ASUS Zenfone Live is a popular smartphone in markets which are very price-sensitive. Many people can't afford an expensive device, and they look for low-end devices that deliver good value. We received this smartphone for testing and, after using it for about two weeks, here's our opinion about ASUS Zenfone Live:
Before we start, a small clarification about ASUS Zenfone Live and Zenfone Go
If you have bought an ASUS Zenfone Live and you run benchmarks or other Android apps, you might see that apps tend to identify this smartphone as an ASUS Zenfone Go (ZB501KL). The last ASUS Zenfone Go was launched in October 2016, and it had the model name ZB500KL and very similar specifications. Even though ASUS hasn't said anything officially, it seems that ASUS Zenfone Live is the successor to ASUS Zenfone Go. Most probably, the old model, even though it was popular in certain markets, will be phased out in favor of the new. ASUS has preferred this new name to promote the live streaming features that make this smartphone unique in the segment of very affordable smartphones.
What is the ASUS Zenfone Live good at?
ASUS Zenfone Live is good at the following things:
- Live streaming yourself on Facebook, YouTube, and other social media channels
- Good video recording experiences when compared to its competition
- Phone calls, music and movie listening. Everything that has to do with audio tends to be better on the ASUS Zenfone Live than on other smartphones that are similarly priced
Pros and cons
There are several good things about the ASUS Zenfone Live:
- It has a great price in most markets
- If you are into live streaming, it is the best affordable smartphone you can get
- Video recording is better than on competing devices
- Audio experiences of all kinds are superior to what you get on similarly priced smartphones
- The storage space is generous for a device in its category
- Good outdoors visibility for an affordable smartphone
- 4G LTE connectivity that works just as well as on more expensive smartphones
There are also some downsides to consider:
- Picture taking could be better if ASUS fixes the software for the camera
- Gaming on this smartphone is not a great experience
- There's no official plan for upgrading to Android 7 Nougat
- There's quite a lot of bloatware installed
- The hardware is not much of an improvement when compared to older ASUS ZenFone Go devices
We reviewed ASUS ZenFone Go when it was first launched, and we appreciated the value it delivered in the market of very affordable smartphones. ASUS Zenfone Live is a worthy successor to the ASUS ZenFone Go. While the new model doesn't change anything meaningful from a hardware perspective (except for 4G connectivity), it does deliver a better design, a more elegant body and modern features that appeal to young audiences like live streaming and good quality audio. For the price you pay, ASUS Zenfone Live delivers good value, and it is hard to find better options that are so affordably priced.
Hardware specifications and packaging
The box for the ASUS Zenfone Live smartphone is quite small. On the top, it uses black as the dominant color, and it features a picture of the device, alongside its name. The rest is white, and it displays information like its most important features, the model name, serial and IMEI numbers.
Unboxing it is quick and painless. Inside the packaging, you find the smartphone, the charger, a USB to micro USB cable, the headset, an ejector pin, the user guide and the warranty.
ASUS Zenfone Live is available in three colors: Navy Black, Rose Pink, and Shimmer Gold. We tested the first version.
ASUS Zenfone Live is a 5-inch smartphone, with an IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen that has a resolution of 1280x720 pixels. The screen-to-body ratio is 75%. The display is protected by 2.5D contoured glass, meaning that its edges fade into the case gradually. One feature that stands out is that the screen can be used with gloves if you enable the Glove mode from the phone's settings.
A positive feature is that this smartphone uses a Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410 processor with four cores running at 1.2 GHz, instead of the MediaTek chips you find on similarly priced smartphones. The graphics chip is an Adreno 305. ASUS Zenfone Live has 2GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of storage space depending on where you are purchasing it.
This smartphone is Dual SIM Dual Standby, meaning that you can use two SIM cards at the same time. Both are active only as long as you're not using them. Once you take a call on one SIM card, the other becomes inactive. This is not ideal, but the technology is less expensive and more widespread. One of the two SIM card slots can be used to extend the storage with a microSD card of up to 128 GB.
The primary camera on this smartphone has 13 megapixels, an aperture of f/2.2, autofocus and LED flash. The secondary camera has 5 megapixels, an aperture of f/2.0, autofocus and LED flash.
Regarding connectivity, you get a Micro USB 2.0 port, a 3.5 mm audio jack, a Bluetooth 4.0 chip and a wireless chip that is capable of connecting only to 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi networks that use the 802.11 b/g/n standards. You can't connect to a wireless network broadcast on the 5GHz radio frequency. Regarding sensors, you get an accelerator, an electronic compass, a proximity sensor, and an ambient light sensor.
ASUS Zenfone Live is powered by a non-removable Li-Ion 2650 mAh battery which is more than enough for its low-powered hardware specifications.
Regarding size, we are dealing with a rather small smartphone: Zenfone Live has 5.55 x 2.82 x 0.31 inches or 141.18 x 71.74 x 7.95 mm in width x depth x height. It also weighs just 4.2 ounces or 120 grams, which makes it very light.
If you would like to check the official specifications of this smartphone, you should view this page: ASUS Zenfone Live (ZB501KL) Tech Specs.
Design and build quality
ASUS Zenfone Live has a decent build quality and decent looks that are likely to appeal to young people. Since this is an affordable smartphone, it doesn't include any premium materials, to save on cost. It has a unibody design, meaning that its back can't be taken apart. Even though the back cover feels durable, it is light and made entirely out of plastic.
On the front, you find the 5-inch screen, the secondary camera, the earpiece grille, the LED flash for the camera, the Back, Home, and Recent apps buttons. And because this is an affordable smartphone these buttons are not backlit.
On the back of this smartphone, you have the primary camera and its LED flash. Unfortunately, they are awkwardly positioned in the corner, and when taking pictures, it is easy to place your finger in front of the camera, especially if you have large hands.
On the right side, you can find the Power button and the Volume rocker. On the top edge, there is the audio jack, while on the bottom edge you have the Micro-USB port and a built-in speaker. On the left edge is the place where the SIM cards tray is found. To get it out of the smartphone, you have to use the pin found inside the packaging.
The weight of this smartphone is very light. Coupled with its small size, you get the impression that you are dealing with a fragile device. Most users will prefer investing in a robust protection cover so that they enhance the durability of the ASUS Zenfone Live and protect it from accidental falls.
ASUS Zenfone Live doesn't stand out in terms of design and looks. In the end, we are dealing with a very affordable smartphone where cost is an important issue. However, its design is a pleasant one, and most people will be happy with the way it looks, especially youngsters.
If you would like to learn more about the smartphone experience offered by ASUS Zenfone Live, its camera, bundled apps and performance in benchmarks, go to the second page of this review.