Asus Zenfone 8 evaluation: Dimension isn’t every part, and this small phone proves it

MSRP $650.00

“The Asus Zenfone 8 is a well-designed, fastidiously thought-out compact flagship phone, however issues with display screen responsiveness and battery life go away it struggling towards the competitors”

Professionals

  • Small and light-weight
  • Nice, however fairly easy, digital camera

Cons

  • Poor battery life
  • Display responsiveness issues
  • No wi-fi charging

toAsus isn’t seeking to tackle the Galaxy S21 Extremely or another huge smartphone with the brand new Zenfone 8. As a substitute, it’s focusing on phones just like the iPhone 12, the Google Pixel 4a 5G, and Pixel 5 by making a high-performance cellular phone that matches neatly in your hand and pocket. The Zenfone 8 is a compact flagship phone, and a very well-designed one, however the greater query is, does anybody really need such a factor anymore?

The Zenfone 8 has been my fundamental phone for some time now, and if I’m completely trustworthy, regardless of its capacity, I did miss an even bigger phone. However should you’re uninterested in thumb-stretching display screen sizes, you’ll in all probability really feel very otherwise. Nevertheless, Asus hasn’t acquired the basics proper with the Zenfone 8, and it’s in peril of being misplaced within the crowd. Let’s go into extra element.

Design

Asus set itself some robust targets with the Zenfone 8. It wished a phone that was lower than 70mm extensive and underneath 150mm tall, as this is able to make the phone appropriate for snug one-handed use. It has succeeded, because the Zenfone 8 measures 68mm extensive and 148mm tall, and in my average-sized hand, I can attain most areas on the display screen with out stretching or juggling the phone.

Andy Boxall/Digital Developments

The Samsung Galaxy S21 is a bit of longer and wider, however the Pixel 5 and iPhone 12 Professional are far nearer in measurement to the Zenfone 8, and each equally manageable with one hand. The iPhone 12 Mini is significantly smaller than all of them. The Zenfone 8 could also be compact, however it’s not likely filling a spot out there in the way in which Asus appears to suppose it is going to.

Andy Boxall/Digital Developments

Asus has used Gorilla Glass Victus over the display screen, and 3D frosted glass on the again of the phone, giving it a smooth look. Whereas smooth, the Zenfone 8 can be slippery, which makes one-handed use awkward as a result of it’s continually making a bid for freedom. The 3D curve down the perimeters makes it pleasing to carry, however the smoothness means you find yourself gripping it fairly onerous. A plastic case is included within the field, although, and it has a grippier texture that mitigates the issue — supplied you don’t thoughts utilizing it.

Google Pixel 5, from left, Asus Zenfone 8, and Apple iPhone 12 Professional Andy Boxall/Digital Developments

There’s one different concern with the Zenfone 8. It’s a bit boring to have a look at. The again is apparent, the digital camera module is modestly sized and really unusual, and my evaluation pattern’s black colour doesn’t add a lot life to it both. The one flash of colour comes from the electrical blue energy key, however it’s not sufficient to raise the look of the phone past the mundane. The Google Pixel 5 is not the dullest-looking phone on the desk when the Zenfone 8 is round.

Display

The compact measurement extends to the display screen. The Zenfone 8 has a 5.9-inch AMOLED display screen with a 120Hz refresh fee, making it smaller than the 6-inch Pixel 5 and 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Professional. It appears to be like wonderful, with 1100 nits most brightness and all the beautiful distinction, colours, and black ranges we anticipate from an AMOLED display screen, however Asus nonetheless must refine it. My evaluation phone is working the ultimate model of the software program forward of launch, and there could also be different updates that come quickly after launch to repair the next points.

Andy Boxall/Digital Developments

The primary concern is with contact sensitivity and edge recognition. The Zenfone 8 could have little bezels and no dramatic curve, however it actually suffers from phantom touches. I endlessly open apps accidentally, swipe down the notification shade, or change between options with out that means to, and I discover myself treating the phone delicately attempting to keep away from these issues. Very irritating.

Regardless of it not being a giant phone, Asus has added a one-handed mode to the Zenfone 8, which minimizes the show to the decrease part of the display screen — the precise quantity it covers could be adjusted within the settings — to make it simpler to make use of with one hand. It looks like overkill after making an precise small phone within the first place, however worse is the way it’s activated. You’ll want to swipe down on the display screen within the decrease part, and certain because of the display screen’s hypersensitivity, it’s an actual ache to take action. It’s often the notification shade or app tray that seems, and when the one-handed mode does have interaction, the slightest breeze on the display screen makes it disappear.

