Hands-On

ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie hands-on and camera review

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ASUS has just released the latest in their ZenFone line, and they went all out releasing not just one, but a number of phones, for different types of users. One of the models that I’m particularly interested in would be the ZenFone 4 Selfie.

Marketed as an entry-level phone, at least compared to the ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro which was also released, this bad boy boasts the ability to capture all your possible selfies — and capture them well.

Girl taking selfies with the ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie

I got my hands on this lean, mean selfie machine and here are my initial thoughts.

Look and feel

The ZenFone 4 Selfie is a decent-looking phone equipped with the new ZenUI which means a cleaner interface.

ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie

Flip it around and you get a special surprise: A glittery back! For those who aren’t as amused by glittery objects, no need to worry, as this detail isn’t so noticeable under normal lighting conditions. ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie glittery back

The ZenFone 4 Selfie has a unibody build that’s surprisingly light — almost too light. And yet, for a phone with a 5.5-inch screen, it feels bigger and wider in my dainty hands. I could tell immediately that I’d have trouble holding it for those one-handed selfies.

Girl taking selfies with ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie, screen facing the camera

Yep, using two hands for selfies

A noticeable detail on this device is its unique camera placement. Instead of having both shooters on one side as most selfie phones are prone to doing, the ZenFone 4 Selfie has its cameras positioned on different sides of the phone’s front.

ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie cameras

The bottom of the phone has a capacitive home button with a built-in fingerprint scanner, plus the back and multitasking buttons beside it.

ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie bottom

The audio jack is found on the top of the phone; the volume rocker and the power button are on the right side; the triple-slot tray which can house two SIM cards and a microSD card is on the left; and a micro-USB port and speaker grilles are at the bottom.

Camera test run

It’s not called a selfie phone for no reason. The ZenFone 4 Selfie is equipped with dual cameras up front featuring 20- and 8-megapixel cameras, the latter one with a 120-degree view. This means selfies both in wide-angle and bokeh mode — something most selfie phones don’t offer together.

ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie photo sample

Beauty Mode + bokeh + wide angle

Another winner is the phone’s beauty features found in the built-in camera app. A slew of beauty mode options are available — from skin softening, to eye enhancement, and even cheek thinning — for all your selfie needs. An additional ASUS app, the SelfieMaster, also enables users to shoot video and livestream in beauty mode.

Selfies with minimal beauty mode on the ASUS Zenfone 4 Selfie

The rear camera is a 16-megapixel shooter. Here are more sample shots with the camera: 

Other specs

Holding the ASUS ZenFone 4 selfie camera

An efficient Snapdragon 430 chipset powers this selfie phone which runs on Android 7.1 Nougat. It has 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage, expandable to 2TB via microSD and a battery capacity of 3000mAh.

Selfie verdict and first impressions

When companies attempt to produce an entry-level handset, the cameras are usually the first get downgraded. The ZenFone 4 Selfie changes that. On the lower-end spectrum, this particular phone gives you a lot and more when it comes to photography.

More selfies with the ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie

Undeniably, this smartphone packs pretty powerful shooters and very detailed beauty options for your pictures. I am very pleasantly surprised and I look forward to more selfies taken with ASUS’ ZenFone 4 Selfie series.

SEE ALSO: ASUS ZenFone 4 launches with Pro, Selfie, and Max models

[irp posts=”18430″ name=”ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie Unboxing and Hands-On”]

Hands-On

90 days with the Galaxy Z Fold4

A three-month affair with Samsung’s high-end foldable

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Galaxy Z Fold4

The first time I laid eyes on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4, it felt like seeing a friend whom you know has gone through several character developments.

It’s not a love-at-first-sight scenario unlike what struck me when I saw the Galaxy Z Flip3. Despite having a marvelous time using the Fold’s predecessor, I still couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of having a long-time affair with this foldable smartphone.

So I gave it another try — 90 days, that is. Just like that hilarious reality series brimming with loathsome personalities.

30 days

On the first month of having the Galaxy Z Fold4, I treated it like a partner that I’m becoming acquainted with. I thought of it as an ex-lover who got better, trying to win my heart again.

The first thing I did was personalize it to my liking. I ordered a case from China that would make me happy while using the device while keeping it protected from scratches and dents — if it accidentally slips.

