Asus ZenFone 8, analysis and opinion

Asus presents its proposal for compact mobiles that do not give up the best performance on the market by assembling a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor. We analyze the Asus ZenFone 8 and give you our opinion.

Mobile screens are getting bigger, but not all users are comfortable with these diagonals that predominate in the top ranges and should give up maximum performance in favor of greater comfort of use.

Brands, always attentive to usage trends, have started to offer versions of their top mobiles but with a more compact format. An example is the Asus ZenFone 8 that we analyzed today.

Asus ZenFone 8
screen5.9" AMOLED E4 | Full HD+ (2,400x 1,080 pixels) | 120 Hz adaptive | 20:9 format | 800 nits (peak of 1,100 nits) | 445 dpi
Dimensions | weight148 x 68.5 x 8.9 mm | 169 gr
processorSnapdragon 888 5G | Adreno 660
RAM6, 8 or 16 GB LPDDR5
storage128GB and 256GB | UFS 3.1
Rear camera64 Mpx (f/1.8) | Wide angle 12 Mpx (f/2.2)
Front camera12 Mpx (f/2.4)
battery4,000 mAh | Fast charging 30W
softwareZen UI 8 (Android 11)
connectivity5G (DualSIM) | NFC | Bluetooth 5.2 | Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) | USB C | GPS
ExtrasStereo speakers | Footprint on screen

High-end compacts are back!

The current diagonal average is around 6.5 inches, which many people already consider to be a large mobile and some users may start to find it uncomfortable to use in the daytime.

This is where a compact design earns many integers from an audience that doesn't want to give up high-end performance without having to fill its pocket with a huge, heavy brick.

In Asus ZenFone 8 it is the most compact Android proposal in this field and it does so betting on a high-end mobile with dimensions of only 148 x 68.5 x 8.9 mm and 169 grams in weight.

In case such a compact mobile wasn't enough to improve its daily use, Asus has accompanied it with some design tricks that make holding it in hand even more comfortable.

The curve is a constant in a very conservative design that does not risk the slightest and employs old tricks of proven solvency, but very manias in the telephony industry, so the result can present itself as something bland or lacking personality of its own.

We found a curved Corning Gorilla Glass 3 glass back on the sides that, in the case of the unit sent to us by Asus for this analysis, sports a Horizon Silver finish with a nice satin silver finish. It is also available in dark grey with an Obsidian Black finish.

Asus ZenFone 8, primeras impresiones

To the comfort of having a back with curved sides adds, also rounded corners that draw a softer and rounded silhouette.

The rear is shown clean breaking the monotony with the presence of the make and model in the center of the rear. The counterpoint is placed by a scorned camera module in the upper left corner of the mobile.

Asus ZenFone 8

It is a rectangular module consisting of cameras located vertically with an LED flash next to it. The black background of this camera module contrasts with the rear making something else stand out, although it is not really too prominent.

If we go to the edge of the terminal we find an aluminum chassis that gives it robustness. It is a chassis with a lot of presence and, we do not know if the result of an optical effect derived from the reduced dimensions of the terminal, gives us the feeling of being somewhat thicker than usual.

Asus ZenFone 8

Despite that appreciation, the data speak for themselves and the Asus ZenFone 8 offers a thickness of 8.9 mm that places it in the average thickness of the high-end.

We really find ourselves in front of a smartphone with quite minimalist edges in which the buttons concentrate on the right side integrating a volume button with very good touch and a very special power button that not only stands out for its blue color but also offers Smart Key functionality to customize its operation.

Asus ZenFone 8

At the top we find a 3.5 mm jack, while at the bottom we find the tray for the two NanoSIM cards with 5G support, the USB type C connector, a notification LED, and the lower speaker.

This may not be the most visible place to place a notification LED, but in any case, it is an approach to improving the user experience with an element that still has many followers.

On the front stands out its flat screen in which high-end finishes are appreciated since the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus shielded glass is set directly in the aluminum chassis providing a much more pleasant edge-to-screen step, without frames or edges.

Asus ZenFone 8

In the upper left corner of the screen is the perforation in which the front camera is housed surrounded by a thin metal frame that lights up on certain occasions such as when activating facial unlocking, or shows a green LED next to it when in use.

