Over the years, smartphones have gotten bigger than ever – and yet today, we have something special. This is the new ASUS Zenfone 8. It’s the tiniest flagship Android smartphone that I’ve used so far and it is very reminiscent of Android phones of 5 years ago.
After spending about 2 weeks with the Zenfone 8, here’s what I have to share with you. In summary, I’m really loving this tiny phone.
So let’s start off with a bit of a history class. ASUS has been making smartphones for a long time now. When the OnePlus One was making waves in the smartphone world, ASUS released the PadFone S. And the Zenfone 8 is very reminiscent of the PadFone S in terms of size.
This is the first reason why the Zenfone 8 feels like a blast from the past. It has such a small size that it felt like using the PadFone S once again. Mind you, the PadFone S is already 7 years old, too.
Obviously, the Zenfone 8 comes with a modern look. When I first held this phone, the new matte finish at the back of the phone feels amazing.
Plus, its size is not conforming to any typical smartphone design that we have come to expect from recent years. It’s short and rather narrow, making one-handed usage very feasible for my big hands. And it also has a one-handed mode too, which can be activated by swiping the lower part of the screen to bring everything down.
As for the thickness of this phone. It’s a little thicker – but it doesn’t matter since it is so small. In fact, the thickness has two benefits – the first is for better grip, and second is for stuffing in more hardware – like the 3.5mm audio jack. I think this is one of the very few smartphones with an audio jack and also a Snapdragon 888 chipset.
Yes, you heard me right. The ASUS Zenfone 8 has a Snapdragon 888 chipset inside it. Now, it’s not aimed to be a gaming phone anyway – but it’s going to perform really well in day-to-day tasks, and even some gaming.
Just note that if you’re going to play games like Genshin Impact at its highest graphical settings at 60fps, it’s going to be really hot – like all the other phones with the Snapdragon 888 chipset.
To know more about the gaming performance, watch our video here.
Truth be told, gaming on such a small screen is a rather weird experience. It’s definitely not the best experience – so I suggest you get the ROG Phone 5 if you want to play mobile games.
Okay, the display. The ASUS Zenfone 8 comes with a 5.92-inch 1080p AMOLED screen made by Samsung and it has a 120Hz refresh rate too. From what we can test out, this display does have pretty accurate colors on both sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamuts, at 99% and 94% respectively.
By the way, the Zenfone 8 does have yet another rare feature – low brightness DC dimming. Usually, smartphones use PWM to control the display’s brightness. But, as brightness goes lower, the PWM duty cycle gets lower, some people can notice the screen flickering. That’s where low brightness DC dimming comes to the rescue. It uses more power when enabled, but definitely makes the user experience much more comfortable and less eye fatigue.
Battery & charger
While on the subject of battery, the ASUS Zenfone 8 also comes with a 4,000mAh battery which I think is rather surprising for a phone of this size. It nearly reached 10 hours in our battery life test while locked at 120Hz – which is surprisingly good. That goes to show how clean and optimized the software truly is, because the Mi 11 Ultra with a 5,000mAh battery lasts for about the same time in the same test, also at 120Hz.
By the way, this phone also comes with a 30W charger in the box. As for the charging time though, it’s a little weird. From what we found out, the charging took 80-ish minutes to charge from 15% to 100% battery. That’s a little slow – and the charging curve is also very erratic as the charging curve isn’t smooth.
Exploring some of the settings in the phone, we found out that the Zenfone 8 can enable something called “steady charging” and this option smoothened the charging curve but still takes about the same time to charge.
We presume that this is happening because ASUS wants to protect the battery health as long as possible, hence the erratic charging curve to making sure the battery isn’t just charged as quickly as possible.
ASUS also provides an option to schedule the battery charging so it’ll only charge up to 100% right before the time you usually unplug the phone – or maybe just limit the battery to not charge all the way to 100% all the time to prolong the battery health even further.
And by the way – the ASUS Zenfone 8 does have a feature that has been long forgotten – the notification LED. It’s located at the bottom of the phone, beside the USB-C port.
Now, because the Zenfone 8 is so small, we only have two cameras at the back of this phone. There is the main camera and another ultrawide angle camera – but no telephoto camera. I’m okay with this since many people that I know never really use the telephoto camera on their phones anyway.
And throughout my test, the Zenfone 8 does take a lot of amazing pictures. Both the main and ultrawide angle cameras take amazing shots with great dynamic range an also very close color consistency between both cameras too.
To have a look at all the camera picture samples, have a look at the video at the top of this review. All in all, I’m very impressed by the cameras. Even though the ASUS Zenfone 8 doesn’t have an explicit “macro mode”, it can still take some fantastic closeup shots as well.
Software – Zen UI
And we shouldn’t forget about the software. The ASUS Zenfone 8 uses Zen UI – are they still calling it Zen UI? It’s been years since I last used a Zenfone.
Anyway, the Zen UI is still as clean and close to stock Android – just like what I remembered using a few years ago. It’s clean, the settings menu is tidy and everything is laid out in a logical way. Even the camera app is clean and tidy!
Should you buy the ASUS Zenfone 8?
So all in all, The ASUS Zenfone 8. It manages to capture my attention when I first set my eyes on it, charmed me with its size and build quality, and made me love it because of what it offers.
What ASUS has ultimately created here is a phone that I’ll call minimalist. ASUS made all the right choices when cutting out the excess to create this tiny phone.
I can’t find any major fault about the Zenfone 8 and it’s just flawless in my books. But, I’m worried about the long-term. I’m uncertain how long ASUS is going to support the Zenfone 8 in terms of software – and also how quickly they can deliver updates. But that’s the only thing I can nitpick about. Other than that, the Zenfone 8 is just perfect – and I highly recommend you get this phone if you love a small Android flagship smartphone.
Where to buy? (Affiliate links)
- Amazon US