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Asus Zenfone 8 review: Pint-sized powerhouse suffers predictable pitfalls

Asus goes all-in on the idea of the compact flagship. Introducing the Zenfone 8 — a fairly small handset with all the facility of a premiere telephone. Asus sacrificed virtually nothing in its pursuit of delivering a pint-sized powerhouse. Can this diminutive machine fill your large smartphone wants? Discover out within the Android Authority Asus Zenfone 8 overview.

About this Asus Zenfone 8 overview: I used the Asus Zenfone 8 (16GB/256GB) for every week operating Android 11 and Zen UI 8. The Asus Zenfone 8 unit was supplied to Android Authority by Asus for this overview.

What it’s essential to know concerning the Asus Zenfone 8

Asus Zenfone 8 standing on tracks

Credit score: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

  • Asus Zenfone 8 (6GB/128GB): €599
  • Asus Zenfone 8 (8GB/128GB): €669
  • Asus Zenfone 8 (8GB/256GB): €729
  • Asus Zenfone 8 (16GB/256GB): €799

The Asus Zenfone 8 sequence is available in two flavors: the usual mannequin (this one) and the Zenfone 8 Flip. Don’t make the error of pondering the larger Asus Zenfone 8 Flip is the higher of the 2. It’s not. Asus reserved the very best tech for the smaller of the 2 telephones in a bid to attraction to customers who need as a lot telephone as they’ll get in a tiny kind issue.

The Zenfone 8 is available in 4 variants, beginning at €599 for the 6GB RAM model and going all the best way as much as €799 for a mannequin with a whopping 16GB RAM (examined right here). Asus stated the entry-level mannequin gained’t be out there instantly, so the 8GB/128GB mannequin might be provided on the decrease €599 value level at launch. It’s unclear how quickly after launch the 6GB/128GB mannequin might be made out there.

Associated: What is taken into account a small Android telephone in 2021 and what are your choices?

Asus stated the telephone will launch in Europe first, with different areas to comply with. It is going to be offered in North America, however US value and availability are but to be introduced. The Zenfone 8 is available in Obsidian Black and Horizon Silver.

Asus has its sights set on a number of rivals within the house. Different telephones in the identical small flagship class embrace the Google Pixel 5, the Samsung Galaxy S21, the Apple iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Professional (the iPhone 12 Mini is even smaller!), and the Sony Xperia 5 III. Does the Asus Zenfone 8 have what it takes to face as much as these and different class leaders?

Why is it so small?

Asus Zenfone 8 rear against brick

Credit score: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Asus claims that two-thirds of individuals favor telephones with screens smaller than six inches. With so many consumers in that market, Asus selected to deal with them with its 2021 flagship. Furthermore, Asus’ usability research reportedly confirmed that telephones must be shorter than 150mm and narrower than 70mm to really be useable when it comes to thumb attain throughout the display screen. With this knowledge in thoughts, Asus set agency objectives in figuring out the scale of the Zenfone 8, which has a 5.9-inch display screen, stands 148mm tall, and sits 69mm broad.

The Zenfone 8 could also be a bit easy when it comes to seems to be, nevertheless it’s additionally elegant, refined, and extremely useable.

Some would possibly name the design slightly bland or boring. The Asus Zenfone 8 is the best of glass and metallic slabs. It options an aluminum mid-frame with Gorilla Glass Victus defending the display screen from breakage and Gorilla Glass 3 (which is years previous at this level) defending the rear from scratches. The telephone has a primary form with flat entrance glass and curved rear glass. The corners are properly rounded properly, and the general kind issue is clean and pocketable.

Asus didn’t skimp on supplies or construct high quality. All the pieces concerning the telephone is high-quality. The glass and metallic parts are fitted collectively exactly. It feels strong when gripped, which is straightforward to do due to the smaller dimension. We have been additionally blissful to study the telephone has an IP68 certification for cover in opposition to mud and water.

Asus Zenfone 8 right profile

Credit score: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The mid-frame is busy with the telephone’s practical components. The blue-colored energy button is completely positioned alongside the correct edge, with the amount toggle above it. These buttons have glorious journey and suggestions. A 3.5mm headphone jack sits on the highest fringe of the telephone, whereas the USB-C port is centered alongside the underside edge.

On the again you’ll spot the two-camera array in a raised module. In step with the telephone’s small design, the digital camera module is saved to a respectably compact dimension. It doesn’t dominate the rear like Samsung’s telephones, for instance.

