Tested product: Asus Zenfone 8
Price: From $599 at Asus
Asus continues to deliver a lot of smartphones for the money. This comes in a smooth little format. Over the past two years, Asus Zenfone has raised some eyebrows with its unique Zenfone mobiles with a flip-flop camera mounted on a motorized axle. It provides unbeatable quality for selfies and vloggers. Now they released two new models, one with a flip camera, Zenfone 8 Flip, which we will test soon, and one without, Zenfone 8, which is tested here and now.
- Fast despite the compact format
- Excellent screen and sound
- Good battery life
- May become uncomfortably hot
- Lacks some premium features
- Anonymous design
It’s slimmer than the Samsung Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12, and shorter than the slender Sony Xperia 5 II. This makes it easily slip into your pocket and is smoother than most phones to handle with one hand. Among high-performance smartphones, only the iPhone 12 Mini is more compact. But it is drawn with other compromises, like a small battery.
Zenfone 8 does not skimp on battery power. It has a fast-charging battery of 4,000 mAh which together with an AMOLED screen and good energy routines gives a really good battery life. The phone is also fast charging with the included 30-watt adapter. It does not skimp on the hardware at all, but the Zenfone 8 is equipped with most things that a top mobile should have.
Three different models are sold, with eight gigabytes of frame and 128 and 256 gigabytes of storage, respectively. The best model has 12 gigabytes of the frame and 256 gigabytes of storage memory. The price starts at $599 and goes up to $799. At launch, however, there is a certain introductory discount, if you are interested and strike before 26 May, you will receive a $50 discount.
Powerful but Warm
It has top-class performance thanks to the Snapdragon 888, fast ufs 3.1 storage, and extra-fast frame memory. These seem to drive up the points in some benchmark programs and can mean a faster experience. But it’s hard to say for sure. One thing that’s certain is that this phone is fast.
However, it has a problem – intensive use, specifically by the graphics circuit, can make the phone very hot. This is done with all phones with Snapdragon 888, but here it is noticeable quickly and it becomes uncomfortable, as the chassis has less mass to distribute the heat in than a normal-sized premium model. Even occasional CPU-heavy chores can make the phone hot, but not as hot as graphics-intensive games do.
In a way, it is good that the chassis gets warm. This means that heat is conducted away from the CPU and GPU instead of being encapsulated. But for the graphics circle, in particular, it does not seem to be enough. The construction and heat dissipation do not keep up in the long run.
If we run a long-term test with 3d Mark, we see that it loses significantly in performance with each passing minute. Even after a few minutes, it is difficult to hold on to. Therefore, it can be good to put Zenfone 8 in a protective shell. It comes with a nice and grip-friendly black plastic, which can be good to use, even to protect the phone.
The front is a flat glass surface of Gorilla Glass Victus type, while the back is covered with matt frosted Gorilla Glass of a simpler type. It can be smart to use the included shell, especially since the design is so neutral. Zenfone 8 is anything but eye-catching. It has either neutral white or gray-black color on both the rounded aluminum frame and the back. The only thing that breaks off is the button which for some reason is blue.
The screen covers almost the entire front, even if the edge of the screen is not one of the thinnest we have seen. There are several millimeters to plan, but then the large battery might not have fit. The screen has a small hole in the corner for the selfie camera. It does not interfere more here than on other larger screens.
Top Class Picture and Sound
The screen is a sharp and stylish AMOLED panel that has the quality we expect from a phone in this price range. The colors are intense, a bit above the DCI p3 standard, the color accuracy is excellent and the brightness that if necessary shines to catch up with the summer sun.
At the bottom right is one of two high-class speakers.
The refresh rate is 120 Hz with dynamic frequency in standard mode. The screen has a 240 Hz touch reading for extra fast response. It also supports hdr10 + and is certified according to SGS Eye Care for low levels of harmful blue light. In short, there is nothing to complain about and as far as we can see, it delivers exactly the high quality that the specifications promise.
The specifications also promise really good sound. Stereo speakers with large elements, each powered by an amplifier, high-class DAC, hi-res audio support and surround sound from Dirac. Asus has also kept headphone jacks, with really nice high quality if you plug in good headphones. Digitally you get good Bluetooth sound with Aptx HD and ldac.
