It’s been 7 years since Asus launched its Zenfone series and we now have the latest additions with the Zenfone 8 and Zenfone 8 Flip. The past two years saw a few very exciting devices by the brand with the Zenfone 6 and Zenfone 7 series and while it’s too early to say if that will be the case with the newly launched phones we can still go over what we liked and what rubbed us the wrong way with the two new Asus phones.
The Flip carries on the exciting mechanism, but is light on upgrades
The most striking feature of the last two Zenfones was their flip up camera system. The new Zenfone 8 Flip retains the signature mechanism with a setup similar to last year’s Zenfone 7 models. We get the exact same 64MP Sony IMX686 sensor for the main cam (though without OIS) and 12MP IMX363 for the ultrawide snapper. The 8MP telephoto module with 3x optical zoom is also pulled straight from the Zenfone 7. All of this means we should see similar shots to last year’s models which while not a bad thing, leaves us asking what could have been if Asus brought updated hardware.
The Zenfone 8 Flip is basically a Zenfone 7 with the newer Snapdragon 888 chipset and an in-display fingerprint scanner instead of the side mounted one on the outgoing model. Those are the only big changes we get which leaves a bit of disappointment as Asus went for a minor facelift and called it a day. We would have loved to see an even higher refresh rate display and a more up to date camera setup. Hopefully, we’ll see a Zenfone 8 Pro or Ultra sooner rather than later.
Compact Android flagship, finally
While the Zenfone 8 Flip is Asus’s safe bet, the regular Zenfone 8 offers a unique proposition for the right buyer. It brings a compact 5.9-inch AMOLED panel in a world of smartphones behemoths with close to 7-inch displays. Asus believes there’s still market for compact flagships and it’s definitely about time we see more choices for devices you can freely use with one hand.
At just 147.78 x 68.45 x 9.23 mm, the Zenfone 8 is nearly as big as Apple’s iPhone 12 which marks the first time in a long while we’ve gotten a compact Android with a top-notch chipset. The smaller 5.9-inch display also packs a 120Hz refresh rate compared to the 90Hz on the Flip. Add in the latest Snapdragon 888 and a 4,000 mAh battery and on paper, the Zenfone 8 is without any real competition in the Android realm based on its size and specs.
Sure the camera setup is limited to a 64MP main and 12MP ultrawide so no fancy telephoto or periscope here. The main cam does come with OIS which you don’t get on the Flip and some other competitors.
You also get a solidly built phone with Asus’s clean ZenUI interface, stereo speakers, a headphone jack, up to 16GB RAM and a first for the Zenfone series IP68 water/dust resistance. All this combined makes for a pretty sweet deal and positions the Zenfone 8 as a worthy consideration for users sick of large screen devices.
The vanilla wins the numbers race
Smartphone manufacturers have often made their more expensive and larger sized devices more desirable by crippling the vanilla counterparts, but Asus has decided against that mold and it’s a welcome sight.
It can be argued that the Zenfone 8 is actually the better equipped phone this time around as it boasts a higher refresh rate at 120Hz vs 90Hz on the Flip, OIS on its main cam and an IP68 rating. Factor in the same Snapdragon 888 chipset and up to 16GB RAM (Flip tops our at a mere 8GB RAM) and you’ve got yourself a mighty compact machine.
Timely software updates?
Asus is committing two years of Android version updates for its latest Zenfones which is on par with most Android makers.
Timely updates are important, especially in the premium segment and if we go by the Zenfone 7 series track record we can’t say for sure if upcoming Android versions and security patches will arrive in due time on the Zenfone 8 series. Recently Oppo and vivo extended their software support commitment to three years which is always nice to see but we don’t have the same promise from Asus at this point.
Pricing is impressive
Asus really nailed the pricing this time around. In Europe, the Zenfone 8 starts at €599 for early bird orders in its 8/128GB trim. The price is set to go up to €670 by the month’s end but even then this is among the most affordable entry points to a Snapdragon 888 in this part of the world.
The Zenfone 8 Flip goes for €799 which still undercuts competitors when you factor in the top-notch specs and unique rotating camera. Discounts and further promotions are bound to take prices even lower so the Zenfone 8 series has a big advantage in terms of pricing which could be decisive for most buyers.