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ASUS Zenfone 8 Hands On Review: Smaller But The Best

The people who want smaller mobiles are legion (well, or maybe not, but we are not so few), and it is something difficult to achieve if we look for the most powerful on the market, usually associated with large sizes by the trend on the screen, large batteries and complex cameras. ASUS has wanted to cater to this consumer profile and in the analysis of the ASUS Zenfone 8, we see how they have done it and, above all, how it turns out in practice.

ASUS Zenfone 8 Philippines

The ASUS Zenfone 8 is “the normal mobile” according to its launch together with the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip, which does inherit that somewhat crazier rotating camera from the ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro. It is the brand’s flagship for those who prioritize compactness over photographic versatility without sacrificing maximum power.

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Design: a mobile made to be used with ease

The back of the ASUS Zenfone 8 is the kind that is reminiscent of good, quality polycarbonate but is made of glass with a matte finish. With this, we will have a different touch to that of smartphones with a gloss finish, without this meaning that the feeling is of something of lower quality.

ASUS Zenfone 8 Kenya

With an aesthetic based on simplicity and away from gradients and flashes of colours. It may not fit those who are looking precisely for the colourful, but it becomes a certain respite if the most striking does not fit us and is very reminiscent of what Google presents with its Pixel 4a.

Dimensions148 X 68.5 X 8.9mm
Screen Samsung E4 AMOLED 5.9 inches
FullHD + (2,400 x 1,080 px)
20: 9, 445 dpi, 120 Hz, 240 Hz touch
Contrast 1,000,000: 1
Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G
RAM 6/8/16 LPDDR5
Storage128/256 GB UFS 3.1
Rear CameraSONY IMX686 64 MP
OIS, f / 1.8, 2x1 OCL PDAF
UGA SONY IMX363 12 MP
113º, Dual PDAF, macro
Front CameraSony IMX663 12 MP
f / 2.45, Dual PDAF, up to 4K / 30 fps
SoftwareAndroid 11 with ZenUI 8
Battery4,000 mAh + 30 W fast charge
ConnectivityWiFi 6, 6E, 2x2 MIMO
Tri-band 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz / 6 GHz
Bluetooth® 5.2 (EDR + A2DP) & HFP + AVRCP + HID + PAN + OPP
Bluetooth audio codec LDAC + Qualcomm® aptX, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive + AAC
Other SpecsStereo, Dirac HD, OZO Audio
Triple Zoom Microphone for Cancellation, IP68
Price$619.99

It is very comfortable in hand about the slight curvature of its rear part and it does not slip, although it is a pity that the greasy of the fingers is easily in that matte finish. Of course, it is easily cleaned and a cover is delivered next to the mobile, although this will thicken the mobile a little more.

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The camera module protrudes little and is rectangular so that the lenses do not protrude (more than the module). On the side it has the physical buttons, seeing that the power button is blue, which is related to some associated functions that we will see later (beyond the aesthetic touch it gives).

The ASUS Zenfone 8 is the first mobile of the brand to have the certification of resistance to water and dust IP68
Water Resistance

One of the peculiarities of this smartphone is that it is the first of the brand to have the IP68 water and dust resistance certification. It has it with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus on the front and an aluminium frame that keeps appearances with the back and is the same tone.

WaterProof Smartphone

3.5mm Jack:

In the upper part, we see the 3.5 mm jack, a location that is not the most common, also having stereo speakers (one on the front and one on the lower edge, next to USB type C). Although what is less common of all is that the notification LED is on the lower edge.

The brand explained that the decision was motivated by wanting to clear the front as much as possible, which, as we will see in the next section, fits the front camera with a hole and has a frame with some chin. Between placing it here or not placing it anywhere, it was decided this location and at least that it presented this characteristic for those who prefer it, as they summarized.

ASUS Zenfone 8 Pakistan

Beyond these particularities, depending on which mobile we come from, the dimensions and weight will call our attention. In the current high-end range, it is rare to see an option below 6 inches and, above all, that does not weigh at least 180 grams, and both things this smartphone manages to escape.