Using it bare, you can feel that the device is lighter than its predecessors. True to the company’s claim. It’s like a classic tale of shedding a few pounds and increasing your worth. The Fold is more attractive when it’s lightweight.

Yet somehow, it didn’t feel safe and secure in my grip. It’s slippery, too massive in my tiny hands, and still felt fragile despite proving its immense durability over the years.

A smartphone with an almost US$ 2000 price tag is certainly delicate, no matter how you look at it.

With the phone case I bought, the Fold felt heavier but it gave me assurance that it was protected from anything that might break it.

Arm and eye candy

I’ve brought the Galaxy Z Fold4 to meetings, events, and conferences. Every time I whip it out of my bag, I pique the crowd’s curiosity.

The Fold4 isn’t a shiny new toy anymore. But it bedazzles anyone who sees it for a multitude of reasons. Expensive, a unique form factor, and surely, an innovation to most eyes.

It’s like having a partner that’s both an arm and eye candy. I enjoy the attention I get from the crowd, mesmerizing them as I showcase the Fold’s camera features.

I can take a group selfie like a regular smartphone, or prop it open and use its under-display camera. Furthermore, I used the rear camera to take a selfie, by exhibiting how the secondary screen can act as a mirror when taking photos.

The same trick can be used when taking portraits of friends and acquaintances, so they can strike a pose while giving them a glimpse of how they’d look.

Here are some photos I took using the Galaxy Z Fold4 in different modes:

Galaxy Z Fold4

Galaxy Z Fold4

Galaxy Z Fold4

Galaxy Z Fold4

Galaxy Z Fold4

Galaxy Z Fold4

Galaxy Z Fold4

The Galaxy Z Fold4 has a versatile arsenal of cameras at its disposal, breaking the notion that all features of a flagship smartphone should be used to maximize its worth.

After all, people have different preferences and usage regarding the devices they own. With a unique form factor, the Fold sets itself as an everyday device that can adapt to different situations. At least, that’s what I thought of after having the device for a month.

Galaxy Z Fold4

Galaxy Z Fold4

Galaxy Z Fold4

Galaxy Z Fold4

Galaxy Z Fold4

Galaxy Z Fold4

60 days

Days with the Galaxy Z Fold 4 got a little bit stale after the first month, seeing how I got swamped with various projects at work.

The honeymoon phase fizzled already, getting used to having the Fold with me at all times.

I’ve recognized its ability to help me catch up with work while on the go. It lets me check designs, communicate through emails and chats while power walking through fifth and ninth avenue in Bonifacio Global City. With it, I can also monitor my platforms through its big screen.

Galaxy Z Fold4

Occasionally, I use it to play SimCity — a game I play to train my decision-making skills by becoming a mayor of a made-up town. The device offered plenty of screen real estate to give me an overview of the game. However, I couldn’t say the same for other titles.

Some would enjoy having the bigger screen on a portable, versatile device as they play graphics-intensive and action-packed titles. I saw some tech creators do it. Not me, though.

It allows me to have a tighter and firmer grip on my device as I smash my thumbs against the display. The Fold4 required me to spread my fingers apart to support the device when playing games.

Entertainment on the go

While I have qualms regarding playing games on the Fold4, the same cannot be said when watching films and TV shows. With its lightweight form factor, it’s easier to hold with one hand when watching videos on the go.

Galaxy Z Fold4

But if I get exhausted, I can prop it up and fold it halfway so it stands on its own. It’s a much smaller screen real estate, but it’s manageable to watch on, especially when you don’t have any phone stand that can support the Fold4’s size.

Lasts for quite a while

For what it’s worth, I’m elated with how the Fold lasted me throughout the day. It didn’t give up on me on days when I’m stuck running around the Fort, traveling between cities, and being out and about.

Galaxy Z Fold4

Most reviewers picked on the device’s battery and “slow” fast-charging, but seeing how I’m the peak, multi-tasking average user — it’s still enough. It could’ve been better, that’s for sure. Especially for days when I leave in the morning and back home at almost midnight. Halfway, I would need to recharge my device.

But truth be told, nowadays, people bring power banks and carry their cables and adapters in case they find sockets to charge their devices on. Besides, the Fold is barely a device you bring along for long days of work outside — it really just isn’t it.

Galaxy Z Fold4

90 days

After spending two months with the Fold4, I found it difficult to keep using the foldable smartphone as my lifestyle changed.

