Asus Zenfone 8 review, two months later: Still small, still mighty

Asus Zenfone 8 review, two months later: Still small, still mighty

Asus has constructed a gentle presence within the cell business with assist from its current ROG Telephone sequence. Nevertheless it’s been chasing a common viewers (largely in Asia) for for much longer with its Zenfone lineup, trying to please everybody and often failing. Now, after a few units with cameras that may flip from again to entrance, the Taiwanese model goes small towards a tide of huge telephones with the upcoming Zenfone 8.

Till now, Sony has been the one notable participant taking on the compact flagship lane to restricted success. Asus appears to suppose that even these telephones have develop into unwieldy with extra-tall 21:9 shows. The Zenfone 8 is likely one of the smallest flagship-spec’d telephones you will get, and it begins at simply $599. Will the corporate discover success with one thing so small that has all of it? That is up within the air, nevertheless it’s a rattling good cellphone.

Design, {hardware}, what’s within the field

This cellphone, which comes with Qualcomm’s top-tier chipset for 2021, a vapor pipe cooling system, and a 4,000mAh battery, sizes up 3mm shorter and 1.5mm thinner than a Pixel 3a — a cellphone that very a lot doesn’t have these issues.

Asus makes use of the newest Gorilla Glass Victus to guard the screen and a pane of the older however still sturdy Gorilla Glass 3 for the again. The latter options sweeping curves to the left and proper edges making it simple to choose up and cradle. The stack is held collectively by an aluminum mid-body. The highest fringe of the system has a 3.5mm headphone jack, the fitting aspect has a quantity rocker plus an influence button that permits for user-specified shortcuts, and the underside has a USB-C port, notification LED, and a dual-SIM tray. There’s additionally a microphone to the fitting of the tray, so remember to put your SIM key within the recess to the left. The Zenfone 8 is IP68 licensed, too.

In a historic context, I wouldn’t have referred to as this small, however while you see what number of telephones with a 6.5-inch or larger display screen span are being offered lately at many value factors, I’m not calling this factor huge. The system boasts a 5.9-inch OLED screen from Samsung with a 120Hz refresh price, extra-wide coloration gamut, and nice out of doors visibility. If screen-to-body ratios are still necessary in 2021, 90% is nothing to scoff at. It has positively been an incredible YouTube companion for me.

We’re well past the times when HTC was the one OEM placing out telephones with good audio system, however even with its bodily limitations, the Zenfone 8 is ready to convey each quantity and nuance. Highly effective particular person amps fireplace up stereo audio system which go audio by means of comparatively lofty echo chambers. Add in a couple of software program tips like simulating bass overtones for meatier drums and a few high-end smoothing and we have got textured sound popping out of a tiny boombox. In truth, with a loud sufficient pulse, chances are you’ll even see some mud burst out of a grille.

Apart from the cellphone, you additionally get a bumper case and a 30W HyperCharge adapter with a Sort-C to Sort-C cable. No wi-fi charging right here — one in every of a number of trade-offs when prioritizing measurement and price.

Software program, efficiency, and battery

ZenUI 8 brings heavy modifications to Android 11, although I recognize that a lot of them are opt-in. Lighter touches I notably like embody the aesthetic customizations, twin app situations for various accounts, and a one-handed mode akin to iOS’s Reachability (which is predicted to return to Android 12). Recreation Genie instruments have been imported from the ROG Telephone sequence, however not your complete Armoury Crate suite. Then we have now the hardcore administration stuff: a number of customizable energy modes that management Wi-Fi band utilization or when it sticks with 4G over 5G, and moddable charging parameters like capping most battery capability under 100% for higher longevity.

In case you’ve seen our earlier opinions, you understand that the Snapdragon 888 is a superb workhorse and having as a lot as 16GB of RAM actually helps. So, it is not shocking to see that the Zenfone flies excessive. Even with the bottom 6GB configuration, it is best to do positive with the assistance of OptiFlex reminiscence allocation which retains your most used apps energetic and able to be opened. As for the long-term image, Asus tells me to anticipate “at least” two OS updates and safety updates to match, although it did not specify frequency. Given how heavy the ZenUI package deal is, I would not be shocked if the agency ended up falling quick because it has with previous merchandise.


The in-display fingerprint sensor was a sore spot earlier on in my testing, however after sporting in some up to date firmware, it now reads as quick as I anticipate it to and extra reliably. Annoyingly, unintentional activations in my pocket still occur even when I’ve the prohibitor toggle turned on.

On the 5G entrance, the cellphone helps 4 of the main sub-6GHz bands within the US: n2 (1900MHz), n5 (850MHz), n66 (1700/2100MHz), and n71 (600MHz). Notably, it doesn’t embody T-Cell’s centerpiece n41 (2500MHz) band that is supposed to offer the very best of each throughput and protection. Once I requested why, the corporate defined that it’s working with restricted RF elements due to its small scale within the cellphone business and, thus, totally different regional SKUs share assist for many 5G bands although the corporate did attempt to cowl as a lot native spectrum for the variants. It still hurts to lose out on what’s supposedly the very best that 5G has to supply within the US proper now.


