The Asus ZenFone 8 has been on sale lately, attracts with the combination of modest size and powerful hardware. Should it be the ideal flagship? Or not without loss? After eight days with the new product, we’re ready to share our Asus ZenFone 8 review.
At first glance, there is nothing remarkable about the design of the Asus ZenFone 8. The bezels around the edges of the display are thin, the back panel is made of glass with a semi-matte finish. The prints on it remain but are faintly noticeable. The camera block protrudes slightly above the surface of the case. The smartphone is similar to other flagships. Looking closely, you begin to notice individual characteristics.
For example, there is an audio jack, which is now very rare among top-end devices. Moreover, it is located not at the bottom, but at the top of the device. For comparison, the ZenFone 8 Flip does not have a minijack – probably due to the swivel module there is simply no room left for it. The front-facing cutout is located in the upper left corner, it was equipped with an LED. When switching between cameras, a nice animation appears. The lock key was painted blue – a trifle but gives the design a twist.
Another feature is two external speakers, thanks to which the relatively small phone produces clear sound. Another nice bonus is a high-quality plastic case with a textured back. It looks and feels much better than the clear silicone pads that come with most new products. IP68 protection is also declared, as it should be in this class.
The Asus ZenFone 8 got a 5.9-inch display, as well as the case’s moderate height and width – after a few modern devices, it feels small. With a width of 65.8mm, the smartphone is convenient for one-handed operation on the go. The ability to pull out the notification screen by swiping your finger across the bottom of the screen also adds comfort. Plus, the display is still big enough to read News Feed and communicate in Telegram and isn’t prone to loss of eyesight.
But it is still premature to apply the prefix “mini” to the device. After all, the thickness of the case is about 9 millimeters, and it grows a bit more with the case as a whole. But the first impression of this device is pleasant: lightweight plastic with a corrugated surface fits snugly in the hand and does not slip. Most smartphones use simple silicone pads. In addition, the camera stops sticking to the case – the ASUS ZenFone 8 can be used safely, even when it is lying on the table.
The Asus ZenFone 8 has dual front-facing speakers with support for Dirac HD sound. The interface also has a separate utility for fixing audio profiles. So the smartphone is great for watching movies and playing music. Wired headphone enthusiasts and lavalier microphone owners will appreciate the standard 3.5mm jack. Those who prefer wireless earbuds won’t complain either—you can connect the headphones via Bluetooth 5.2 with support for the Qualcomm aptX, aptX HD, AAC, and LDAC codecs. In general, the sound of the device is what a good flagship should have.
The advantage of the device is the LED notification indicator at the bottom. Its location seems non-trivial, but over time you will find such a solution very convenient. When the smartphone is on the table, it only turns towards the user with the lower edge, so not a single piece of information escapes attention. There is also an option of an Always-on display. Its customization is minor, but you can customize the display according to a convenient schedule.
The sides of the ASUS ZenFone 8 are made of aluminum, and the back panel is made of frosted glass. Cleverly and outwardly, the smartphone does not differ from many similar devices, there is no excitement in the design. But there is nothing to complain about it. The volume and lock buttons are on the right, and the latter is also highlighted in blue. They have a clear course and no reaction. Another nice feature is the protection against dust and moisture as per the IP68 standard. We didn’t put the device in the pool, but we are glad that it was not damaged in any way by rain or water droplets.
However, the smartphone is not good from all sides. For example, it is not friendly with microSD cards. Although a regular drive is enough for many, there is never a lot of memory. The attempt to recharge the ZenFone 8 in the usual way from wireless charging brought a second disappointment. The flagship does not look very convincing without support for this function.
We should also warn users who will remove the tray to install or replace a SIM card. It should be done carefully: there are several holes on the bottom edge of the smartphone – there is a risk of accidentally piercing the microphone.
The key feature of a smartphone is its display. The 5.9-inch diagonal is now rarely found even in inexpensive models, not to mention the flagship ones. At the same time, the AMOLED panel supports a 120 Hz refresh rate. The image quality is high. This is especially true for Cinematic viewing mode, where the color gamut exceeds DCI-P3. DC Dimming option, which reduces backlight flicker, is also provided. But questions arose about the operation of the fingerprint scanner built into the screen: it is not as fast and accurate as the sensors of the latest generation.
The Asus ZenFone 8 display made the most favorable impression. It has a high margin of brightness, so even in sunny weather, the image remains well-read. And since the screen is flat, there is practically no glare on the side edges, and the protective glass is easy to stick on. Another plus is an excellent oleophobic coating, it is pleasant to touch.
The color rendering quality of the AMOLED panel deserves special mention. Fine-tuned and a set of presets allow you to tweak the palette to your liking. We liked the “Cinematic” mode better, but Standard mode didn’t disappoint either—with a wider color gamut than sRGB. As for the abundance of settings for the refresh rate, Asus engineers want to praise: you can choose either a normal Hz pattern or even 90 or 120 Hz. The user himself chooses what is more important – battery life or smoothness of scrolling. DC dimming vision protection is also provided, but it is not available at the increased refresh rate, which is a bit annoying.