The frames that run around the perimeter of the screen are not as tight as we would like to find on a mobile that seeks to minimize its size. We found reasonably narrow frames on the sides, which double their size at the top and bottom.

This reduces the useful screen surface giving the feeling of being in front of a mid-range smartphone and not a high-end mobile like this Asus ZenFone 8.

Asus ZenFone 8

In general, by aesthetics and above all by the materials used, it is in view that we are faced with a high-end mobile. While it is true that Asus has lacked some ambition betting on more personal finishes or designs, the materials are top quality and the mobile is very well built.

We didn't like to find such uns optimized frames on the front. Although not excessively large, they do have room for improvement when it comes to a high-end mobile.

A screen that shines like the big ones, but that becomes scarce for the content

One of the inevitable consequences of making mobile more compact is that a screen surface is sacrificed in this case it is the only thing that is sacrificed in this panel since at the quality level it is kept in high-end standards.

Asus ZenFone 8 comes with a Samsung-signed 5.9-inch E4 quality AMOLED display, offering full HD+ resolution (2,400 x 1,080 pixels) with a density of 445 dpi and HDR 10+ support with coverage of up to 112% of the DCI-P3 color gamut.

Asus ZenFone 8

This gives you excellent color rendering capability that is perfect for watching series and movies with a color more true to reality. Although in this, the size does not accompany especially since of course, it does not look as good as on a large-format screen.

From the Asus ZenFone 8 Settings menu, you can customize splendid calibration, the full-color section manager of the screen, which comes from the factory with a slightly cold and saturated setting of the AMOLED panels, although it is enough to select a Natural or Standard setting to tune it to the taste of each user.

Asus ZenFone 8, análisis y opinión

The same is true in games, where the image quality and colors are shown on this screen make the Asus ZenFone 8 a very appetizing mobile to play. However, such a compact display dilutes the gaming experience a bit, especially if the title has touch controls very expanded throughout the interface, making the player's own fingers hinder the view of what happens on screen.

What is enjoyed is the refresh rate of 120 Hz that allows improving the fluidity of the screen both in games and during navigation or when using certain compatible applications, making the texts and contents sharper when you scroll through them.

This refresh rate is variable, so your smartphone will adjust the frequency based on the app's support to save some battery.

Asus tells us about a screen capable of offering a good level of brightness and is corroborated by the readings we have obtained, with an average brightness of 786 luxes and a peak of up to 1,549 luxes when the high bright models activated with an average deviation of 3.02 luxes, which confirms that the brightness distribution is very homogeneous throughout the screen.

This brightness provides excellent visibility outdoors and, with automatic brightness enabled, the mobile reacts almost immediately to ambient lighting changes adapting its brightness and saving battery without having to intervene to correct it.

Asus ZenFone 8

In short, we are faced with a very good quality screen that has little to envy other models of the high-end Asus such as the Asus ROG Phone 5 that we analyzed here a few weeks ago.

A Full HD+ screen resolution may seem a little sparse for a high-end smartphone, but we should not forget that we are facing a mobile with a screen of 5.9 inches, which makes the pixel density greater providing a good level of sharpness and definition in the images.

Smartphone small in size but large in performance

If there is one thing that surprises when using this Asus ZenFone 8 is because of the incredible performance it offers, it constantly reminds us that we are facing a high-end without complexes in which the most powerful hardware of the moment is integrated, however much its size makes us forget about it on many occasions.

Inside we find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G processor, the latest and most powerful eight-core processor of the brand that has been manufactured in a 5 nm lithography that allows running any application without compromises in performance.

This is not the first time we have tested a smartphone with this processor so we are aware of its potential. We have to say that the Asus ZenFone 8 has far met our expectations by solving without blinking the execution of all the applications that throw you out.

Asus ZenFone 8

The performance that we have obtained when running games, perhaps one of the toughest tests that can be subjected to a mobile, has been excellent and has allowed us to enjoy the latest games with the highest graphic quality thanks to the good behavior of the Adreno 660 GPU that integrates into this SoC.

