 8 MP wide angle lens, you get a 16 MP sensor. Everything else remains the same. Asus stressed quite a lot on the Zenfone 4 Pro being built ground up as a photographer’s phone. They did show sample photos of the Zenfone 4 Pro actually clicking brighter and clearer HDR photos than the other leaders like the S8 & HTC U11  But I’m not so sure how accurate this comparison is. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that is actually a very strong camera.file_003-2.png

Sample shots taken on the Zenfone 4 Pro BEFORE and AFTER enabling the wide angle lens:

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As for the pricing, it starts at $599(around INR 38,000) and is available in 3 colours – Midnight Black, Moonlight White and Mint Green (same colour options for the Zenfone 4 as well).  It is quite a bit of money and definitely more than the other flagship killer devices like the One Plus 5, Huawei P10 but Asus gives you a truly premium feeling phone with a really superior camera which you don’t exactly get with the One Plus 5 or the P10 in my opinion.

Asus has a good thing going on in the laptop and the computer hardware segment and it looks like it’s carrying the momentum to their phones as well. The Zenfone 4 and the Zenfone 4 Pro are really confident phones with almost every feature you could ask for. They really do pack in quite a lot in a really beautiful looking phone and are offering it to us at a really attractive price. Unfortunately, the release dates for the phones weren’t given by Asus but I suggest you wait for wait in case you are on the look out for a new flagship phone but not interested cashing it all out on all the S8s, iPhones and Pixels of the world.

 

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The G6 is the LG phone we’ve all been waiting for.

Recently, at MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2017, LG announced their latest flagship phone. It should come with no surprise that LG has changed quite a few things compared to G5 in an attempt to stand-out from the over saturated smartphone market. Come on, let’s dig deeper and find out if this is the one to beat.

THE  HARDWARE & THE SOFTWARE:

The LG G6 comes with a Snapdragon 821 processor and 4 GB of RAM. Though this won’t be the most powerful processor of the year, it should hold up pretty well to whatever you throw at it. And coupled with 4 GB of RAM; multi-tasking and heavy gaming is going to be a breeze. It comes with two options for internal storage – 32 GB and 64 GB. It can also be expanded up to 2 TB via micro SD (And yeah, the 3.5mm headphone jack is still present). The phone comes with Android Nougat out of the box with LG’s latest UX 6.0 skin on top of it. The phone has Google Assistant built into it for the ultimate Android experience. 

 

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THE DISPLAY:

This is where things get interesting. The G6 sports a 5.7 inch QHD (2880 x 1440) display in a 5.2 inch form factor with those ridiculously tiny side bezels.The screen also comes with Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. Well, the year is 2017 and HDR is the name of the game. With HDR technologies being the focus point for many devices at CES 2017, it has made its way into the smartphone market as well, with LG being the first to take advantage of it. The G6 supports both – HDR 10 and Dolby Vision. The phone is also the first to have a 18:9 (2:1) aspect ratio as opposed to the conventional 16:9 ratio. The larger screen paired with Android 7.0 promises to deliver seamless split-screen multi tasking. 

 

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LG G6 (to the left) and the Pixel. Courtesy: The Verge 

THE DESIGN AND BUILD:

LG is finally ditching the plasticy  build quality in favour of the metal-glass combo, which has been the go-to for most of today’s flagship smartphones. It has Gorilla Glass 4 protecting the lenses and Gorilla Glass 5 for the back. It comes in two colours – Astro Black & Platinum Silver. And right below the camera setup is the fingerprint sensor. 

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The phone houses a 3,300 mAh battery (non-removable) and also supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0. LG claims that this should last for more than a day. Finally, the phone is dust & water resistant (IP68 certified). More good news for the US customers, since the US version of this phone supports wireless charging.

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THE CAMERA:

Looks like LG has upped its camera game. It has the popular dual camera setup, similar to the one in G5. But this time, it’s A 13 MP f/1.8 lens with a 13 MP wide-angle  f/2.4 lens. And on the front is a standard 5 MP selfie camera.screenshot_20170227-131356

LG came up with a new camera app called the Square Camera. The Square Camera mode takes advantage of the dual cameras and the huge screen. With this, we can have a live preview of the gallery and the pics just clicked on one half of the screen with the camera still open on the other half. So that you get just the right photo. This camera is bound to satisfy the craving for a perfect shot for all the Instagram addicts out there. There are also some pretty other neat features packed into the app too like Snap Shot, Grid Shot, Guide Shot, Match Shot, 360 degree panaroma and many more.

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CONCLUSION: 

To sum it all up, the LG G6 looks promising. This phone nails all the basics of a good phone- Camera, Display, Design and Battery and builds on top of it by including some really exciting features. Pricing which isn’t announced yet, will certainly play a major role in its sales. But do not expect it to be cheap either. But with the right pricing it could soar to be the one to beat. One thing is for sure, this is LG’s best chance to get back into game.