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Asus zenfone 8 Review: Crouching Smartphone, Hidden Snapdragon

Asus Zenfone 8

The Asus Zenfone 8 really surprised us when it was unveiled at the launch event, mostly because of its compact size. Despite the smaller size, the device is still packed with high-end flagship hardware and features, which leads us to believe that the Zenfone 8 might just be the sleeper device of the year. Not to mention, this is also the long awaited comeback of the Zenfone series since the “ZenFone 4, 5, and 6 days”. Before we get into the review, let’s check out the specs.

Asus Zenfone 8

Asus Zenfone 8 – Specifications

Processor 2.84 GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 888
5G Mobile Platform with 5nm
64-bit Octa-core Processor
GPU Qualcomm® Adreno™ 660
OS & UI Android™ 11 with ZenUI 8
Display 5.9“ FHD+ (2400 x 1080) Samsung E4 AMOLED display
90.02% screen-to-body ratio
20:9 ratio, 445ppi, 120Hz refresh rate,
1ms response time, 240Hz touch sampling rate
112% DCI-P3, 151.9% sRGB, Delta E average < 1
1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 800nit outdoor readable brightness
1100 nits maximum brightness, Corning® Gorilla® Glass Victus
SGS Eye Care 6.5% & SGS Seamless Pro (120Hz)
Memory + Storage 8GB + 128GB
16GB + 256GB
(LPDDR5 / UFS 3.1)
Sensor In-display fingerprint sensor, Accelerator sensor, E-Compass sensor,
Proximity  sensor, Ambient light sensor, Gyro sensor (Support ARCore)
Main Camera 64MP SONY IMX686 flagship sensor with OIS, 1/1.7″ sensor
Quad Bayer Technology, 0.8µm/1.6µm effective pixel size
F1.8, 78.3° FOV (26.6 mm equivalent  to 35 mm film camera)
2×1 OCL PDAF, Dual LED flash, 8K video recording with EIS
Second Camera 12MP, SONY IMX363 flagship sensor, 1/2.55″ sensor,
113˚ FOV, (14.3 mm  equivalent to 35 mm film camera),
1.4µm pixel size, F2.2, Dual PDAF, Real-time  distortion correction,
Supports 4cm Macro shot, Records up to 4K/60fps or  FHD/60fps
Flash LED Single color LED Flash
Front Camera 12MP, Sony IMX663 (Industry’s first launch), 1/2.93″sensor,
76.5˚ FOV, 1.22µm  effective pixel size,
F2.45 (27.7 mm equivalent to 35 mm film camera),
Dual PDAF Records up to 4K/30fps or FHD/60fps
Speaker Dual Super linear speakers with Dirac HD Sound (7-magnet top speaker, 3-magnet  bottom) 10x12mm @top, 12x16mm @bottom with Dbass foam balls Powered by dual Cirrus Logic CS35L45 Mono AMP
Microphone Triple microphones with OZO Audio Zoom & Noise Reduction Technology
Wireless  TechnologyIntegrated WiFi 6 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax (6E)
2×2 MIMO Tri-band 2.4 GHz/5 GHz/6 GHz WiFi
Bluetooth® 5.2 (EDR + A2DP) & HFP + AVRCP + HID + PAN + OPP
Additional Bluetooth audio codec: LDAC + Qualcomm® aptX, aptX HD, aptX  Adaptive + AAC
Navigation GNSS support GPS (L1/L5), Glonass (L1), Galileo (E1/E5a), QZSS (L1/L5) and NavIC  (L5)
SIM Cards Dual SIM dual standby Dual Nano SIM (DSDV 5G LTE+LTE)
Peak Data Rate DC-HSPA+ (DL/UL): 42/5.76 Mbps ; up to LTE DL 5CA (DL/UL) 2000/150 Mbps; 5G NR FR1: DL 3.8Gbps (5DL+FR1: EN-DC 2+1.8), UL 542Mbps and 4×4 MIMO  support
Water Resistant IP68 certified
Interface USB2.0 Type-C with OTG support, Supports QC4.0/PD 3.0 Charging 3.5mm Audio Jack: Headphone with Qualcomm® Aqstic™ WCD9385
NFC Support (Card mode support in power off)
Battery 4000mAh (typ)
Charger Charger 30W 3.3V-11V = MAX 3A PD3.0 PPS / Direct Charge / QC4.0 adapter
Colors Obsidian Black and Horizon Silver
Dimensions 148 x 68.5 x 8.9 mm
Weight 169 grams
Price RM 2,699 (8GB + 128GB)
RM 3,299 (16GB + 256GB)

What’s In The Box?

  • Asus Zenfone 8
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • 30W Charging Adapter
  • SIM Ejector Pin
  • Hard Protective Case

Design

Asus Zenfone 8

This time around, the Asus Zenfone 8 is taking a different design approach to the whole idea of “flagship”. It features a smaller, more compact body without compromising hardware or performance. Within this somewhat tiny device is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor with 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1-based storage. We’ll get more into performance later on.