Very similar to different smaller flagships, the Asus Zenfone 8 is a really manageable piece of {hardware} that’s onerous to not like. It might be a bit easy when it comes to seems to be, nevertheless it’s additionally elegant, refined, and extremely useable. And if you happen to’re in that group of people that favor smaller telephones, you’ll discover all the fundamental design components {that a} flagship ought to supply.

How’s that tiny display screen?

Asus Zenfone 8 against tree

Credit score: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

It’s onerous to consider I’m referring to a 5.9-inch display screen as “small” however right here we’re. Lots of right now’s telephones — significantly flagships — include screens that measure between 6.1 and 6.9-inches. Some would possibly even counsel {that a} 6.1-inch display screen is small as of late, however there’s a world of individuals on the market for whom smaller is smarter.

The Zenfone 8’s display screen measures 5.9-inches throughout the diagonal and provides Full HD+ decision in a 20:9 side ratio. This Samsung-sourced AMOLED includes a 120Hz refresh price. Out of the field, it’s set to adaptive, which means the refresh charges ramps up and down relying on the duties at hand. It may be set to a static 60Hz, 90Hz, or 120Hz if you happen to favor. The display screen additionally helps a 1ms response time due to the 240MHz contact sampling price.

Extra studying: Refresh price defined: What does 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz imply?

Let’s not forgot brightness and shade. The display screen has an out of doors brightness of 800nits, with peak brightness reaching 1,100nits. There’s DCI-P3 and HDR10+ assist on board as nicely, which means you’ve obtained deep, wealthy shade and distinction.

How does it look? Implausible. I used to be very happy with the general efficiency of the show, which pushed vivid, cheery colours underneath all lighting circumstances. Some might balk that it doesn’t have extra pixels on board, however the 445ppi is a lot for this dimension. All the pieces on the display screen seemed clear and sharp.

Asus saved the bezels in test, although they could possibly be slimmer for my part. There’s a barely-there brow and chin above and beneath the display screen, respectively, which is the place I hoped you’d discover objects such because the selfie digital camera. As a substitute, the selfie digital camera is positioned in a punch-hole set into the upper-left nook of the display screen. It’s not terribly noticeable other than the skinny silver ring that circles it and catches the sunshine at sure angles. Some might discover this annoying.

All the pieces on the Zenfone 8′ display screen seems to be.

You’ve obtained tons of management over how the display screen behaves. There’s blue gentle, shade profiles, sensible display screen, sizing, animation speeds, and app scaling. You possibly can even change the looks of the facility button menu and the association of the standing bar icons. There’s an always-on show choice, too, that reveals a clock when the display screen is off.

The fingerprint reader is constructed into the show. I believed the reader was positioned in a great place. Coaching the reader was a little bit of a headache, because the display screen saved registering grime and asking for it to be cleaned to proceed. As soon as skilled the reader labored simply okay; it wasn’t fairly as quick as others I’ve examined not too long ago. It’s possible you’ll discover it extra dependable to make use of a PIN, sample, or password.

Total, Asus ensured its diminutive flagship telephone has a flagship-class show.

What about efficiency?

Asus gave the Zenfone 8 the absolute best processor with a purpose to ship the absolute best efficiency. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 — paired with 16GB of RAM in our overview unit — is as fast as they arrive on the earth of Android. The Zenfone 8 impressed with its pace and clean operation.

The telephone sailed by means of a handful of ordinary benchmarking apps, together with 3DMark, AnTuTu, and GeekBench 4. It put up respectable CPU and GPU scores that matched these of competing Snapdragon 888-equipped telephones. About the one telephone that blew previous it was the Apple iPhone 12 Professional Max, which runs Apple’s A14 Bionic silicon. I ran our homegrown Velocity Check G benchmark and the telephone scored a strong one minute and 15 seconds — proper the place it needs to be for a Snapdragon 888 telephone. Its outcomes have been consistent with these of the Samsung Galaxy S21, Xiaomi Mi 11 Extremely, and different prime performers.

The Zenfone 8 impressed with its pace and clean operation.

The telephone has a number of efficiency modes and the high-performance mode kicked on after I ran 3DMark. This occurred robotically. Excessive-performance mode is the “most suitable option for demanding apps” in keeping with the outline within the settings. It’s mainly a gaming mode for the telephone which runs the processor at increased speeds on the expense of battery life. You possibly can manually set the efficiency mode to one thing with much less horsepower and extra longevity if you want.