I can only keep up with using it when I’m handling commitments to my work and my sports team. I’ve been using the device as a work notebook in most cases. From tracking down my meetings, hopping on zoom calls at the nearest Starbucks cafe, and catching up with important messages.

Galaxy Z Fold4

As I put more focus on being an athlete, it was challenging to bring the Fold to my training. It doesn’t fit my armband, and it’s heavy for my belt bag and hydration vest. I felt it will impede me from reaching new personal records.

My last race, which was held in Timberland Heights, didn’t give me the opportunity to use the Fold4’s impressive set of cameras.

I had wished it was there with me. To capture my favorite moments of triumph and victory over a grueling race course. But I didn’t since the device wasn’t meant for rugged activities.

As I ended my 90-day stint with the Galaxy Z Fold4, I’ve had epiphanies regarding the device and of course, myself.

It wasn’t meant to be

The Galaxy Z Fold4 wasn’t meant for me and the person I’m becoming, no matter how much I enjoy its features and unique form factor.

Galaxy Z Fold4

It’s like a lesson of learning how to cherish the people we come across. We might be able to delight in the experience of having them with us for a moment in time, but our paths only cross for a short while.

It wasn’t even a “right device, wrong time” situation. It’s simply a case of not being my GadgetMatch. Think of the relationships you’ve had in the past. The connections you’ve outgrown. The people you left behind because you weren’t aligned anymore.

That is my case for the Galaxy Z Fold4. It’s a fleeting affair. A companionship that harmoniously blended into my life for three months. That is until I decided to leave my comfort zone and pursued what really makes my soul jump.

Galaxy Z Fold4

I don’t intend to bring it into the new chapter of my life. But if my path moved once more and we crossed paths, maybe I can take it for another time. Maybe, third time’s the charm. Or maybe, it’s an experience that I will fondly recall in the months to come.

Who knows? The future is uncertain and that’s what makes life exciting. C’est la vie.

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Gaming

One Piece Odyssey Hands-On: Open world, tactical battles

Designed like a true JRPG, felt like it too

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It dawned upon us that BANDAI NAMCO is known for having a string of One Piece video games out there. Across multiple systems, the franchise mostly hosted a ton of role-playing games and some fighting games here and there. This time around, the company is looking for some way to merge the two themes into the next generation.

One Piece Odyssey is the fruit of their labor, and is initially designed to be a “fully-fleshed out JPRG” by their standards. Their new, next-gen optimized title brings together all the role playing mixed with turn-based combat. All in an ideally open world setting. Of course, the stars of the show include your favorite characters from the popular anime itself!

We got a chance to try this game out for ourselves at the Thailand Game Show 2022. Here’s what we think about this upcoming JRPG:

The Straw Hat Pirates journey into the unknown

In One Piece Odyssey, you join the Straw Hat Pirates in an adventure to a mysterious island called Waford. Legend has it that it’s a place where no journeyman has ever come back, as a wild storm covers the island and all nearby areas. During the Thailand Game Show preview, we even got a preview of one of the areas you can visit, Alabasta.

No One Piece game is complete without the full force of the Straw Hat Pirates as some of your favorite characters are here. From Monkey D. Luffy to Chopper, everyone has a role to play especially in a more open world setting. Of course, it wouldn’t be an adventure without some back and forth banter within the crew, especially with the members you take with you. I only wished that the banter didn’t take up 60% of the time you spend playing the game.

Much like any open world game, you also get your fair share of main and side quests with the rest of the crew. With these, you get to explore some of the areas in a whole new way and even discover some secrets to help clear the storm. Visually, everything looked detailed enough and designed well against the One Piece art style.

Turn-based combat with some rock-paper-scissors

As a Japanese RPG, there’s no better way to express it than through turn-based, command-focused combat. For One Piece Odyssey, this comes in the form of enemy Encounters throughout both main and side quests that are usually done with groups of enemies. Much like all other JRPGs, each character comes with their own set of attacks designed for either combat or support.

In a rather unique twist, Encounters come with enemies in which you are either strong or weak against. Think of it like playing Pokémon but with One Piece characters and enemies, which I honestly found pretty cool. Instead of going into every battle and just keep attacking, there’s an added layer of strategy added to it. At the end of each Encounter, your crew members earn XP and even level up to gain some strength and attribute boosts.

