Asus Zenfone Selfie review: Vanity light
Standard-issue retail package
The Asus Zenfone Selfie comes in a standard retail box, its sleeve color matching the phone's back cover.
The box contents include an AC adapter rated at 5V/2A and less than a meter long USB-to-microUSB 2.0 cable and a headset.
Asus Zenfone Selfie 360-degree spin
The Asus Zenfone Selfie measures 156.5 x 77.2 x 10.8 mm and that's 4mm taller than the already bulky Zenfone 2 ZE551ML. This minor change in dimensions was obviously called for by the large front camera assembly, and selfie enthusiasts are likely to be ok with the trade-off.
In terms of weight, there's no telling them 5.5-inch Zenfones apart. Whether it be the Zenfone 2, or the Laser, or the Selfie, they all tip the scales at 170g, which is not exactly light. Other selfie specialists like the HTC Desire Eye (5.2", 13MP, 154g) and Sony Xperia M5 (5", 13MP, 143) are noticeably lighter, but then the 6-inch 13MP Xperia C5 Ultra is even heftier at 187g.
The smartphone shares the family's design guidelines closely. Based on the 5.5-inch Zenfone 2 that started it all this year, it's again larger than necessary for its diagonal, and pretty thick too.
Update, Nov 10: The back cover is made entirely out of plastic and now that we got a retail review unit, it turned out quite solid - as solid as the one on the Zenfone 2. It doesn't give in under pressure and there is no squeaking to be heard.
The back cover on the Zenfone Selfie comes in three different textures, each with its own distinct colors. The Aqua Blue, Chic Pink and Pure White models have a matte finish. Surprisingly, the matte finish can get quite smudgy with fingerprints.
Glacier Grey, Glamor Red and Sheer Gold on the other hand come with a faux brushed metal finish and they are great at keeping fingerprints away.
Finally, there are the Diamond White, Illusion Polygon Blue, Illusion Smooth Pink, which have an irregular, patterned surface though these were not available on our market. Of course, their availability might differ from region to region.
One pain point valid for any of the colors is that the back covers are unusually hard to remove. You literally have to pry them open with force and you better have the nails for the job. On a positive note, we guess this would mean the back cover won't come off easily should you drop your phone accidentally.
The primary camera resides in a central position flanked on either side by the laser autofocus window and the dual-LED flash. Underneath the camera is the volume rocker - LG style but with one key difference - without a power button.
Towards the bottom you'll find the speaker, but don't expect it to be as large as the mesh in the cover - it's about a third of that size and is positioned towards the left.
The front of the Selfie is your regular Zenfone affair with a twist. The top bezel has grown due to the large camera module and the 13MP shooter stares at you from a central position. The earpiece has been pushed out of the way to the right, while on the left is another duo of LEDs.
The 5.5-inch IPS display is covered with the latest Gorilla Glass 4 and is reasonably easy to keep clean.
Underneath is the strip of capacitive buttons freeing screen space, but it also makes for a sizable bottom bezel. The additional chin below with a concentric circle pattern doesn't help either though it;s a nice design highlight and allows for instant recognition of the phone as Asus made.
Up top the phone is the power button - we gotta admit, it's one of the most uncomfortable positions possible on a phablet. Good thing then that the double-tap-to-wake feature will save from reaching all the way up to press it.
Next to the power button is the 3.5mm headphone jack, while the secondary mic pinhole is on the other side.
The microUSB 2.0 port is on the bottom. It's upside down compared to the generally accepted position with the chamfers up. The supplied cable does take that into account, however, and has the USB marking on the right side so that it's facing up when you plug it in.
With the volume rocker on the back, power button up top and card slots under the hood, the sides are left completely bare.
In the hand, the Zenfone Selfie feels much the Zenfone 2. It is large, but the curved back negates the issue and makes it quite comfortable to handle. The matte back provides enough grip and the rear volume buttons fall right in place for forefinger operation.