Asus Zenfone 8

So, what else is there about the Asus Zenfone 8? Apart from the fact that it’s small, the back of the device has a matte finish which is quite fingerprint stain resistant. It has the “ASUS Zenfone” branding printed right down the center, and the camera bump is placed on the top left corner of the device.

The camera bump is rather thin, doesn’t cause much wobble, but what you’ll notice is that despite being a flagship device, it only has two camera lenses. Does number of camera lenses equate to flagship status? No, it doesn’t, but it’s just odd to see when other smartphone makers are pushing out triple or quad camera setups on their phones. Spoiler alert, the camera doesn’t disappoint either.

On the top, you get the 3.5mm audio jack, on the right, there’s the volume and power buttons, while the bottom has the SIM tray slot, USB Type-C port, as well as the speaker grille. The power button has a blue accent, which makes it easier to locate and press. On the top left corner of the display, there’s the keyhole notch that houses the new 12MP IMX 663 sensor for selfies and video calls. There’s also an under-display fingerprint sensor towards the bottom center of the screen.

Asus Zenfone 8

Why did I mention the word “sleeper” for the Asus Zenfone 8? That’s because the exterior of the phone really has nothing to shout about. It’s a simple, minimalist, and straightforward candy bar phone, which is the opposite of its more flamboyant sibling, the Asus Zenfone 8 Flip. And because of its size, the untrained eye might even see this as an entry level device. Being a sleeper doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing, because it’s the inside that counts. (And also because thieves might not be motivated enough to steal your device).

Display

Asus Zenfone 8

Moving on to the display, the Asus Zenfone 8 has a 5.9-inch display with a FHD+ resolution of 2400 x 1080 pixels. It’s a bit bizzare to see a flagship phone having a sub 6-inch display, yet here we are. It even uses Samsung’s E4 AMOLED panel, complete with a 20:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz refresh rate with a 240Hz touch sampling rate. Honestly, the display itself is already way overkill for the specs it has.

Brightness wise, it has 800 nits outdoor readable brightness, which really does work in practice, with a max of 1,100 nits of peak brightness. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, and covers 112% of DCI-P3, 151.9% of sRGB, and has a Delta E average of < 1, with a 1 million:1 contrast ratio. That’s a lot to take in just for the display, but in summary, the display is absolutely amazing. Oh, there’s even an Always-On display for you to play around with too.

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Asus zenfone 8 Review: Crouching Smartphone, Hidden Snapdragon 16
Asus Zenfone 8

The Asus Zenfone 8’s display may be small, but you can change the sizing of fonts and display anytime, and no matter what size you’re changing to, it’s still comfortable to the eyes. Colours are naturally vivid, can sometimes be a little too bright, and the 120Hz refresh rate really hits different on a smaller AMOLED panel. Details look a lot finer, crispier too. If you’re into large displays to give you that satisfying cinema feel, this phone isn’t for you. The screen may be small, but it’s meant for those who wants something reachable, and pocketable.

User Experience

Asus Zenfone 8

I’ve been using the Asus Zenfone 8 for the past couple of weeks, and I have to say, I’m sold. There are a lot of plus points I’m seeing in the device, but there are also weak points too. Let’s start with the good first, the display. As mentioned above, colours are great, and the adaptive 120Hz refresh rate makes the whole experience even better.

It has a smooth back, while the sides give you a comfortable grip. The Asus Zenfone 8 is indeed small, but it is big on features. Asus even included a feature similar to Apple’s Reachability, where you can swipe down on the bottom chin of the phone, and it will bring half the display down for you to reach items at the top of the display.

Asus Zenfone 8

The under-display fingerprint sensor is a hit and miss at times, but the face recognition unlock is superbly quick. The power and volume buttons give a nice tactile feel, and I appreciate the blue accent on the power button. When the front camera is being used, either for selfies, video calls, or unlocking your phone, there’s a ring animation surrounding the notch to notify you it is being used. This is a really useful feature, and I appreciate it a lot.

Another thing I really liked about the phone is that the bottom of the phone is curved in such a way that it doesn’t hurt the pinky finger you’re resting the device on. Even with the provided casing equipped, holding the phone is an absolute pleasure, complimented by the phone being lightweight on its own at a mere 169.

Performance

Asus Zenfone 8

I’ve touched on this real quick, the Asus Zenfone 8 is running on Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 888 chip, which is based on the 5nm process, and has 5G connectivity baked right in. It features 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and the 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. There is no storage expansion, but 256GB is plenty for my use, there’s even an 8GB + 128GB variant if 16GB + 256GB is overkill for you.

I have no complaints with the Asus Zenfone 8’s performance whatsoever, everything runs fast, is smooth, even multitasking is like spreading butter on bread after bread. Apps and games are all handled spectacularly, but when it comes to temperature management, that’s where things get a little heated.