The fingerprint scanner is located under the screen. It is not bad and works correctly in most cases, although there was still a reason for criticism. It uses a photocell that reads the fingerprint when touched. The speed and accuracy of its operation are somewhat inferior to the ultrasonic solutions of the latest generation, which can be found in other flagships. If before Asus ZenFone 8 you had a smartphone with the same optical sensor, the difference is not noticeable. But after devices with physical scanners or ultrasonic sensors in the buttons, the ZenFone 8’s unlocking speed isn’t amazing.
Asus ZenFone 8 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset with Adreno 660 graphics core. This is one of the fastest bundles on the market, so the smartphone can easily cope with any scenario. The “Genshin Impact”, “The Elder Scrolls: Blades” and other demanding games run with maximum graphics. After minimizing, applications are not unloaded from memory, there are no jams and brakes in everyday tasks. They did not save on the filling either: the compact Asus smartphone bypasses many flagship competitors in our Asus ZenFone 8 review.
We also want to say that our Asus ZenFone 8 review unit packs 8GB RAM, and 128GB storage, although it is also available with 12/16GB RAM and 256GB storage capacity. On the other hand, Snapdragon 888 turned out to be hot in practice, which you notice after 15-20 minutes of gaming. The heating is noticeable even when shooting and streaming videos.
Applications open instantly and stay in memory for a long time, scrolling is smooth. Although, delays in the “Gallery” do occur when processing a series of images with Beautification enabled or in HDR mode.
We were confused by the increased heating – in everyday tasks it is imperceptible, but as soon as you start the game, in ten minutes the smartphone begins to warm your hand, and it is hot outside. The Asus ZenFone 8 also heats up in tasks like recording 4K videos. We didn’t notice a drop in performance, but there is discomfort.
Battery life is not outstanding, but you can not call it weak either – the 4000 mAh battery allows you to use your smartphone from morning to evening without going to the outlet. Of course, if you stay away from playing games and shooting videos.
To extend the battery life, you can set a dark theme, as well as use one of the energy-saving presets in the settings. The Advanced mode is particularly impressive. Here you can also set the performance of the processor and RAM, configure the background data transfer, Wi-Fi operation, and touch sampling rate of the display. The plethora of these adjustments seem unusual, but users should like it.
In our Asus ZenFone 8 review, the device works confidently for a day without recharging under active load (music, social networks, instant messengers, YouTube, and photography). But gaming and recording videos quickly drain the battery. But there are no problems with recharging the battery: a phone that supports fast 30-watt charging fully replenishes energy in 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The Antutu score is 812 433, in Geekbench 5 single-core score is 1086, and 3522 points in multi-core for our Asus ZenFone 8 review unit. You can enjoy video playback for up to 15.5 hours.
Asus ZenFone 8 has a modest photo center: there are only wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses. Optical zoom is only available for the Flip version. Nevertheless, the device copes well with 2x digital zoom, as we could see.
On the back cover of the device there is a block of two lenses – a bit unusual, as now the budget model also has quad cameras. However, the ZenFone 8 only requires a few modules to handle most situations. For example, a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens can focus at close range, so it’s suitable for macro photography. And the result is better than the separate 2-megapixel sensor. Night mode is available for both the primary and wide-angle cameras, and the 2x zoom, though digital, does its job well.
The primary camera deserves a separate story – it is represented by a 64-megapixel sensor with an f/1.8 aperture. Automation actively uses HDR, so the pictures please with excellent contrast and high detail. But there is also a drawback: objects in the frame are sharp, which is why when viewing photos on a computer, you can notice artifacts and noise in some areas.
The main camera is represented by a 64-megapixel sensor, which by default shoots at 16-megapixel. During the day, the frames are clear, contrasting, and saturated colors. For portraits, a different preset is available with a bunch of settings: you can change the face shape, skin color, and eye size. It’s so easy to turn into an anime girl, so it’s worth using this option carefully.
Night mode copes well with the task: even buildings without backlight delight in detail. Although there’s no depth sensor, the software background blur does a good job—no obvious errors with the outline. True, the camera is using the sharpness too much. Sometimes it is beneficial to photograph, for example when shooting architecture. But portraits often show artifacts in the eye and hair area, which is not liked by everyone. The Super-Width works well during the day, with detail and dynamic range only slightly short of the Main. It can focus from a distance of 4 cm, which is convenient for macro.
The video capabilities of the smartphone are at the level of other flagships of 2021. For example, it records videos in 8K resolution. And 4K videos are pleasing with good stabilization, high definition, and image quality.
We liked that Asus ZenFone 8 was equipped with a “Professional” video mode, where the settings can be changed as you like. For example, you can change the color balance, ISO, focus area, and even the pickup area of the microphones. Other nice features are 4K and 60 fps movie recording even with a wide-angle lens, “Super stabilization” mode, and an option to suppress wind noise. In other words, the device is quite suitable for capturing pleasant moments of vacation or everyday life.
Smartphones like ZenFone 8 are very few in the market today. It pleases with its relatively compact dimensions, thanks to the 5.9-inch screen. Among the pluses, we note good calibration and color rendering of the display, high-quality sound, a huge power reserve, decent cameras, and the presence of a minijack. The lack of optical zoom, wireless charging, and memory card support is troubling. But for lovers of smaller Android flagships, this is unlikely to be a deterrent.
The Asus ZenFone 8 turns out to be interesting – it’s designed to balance out the massive flagships of the competitors. Finally, an interesting option appeared on the Newegg.com store sale at a price of $699 for those who want a smaller device.
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