For the past years, flagship phones have been consistently growing in a few key areas – speed, cameras and size. The new Asus Zenfone 8 is bucking the trend. Yes to speed, but no to cameras and size – they believe that less is more.

The Asus Zenfone 8 seems underwhelming when you pull it out from the box. Largely because it is no big shiny toy. As a matter of fact, Asus went with a subtle design ethos. The mid-frame is made in matte aluminium and it is nicely fused together with a curved back frosted glass cover making it more resistant to fingerprints. It gives a soft and powdery feel which is nice to hold but that also makes it a little more slippery compared to the usual glass back phone. 

The key selling point to this phone seems to be its size, and we do agree that big phones can be cumbersome to manage, especially with one hand. 

The Zenfone 8 is just slightly taller than a Google Pixel 4a but it still manages to fit in a 5.9 inch Samsung display which is protected by the latest Corning Gorilla Glass Victus – the same glass that you can find on premium phones like the ROG Phone 5 Ultimate and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. 

It also has a 2400×1080 Full HD Plus resolution, a 120hz refresh rate, HDR10+ and a pixel density of 445ppi. The quality of the screen is just a tad lower than that of the iPhone 12 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but it still offers very sharp and smooth images making it very enjoyable to watch videos on it.

Having a high-end screen is especially crucial for phones with smaller screens as it makes tiny text a lot more readable.

The phone also comes with a built-in fingerprint reader. It works well but the reading seems a tad slower than the ones on other phones.

The Zenfone 8 is powered by the new Snapdragon 888 5G processor, the de facto chip for this year’s premium phones. We did a CPU benchmark test on Geekbench, and we were very surprised that it got a very high score of 1130 for single-core and 3610 for multi-core performance. It outperforms most Android phones. This means that you will be able to handle most of your multitasking needs and processor-heavy apps swimmingly. 

For the graphics performance, the phone scored a high 5778 on our benchmark result on 3D Mark, even beating Asus’ own ROG phone 5.

On the wireless front, the Zenfone 8 is using Bluetooth 5.2. That not only consumes less power but also lowers latency in the connection.

Something that we found interesting was the use of 2 wireless antennas (2 x2 MIMO) in the phone. This potentially means that the phone is capable of connecting to 2 different Wi-Fi routers simultaneously. We did a test by connecting to 2 different Wi-Fi signals on the phone, a Wi-Fi 5 hotspot from another phone as well as a Wi-Fi 6 connection from a home network.

When we choose the mobile hotspot as our main signal, we can still see that the second Wi-Fi 6 connection is active. We proceeded to switch off the data from our hotspot, and to our surprise, the phone is still connected to the internet while we are on our hotspot connection. 

This Dual Wi-Fi technology was first announced in 2019 by Oppo and Vivo but it failed to become a cornerstone in mobile Wi-Fi technology.

If you have tried any of the ROG Phones, you will know how great their speakers sound and the Zenfone 8 is using that same technology. Audio quality is bassy and clearer than most of the other phones we have tried, but don’t expect the quality of a portable Bluetooth speaker. 

The phone also comes with the rare 3.5mm earphone jack that you won’t find in most phones anymore. With the earphones plugged in, it also acts as an antenna for the built-in FM receiver. Even though there is a 3.5mm audio jack, it is still IP68 certified, meaning that it can technically withstand dust, dirt, sand as well as being submerged into water no deeper than 1.5m for up to 30 minutes.

In the camera department, it is a little lacking when you compare it with other flagships that have all the bells and whistles. It comes with a 64-megapixel 26mm lens and a 12-megapixel 14mm wide lens. 

For videos, you can shoot 4K at 60fps and go up to 8K but at only 24fps. While trying out the motion tracking function, we realised that the temperature of the phone suddenly shoots up. We are not sure if this is a firmware issue or just that the function takes a toll on the processor and thus causes it to heat up. 

The saving grace is that the wide camera has very little distortion and the cameras use Sony sensors, which do reproduce some very accurate colours.

Lastly, it comes with a 4000mAh battery with 30W fast charge capability and it doesn’t support wireless charging.

The Asus Zenfone 8 will come in two colours – Obsidian Black and Horizon Silver – and will also be available in four variants of 6GB or 8GB of RAM in 128GB storage and 8GB RAM or 16GB of RAM in 256GB of storage.

So in summary, this is a premium beast of a phone that packs a punch in a discreet tiny package. 

The Asus Zenfone 8 will be available for pre-order starting from today till 27 May and will retail from S$999. The phone will be available on Asus Online Store, Asus Experience Store Bugis and selected authorised retailers. Pre-orders will receive a free Asus x RhinoShield Solidsuit Phone Case worth S$39 with every purchase of the Asus Zenfone 8.