Asus Zenfone 8, from left, Google Pixel 5, and Apple iPhone 12 Professional Andy Boxall/Digital Developments

I’m not accomplished but both, as a result of the in-display fingerprint sensor is gradual and unreliable. After being aggravated by the Galaxy S20’s in-display fingerprint sensor, which was mounted on the S21 collection, plus utilizing the lightning fast fingerprint on the OnePlus 9 Professional, going again to a sensor that doesn’t work very nicely is an irritation that appears pointless today. There’s additionally a face unlock function, however this doesn’t match the velocity of different phones both. Safety on the Zenfone 8 is a ponderous affair.

Digital camera

For a flagship Android phone, it’s a shock to see the Zenfone 8 isn’t stuffed stuffed with digital camera lenses. There are simply two on the again — a 64-megapixel Sony IMX686 with optical picture stabilization, plus a 12MP Sony IMX363 wide-angle digital camera — and a single 12MP selfie digital camera in a hole-punch within the display screen. All three have autofocus, which makes for a pleasant change, however no optical zoom function. It’s all shockingly restrained on Asus’ part, when some others could have added a ineffective macro digital camera simply to make for a “higher” spec sheet.

Andy Boxall/Digital Developments

The outcomes are typically superb, though it’s clear that even when it’s set to Auto, the HDR impact is powerful. Personall,y I don’t thoughts the look, however others will discover it’s very heavy-handed and like to show it off. The addition of “bracketing,” the place three pictures are taken with completely different publicity values, may additionally be answerable for this look.

There’s a bent for the digital camera to generally underexpose in tough lighting, and you will discover these pictures will want some enhancing to enhance the look. The wide-angle digital camera is especially delicate to this, and there’s not at all times a lot consistency throughout the cameras. Colours are sturdy and vibrant in pictures taken with the first digital camera, and scenes have loads of depth and emotion to them, encouraging some creativity.

It’s a disgrace there’s no optical zoom, however Asus does add a “lossless” 2x crop on the principle digital camera. This function is a bit of hidden away on the busy viewfinder display screen, because it’s not alongside the principle/wide-angle toggle, however managed by a separate button within the nook. In any other case, the app is similar to different programs when it comes to use, however is typically a bit of gradual with the shutter launch.

As a substitute of seeing what Samsung does with a number of lenses, Asus has seemed to Google for inspiration and given the Zenfone 8 a pair of succesful cameras that take good pictures. Nevertheless, avid photographers will miss the flexibility of an optical zoom.

Efficiency and software program

Asus has used the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor for the Zenfone 8, which is most undoubtedly a flagship processor, and it comes with as much as 16GB of RAM and 256GB of space for storing. I haven’t seen any distinction in efficiency in comparison with the Galaxy S21+, the OnePlus 9 Professional, or the Xiaomi Mi 11, all of that are powered by the identical chip. It’s quick and highly effective sufficient to play Genshin Impression easily, and carry out all of your on a regular basis duties with out concern.

The software program is Android 11 with Asus’ ZenUI, which appears to be like and operates in a really related method to Android on the Google Pixel. Not like Asus’ glitzy, sci-fi-style, optionally available Android UI on the ROG Cellphone 5, it’s clear and uncluttered right here, but nonetheless has loads of options. A number of the extra helpful inones clude the identical Recreation Genie mode because the ROG Cellphone 5, which tweaks phone efficiency and operation when enjoying video games, plus particular modes to schedule battery charging.

Leaving apart the display screen frustrations, the Zenfone 8 really does supply a “flagship” phone expertise in a compact package deal in terms of efficiency and software program. The Snapdragon 888 has huge reserves of energy and can make sure the phone lasts for years, even should you play plenty of the most recent video games.

Battery and sound

A 4,000mAh battery and assist for an included 30-watt Asus HyperCharge quick charger, plus Qualcomm Fast Cost 4.0, ought to put the Zenfone 8 nicely forward of the competitors in terms of battery life — however it doesn’t. In my use, the Zenfone 8 has dissatisfied with a shorter than anticipated utilization time, particularly when used reasonably onerous.

Andy Boxall/Digital Developments

Though most of my day is spent related to Wi-Fi and utilizing the phone for normal calls, e-mail, social media, and a few pictures, it has often ended the day with round 40% remaining. Sometimes, with phones just like the Galaxy S21 Extremely, this sort of use sees at the very least 60% left. Issues get a lot worse if you use the phone a bit of extra.