In this selection we have put mid-range and high-end mobiles, also seeking that they were not particularly large models. Of these, the ASUS Zenfone 8 is not the most compact, lagging behind the Pixel 4a and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G, tying with the battery with the Samsung Galaxy S21 and being bulkier then the iPhone 12. Of course, it is quite close to the Huawei P40 and the S21, which are more direct rivals by range in terms of volume.

ASUS Zenfone 8 Belgium

Display: a good performance beyond a few somewhat conformist numbers

The ASUS Zenfone 8 features a 5.9-inch Samsung E4 AMOLED panel with FullHD + resolution, so it is part of that wide sphere of “tricky” flagships by escaping more ambitious resolutions typical of a 700 euro smartphone or more. . It is not an insufficient resolution because it gives a very good experience, without missing a lot of detail, but having tried the honey of the QHD + for so long on front-line mobiles, we always comment that it is a pity that they do not take advantage of this to differentiate themselves mid-range (and, perhaps, have it as an argument for its price).

5.9-inch Samsung E4 AMOLED

Refresh Rate

With this, it is left with a density of 445 pixels, which is not bad at all and that, as we have said, gives more than enough detail. The screen ratio is 20: 9 and yes, it reaches a 120 Hz refresh rate (and 240 Hz touch refresh rate).

The mobile integrates hardware that, as we will see in the later section, is enough to run very fluidly regardless of the refresh rate that we configure, but it is true that at 120 Hz we will notice more fluidity. Later we will talk about the autonomy in each case. But in general, it compensates to have it at 120 to take advantage of this maximum. Although at 90 Hz it is also noticeable and if not the automatic adjustment is a fairly successful option.

144Hz Refresh rate

Screen Setting

We will find this in the screen settings, going to Splendid if we want to adjust the colour temperature and saturation. Here it is to comment that it is somewhat oversaturated from the factory and that the standard is the profile that most suited us, although an option to customize it is included.

Screen Settings

In addition to being able to adjust colour and temperature, we see that there is a lot of customization around the style of the elements on the screen and even the speed of the animations (which usually remains in the settings for hidden developers in Android). Already in the preload of the system, it offers us to customize some aspects, also about the interaction such as activating the screen when lifting or the double touch to wake up.

Splendid Screen Settings ASUS Zenfone 8

Brightness

The screen has a good contrast and the maximum brightness is more than sufficient. Of course, the automatic brightness adjustment is usually a bit high, but in general, it reacts quickly to changes and does not usually need much correction.

One way to take better advantage of the screen surface is to change the navigation, being able to choose the gestures that will always leave a few more millimetres. And with the ambient screen, the dark theme and those customization settings that we mentioned at the end, there is a very assorted menu of options so that the configuration of it adapts to our preferences.

The use of the front by the screen is 82.9%, which is not bad at all. With the flat screen (thank you) they are usually not as close to 90% as the ones that do, although here it must be said that the hole is far from the edge and the bar takes up a lot of space.

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Yield: plenty of fluidity and without “heating the jar”

One of the claims of this mobile is that, like the S21, it does not renounce key aspects in a flagship as the most powerful processor of the moment, no matter how much its dimensions are smaller. This ASUS Zenfone 8 comes with the Snapdragon 888, which in the model we have tested comes with 16 GB of RAM, almost the most we see today in an Android mobile.

ASUS Zenfone 8 Malaysia
Company manages to keep smartphone cool even while playing

Having tested the maximum configuration that the phone offers, the experience matches what you would expect: fluidity is a constant in this mobile and we have not detected problems that indicate performance or tight hardware. Without a doubt, the 16 GB of RAM is more than enough for games and any app, although the experience is probably good with less RAM due to the good performance that we usually see from the 888.

Of course, while in some mobiles with this processor we have noticed some heating, in this case, this aspect has not caught our attention. Even after a while playing ‘Real Racing 3’ the temperature has risen little, both to the touch and in the numbers.

 Then we leave you the result of the usual benchmarks passed to the ASUS Zenfone 8. As we are seeing with the 888, at the moment Sling Shot by 3D Mark falls short.