Titles like Asphalt 9COD: Mobile or PUBG Mobile runs smoothly offering a smooth, jerk-free gaming experience. Literally, the processor can do anything and allows licenses such as uploading the graphics quality in many of them without compromising fluidity in the game.

The 16GB OF LPDDR5 RAM mounted by the ZenFone 8 drive that Asus has sent us for analysis has a lot to say in this good performance offering a very smooth experience when switching between apps and even allowing itself the luxury of switching between games.

One way to quantify this performance is to subject ZenFone 8 to our usual synthetic test battery, where its good performance is evident.

 Asus ZenFone 8OnePlus 9Samsung Galaxy S21Zenfone 7 Pro
processorSnapdragon 888Snapdragon 888Exynos 2100Snapdragon 865+
Geekbench 4 Single5.0525.0434.8014.626
Geekbench 4 Multi14.07714.26414.27612.742
Geekbench 5 Single1.1241.1251.0911.005
Geekbench 5 Multi3.6593.6843.4673.201
Wild Life5,742 | 34.40 fps5,775 | 34.60 fps5,939 | 35.60 fps7.885
PC Mark Work 2.014.12811.10014.39515.428
PC Mark Work 3.016.38713.511--

The different scores obtained in the benchmarks come to confirm our sensations when using ZenFone 8, showing that we are faced with a smartphone that offers a performance good enough to rub shoulders with the best mobiles of the moment.

However, to make the most of the processor's performance has helped us confirm something we already suspected: such a compact device with that hardware has difficulty managing temperature.

Asus ZenFone 8

By sheer physics, the lack of space forces to reduce the space dedicated to cooling and, therefore, the temperature soars. Although Asus has redoubled its efforts to keep the same temperature values in a much smaller space, the heat makes an appearance shortly after starting demanding games or applications.

This heat is not concentrated on top of the mobile as was customary in mobiles from previous generations but is evenly distributed throughout the chassis that acts as a heatsink using the entire surface of the external frame.

In unre demanding applications and games, the temperature increase is not as noticeable, so it is limited only to times when the processor is steadily demanded to do the most performance.

Asus ZenFone 8

When it comes to storage, the Asus ZenFone 8 we're analyzing comes with 256GB of internal storage with UFS 3.1 support that optimizes information consumption and access speed.

 Asus ZenFone 8OnePlus 9Samsung Galaxy S21 5GZenfone 7 Pro
Sequential writing481 MB/s501.68 MB/s390.92 MB/s530.50 MB/s
Sequential reading1.09 GB/s1.49 GB/s745.15 MB/s1.46 GB/s
Random writing31.20 MB/s39.25 MB/s37.54 MB/s39.47 MB/s
Random reading21.17 MB/s31.35 MB/s16.68 MB/s22, 37 MB/s
In-memory copy speed8.11 GB/s10.41 GB/s8.92 GB/s9.44 GB/s

What you do give up is memory expansion by removing support for microSD cards, something that should be taken into account when purchasing the right version as that capacity cannot be expanded.

256 GB is more than enough capacity for a 2021 high-end smartphone, especially considering that, as we will see in the photographic section, this processor allows you to record video in 8K, which requires a higher capacity and speed in storage.

Zen UI 8, a complete layer that doesn't castrate the experience of use on Android 11

The operating system is a very influential component in the user experience, and to this is joined the challenge of adapting the user experience to a screen with an unusual size.

Asus ZenFone 8

Asus' customization layer moves on an Android 11 base that suits this terminal really well thanks to the good balance that Asus has applied in its interface, in which it manages to add configuration options for its hardware, but without altering too much the original Aesthetics of Android.

Zen UI 8 has opted for a formula that has worked for it in previous models that consist of not reinventing the wheel and simply adding new sections in which they can bring improvements to the use of the smartphone and do without to the maximum of bloatware or any other element that may impair the user experience. Definitely a hit.

Actually, Zen UI 8's proposal on ZenFone 8 is quite similar to what we found on the Asus ROG Phone 5, except for all the gaming part that that model provided, but with some added in the energy management section and screen that allows us to better adjust the operation of the screen or save battery.

In this model, we find everything That Android 11 offers in its stock versions: Discover to the left of the home screen, easy management of Bluetooth devices, or integrated mobile payment system.

