© Moneycontrol Asus 8z ReviewThis compact smartphone is a compelling flagship killer
The Asus 8z or Zenfone 8, as it is called internationally, was recently unveiled in India. However, the phone is by no means a new handset. The Asus 8z was launched globally in the first half of 2021 as the Zenfone 8. The Asus 8z starts at Rs 42,999, making it the only compact Android smartphone in the segment. But despite the smaller form factor, the 8z makes a few concessions.
It is equipped with a Snapdragon 888 chip, 120Hz AMOLED panel, a massive 4,000mAh battery, and a dual-camera setup at the back. And despite the Snapdragon 888 chip being over a year old, it’s still adopted by newer phones with sub-45K price tags. OnePlus 9RT (Review), Xiaomi 11T Pro (Review), and the iQOO 9, have all adopted the Snapdragon 888 or 888+ chip, regardless of their 2022 launch. But does a compact phone have what it takes to grab a tried-and-tested flagship killer? Hang around and find out.
The Asus 8z boasts a compact form factor, which is even smaller than the Galaxy S22 (Review) The phone has the option of Gorilla Glass on the front and Gorilla Glass 3 on the back. Additionally, the matte finish makes it fingerprint resistant. The 8z also features a metal frame that gives it a more premium aesthetic. You also see a smaller camera layout on the back with only two cameras and a hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera on the front.
The rear cameras are slightly raised, which allows the phone to sit flat on a surface without any fuss. The handset is offered in Obsidian Black and Horizon Silver, while the power button on the left is painted blue. The volume buttons are also located on the left side, while this flagship is equipped with the odd headphone jack at the top. At the bottom is the USB Type-C port, speaker, SIM tray and LED notification light.
So apart from the usual features, the Asus 8z also comes with a nifty notification LED, a headphone jack, and an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. The IP68 rating comes as a surprise as most of the competition misses out. There is no doubt that the build quality is top-notch here, while Asus gets top marks for the design as the look of the phone is premium, but it also feels comfortable and convenient to use with one hand. However, I did prefer the Galaxy S22’s sharp edges as opposed to the rounded edges on the Asus 8z.
The Asus 8z has one of the smallest displays on an Android smartphone. And while some users may prefer a bigger display, I can assure you that there is little compromise in screen quality. Asus has opted for a 5.9-inch AMOLED display with FHD+ (1080 x 2400 pixels) resolution. Furthermore, the screen has a 120Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling rate, making it perfect for gaming. The display gets quite bright and is easily visible under direct sunlight, courtesy of 1,100 nits of peak brightness.
Additionally, you also get support for HDR 10+ to consume content on supported OTT platforms like Netflix. The Asus 8z has good viewing angles and the bezels are relatively thin, ensuring maximum screen real estate despite the small size. There is nothing you can do about the size of the screen as this is a compact phone, but there are a few others involved, so that the display here can easily keep pace with the competition.
There’s no doubt that the Asus 8z has a good display, but things get a lot better when you get to the audio. The stereo speakers here deliver very loud, output sound that can easily rival some of the best flagships. The amp powering the speaker is tuned by Dirac and pumps out powerful yet balanced sound with an immersive soundstage. However, the cherry on top here is that the Asus 8z has a headphone jack with Qualcomm Acoustic DAC and Dirac HD Sound, so if you’re an audiophile and have a decent pair of wired headphones to work with, you won’t be disappointed. Will be by sound. Additionally, there’s a built-in EQ that provides more flexibility when tuning your earphones’ frequency response.
For performance, the Asus 8z packs a Snapdragon 888 SoC paired with Adreno 660 graphics. The phone also comes with 8GB LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB UFS 3.1 storage. While the Asus 8z is running on last year’s Snapdragon flagship chip, it’s not uncommon for a 2022 smartphone to use a chip at this price. That being said, the Snapdragon 888 SoC can easily handle multitasking and gaming without any hitch.
Call of Duty: Mobile, Asphalt 9: Legends, Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), and Raid: Shadow Legends worked with maximum frame rates and graphics. The phone lasted a very hot 20 minutes in gaming and Call of Duty: The mobile lasting 30 minutes directly drained about 15 percent of the battery. In Geekbench, the chip managed a single-core score of 1101 points and a multi-core score of 3511 points. Overall, the Asus 8z performs well under pressure and can handle any task with ease.
