The Asus ZenFone 8 is something of a unicorn in the Android smartphone scene. It is a compact flagship with a 5.9-inch display, which is practically unheard of nowadays. Except for Sony, I can think of no other Android manufacturer that still makes small but powerful phones. Meanwhile, Apple users can choose between two handy models, the iPhone 12 mini (5.4-inch screen) and the iPhone 12 (6.1-inch screen).
- 5.9-inch AMOLED screen (2,400 x 1,080 pixels), 120Hz refresh rate
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G with 16GB RAM and 256GB storage
- 64MP (main) and 12MP (ultra-wide) cameras
- 4,000mAh battery
Powered by Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 888 5G chip, the ZenFone 8 can match the top smartphones in performance. All this power is contained in a glass-and-metal chassis that is slightly narrower than an Apple iPhone 12. Both the ZenFone 8 and the iPhone 12 weigh around the same (169g vs 162g). But the Asus is a tad thicker. I had no difficulty using the ZenFone 8 with one hand. My only grouse is that it almost slipped out of my hands on a few occasions. In addition, there's a one-handed mode (swipe down from bottom region of the screen) that reduces the usable height of the screen. So all your apps should be within reach of your thumb. This height is customisable in the settings.
The downside of a compact phone is a smaller screen. While the ZenFone 8 has a very good display (top-tier Samsung AMOLED with 120Hz refresh rate and 800 nits brightness), the screen is too small for my ageing eyes. I had to squint at times, while watching videos was not as immersive. To its credit, the ZenFone 8 has excellent dual speakers that sound better than most phones. There's even a headphone jack. A minor annoyance is the in-display fingerprint sensor. Nine out of ten times, it would work perfectly, even with a brief tap. But it would repeatedly fail sometimes. On the bright side, the ZenFone 8 has IP68 water and dust resistance while the display is protected by the latest Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. There is no wireless charging, which I didn't miss. But I did miss having a microSD card slot.
Probably because of its compact size, the ZenFone 8 only has two cameras (main and ultrawide). Hence, it doesn't quite compete with flagship models that have proper zoom cameras. But I have no complaints with the ZenFone 8's main camera (Sony 64MP IMX686 sensor with OIS). Photos had very little noise and colours looked natural and true to life. Low-light performance was very decent, with less noise than expected. The front selfie camera was also pretty good. It captured plenty of detail while the bokeh in portrait mode was nicely done.
The ZenFone 8 has very good battery life, thanks to its compact screen and a 4,000mAh battery. I typically end the day with around 50 to 60 percent battery remaining. In a video playback test, it lasted 13hr 40min with the screen set to maximum brightness. Those who like to micro-manage their phone's battery stamina will be delighted that Asus' mostly-stock ZenUI user interface offer five customisable power modes. Some of the options include restricting the display to 60Hz and turning off the Always-on Display. The Asus ZenFone 8 is available for pre-order from now till May 27. It is priced at S$999 for the 8GB/256GB model and S$1,099 for the 16GB/256GB version. Pre-order customers will receive a free Asus x Rhinoshield Solidsuit phone case (worth S$39). Get it now from the Asus Store.
Note: Review unit provided by Asus.
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