Battery life on a lighter-use day

With a ton of energy administration options, the Zenfone 8 does go far in case you don’t pay thoughts to them. Essentially the most stress I placed on any cellphone is my occasional 12-hour sojourns throughout New England. I eat a weight-reduction plan of streaming movies, podcasts, and music, ceaselessly activate location monitoring for transit apps, and scroll my socials and work stuff at the least thrice an hour. My every day driver, a Pixel 3a, usually wants some assist after 4 to five hours lately although I acknowledge age has so much to do with it. Against this, the Zenfone ends the day at round 25%, which is sort of good.


The rear cameras needs to be acquainted to Zenfone 7 Professional homeowners: they’re the 64MP Sony IMX686 with optical picture stabilization and the 12MP IMX363 for ultra-wide and macro pictures. New for the Zenfone 8, although, is the 12MP IMX663 selfie cam with dual-phase detection autofocus — that skill is geared in the direction of influencer sorts who level merchandise proper as much as the lens.

The primary sensor places out serviceable pictures. Colours are correct for probably the most half, however are usually undersaturated across the extremes of the dynamic vary. The ultra-wide does a greater job on that entrance, in all probability as a result of it is coping with extra info across the periphery which feeds higher into its auto metering technique. Still, there is a center floor with regards to how units post-process coloration and I believe Asus undershot a bit right here. HDR is not the very best, both, with halos and fringing obvious in some footage.


That stated, Asus has stepped up for the cell creatives with simple Professional modes for each stills and video that permit for issues like RAW capturing, bracketing, customized presets, and audio focusing between the cellphone’s three mics. Video will be shot at as much as 8K and 30fps with digital picture stabilization or 60fps in 4K with optical stabilization. Sluggish-motion video at as much as 4K and 120fps can be accessible.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. There isn’t a denying that Asus has packed as a lot {hardware} because it may right into a small and ergonomic field. Certain, among the myriad software program options are underbaked, overwhelming, and even bothersome typically — warnings about app energy consumption are a chief instance. Maybe a few of that cruft needs to be minimize out, nevertheless it’s simply ignored or turned off. If you settle into the Zenfone 8, the top result’s a fluid expertise with loads of utility and many lasting energy in addition.

The bottom configuration of 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage prices $599. From a US standpoint, I take into account that to be an incredible deal when factoring in your complete package deal. Going after a Snapdragon 888 system, you would be paying $130 extra for a OnePlus 9 or $200 extra for a Galaxy S21. The truth that you may improve that RAM to 16GB at $799 is fairly cool, too — Samsung and OnePlus make you pay 4 digits only for 12GB.

Personally, I am simply comfortable to have all this energy in one thing I can simply use in a single hand.

Purchase it if…

  • You need a smaller flagship Android cellphone
  • You are in search of an incredible worth

Do not buy it if…

  • You are involved about well timed software program updates
  • You propose on taking a number of pictures

The place to purchase


Since publishing the evaluate, I’ve dropped my Zenfone 8 on asphalt and common gross sales have began in North America. Every of those developments belie some necessary factors I need to make about this factor.

For probably the most half, the cellphone has stored up with me. Apps proceed to open up quick, a lot in order that I don’t actually discover. I’ve additionally gotten updates each couple of weeks, although I’m utilizing a pre-release evaluate unit which can be on a special observe to what customers will get. Still, the truth that Asus is operating an Android 12 beta program for this system positively takes dedication. On most days after I’m out and about, I find yourself with between 25% and 40% of battery life remaining. That efficiency varies a bit extra throughout my longer touring days, in fact, however I did take an all-day journey from Hartford to Boston the place I held out on topping off and was capable of stretch out energy saving mode to finish the evening at 1%.

I would’ve been slightly overly essential in my evaluation on the cameras, however I do like utilizing them. Mockingly, whereas I really like utilizing a small cellphone, I do should thoughts the place I grip it to keep away from having my fingers intrude on wide-angle pictures. Most significantly, I like what they put out.

I don’t like doing “drop tests” as a result of they have a tendency to, uh, hinder reasonably than assist my evaluate procedure, and no two drops are precisely the identical. I did as soon as neglect that I had positioned the system on my lap earlier than getting out of a automobile, and the consequence was a 3-foot plunge onto the road. Amazingly, neither pane of Gorilla Glass got here away with even a lot as a scratch. The aluminum framing took a number of dings nevertheless it was nothing spectacular. To reiterate, that is in no way scientific, however I’m fairly pleased with the end result right here.

Asus has but to go on the file following up on the exclusion of band n41 which has carried on to U.S. launch items. I’m fairly sure the corporate admitted extra in its preliminary clarification than it needed to. We may additionally simply issue the worldwide chip scarcity into that scenario in addition to to why telephones with solely 8GB of RAM are on sale in North America at the moment.

Still, the Zenfone 8 has confirmed its endurance again and again and I’m comfortable to say that this cellphone gives unparalleled worth for hardcore Android customers proper now.