Is the Zenfone 8 the iPhone 12 mini of the Android universe? All elements are present on paper. Instead of fighting with the giants, Asus is making the daring bet of focusing again on a compact format that has regained its letters of nobility with the Apple model.
The Zenfone 8 is slightly larger than the Apple smartphone and is indeed a compact smartphone. Small but powerful, it embeds the ultimate in cutting edge technology. Above all, Asus promises to have fixed one of the main flaws of small phones: their autonomy. All for € 699. What offers a serious alternative to the iPhone 12 Mini.
Zenfone 8 doesn’t come alone
In addition to the Zenfone 8, Asus introduced the Zenfone 8 Flip. This larger model is a continuation of the brand’s earlier flagships.
We therefore find a technical sheet just as attractive as the classic version with the famous flip camera that rotates 180 degrees as a bonus. The Zenfone 8 Flip is only marketed in the 8/256 GB version at a price of € 799.
The return of the compact smartphone
The main originality of Zenfone 8 lies in its format. This year Asus decided to distinguish itself with a compact smartphone. A bet that is both smart and risky. Clever, because there is no such product on the Android smartphone market. Risky because the iPhone 12 mini, Apple’s compact model, doesn’t seem to be a huge success.
With these considerations aside, Asus doesn’t quite take the same approach as the American giant. To design his Zenfone 8, he first interviewed its loyal users. When asked “Which screen size would you most like for a flagship?” “67% answered” less than 6 inches, “39% answered” between 5.8 and 6 “.
In order to satisfy the greatest number, Asus therefore opted for a 5.9-inch panel (stack in the middle). The engineers then imagined the “perfect” compact format on this screen.
The Zenfone 8 therefore had to be easy to hold in one hand for all body types. For this purpose, its width should not exceed 150 mm and its thickness 70 mm. Mission accomplished.
Like the iPhone 12 mini, Asus’ little thumb can be easily operated with one hand (rounded edges are welcome) and fits easily into a trouser pocket even in tight trousers.
The Asus model is a bit bigger, which makes the experience even more pleasant. In our opinion, the iPhone 12 mini screen is too small to meet a user’s needs in 2021, especially multimedia. The Taiwanese seem to have found the right compromise (we’ll come back to that).
© Lemon squeezer © Lemon squeezer
Asus is definitely very fit and has opted for noble materials: the back of the smartphone is covered with a glass shell, which is provided with a matte coating with the most beautiful effect. The surfaces are exemplary, as the electric blue on / off switch on our black test model shows. A little sapphire on this technological jewel. Everything is IP67 / 68 certified.
Developed for multimedia
10 years ago, Samsung launched the first Galaxy Note, a smartphone that was called a giant at the time. However, it did include a 5.3-inch screen that is smaller than that of the iPhone 12 mini.
Since then, the builders have done a good job. No more curbs, the screen size ratio is now generally greater than 90%. These advances allow Asus to market a smartphone that is both compact and comfortable as it comes with a 5.9-inch screen.
While following the trends, the Taiwanese opted for an AMOLED HDR 10+ panel (Samsung Diamond Pixel) with a refresh rate of 120 Hz and a touch latency of 1 ms. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Victus Glass. In short, the ultimate of the moment.
Let’s end this tour of the owner by mentioning the presence of two stereo speakers and … a 3.5mm jack. Everything is developed in collaboration with Dirac with Hi-Res Audio certification.
Thanks to this technical arsenal, the multimedia experience on the Zenfone 8 is very pleasant. The finer you can even navigate the settings to adjust the display or the sound (full Dirac equalizer) to your liking.
In our opinion, the format of the Zenfone 8 is ideal for anyone who loves a compact smartphone. It is larger than the iPhone 12 mini but smaller than an iPhone 12 Pro or Galaxy S21 and perfectly combines a pleasant grip with a comfortable display.
Small but strong
Don’t let its small size fool you, the Zenfone 8 has the best components of 2021: Snapdragon 888, up to 16GB of LPPDR5 RAM, 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, 5G connectivity, and WiFi 6 – it’s all there.
The Zenfone 8 therefore undoubtedly competes with the giants (literally and figuratively) of the market. It will therefore be able to please those for whom the smartphone is, above all, a working tool.
Multimedia enthusiasts and gamers can indulge in their favorite activities without ever encountering slowdowns (which could be more normal) or heating issues (a real feat for a model of this size).
This performance is accompanied by an almost pure version of Android 11. Almost because Asus adds a few small features here and there to make everyday use easier. Think, for example, of the various energy-saving modes or the Dirac audio settings. Simple, efficient.
Ready for the marathon
The problem with compact smartphones is that they have little space for a large battery capacity. The iPhone 12 mini is the perfect example. As a result, small drivers are still some of the least durable smartphones on the market.
This is not the case with Zenfone 8, on the contrary. During the design phase, the engineers came up with an excellent idea of splitting the motherboard into two layers. This has freed up 62% of the space for all components including a generous 4000 mAh battery.
Obviously, 4000 mAh saves energy on a smaller screen. He is not satisfied with escaping the curse of compact smartphones, but can even be counted among the marathon runners.
In our test conditions (i.e. with intensive use) we slightly exceeded the day of autonomy. We are even approaching the two days by restricting the game sessions.
In addition to these excellent performances, there is a very efficient fast charging system. The Zenfone 8 comes with a 30W charger that is compatible with Quick Charge 4.0 technology. Asus announces that its new star can recover 60% of the energy in 25 minutes of charging. Numbers that confirm our tests.
To extend battery life, Asus always offers a variety of charging modes, including programmed charging (it starts at the right time so the battery is full when you wake up) or limited charging (no more than a preset percentage).
On the other hand, Asus still avoids the largely democratized wireless charging, even in the middle range. Pity.
During the presentation of the Zenfone 8, Asus did not go into the photographic part. A good reason for this: the new flagship adopts the configuration of its predecessor.
The compact format requires that the available space limit the module to two sensors: a first of 64 Mpxl, which is assigned to a wide angle, a second of 12 Mpxl, which is accompanied by an ultra-wide angle lens.
Asus explains that it has mainly worked on software optimization and that its “old” sensors are perfectly suited to current uses. After all, Apple has also been recycling its camera equipment for a number of years without this being a problem, quite the contrary.
Without reaching the level of an iPhone 12 mini, the Zenfone 8 gets by with distinction. Clearly, photography is not his best asset, but his talents will be enough to please most users.
Low light (night mode) Low light
It has nothing to envy of the competition in good lighting conditions and its ultra wide angle remains very correct. A little dim in low light, it makes up for it with a full Pro mode, the ability to shoot in RAW and 8K. The 12 Mpxl front sensor will appeal to compulsive “selfists”.
Our opinion on the Zenfone 8
The Zenfone 8 is to the Android world what the iPhone 12 mini is to the Apple world: a compact smartphone with the latest technologies. While it doesn’t match the Pommé model in terms of photography, it is comparable in most areas and even better than it in some areas. We think in particular of its excellent autonomy, the main black point of small formats.
It remains to be seen whether Asus’ strategy will pay off. According to the latest estimates, the iPhone 12 mini is struggling to find its audience. A sign that the compact smartphone is ultimately not that popular? Asus thinks the opposite. Hopefully the future will prove him right.
Asus Zenfone 8
Performance and interface
9.5 / 10
Autonomy and charging
8.5 / 10
8.5 / 10
Compact size Very nice AMOLED screen High performance Excellent battery life Fast charging
We like less
No wireless charging. Perfect camera