When it comes to on a regular basis efficiency, the telephone runs completely nicely. Nothing slows it down or causes it to lag, even when it’s set to 120Hz always. I checked out some video games as nicely, they usually all ran advantageous. Even probably the most demanding video games exhibited lag-free experiences.

The Snapdragon 888 and plentiful RAM allotment for our check unit ensured flawless efficiency throughout all utilization situations. The 8GB/128GB mannequin will seemingly put up numbers and efficiency which might be comparable, making it the variant to look out for if you wish to steadiness value and efficiency.

Does the battery maintain up?

Asus says it gave the telephone absolutely the largest battery it may contemplating the scale of the telephone and every part else it wanted to pack into the chassis. I’d have most popular to see just a few hundred extra milliamp-hours, however possibly that’s simply me.

The battery will get by means of a full day with somewhat room to spare. That’s when the telephone is used within the inventory 120Hz adaptive mode. It sailed by means of battery-hungry benchmarking exams, gaming, and different heavy lifting with ease. I observed a slight dip in whole battery life after I set the telephone to full-time 120Hz mode. It nonetheless obtained by means of a full day, however simply barely. Utilizing the devoted 90Hz or 60Hz modes leaves you with extra respiration room on the finish of the day.

Associated: The perfect telephone charging equipment

Imagine it or not, the always-on show is the most important battery killer. I switched the AOD on and immediately observed a major hit to battery life. As a lot as I like a superb AOD for checking the time and notifications at a look, the intense energy it attracts on the Zenfone 8 makes it a chancy characteristic to allow.

The battery can run in 5 distinct modes, every of which redraws the steadiness between efficiency and battery life. If you end up operating into battery life points, you’ll be able to discover these to search out the correct mix.

The Zenfone 8’s battery will get by means of a full day with somewhat room to spare.

As for charging speeds, Asus saved issues in test. The telephone helps as much as 30W wired charging. Nevertheless, it doesn’t assist wi-fi charging in any respect. No less than Asus was variety sufficient to produce the 30W charger within the field. The telephone reaches 60% in 25 minutes, 80% in 38 minutes, and 100% in about 80 minutes. There are instruments you should utilize to set charging limits, change the charging pace to a constant curve, and so forth all to assist maintain the battery at its healthiest.

Wanting on the competitors, almost all of the flagships on this house supply wi-fi charging, whereas some supply sooner wired charging too. Asus performed it secure. Possibly too secure.

How does the digital camera carry out?

Asus Zenfone 8 camera module

Credit score: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

It’s onerous to not be barely upset with the Zenfone 8’s digital camera configuration. It has simply two lenses — an ordinary lens and an ultra-wide lens — when many flagships have three. The factor it actually lacks is a telephoto lens, which suggests any zooming is carried out digitally. Whereas dropping a zoom lens for a less expensive flagship isn’t unprecedented, it’s unusual to see no third digital camera in any respect. There’s no devoted macro digital camera (which I’m advantageous with), and there’s not even a depth sensor to assist producing portraits. For people who need an optical zoom lens, the fancier Zenfone 8 Flip beneficial properties the third digital camera however lacks optical picture stabilization on the first shooter.

See additionally: The perfect digital camera telephones you should purchase

The Zenfone 8’s principal digital camera depends on a 64MP Sony IMX686 sensor that’s binned down by an element of 4 to provide 16MP closing photographs. The IMX686 helps OIS, which Asus says helps it take sharper zoom pictures. That is Sony’s flagship sensor and it has appeared in lots of premium telephones over the course of the final 12 months. The secondary digital camera is a 12MP Sony IMX363. This is identical sensor present in latest Google Pixel telephones, in addition to reasonably priced telephones the world over. This ultra-wide digital camera additionally doubles as a macro digital camera. Final, there’s the 12MP selfie digital camera, which depends on the Sony IMX663, a more moderen imaging sensor.

Asus Zenfone 8 camera sample COLOR

Credit score: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Pictures I captured with the primary digital camera turned out good, however wanting glorious.

How do the pictures look? Pictures I captured with the primary digital camera turned out good, however wanting glorious. I used to be happy general with publicity, shade, and focus. White steadiness was typically hit and miss, although principally correct. Asus isn’t doing something equivalent to pushing colours, so photos typically lacked that visible punch that you simply would possibly see from rivals such because the Samsung Galaxy S21.