Software

In this mobile, we see ZenUI 8 on Android 11. Having had it for several days we have been able to test some of the latest updates, so we have a fairly up-to-date experience on the date we publish this review.

It comes with a third-party app, but there aren’t many either (Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Netflix). We can delete them if we don’t want them, as well as those of Google, but not some of our own like ASUS Data Transfer.

ASUS Zenfone 8 Brazil
This is what the desktop looks like

The general settings are arranged as we usually see, without “special” sections beyond the one that includes the configuration of gestures or touch sensitivity, so any item is usually found soon and the search engine (which works well) is not very necessary.

ASUS Zenfone 8 Italy

As we have mentioned in the screen section, there are quite a few interface customization settings, such as the possibility of choosing the style of the font, the colour of the theme (among eight) and the shape of the icons. The home screen also has some, such as the ability to change the colour of the letters, the grid or how the folders are displayed.

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As we have commented on the design, one of the peculiarities of this mobile is that the LED is at the bottom, next to the speaker. It also has its configuration options on the screen, but it is simply being able to deactivate the lighting when it loads or to blink when a notification arrives (or deactivate it).

Stable and Fluid Software

As for the power button, it allows configurations at the level of the double press or long-press, aimed at assigning the opening of certain apps or some quick action. We can assign nothing and grant the usual behaviour of the button with the traditional shutdown menu.

Biometrics

ASUS is still the only one to get a face mask to unlock, without “gimmicks” like Apple. Something that they do not usually boast about but that we are experiencing since last year, with this pandemic and the ASUS ROG Phone 3.

It doesn’t work in the dark, but it usually works even in low light. As we will now see, if we have it configured we will use little fingerprint reading.

Thus, the fingerprint reader sometimes has a hard time, but it usually ends up working. What we recommend is to deactivate the animation (there is an option in the own settings), something that never helps in general but that they insist on making it attractive, although we will also notice that it is not quite as fast as it should be. And the facial is going so well that there is little left to do.

ASUS Zenfone 8 HongKong

Chambers:

The cameras of the ASUS ZenFone 8 are static both in that they do not have a rotating module and in their evolution. The manufacturer has left the configuration that we saw in the ASUS ZenFone 8 Pro paying attention to the wide-angle and the main camera, without incorporating the telephoto lens (according to the brand’s spokespersons, for space reasons) and leaving the 64 megapixels one to act. for zoom.

Thus, in the double rear camera and on the front of this mobile we see:
  • 64 megapixel Sony IMX686 sensor (1 / 1.7 inches, 0.8 ?m pixels, 1.6 ?m with Quad Bayer) with optical image stabilization. Quad Bayer pixel grouping technology, f / 1.8 aperture lens with a 78.3-degree field of view. 26.6 millimetres equivalent. Video up to 8K at 30 fps.
  • Sony IMX363 sensor (1 / 2.55 inches, 1.4 ?m pixels). Wide-angle lens with 113-degree field and f / 2.2 aperture, dual PDAF and lens correction. Supports macro shooting and records up to 4K at 60fps. 14.3 millimetres equivalent.
  • Front camera: 12 megapixels Sony IMX663 sensor (1 / 2.93 inches, 1.22 ?m pixels) with f / 2.45 aperture lens. Recording up to 4K at 30 fps.

Several aspects stand out on paper. The front camera introduces a Sony sensor that we have not yet seen in another mobile, in addition to that there are not many that add 4K video support in the front cameras currently.

In the video, with the rear cameras, we see that we can record up to 4K with the wide-angle, which is not something very widespread (although yes, with the three-axis electronic stabilization that is also supported by the 8K of the main camera). And a detail that we liked because of the honesty that we consider it implies is that a third filling lens has not been added and that the ZenFone 8 boasts of its double camera, like an iPhone 12 mini or an iPhone 12, without the need for a macro lens or depth sensor.

Camera app

The ZenUI camera app complies with the usual standard, with some more or less convenient aspect and some additions. We see that there is direct access for HDR and settings. The tabs for each mode are editable, as is already possible on Samsung and Xiaomi mobiles, but the way to shoot in high resolution with the main one is by going to settings each time, as when high resolutions began to be an option on mobiles. like the Huawei P20 Pro.