There’s a lot to brag about, but how does it sound? Better than most phones. The sound is both clean, detailed, and rich, but it does not have the mammoth pressure at the bottom that the Asus ROG Phone 5 has. The fact that the speakers are denser affects the stereo spread and the surround effect somewhat. But then we are picky, this sounds rudely good for any phone, especially one this small.
Has Most, But Not All
Zenfone 6 of course has the best possible communication with both 5g support and support for wifi 6. It is also prepared for new wifi 6E, if and when it becomes relevant in Sweden with such routers. And without a moving camera body, Asus can boast water resistance and IP68 certification. However, some things are missing compared to the market’s most expensive and best mobiles. For example, support for wireless charging and e-sim. You get dual SIM card readers, but no space for memory cards.
Dual cameras that shoot and film competently, but do nothing beyond what is expected.
The camera on the back also does not have lots of extra lenses but is content with two, the main sensor of 64 megapixels and a 118-degree wide-angle with a 12-megapixel sensor. Photo is clearly the phone’s weakest point, even if it maintains good basic quality. It’s quality hardware right through, Sony’s IMX sensors in both cases, optical image stabilizer in the main camera, and good perspective correction in wide-angle mode.
You can shoot in daylight with fine details and good dynamics, it also hangs in the evening and in dim indoor light. Although it can then be slow to focus and tends to compensate and lift the light in dark environments more than necessary. A good manual mode, however, allows you to balance the light according to your own needs if you are ambitious.
You can film with convincing image stabilization, flexible focus with even light and color management, as long as you activate hdr. The wide-angle camera is not as convincing, as it has a flatter and paler color reproduction than the main camera.
The camera app has a feature we like. You can choose which of its many functions and modes, from panorama mode, interval photo, and portrait to document scanner, which should be quickly accessible from the app’s main menu, and which you are less interested in.
The same can be said about the entire Zen UI interface. It is graphically clean and neat, but beneath the surface, there are many ways to customize it with features and navigation to your liking. For some reason, you get Netflix, Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger pre-installed, plus a bunch of Asus apps, but they can be easily uninstalled or ignored if they are not of interest.
Is Asus the new mobile champion in the smallest format? Yes and no. They deliver the most performance, good battery life, and sound and image that can measure up to everything and a competitive price. But the Zenfone 8 is not quite as uniquely small as Asus wants to claim and the investment in lots of computing power in this format feels dubious given the heat development.
That’s fine, for a certain type of user. However, we do not know how many they are. We hope for a future Zenfone 8 Lite in the same format, but with cooler hardware and additional price pressure. Not all phones need brutal performance. It may be time for both manufacturers and buyers to realize this.
|Product name : Zenfone 8 ZS590KS||Antutu Benchmark 9 : 780 693 point|
|Tested: May 2021||Geekbench 5 : 3 454 points|
|Manufacturer: Asus||Geekbench 5 one core : 1,125 points|
|System circuit: Snapdragon 888||3dmark Wild Life : 5,692 points|
|Processor: Kryo 680 Prime 2.84 GHz + 3 Kryo 680 Gold 2.42 GHz + 4 Kryo 680 Silver 1.8 GHz||Storage, reading : 2049.8 MB / s|
|Graphics: Adreno 660 840MHz||Storage, writing : 799 MB / s|
|Storage: 128/256 GB||Rating: 4 out of 5|
|Screen: 5.9 inches ample, 1080 x 2400 pixels (20: 9), 120 Hz|
|Cameras: 64 megapixels + 13 megapixels wide-angle with LED rear, 12 megapixels front|
|Connections: USB 2 type c, 3.5 mm headset|
|Communication: 2g, 3g, 4g, 5g, wifi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, agps, galileo, NFC|
|Operating system: Android 11 with ZenUI 8|
|Other: Dual sim, fingerprint reader, water-resistant (ip65 / ip68)|
|Battery: 4,000 mAh, 20 hours 40 min online video (wifi, high brightness), approx. 19 hours mixed-use (4g, low brightness), approx. 32 hours call|
|Size: 14.8 x 6.85 x 0.9 cm|
|Weight: 169 grams|
|ASUS Zenfone 8 price starts at $599|