Pint-sized powerhouse suffers predictable pitfalls

Patrick

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 cellphone. Asus sacrificed nearly 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 per 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 worthwhile to know in regards to 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 perfect tech for the smaller of the 2 telephones in a bid to enchantment to customers who need as a lot cellphone 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 way in which as much as €799 for a mannequin with a whopping 16GB RAM (examined right here). Asus stated the entry-level mannequin received’t be accessible straight away, so the 8GB/128GB mannequin can be supplied on the decrease €599 value level at launch. It’s unclear how quickly after launch the 6GB/128GB mannequin can be made accessible.

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

Asus stated the cellphone will launch in Europe first, with different areas to observe. It will likely 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 area. 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 have to be shorter than 150mm and narrower than 70mm to really be useable when it comes to thumb attain throughout the display. With this information in thoughts, Asus set agency objectives in figuring out the scale of the Zenfone 8, which has a 5.9-inch display, stands 148mm tall, and sits 69mm broad.

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

Some may name the design moderately bland or boring. The Asus Zenfone 8 is the only of glass and steel slabs. It options an aluminum mid-frame with Gorilla Glass Victus defending the display from breakage and Gorilla Glass 3 (which is years outdated at this level) defending the rear from scratches. The cellphone 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 things in regards to the cellphone is high-quality. The glass and steel parts are fitted collectively exactly. It feels strong when gripped, which is simple to do due to the smaller measurement. We have been additionally joyful to study the cellphone 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 cellphone’s useful parts. The blue-colored energy button is completely positioned alongside the proper edge, with the quantity toggle above it. These buttons have glorious journey and suggestions. A 3.5mm headphone jack sits on the highest fringe of the cellphone, 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 cellphone’s small design, the digital camera module is stored to a respectably compact measurement. It doesn’t dominate the rear like Samsung’s telephones, for instance.

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

How’s that tiny display?

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 as “small” however right here we’re. A lot of immediately’s telephones — significantly flagships — include screens that measure between 6.1 and 6.9-inches. Some may even recommend {that a} 6.1-inch display is small nowadays, however there’s a world of individuals on the market for whom smaller is smarter.

The Zenfone 8’s display measures 5.9-inches throughout the diagonal and gives Full HD+ decision in a 20:9 side ratio. This Samsung-sourced AMOLED incorporates 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 in the event you favor. The display 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 has an out of doors brightness of 800nits, with peak brightness reaching 1,100nits. There’s DCI-P3 and HDR10+ help on board as nicely, which means you’ve acquired deep, wealthy shade and distinction.

How does it look? Improbable. I used to be very happy with the general efficiency of the show, which pushed shiny, cheery colours below all lighting circumstances. Some could balk that it doesn’t have extra pixels on board, however the 445ppi is a lot for this measurement. All the things on the display regarded clear and sharp.

Asus stored the bezels in examine, although they could possibly be slimmer in my view. There’s a barely-there brow and chin above and under the display, respectively, which is the place I hoped you’d discover gadgets such because the selfie digital camera. As an alternative, the selfie digital camera is positioned in a punch-hole set into the upper-left nook of the display. It’s not terribly noticeable aside from the skinny silver ring that circles it and catches the sunshine at sure angles. Some could discover this annoying.

All the things on the Zenfone 8′ display seems.

You’ve acquired tons of management over how the display behaves. There’s blue mild, shade profiles, good display, sizing, animation speeds, and app scaling. You’ll be able to even change the looks of the facility button menu and the association of the standing bar icons. There’s an always-on show possibility, too, that reveals a clock when the display is off.

The fingerprint reader is constructed into the show. I assumed the reader was positioned in a great spot. Coaching the reader was a little bit of a headache, because the display stored 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. Chances are you’ll discover it extra dependable to make use of a PIN, sample, or password.

Total, Asus ensured its diminutive flagship cellphone 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 planet of Android. The Zenfone 8 impressed with its pace and clean operation.

The cellphone sailed by a handful of normal 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 cellphone 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 cellphone scored a strong one minute and 15 seconds — proper the place it needs to be for a Snapdragon 888 cellphone. Its outcomes have been consistent with these of the Samsung Galaxy S21, Xiaomi Mi 11 Extremely, and different high performers.

The Zenfone 8 impressed with its pace and clean operation.

The cellphone has a number of efficiency modes and the high-performance mode kicked on once I ran 3DMark. This occurred routinely. Excessive-performance mode is the “best option for demanding apps” based on the outline within the settings. It’s mainly a gaming mode for the cellphone which runs the processor at larger speeds on the expense of battery life. You’ll be able to 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 cellphone 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 effective. Even essentially 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 probably put up numbers and efficiency which are comparable, making it the variant to look out for if you wish to stability value and efficiency.

Does the battery maintain up?

Asus says it gave the cellphone absolutely the largest battery it may contemplating the scale of the cellphone and all the things else it wanted to pack into the chassis. I might have most popular to see a number of hundred extra milliamp-hours, however perhaps that’s simply me.

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

Associated: The very best cellphone 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 stability between efficiency and battery life. If you end up operating into battery life points, you may discover these to search out the right combination.