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Saving this point, the interface is quite practical and simple. We have many shortcuts and some even appear automatically, such as night mode if the system detects that the appropriate conditions exist.

ASUS Zenfone 8 China

In portrait mode, we can adjust the blur according to the simulated aperture with a slider. For its part, the night mode is available for both wide-angle and standard lenses, being able to choose between an exposure time of 4 seconds or one of 7 seconds.

In video mode, we will see that 8K resolution is only available for the main lens. The wide-angle camera will be able to record up to 4K and SuperSteady mode (one more degree of electronic stabilization).

The settings change depending on the mode. For example, the high-resolution option only appears in automatic mode or Pro mode, as well as the RAW option only appears in this Pro mode as well.

Rear cameras

As you might think, the photography of the ASUS Zenfone 8 reminds us a lot of that of the ROG 5, incorporating the same sensor in the main one and with similar or equivalent processing. This leaves us with very good photographs in favourable lighting, especially in the foreground. Here is an example with the main camera, without modes or macro lens, and hardly touching the autofocus.

In this sense, HDR is effective and almost necessary speaking of backlighting. It helps to retrieve information from the highlights, thus leaving a clearer and more realistic image. It is missed in these situations if we shoot at 64 megapixels.

ASUS Zenfone 8 Armenia

The 64 megapixels are an indirect solution speaking of the zoom and a direct alternative if we want to achieve a more defined point. We see that when cropping the contours are better defined if we resort to high resolution, although we will lose dynamic range.

Night Mode

Speaking of night shooting, the night mode is practically a must when giving much sharper photos. The advantage: it is activated automatically and all we have to do is let ourselves go. The downside: sometimes it produces an artefact, but generally the photos tend to win even with this.

Another point of the night mode is that it works with a wide-angle, a camera that generally achieves less detail than the main one. In this case, we see that the distortion of the edges is corrected very well and that colourimetry, contrast and white balance are maintained concerning the main one.

Of course: in theory, this camera acts as a macro, but we have not managed to take good photos in this way and there is always something “bull’s eye”. As we have seen at the beginning, the close-ups with the main one coming out very well and there are room for cropping if we shoot with 64 megapixels, so it is not possible to miss not approaching 4 centimetres either.

ASUS Zenfone 8 United Kingdom

The portrait mode usually gives very good results partly because the zoom is activated with 64 megapixels so that the first plane out often in great detail even indoors. Depending on in which cases the bokeh can be somewhat false, but usually, we have obtained very good photos.

Frontal camera

This sensor that opens the Zenfone 8 is quite competent in most scenarios. As with the main camera, with a favourable environment, we see realistic and accurate photos in terms of sharpness, colours, white balance and contrast.

In general, HDR will do you good, especially if we have to save skies. Here we will see that the most distant shots are somewhat lacking in detail and the HDR sometimes forces, but the foreground is not seen with artefacts or excess contrast either.

The portrait mode is what we see more room for improvement. It doesn’t balance lighting like auto mode and the blur is too forced. At night, moreover, the result tends to be quite poor.

Video

Something happens to ASUS with the 8K, because things have not improved since we tested the ROG Phone 5. The shots have been choppy again, so that even if it is a higher resolution, in practice they come out much better (and usable ) than those made at 4K, a resolution that we also see in the front camera.

ASUS Zenfone 8 Guhana

What we see is that the colourimetry, the white balance and the exposure do not vary between the wide-angle and the main camera (at night we will be able to notice some variation, but very slight and only in the exposure). The sharpness jump is noticeable as in photography, seeing less detail in the case of the wide-angle, but by day it gives us stabilized and acceptable videos.

It should be noted that we can record with the wide-angle also in 4K and the videos it gives are very good. Of course, we can only switch between cameras at 1080p resolution, otherwise, we will have to keep the lens with which we start the video.

As for super stabilization, at night it does not compensate because the quality of the video decreases drastically. The automatic shot already has a correct stabilization and speaking of this scenario, in which the videos usually go in general with an extra dose of noise and a less dose of sharpness, it is not advisable to force the machine so that these two aspects are increased. During the day, the automatic shots are perfectly stable, avoiding shaking and reacting well to turns, so almost better to do without in general.

