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Review: Asus Zenfone Live

The Breakdown

6.6
The Zenfone Lineup has some great devices with their own mastered niche, unfortunately the Live fails to find one for itself.
Design
6.5
Display
7.5
Performance
6.0
Camera
6.0
Software
5.5
Battery
8.0

You either ace the 100m sprint or win consolations at every track event. Some mobile players want to spread their butter all over the bread and Asus is doing just that. The Zenfone 3 Live is yet another device that adds to the Zenfone lineup. The Zenfone Live, which touts to be the first phone to have real-time beautification technology. But does it have what it takes to be a perfect budget gun? Let’s check it out.

DESIGN:

The Asus Zenfone Live takes design cues from its cousins and doesn’t differ much. It sports a plastic build with a metallic finish. I got to review the gold variant, which didn’t look any different from the plethora of devices already available in the market. The phone’s 2.5D Glass on the front is a nice addition and feels good to the touch. The power button and the volume rocker are on the right, but there’s no difference in the texture to differentiate. The front sports three capacitive touch buttons, which aren’t backlit. The phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top and a micro USB port at the bottom.  On the left side is the hybrid SIM tray that can either house two Nano SIM cards or a SIM card and a microSD Card (expandable upto 256GB).

DISPLAY:

Being a budget phone, the Zenfone Live sports a 5-inch 720p display which is pretty standard for a phone like this. The display lacks punch and colour reproduction is duller side. Although Asus allows to tweak the color tone, it doesn’t really help that much. If there’s an area the display excels at, it is sunlight legibility. The phone can get pretty bright and has great viewing angles too. For night owls, the inbuilt bluelight filter gives tired eyes a sigh of relief. So if you’re a hardcore media consumer, don’t expect it to blow you away. The display t does what it’s supposed to do just fine.

PERFORMANCE:

To use a processor that now powers smart watches (that require far less brawn to perform) might just be a deal-breaker for most people out there. The processor doesn’t really help the phone give the user a smooth experience. The stock applications too don’t run without a hitch here and there. There’s a noticeable lag in opening and switching between two applications and the fact that it has just 2 gigs of RAM really adds to the dying cause. More than the inability of the processor, I guess it is the bloated software to be blamed out here. If you’re thinking of gaming on this device, don’t get too excited when you purchase one. As expected the phone doesn’t really run through games. Simple games like Subway Surfer too had a couple of hiccups while playing. Don’t expect games to run on settings higher than the lowest ones. On the good side, the phone handled thermals really well and never really heated even while gaming with 4G switched on.

SOFTWARE:

Like all Asus phones, the Zenfone Live runs ZenUI on top of Android Marshmallow. For a phone that’s being launched in 2017, that’s definitely that’s a pretty outdated version. The ZenUI comes packed with its regular features. One can change themes from the Theme Store. The lock screen boasts of weather animations which are cool nevertheless. ZenMotion helps with gesture control with which you can double tap the phone to wake up or sleep. You can also customize various gestures to make the phone do what you want it to do. It’s good that Asus offers users a chance to make the phone their own. But all in all the ZenUI offers way too much for the customer to customize, which isn’t really much of a bane. A smooth user experience that a customer expects gets drowned amidst the bloatware that Asus has decided to ‘grace’ the phone with. The phone tries to do a lot with a little too less brawn to back it up.

CAMERA:

Let’s talk about the belle of the ball now. Asus is selling the Zenfone Live solely on the cameras and the software assisting it. Even though it raised my expectations I had my preconceptions. As soon as I opened the camera application I knew the experience wasn’t going to be as Asus touted it to be.

To start of with, the camera viewfinder lagged even with no other applications in memory and couldn’t catch up with my hand movements. I’m not sure if this was only this particular review unit, but this cheesed me off. Coming to the cameras, the Zenfone Live has a 13MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture and a 5MP snapper as the secondary camera. In my opinion, the cameras didn’t do justice at all. Dynamic range was poor, camera took more than a couple of seconds to lock focus and pictures lacked sharpness. You might think I’m going to harsh for a phone that costs only Rs.10,000 but Asus has to take cues from other OEMs who have managed to fit in relatively better cameras (Like the Redmi 4).  There’s a lot of noise in pictures clicked in low-light conditions.

Even the front camera wasn’t much of a good experience. Except for some good selfies due to great lighting conditions the selfies were pretty average. And if you prefer the artificial beautification mode then the selfie camera might be more appealing to you.

The real-time beautification feature is nothing different from what’s seen on other similar software. It blurs your skin blemishes and puts a layer of clean skin, which really doesn’t look appealing to me at least.

The camera application offers a lot of modes like Children mode, which clicks pictures as soon the camera spots, a child in the viewfinder. There are a lot of settings and features to play around with. But with the cameras themselves being sub-par it didn’t make sense to be happy with the presence of such control over the experience.

Battery:

The phone is backed by a 2,650-mAh battery. If there’s one thing that I’m contended with, it’s the battery life of the Zenfone Live. The battery lasted me throughout the day without any problems. It gave me an average SOT of around 4.5-6 hours. On the other hand, the phone took 2-2.5 hours to fully charge which is a bit of a let down.

Verdict:

Not beating around the bush, we definitely don’t recommend this phone to any user whatsoever. From the outdated processor to the buggy software and from the disappointing camera experience to an average display the phone is laced with a lot of thumbs downs. You’ll be much better off with any of the Xiaomi phones, the Redmi 4 or the Redmi Note 4.

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