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

As for charging speeds, Asus stored issues in examine. The cellphone helps as much as 30W wired charging. Nonetheless, it doesn’t help wi-fi charging in any respect. At the least Asus was sort sufficient to produce the 30W charger within the field. The cellphone reaches 60% in 25 minutes, 80% in 38 minutes, and 100% in about 80 minutes. There are instruments you need to use to set charging limits, change the charging pace to a constant curve, and so forth all to assist preserve the battery at its healthiest.

Wanting on the competitors, almost all of the flagships on this area provide wi-fi charging, whereas some provide quicker wired charging too. Asus performed it protected. Perhaps too protected.

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 dissatisfied 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 effective with), and there’s not even a depth sensor to assist producing portraits. For those who need an optical zoom lens, the fancier Zenfone 8 Flip positive factors the third digital camera however lacks optical picture stabilization on the first shooter.

See additionally: The very best digital camera telephones you should buy

The Zenfone 8’s most important 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 yr. The secondary digital camera is a 12MP Sony IMX363. This is similar sensor present in current Google Pixel telephones, in addition to inexpensive 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 recent imaging sensor.

Asus Zenfone 8 camera sample COLOR

Credit score: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Photographs I captured with the principle digital camera turned out good, however wanting glorious.

How do the pictures look? Photographs I captured with the principle digital camera turned out good, however wanting glorious. I used to be happy general with publicity, shade, and focus. White stability was typically hit and miss, although principally correct. Asus isn’t doing something resembling pushing colours, so photographs typically lacked that visible punch that you just may see from rivals such because the Samsung Galaxy S21.

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

Asus Zenfone 8 ultra-wide Asus Zenfone 8 most important 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 decent job with each common selfies and bokeh’d portraits. The portraits supplied good edge detection and the proper stability of background blur.

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

Associated: The very best finances digital camera telephones you should buy

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

You’ll be able to see full-resolution picture samples on this Google Drive folder.

Anything?

  • Zen UI 8: The cellphone 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 way in which 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 perfect observe report with respect to system updates. It has dedicated to 2 main system updates for this cellphone, which is encouraging. Nonetheless, this comes at a time when competing cellphone makers are starting to supply three years’ value of upgrades and safety patches. Furthermore, Asus is sluggish to push the updates that it has dedicated to.
  • 5G and no Verizon: The Zenfone 8 help sub-6GHz 5G, so don’t count on blazing quick mmWave speeds. As well as, the cellphone received’t help Verizon when it launches within the US — solely T-Cellular and AT&T for LTE and 5G.
  • Notification mild: The Zenfone 8 has a charging indicator mild that’s tucked into the underside fringe of the cellphone. I actually like this characteristic. The sunshine shines orange because the cellphone expenses 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 cellphone is positioned on its face or again. The charging mild 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 apply, meaning this cellphone will get loopy loud. I pushed it onerous with some steel, dance, and techno and it rose to the problem with out getting distorted or overly noisy. The low-end was superb for a cellphone, and high-end seems like cymbal crashes have been crisp and clear. In the event you favor to jack in, you’ve acquired a Qualcomm Aqstic DAC and Dirac HD Sound accessible through the headphone jack.
  • Twin-SIM: The Asus Zenfone 8 helps as much as two SIM playing cards, however doesn’t help microSD reminiscence playing cards.
  • Fingerprints: Each side of the cellphone appeal to 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 Main:
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

Main:
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 high specs, resembling 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 price of simply €599 (~$729) for the most affordable mannequin, you’ve acquired fairly a flagship discount in your palms because it nearly falls into mid-range territory. The cellphone gives a whole lot of worth at that value level, and undercuts a whole lot of the competitors.

You’ve acquired a whole lot of high specs on board, such because the Snapdragon 888, the 120Hz display, and the Gorilla Glass Victus face. Asus clearly made some budget- and space-minded choices, too, resembling leaving out wi-fi charging and holding the digital camera choices in examine.

Additionally learn: The very best Android telephones you should buy

The primary and maybe most pure various 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 is downgraded from 120Hz to 90Hz, however you’ve acquired a much 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 principle shooter, and Wi-Fi 6E. The Flip can also be €200 extra. It’s an odd competitor and is actually a redo of the Zenfone 7 sequence, however in order for you a much bigger cellphone from Asus with this yr’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 cellphone 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 nowadays and gives lots of the identical options — albeit with 2020 silicon below the hood — and provides a telephoto digital camera. We don’t have pricing but on the Sony Xperia 5 III, however you may wager it’ll be larger than €599.

Then there’s the Apple iPhone 12 Professional for many 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 gives stellar software program, efficiency, and digital camera experiences. In the event you’ve already made peace with sacrificing the telephoto lens with the Zenfone 8 then the common iPhone 12 can also be value a search for $799. The iPhone 12 Mini ($699) gives 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 acquired all the things proper, but only a few issues maintain the Zenfone 8 again.

Essentially the most obvious 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 principle digital camera will get the job finished, the ultra-wide digital camera falls behind the competitors. The Zenfone 8 additionally doesn’t help 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 acquired all the things proper.

There’s nonetheless a lot to love. The cellphone’s small measurement makes it a cushty piece of {hardware} to hold and use. The show is superb, the efficiency is top-notch, and the cellphone gives numerous additional perks, resembling a headphone jack and stereo audio system, a notification mild, 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 cellphone lovers.

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