Following relatively closely on the heels of Asus' ZenFone 2 launch, the company announced several new mobile devices at Computex 2015, including another ZenFone, the cringeworthy-named ZenFone Selfie.
Where the ZenFone 2 has a 64-bit Intel Atom Z3580 SoC, the ZenFone Selfie rocks an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615. Also a 64-bit chip, the 615, is based on the quad-core ARM Cortex A53 (1.7 GHz) + quad-core A53 (1.0 GHz) and has an Adreno 405 GPU.
It runs Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box with Asus' Zen UI and ZenMotion (a bit of UI slickery that lets you draw an "S" on the screen to enter selfie mode). The display is 5.5 inches (1080p HD, 403 ppi / 400 nits) with TruVivid technology (more on that below). It's an LTE device, which Asus promised will offer up to 150 Mbps performance.
Being a self-described "selfie" phone, the ZenFone Selfie's front camera is mostly the same as its rear. Both are 13MP Pixel Master components, with a 5-prism Largan lens and a Toshiba 1/3.2-inch sensor. They offer a dual LED "real tone" flash. The front camera has an f2.2 aperture with a 24 mm wide angle lens, while the rear camera sports f/2.0 and a 28 mm lens. The latter also has a laser autofocus function.
As you might expect, the cameras offer multiple "modes" and features such as Super HDR, low-light settings, and a "beautification" feature that smooths skin tones and makes lines softer -- "like digital makeup," we were told. There's also a selfie panorama feature that, well, does what it sounds like it does, and the HDR feature promises 400 percent more brightness to show your face better in backlit situations.
A small detail is the "Selfie Swing," a little kickstand that allows you to prop your phone while you snap glamour shots. (Discussion question: Should Asus perhaps have included a selfie stick with this device?)
ZenPad 8000 Series Tablets – USB Type-C, At Last!
In addition to the ZenFone Selfie, Asus announced a line of ZenPad 8000 Series tablets, which are designed to be premium devices to "refine the tablet experience." The tablet market has lost its sizzle somewhat – how many virtually identical-looking black rectangles do we really need? – so something that offers a little more would certainly be welcome on the market.
Under the hood, these tablets aren't particularly astounding – solid, but nothing to swoon over – but the ZenPad 8.0 Z380C Series tablet has a welcome surprise on board in the form of a USB Type-C connector.
We've been candid for months now about the need for OEMs to get on the USB Type-C train. The new standard and connector hold tremendous promise for the market, in terms of powerful new features, as well as the smaller z-height of the Type-C connector versus the (current) standard USB Type-A, which will allow full USB capabilities on thinner and lighter devices...not unlike this very tablet. Kudos to Asus for having the chutzpah to put USB Type-C on a tablet.
One of the more surprising, and frankly brilliant, features of the tablet line is the Audio Cover. Simply put, this is an accessory cover that gives you 5.1-channel surround sound via six speakers (including a subwoofer) that promise six hours of tunes on a single battery charge. Too many of us use our phones and tablets as modern-day jukeboxes, pumping out tinny, terrible audio in our kitchens and at our parties. Assuming the Audio Cover can actually deliver reasonable performance, it should be an attractive add-on for many a user. The tablet's DTS Premium Sound technology is designed to complete the audio coup.
We had a moment to toy with one of these tablets with the Audio Cover after the press conference, and although listening to a single tune amidst the crush of humanity that is the demo floor (you have no idea, guys) hardly constitutes a review, we weren't terribly impressed with what we heard. Will it fill your kitchen with better-than-normal-tablet audio? Yes. Will you mistake it for a decent sound system? No.
Asus' other premium tablet features include True2Life, which Asus said would boost contrast levels some 200 percent as well as optimize sharpness and ensure blur-free motion in videos, and TruVivid, which Asus described thusly: "ASUS TruVivid improves screen clarity, brightness, and touch responsiveness by transforming the conventional four-layer display design — composed of cover glass, a touch panel, air gap, and an LCD module — into a two-layer, fully-laminated design that eliminates the air gap, resulting in higher optical transparency for brilliant color and improved brightness."
Like the ZenFone Selfie smartphone, the tablets feature Android 5.0 Lollipop and ZenUI and ZenMotion.
|ZenPad S 8.0 (Z580CA)||ZenPad 8.0 (Z380C)|
|Processor||Intel Atom 3580 (Moorefield, quad-core, 2.3 GHz, 64-bit)||Intel Atom X3 (SoFIA) C3200 series, quad- core|
|Graphics||PowerVR G6430 Rogue||Mali 450M4|
|RAM||4 GB||1 or 2 GB|
|Storage||-16, 32, or 64 GB eMMC-128 GB micro SDXC||-8 or 16 GB eMMC-micro SDXC|
|Display||-8-inch IPS-2048x1536 (4:3)-324 ppi-TruVivid||-8-inch IPS-1200x800 (16:10)|
|Cameras||-5MP front-8MP rear||-2MP front-5MP rear|
|Speakers||Dual front||Single front with ICE power|
|Connectivity||-802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 LE||-802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 LE-LTE (Z380KL model)|
|Battery||15 WHr||4000 mAh (nonremovable)|
|OS||Android 5.0||Android 5.0|
Of further note is that both of these tablets run on Intel chips. The ZenPad S 8.0 has the Intel Atom 3580, a Moorefield chip, and the ZenPad 8.0 has an inexpensive SoFIA chip, the Intel Atom X3 C3200.
Additional ZenPad SKUs are available in other sizes, including the following:
-ZenPad 7.0 (Z370C/CG/CL)-ZenPad 8.0 (Z380C/KL) with optional Z Stylus-ZenPad S 8.0 (Z580C/CA) with optional Z Stylus-ZenPad 10.1 (Z300C/CG/CL) with an optional keyboard
Asus did not provide pricing or availability, stating only that it will vary by country.