Also, as an additional combat mechanic, you can even initiate attacks that deal damage within an area-of-effect and can heal other members, given the open world setting. This is honestly good when dealing with hordes of enemies during specific Encounters. Although, this is only available for a specific set of characters, so choose wisely.

Need more plot details

The thing though is, well, the short demo we played during the Thailand Game Show 2022 didn’t really provide much details on the full story. Somehow, the gang found themselves already within the island areas, fighting a storm that clouds the whole area. Also, there are a bunch of new characters you will meet along the way.

As revealed during the TGS 2022 festivities, One Piece Odyssey comes with the arrival of Lim and Adeo, two mysterious characters with their own sets of abilities. Although, it’s quite unclear as to what their intentions are for the Straw Hat Crew. Hopefully, more details will be revealed soon.

Overall, One Piece Odyssey serves up a promising title for JRPG fans and even One Piece fans alike. I honestly enjoyed the short time experiencing this game, from the exploration to the combat mechanics. If anything, I can give the amount of dialogue in between loading and cutscenes a pass despite how much of your time is consumed by it.

You might have to wait a while for the full game as One Piece Odyssey will be available January 2023 for both modern and next-gen consoles plus the PC.

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Gaming

The new Doraemon Story of Seasons game goes intergalactic

At least, based on the gameplay we had with it

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Doraemon Story of Seasons

Who would have thought that you could come up with a farming game featuring one of the most popular anime franchises in Japan? For BANDAI NAMCO, anything is possible, I guess as that lovable cat named Doraemon has his own video game. Of course, believe it or not, this isn’t their first tango with Doraemon and friends.

Doraemon Story of Seasons serves as a direct spin-off to the popular Story of Seasons (formerly Harvest Moon) franchise. In essence, it’s a farming simulator complete with day and night cycles, tools, crops to sell — all to restore an old farm into a glorious one. To add its own spin on it, you also have access to Doraemon’s secret gadgets to help with the farm work.

Safe to say, the gang are back and this time, there’s a much bigger farm to tend to somewhere — say, on another planet. This is what Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom is all about, and we got a chance to try this game at the Thailand Game Show 2022.

Everything is pretty much the same as before

Like its predecessor, Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom follows a similar play style as any farming simulator. In its own basic sense, you start off with a pretty empty farm and are tasked with planting available crops within your inventory. Of course, you have some basic tools suited for farming at your disposal.

In this game, you still play as Nobita (Noby, for short) and you still have Doraemon, your friends and family members helping you manage the farm. Also, apart from managing your crops, you also have to manage the farm animals you pick up along the way. As with any Story of Seasons title, you have to do all your tasks within that day or week – especially when certain services are only available on specific days.

It’s all the same stuff as before — kind of like the whole “if it ain’t broke, don’t even try to fix it” situation. To be fair, for a game like this, it’s okay to be consistent with the formula and changing it might be confusing.

New world to explore, more to connect with

Although there’s nothing particularly different from before, BANDAI NAMCO did add some more things to Friends of the Great Kingdom, considering the new environment. One of which includes some new gadgets from Doraemon that you can use to help you with managing your farm.

During the initial playthrough of the demo, one of these gadgets was available as a farming crop called “Farm Restaurant.” Instead of planting and harvesting crops to make food or sell at the end of the day, “Farm Restaurant” allows you to basically plant full meals instead. Of course, you can also sell these for much more profit but it’s definitely a faster way to prepare your meals for the day.

Another new feature added are specific crops that require more than one person to harvest fully. With Friends of the Great Kingdom, you will gain assistance from your friends through local or online Co-Op to harvest large crops on your farm. As they say, no one can run a farm on their own (I mean the title alone already suggests that).

How did you end up on this planet?

In Friends of the Great Kingdom, you find yourself in the vast planet of Irima filled with new worlds to explore. Although the demo only gave you access to just the house and nearby areas, the trailer also hints at going to worlds underwater as well. In this world, you meet Lumis, a boy with his own dreams.

Doraemon Story of Seasons

The demo doesn’t really touch on how you ended up on Irima and what you eventually need to do to further progress in the story. All we know so far is that Doraemon and friends are now starting a new farm life on a faraway planet. Although, along the way, you will be building relationships with everyone to help develop the farm into its best version yet.

So far, Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom provides something similar with a twist. With a new planet to explore, new gadgets for farming, and new bonds to build, this game has potential to provide something new for both old and new players alike. If you want to give this game a go, it is now available for the PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC through Steam!

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