Many of these customization options typical of this Asus ZenFone 8 that we mentioned are found in the Advanced Settings section. An example of this is the one that allows you to adjust the operation of the Smart Key key, allowing you to assign a specific function by double-pressing this vitamin ignition key or holding it down.

In this section, we also find the option to customize the operation of the Game Genie that defines the behavior of the mobile in games, notifications, and optimizations that are applied while you are playing with the mobile.

Asus ZenFone 8

The biometric security of the Asus ZenFone 8 depends directly on your operating system. In this area, the mobile comes well equipped with an on-screen fingerprint reader and support for facial recognition by software.

The truth is that both systems work brilliantly. As far as the facial recognition system is concerned, say that it is not even necessary to place the terminal in front of the face. It is sufficient to have eye contact with the screen so that it unlocks immediately when you pick up or lift the mobile from the table.

Asus ZenFone 8

The fingerprint sensor is located in the lower third of the screen, leaving it in a very natural location to unlock it with a simple thumb movement without having to force the clamping posture.

This fingerprint reader's response is in the market average and does not show a high number of recognition errors thanks to a good recognition surface diameter. Therefore, the unlocking experience is good regardless of the system you use is the combination of both the most recommended option.

Photographic minimalism or real needs?

Three, four and up to five cameras have been installed on some high-end mobiles in recent years.

Asus ZenFone 8

The growing number of cameras present in the rear of mobile phones have not always responded to a real utility of them in front of the user and sometimes gives the feeling that manufacturers include them more by marketing than by a mood of improvement in photographic performance.

Since space is a low value in ZenFone 8, Asus has decided to limit the cameras present in its rear to two, but maintain a high-quality standard to offer good photographic quality despite that limitation in the focal points.

Before we analyze the photo performance of ZenFone 8 more deeply, we stop at its camera app. An app that hasn't undergone many changes from what we found in previous Asus models.

Shooting modes are perfectly accessible from the carousel in modes above the shutter button, and some additional modes are added to the More drawer that is accessible when scrolling to the right.

This mode carousel is fully customizable, so each user can adjust it to their usage habits.

Automatic Photo and Video modes take center stage and leave everything you may need at every turn at your fingertips. For example, when you select Photo mode, the HDR control icon appears in the top bar and shows its status allowing you to manually turn it on or off with a single tap.

Asus ZenFone 8, análisis y opinión

The same goes for camera shift controls, which are located just above the carousel of shooting modes offering easy and quick switching between the wide-angle camera and the main one. In addition, when using the main camera there is a zoom indicator (1x or 2x) that allows you to apply a digital magnification that we will talk about in more detail later.

We also find specific shooting modes such as Portrait and Night modes, which adjust camera settings for best performance in those tasks with options that, for example, allow you to vary the exposure time or aperture (emulated) of the lens to create a more intense blue.

Manual modes for both video and photo also have space on this camera. In the case of photography, we find the Manual mode in which we have missed being able to take photos in RAW format to keep all the sensor information.

Asus ZenFone 8

In the field of video, in addition to multiple modes of motion focus tracking and slow or fast motion, we also find a Pro Video mode in which the automation of Video mode is dispensed with and all the control of the camera and its settings are left in the hands of the user.

In general, we found a camera app very complete and easy to use that has not presented major problems in its use, but it does take a little while to save and process the photos, especially the evenings.

And now yes, let's dig a little deeper into the photographic hardware, not without first reminding you that from this link you can download the original files of the sample photos as they leave the camera so that they value the first person their quality and performance.

 sensorsOpening and stabilization
RearSony IMX686 | 64 Mpx | opening of 78.3o | 1/ 1.7" sensor | 0.8 mmf/1.8 | OIS + EIS
 Ultra wide angle: Sony IMX 363 | 12 Mpx | 119o | 1.4 mmf/2.2 | Dual PDAF
frontalSony IMX663 | 12 Mpx | opening of 76.5o | 1/ 2.93" sensor | 1.22 mmf/2.45 | Dual PDAF | fixed focus

As you can probably imagine, the jewel of the crown as far as photography is concerned is the main camera. A stabilized sensor and a good focus system combine with well-balanced processing with which daytime shots are obtained with a good dynamic range and a realistic color balance that does not pull the trick of raising saturation to offer eye-catching photos.