A day with an hour of gaming, half-hour of video, a number of calls, and an hourlong WhatsApp video name noticed the battery hit 5% at 9 p.m, which isn’t good in any respect when phones just like the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G get two days from a equally sized battery. Head outdoors into the true world, the place the phone was compelled to connect with a standard mobile community, and the battery loses cost faster than anticipated even with minimal use.

The Zenfone 8 just isn’t a phone to work onerous if you would like the battery to final. Once more, though I’m utilizing what Asus says is the ultimate model of the software program, updates could arrive that change the battery’s efficiency sooner or later. Recharging took 90 minutes utilizing Fast Cost 4, and utilizing the 30W HyperCharge block will add 60% in 25 minutes. There’s no wi-fi charging, a expertise Asus prefers to not use so it might probably higher handle cell longevity, however it’s nonetheless one thing of a given on a flagship phone in the present day.

Andy Boxall/Digital Developments

Like with the ROG Cellphone 5, Asus has labored with audio consultants at Dirac on the Zenfone 8, and its twin stereo audio system — powered by a Cirrus Logic CS35L45 amp — sound wonderful. There’s additionally Hello Res assist and Qualcomm’s Aqstic codec. There’s even a 3.5mm headphone jack, an actual rarity today. All of it provides as much as make the Zenfone 8 one of many best-sounding phones you will get.

Worth and availability

The Zenfone 8 will launch within the U.S., however on the time of writing, the precise date and value haven’t been confirmed. In Europe, the Zenfone 8 begins at 539 euros/$650 for the 6GB/128GB mannequin, then will increase to 599 euros/$723 for the 8GB/128GB model, and to 699 euros/$843 for the highest 16GB/128GB phone. Precisely which area will get which mannequin can be unknown, however it’s doable the 8GB/128GB Zenfone 8 would be the least expensive accessible the place you reside.

Our take

Are you going to remorse getting a “small” phone in the present day? It actually depends upon what you need to do with it. The comfort of the Zenfone 8 disappearing in your pocket is nice, and it genuinely is usable with one hand supplied it’s contained in the case. Nevertheless, I missed an even bigger display screen, even the iPhone 12 Professional’s barely bigger 6.1-inch display screen, after I wished to observe video for any size of time.

Many have lamented the relative shortage of compact, high-performance phones for some time, however there’s truly a wholesome vary of them on the market, and it’s up for debate whether or not many individuals are actually shopping for them. In case you’re a staunch supporter of the compact phone, the Zenfone 8 must be proper on the high of your procuring checklist, as the form and measurement of the phone have been well-engineered. Plus it has the identical energy and talent as huge phones just like the Galaxy S21 Extremely.

Nevertheless, the Zenfone 8 actually struggles with battery life, the safety choices are gradual, and the digital camera received’t attraction to those that are severely into cellular images. I just like the Zenfone 8 and Asus’ dedication to not following the gang, however the Zenfone 8’s downsides make it a tough promote over the competitors.

Is there a greater different?

The Zenfone 8 faces critical competitors from Google and Samsung, and a problem from Apple, too, should you’re prepared to spend a bit of extra. The Google Pixel 4a 5G is barely bigger than the Zenfone 8, however at $499 and with a powerful digital camera, it’s a terrific purchase. The Google Pixel 5 is simply as compact because the Zenfone, plus it nonetheless has that implausible digital camera and assured software program updates, however it prices $699. The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G has much better battery life, a terrific display screen, and an honest digital camera for $499.

The Apple iPhone 12 Mini is $699 and is a real compact phone, whereas the marginally bigger iPhone 12 is $799. The iPhone 12 Professional is the mannequin we actually suggest, however at $999, it’s considerably dearer than the Zenfone 8.

How lengthy will it final?

Asus will present two main Android software program updates for the Zenfone 8, however timing might not be as instant as on phones just like the Google Pixel. The physique has each IP56 and IP68 water and dirt resistance, and the Gorilla Glass Victus ought to present first rate scratch and shatter safety for the display screen, plus there’s a fundamental case included within the field, so the Zenfone 8 must be fairly sturdy. With 5G and the most recent Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor inside, it is going to simply final for 2 to a few years earlier than a substitute must be thought-about.

Do you have to purchase it?

No. Until a software program replace improves the battery life, display screen responsiveness, and fingerprint sensor efficiency, it might probably’t fairly match the competitors.

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