For optics, the Asus 8z gets a dual-camera setup with 64 MP Sony IMX686 primary sensor and 12 MP Sony IMX363 ultrawide shooter. On the front, the 8z packs a 12MP Sony IMX633 sensor for selfies. The Asus 8z can record 4K video at 60fps from the main camera and kick it up to 8K at 30fps. So, let’s take an in-depth look at the camera’s performance. So, let’s find out how these cameras perform in real-world scenarios?
The rear main camera produces 16MP shots with fine details and vibrant colors in daylight. Photos also didn’t look over-processed or over-sharp, but there were times when overexposure was a problem, although it only happened in photos taken under complex lighting scenarios. But it wasn’t just overexposure, in more complex lighting, images looked software with less detail. During the day, dynamic range was always on point, while the sensor handled shadows well. The ultrawide camera at 8z maintains good color stability but lacks the same detail and sharpness as the main camera.
Photos taken at ultrawide also appear softer than those taken on the primary 64MP sensor. Here the sensor is small and the difference in quality is clearly visible. Since there’s no optical zoom, the reach of the digital zoom on the Asus 8z is pretty limited. In low light, Night Mode is triggered, increasing the exposure time to add more detail and remove noise from shots. I think the 8z’s main sensor did surprisingly well when capturing stills in low light, although you’ll have to hold the phone still for a few seconds. Additionally, the Ultrawide also doubles as a macro camera.
Moving on to the front, the 12MP selfie camera is the best in this price range. Detail, colors and sharpness are handled well in bright light, while background blur and subject separation are good for portraits. However, here the skin tone looks less natural and more saturated. Lastly, the Asus 8z can capture videos at 8K resolution at 30fps. And while I was impressed with the detail and colors, the dynamic range wasn’t always on point. I would recommend sticking to 4K video at 60fps. The ultrawide camera can also record 4K video, but at 30fps. Video recording also feels stable, thanks to the OIS on the main camera.
There is no doubt that the cameras of the Asus 8z are quite strong for the price and can compete with any 2022 smartphone under Rs 50,000. However, there are some drawbacks, such as the average ultrawide shooter, obvious difficulties in complex lighting, and the lack of optical zoom. If I can sum it up in one sentence, the camera setup on the Asus 8z is good, not great, as you’d expect from a phone or flagship killer at this price.
Despite its small form factor, the Asus 8z packs a large 4,000mAh battery that supports 30W fast charging with the included brick in the box. I think Asus has done a great job fitting 4,000 mAh into such a small chassis. The battery can last a full day’s charge for the average user, although a heavy user may run out of juice at the end of the day. However, the 30W charger included in the box can deliver a full charge in just over an hour, so even if the battery does run out, it shouldn’t take long to get back up to speed.
When it comes to software, the Asus 8z is running Android 12 with the company’s Zen UI skin. The overall interface resembles stock Android and is relatively clean. One of the best parts of Android 12 is that it notifies you when the camera and microphone are being used. You also get a Game Genie that allows you to tweak the phone’s performance, record games, block calls, and more without weighing down the game.
However, one thing that keeps Game Genie ahead of competition from other OEMs is that it can be used to record macros in games. This was especially useful in games like Raid: Shadow Legends, where it worked perfectly in place of the auto-clicker. Gives the Asus 8z a leg up in gaming against the competition. Asus has committed to two years of software updates, which is quite a bit considering the phone was released with Android 11.
While the trend of flagship killers and flagship phones, in general, is moving towards ‘the bigger the better’, the Asus 8z has come down in size. But still, one maintains all the great aspects of a flagship in a small form factor. The phone offers powerful performance, a reliable camera setup, a premium build, game-changing audio quality, clean software and a vibrant display. What’s more, it also offers an IP68 rating, something that is not seen on competing devices such as the OnePlus 9RT, Xiaomi 11T Pro, and the iQOO 9. Additionally, the compact design is something you don’t necessarily need on an Android phone at this price, which is a welcome change.
There are some drawbacks such as mediocre battery, poor software support, and a weak ultrawide camera. But there is no doubt that the pros outweigh the cons here. There’s no doubt that the Asus 8z stands out from the crowd in this competitively priced flagship market, but outside the Android competition, the iPhone 12, which is often discounted, and the upcoming iPhone SE (2022) give the 8z a decent run. Needed. his money. However, I can’t help but give credit to Asus for making a very good compact smartphone, somewhat of a compact flagship killer, which makes the Asus 8z an easy recommendation.