Sound

As for maximum volume, we have registered 107 decibels at the immediate output of the main speaker, which translated into about 72 ambient. Although it distorts very little, it will always be more pleasant to have it a little lower; at 90% it is 70 ambient decibels, which is more than enough to set the mood for a room and the quality is somewhat better, although it is unnecessary to have it at 80% or less if we use it as a multimedia centre.

We found the sound to be very good in terms of general quality, compensating well for treble and bass and with good dynamic range. It would lack a little more power in the first ones, but it manages to give a good experience in terms of multimedia use.

4000-mAh battery

Of course, perhaps because of the size or the redesign of the interiors, but what we notice is a vibration transmitted to the entire rear, in the style of what we experienced in the iPhone 7 (the first small iPhone with stereo). It is not annoying far from it, it does not cause heating or anything, but it is not something that happens regularly.

In the sound settings, we have the audio assistant with DIRAC calibration, allowing us to choose one sound mode or another according to the use we are doing (it is convenient to leave it in automatic because it adjusts itself according to the content and it works very well). We also have the equalizer for those who prefer to adjust it on demand.

As for the experience with headphones, as on previous occasions, there is a specific menu in case we have any of the supported models. Although in our case we have tried some of the configurations due to format similarity (in-ear) and without being the chosen model, the profile was better adapted and slightly improved the loudness.

Autonomy: neither dazzling nor shaded

Some of us remember when, in the middle of the era of cell phone size growth, there was a kind of “unwritten border” in the 4,000 mAh, in the search for autonomies that gave, at least, 24 hours of average autonomy (since going back to those of the dumb phone is impossible). Now, with increasingly bulky mobiles, the 4,000 mAh seem to have remained in the less ambitious proposals in this regard, but in this case, it is the opposite: they have even redesigned the motherboard, splitting it in two to take advantage of the space to the maximum and that at the same timeless is left in that 4,000 mAh that we saw in its direct rivals.

In practice, what we have found is that the performance of that 4,000 mAh depends a lot on the adjustment of the refresh rate. The average autonomy alternating options in this sense is not bad at all, is about 26 hours with about 9 hours of screen.

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The observations that we highlight here are that at 120 Hz the autonomy can drop to 14 hours if we make intensive use (a lot of multimedia, camera, etc.). At 90 Hz it is usually around 24 hours and at 60 Hz it almost always exceeds that figure, especially if we do not make a particularly demanding use.

What has surprised us the most for the better is that 1% is nuclear, without even adjusting any of the saving modes

Therefore, it is worth considering what use we do and what we prefer when setting a refresh rate, although at 60 Hz the mobile continues to run smoothly even if it is somewhat less than 120 Hz (and there is always the automatic setting ). Although what has surprised us the most for the better is that 1% is nuclear, without even adjusting any of the saving modes.

In the end, the average autonomy is more than acceptable and the size does not condition the use only in this sense. We have not noticed that we have to depend more on a plug with much difference from other mobiles, except for those that are “miraculous” in this sense and reach 36 or 48 hours of autonomy.

Regarding the charge, the battery is filled from 0 to 100% (with the mobile off) more or less in 1 hour and 10 minutes. A 30 W charger (USB type C) is delivered with the mobile.

ASUS Zenfone 8, Our Opinion:

The ASUS Zenfone 8 becomes a relief for those of us who have small hands and the size that certain reference totems have reached continues to tire us a bit. Having the latest Qualcomm processor with 16 GB of RAM, up to 120 HZ and a camera that, without devastating, gives a more than the acceptable result at 170 grams is something that is appreciated.

There are some “lost trains” in the configuration of this mobile, apparent concessions either for maintaining the price or for the size, but in general, it gives a very good experience and a plus point is that the starting price of the most basic version moves away of 1,000 euros, being able to compete with another top of the range that also gives good experience while maintaining the price.

Without the battery being a bottleneck and with good software, ASUS has done a good job with this mobile. And so there are more and more complete options in the high-end that leave aside the 200 grams and large (and curved) screens.

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