Images taken through the ultra-wide weren’t fairly as strong. Along with apparent visible distortion, which you would possibly anticipate from an ultra-wide digital camera, there was a dramatic improve within the quantity of noise seen in every picture. Pictures taken in low gentle have been significantly grainy, and distinction was missing. It’s not probably the most spectacular digital camera I’ve used.

Asus Zenfone 8 ultra-wideAsus Zenfone 8 principal digital camera Asus Zenfone 8 ultra-wide

Asus Zenfone 8 main camera

Selfies captured through the 12MP front-facing digital camera have been pleasing. The selfie digital camera does a good job with each common selfies and bokeh’d portraits. The portraits provided good edge detection and the correct steadiness of background blur.

The telephone can seize video as much as 8K at 30fps, however you’ll do greatest to stay with 4K at 60fps for probably the most usable outcomes. Video high quality was good for probably the most half, although I observed a little bit of grain in darker footage.

Associated: The perfect finances digital camera telephones you should purchase

Altogether, the Asus Zenfone 8 has an honest principal digital camera, nevertheless it falls wanting competing gadgets as an general bundle.

You possibly can see full-resolution picture samples on this Google Drive folder.

The rest?

  • Zen UI 8: The telephone runs Android 11 with Asus’ Zen UI 8 on board. It has a clear look with an app drawer by default. Core Android behaviors are intact and, most significantly, Zen UI doesn’t get in the best way of usability. Netflix is the one bloatware app put in, and it may be deleted if you want.
  • Software program updates: Asus doesn’t have the very best monitor file with respect to system updates. It has dedicated to 2 main system updates for this telephone, which is encouraging. Nevertheless, this comes at a time when competing telephone makers are starting to supply three years’ price of upgrades and safety patches. Furthermore, Asus is gradual to push the updates that it has dedicated to.
  • Notification gentle: The Zenfone 8 has a charging indicator gentle that’s tucked into the underside fringe of the telephone. I actually like this characteristic. The sunshine shines orange because the telephone fees and turns inexperienced as soon as the battery has reached a full cost. It’s tremendous useful and since it’s on the underside it’s seen whether or not the telephone is positioned on its face or again. The charging gentle may also double as a notification indicator.
  • Audio system: The earpiece and a bottom-firing speaker work collectively to provide stereo sound. Asus says the audio system are powered by twin Cirrus Logic Mono AMPs to spice up quantity and readability. In observe, meaning this telephone will get loopy loud. I pushed it onerous with some metallic, dance, and techno and it rose to the problem with out getting distorted or overly noisy. The low-end was excellent for a telephone, and high-end feels like cymbal crashes have been crisp and clear. Should you favor to jack in, you’ve obtained a Qualcomm Aqstic DAC and Dirac HD Sound out there through the headphone jack.
  • Twin-SIM: The Asus Zenfone 8 helps as much as two SIM playing cards, however doesn’t assist microSD reminiscence playing cards.
  • Fingerprints: Either side of the telephone entice fingerprints and different grime. It takes the shine off the stunning matte end actually shortly.

Asus Zenfone 8 specs

  Asus Zenfone 8 Asus Zenfone 8 Flip
Show 5.9-inch AMOLED
FHD+
HDR10+
120Hz refresh price
Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
6.67-inch AMOLED
FHD+
HDR10+
90Hz refresh price
Corning Gorilla Glass 6
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
GPU Qualcomm Adreno 660 Qualcomm Adreno 660
RAM 6/8/16GB
LPDDR5
8GB
LPDDR5
Storage 128/256GB
UFS 3.1
Non-expandable
128/256GB
UFS 3.1
Expandable with microSD card (as much as 2TB)
Battery 4,000mAh battery
30W wired charging
5,000mAh battery
30W wired charging
Cameras Major:
64MP Sony IMX686 sensor with OIS, 2x lossless zoom
f/1.8 aperture
0.8μm pixels
Twin LED flash
8K/30fps video

Secondary:
12MP ultra-wide sensor, Twin PDAF, macro mode (IMX363, 113 levels)

Entrance: 12MP IMX663
f/2.45 aperture
1.22μm pixels
Twin PDAF

Major:
64MP Sony IMX686 sensor
f/1.8 aperture
0.8μm pixels
Twin LED flash
8K/30fps video

Secondary:
12MP ultra-wide sensor (IMX363, 112 levels)