Asus Zenfone 8

When testing Genshin Impact on the Asus Zenfone 8, I was really surprised the phone actually run at highest graphics settings. But after 10 minutes or so, the phone started heating up, and the sides were almost scalding. Since the phone is IP68 certified, I ran it through a stream of cold water to cool the phone down, and true enough, the dust and water resistance works. Going back into Genshin, I turned the graphics down to “Medium”, and the phone was only slightly warm this time around.

Another thing I realized is that when I’m watching Tiktok videos. Yes, Tiktok videos, the Asus Zenfone 8 starts heating up too. This might be due to the display running at full 120Hz refresh rate, speakers at 60%, and the phone’s size being so small that the heat doesn’t have a large enough surface area to dissipate. It’s a bit of a letdown knowing the phone can go max settings, but for heat management sake, you’d have to dial it down. To remedy this, Asus could release tweaks through firmware updates, or you could purchase a separate cooler.

In benchmarking tests, it comes as no surprise that the device achieves high scores all around. Here are the results for the Asus Zenfone 8:

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Asus zenfone 8 Review: Crouching Smartphone, Hidden Snapdragon 16

Camera

Asus Zenfone 8

I was a bit skeptical at first about the Asus Zenfone 8’s camera, because there were only two lenses on the back. The main sensor is a 64MP Sony IMX686 flagship sensor, while the secondary sensor is a 12MP IMX363 sensor wide-angle sensor that’s also capable of 4cm macro shots, FHD and 4K video at 60fps.

The Asus Zenfone 8’s camera UI is fast and responsive, and there are very minimal shutter delay when taking photos and videos. Even switching between capture modes are fast, and the device doesn’t heat up much which is great. There is a “Pro” mode available for those of you who prefer tinkering the details of your manual shot, as well as a Night Mode for better low-light environment shots.

Asus Zenfone 8

Because of the lack of a telephoto sensor, unfortunately you can’t zoom in too much onto your subject. The maximum is a 2X optical zoom, and that’s it. However, there is still a 0.6x zoom out to take wider shots. There’s also the feature where you can drag the shutter button upwards to start a timer (max 10 seconds). Once you let go, the timer starts.

In terms of image quality, photos looks great with colours that pop, and don’t look too fake. It does a great job in handling backlighting, and the auto focus and light adjustment is pretty quick on its feet too. In the video department, footages are surprisingly good and stable, thanks to the OIS module found on the 64MP main sensor. You can even record up to 4K, and enough details are preserved to have it nicely displayed fullscreen on a 65-inch 4K TV.

Here are the sample photos taken with the Asus Zenfone 8:

Audio

Asus Zenfone 8

When it comes to audio, the Asus Zenfone 8 really surprised me when I heard my Spotify songs come to life. Overall, I’d say it has almost the same performance as a 3rd party Bluetooth speaker. Listening to “Stay With Me” by Miki Matsubara, the highs are bright, frequencies are very well isolated, and the mids have a great range. For such a small device, I’m impressed it could output such huge sounds with the dual speaker setup. It’s not front-facing dual-speakers, but it still does a great job of producing decent stereo audio. You can even hear the clean and crisp lows.

One thing I don’t like about “audio” is the Asus Zenfone 8’s side volume control panel. It’s a bit too short, and the steps in each change isn’t reflected as good. I would’ve preferred it if Asus used more of the screen to show a longer volume bar. On a plus note, the phone also has the AudioWizard built right in. You can change between different audio styles tuned with Dirac, and can even control the overall bass and treble levels of the phone.

Battery Life

Squeezing a 4,000mAh battery into the Asus Zenfone 8 is no easy feat, let alone pairing that with 30W fast charging via USB Type-C. In terms of charging, Asus has now even added additional charging features to prolong the phone’s lifespan. There’s the new scheduled charging so that it keeps the battery at a lower percentage overnight so it doesn’t trickle charge at 100% which further wears down the battery.

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Asus zenfone 8 Review: Crouching Smartphone, Hidden Snapdragon 16

Because I have everything on and turned up to eleven, the Asus Zenfone 8’s battery does have a run for its money. It can definitely last the entire day, but by sleep time which is around 1AM, it would have about less than 10% capacity left. So, it’s a phone that would definitely need charging every night. However, you can save more battery if you lower down the refresh rate, lower down performance mode, play less games, and reduce the volume of the music you’re listening to.

In terms of charging, I could get it from zero to 50% in 20 minutes, while a zero to full charge takes about an hour and 20 minutes.

Conclusion

Asus Zenfone 8

The Asus Zenfone 8 has just been added to one my favorite smartphones of all time. It’s a timeless looking device, but has the power of tomorrow embedded right inside it. This is the device for those who wants a smaller device, but will not accept compromises. This is the device for those who appreciates compact minimalism.

The Asus Zenfone 8 runs on Qualcomm’s latest processor with 5G, RAM and storage are aplenty, and the camera performance is surprisingly good. These are flagship hardware and features, in a compact phone you can actually comfortably use. Priced from RM2,699, the Asus Zenfone 8 might be a strong contender in the flagship arena,

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Asus zenfone 8 Review: Crouching Smartphone, Hidden Snapdragon 16
Written By

Chief Content Developer at The AXO

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