By default, it applies a grouping of four pixels so the resulting resolution is 16 Mpx, but it gains sharpness and offers a remarkable level of detail.

This camera allows you to apply a digital 2x zoom on which you start from the base of a 64 Mpx socket and then automatically apply the crop during processing. The result is good and, since it is not a very aggressive enlargement, the quality of the photographs is not over-compromised, so in the end, they are equivalent to those obtained without zooming.

If we switch to the wide-angle, the truth is that the quality is maintained. Asus has managed to correct the distortions that usually generate this type of focal. ZenFone 8 maintains a wide-angle that behaves well with the architecture and maintains straightness on the lines, although they lose some sharpness at the ends.

Color management in the wide-angle camera stays on the same line as in the main camera, with realistic colors that don't abuse saturation but keep color vividness at a good level.

One of the peculiarities of this wide-angle camera is that it allows a very close approach, acting as a Macro camera, so in reality, the focal variety is present but not in the form of dedicated cameras.

This has its good side and its bad side. On the positive side, this camera allows you to get photos with higher resolution than we usually find in macro cameras that mount many mobiles.

The downside is that the level of detail is maintained in the same terms and it is difficult to get a photo with a focus nailed to the point you want.

The behavior of HDR is noted and not always in a positive way, showing somewhat unpredictable behavior in which in some shots manages to balance the lights and shadows to achieve greater detail, while in others the contrast is completely killed creating samples too washed.

Still, its HDR behavior in automatic mode has been more than correct so we recommend keeping it turned on.

The Asus ZenFone 8 we're analyzing also features a Night mode that allows for two different exposures of 4 and 7 seconds. The results don't differ too much in terms of quality, but there are differences between using auto-photography mode and Night mode.

In fact, it is very likely that when shooting in Photo mode, ZenFone 8 will automatically activate Night mode by itself in those low-light scenes. But if you don't, Photo mode won't be able to control the dominant light points (streetlights, bulbs, etc.) that will be displayed as a white spot.

Night mode not only maintains some control over these points of light but applies to process to the focus and enhances sharpness by giving more detail to photos taken with this mode on either camera.

Processing is not too aggressive with noise and, while it is true that some outlets show more noise and artifacts than we would like, ZenFone 8 prefers to keep some noise to preserve the original detail.

If we talk about Portrait mode, it is only worth highlighting the good results obtained with the rear camera where you get a very successful and natural blur that does not incur the typical errors when trimming the silhouette on complex backgrounds or by delimiting glasses and even ears, although it does maintain a certain tendency to overexpose the sky after the protagonist of the portrait.

Similar behavior is found in night portraits, in which a good white balance and a good level of detail in the skins are maintained.

Without leaving aside the portraits, we go to the results obtained with the front camera. The 12 Mpx sensor is well-performed in broad daylight but suffers when trying to maintain blue skies behind the protagonist of the photo showing a clear trend towards overexposure in general.

The front camera maintains good silhouette recognition and progressive blur even when the aperture value is adjusted to the maximum, with no trace of barrel deformations from excessive angularity. What we do find an excess of processing on the skins even when Beauty mode is disabled.

When the light decays, the front camera is put to the limit of its possibilities by lowering the quality and sharpness of the selfies. However, despite not being able to maintain the detail on the skins, it does maintain a correct white balance.

The size makes a difference and Asus may have found the key to success

Making a different product than your rivals is one of the main objectives for any business context. In a segment as tight in performance and prices as high-end mobiles get this differentiation is little more than the lottery.

Asus ZenFone 8

Asus may have found the key to success by manufacturing an Android mobile with the highest features of the moment, but with a much more compact size with which it differs from its rivals.

For its performance, it is located at the top of the table integrating the best hardware and a screen that does not lag behind in terms of quality.

Asus ZenFone 8

However, its main virtue is also its greatest drawback. Not having more internal space plays against you in aspects such as temperature control or the inability to incorporate a more capacity battery.

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