Tertiary: 8MP 3x telephoto

Connectivity Wi-Fi 6E (US solely)
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC
Twin nano-SIM
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC
Twin nano-SIM
Working System ZenUI 8
Android 11
ZenUI 8
Android 11
Audio Stereo audio system
3.5mm port
Stereo audio system
No 3.5mm port
Dimensions 148 x 68.5 x 8.9mm
169g
165.04 x 77.28 x 9.6mm
230g
Colours Obsidian Black
Horizon Silver
Galactic Black
Glacier Silver

Worth and competitors

Asus Zenfone 8

The Asus Zenfone 8 is a compact flagship that hopes to outline a brand new class of small-statured smartphones. It packs prime specs, equivalent to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, right into a pint-sized chassis.

It’s onerous to argue with Asus’ pricing for the Zenfone 8 sequence. With a value of simply €599 (~$729) for the most affordable mannequin, you’ve obtained fairly a flagship discount in your arms because it virtually falls into mid-range territory. The telephone provides numerous worth at that value level, and undercuts numerous the competitors.

You’ve obtained numerous prime specs on board, such because the Snapdragon 888, the 120Hz display screen, and the Gorilla Glass Victus face. Asus clearly made some budget- and space-minded choices, too, equivalent to leaving out wi-fi charging and conserving the digital camera choices in test.

Additionally learn: The perfect Android telephones you should purchase

The primary and maybe most pure different to the Zenfone 8 is the Zenfone 8 Flip. The Flip is a bigger variant of Zenfone 8, nevertheless it has some notable variations. For instance, the display screen is downgraded from 120Hz to 90Hz, however you’ve obtained an even bigger battery. It additionally has three cameras, together with a telephoto, the place the Zenfone 8 has two — nevertheless it loses the headphone jack, IP ranking, OIS on the primary shooter, and Wi-Fi 6E. The Flip can be €200 extra. It’s an odd competitor and is actually a redo of the Zenfone 7 sequence, however if you’d like an even bigger telephone from Asus with this 12 months’s silicon, it’s your solely alternative.

As for different rivals, Google’s Pixel 5 begins at $699 and has a much less spectacular spec sheet, however a superior digital camera. The $799 Samsung Galaxy S21 is a greater telephone general, however you’re paying for it. Maybe the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is a extra direct competitor to the Zenfone 8, because it carries a $599 price ticket as of late and provides most of the similar options — albeit with 2020 silicon underneath the hood — and provides a telephoto digital camera. We don’t have pricing but on the Sony Xperia 5 III, however you’ll be able to wager it’ll be increased than €599.

Then there’s the Apple iPhone 12 Professional for individuals who aren’t afraid to leap to iOS. The 12 Professional is a bit greater and much more costly at $999. It’s maybe a greater instance of what a “compact” flagship is, because it skimps on mainly nothing. Additional, it provides stellar software program, efficiency, and digital camera experiences. Should you’ve already made peace with sacrificing the telephoto lens with the Zenfone 8 then the common iPhone 12 can be price a search for $799. The iPhone 12 Mini ($699) provides a lot of the identical however in an excellent smaller kind issue than the Zenfone 8, although you’ll take an excellent better hit on battery life.

Asus Zenfone 8 overview: The decision

Asus Zenfone 8 rear standing on tracks

Credit score: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

There’s all the time a sacrifice to be made with smaller telephones. Asus tried actually onerous to make the Zenfone 8 a top-performing flagship in a small, easy-to-use piece of {hardware}. It very almost obtained every part proper, but just some issues maintain the Zenfone 8 again.

Probably the most evident points to me are battery life and the digital camera. Whereas the battery life is mostly good, flipping on options such because the always-on show takes a noticeable hit on battery life. Moreover, whereas the primary digital camera will get the job completed, the ultra-wide digital camera falls behind the competitors. The Zenfone 8 additionally doesn’t assist the optical zoom that lots of its rivals do.

There’s all the time a sacrifice to be made with smaller telephones, however the Zenfone 8 very almost obtained every part proper.

There’s nonetheless a lot to love. The telephone’s small dimension makes it a cushty piece of {hardware} to hold and use. The show is great, the efficiency is top-notch, and the telephone provides a lot of further perks, equivalent to a headphone jack and stereo audio system, a notification gentle, and the stock-like Zen UI 8.

Even with its flaws, for €599, the Asus Zenfone 8 is a heck of a discount for small telephone fanatics.

What do you think?

Written by virajthari

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