Hot take: Asus Zenfone 8 Flip and Zenfone 8
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 last two years saw a couple of very exciting devices from the brand with the Zenfone 6 and Zenfone 7 series, and although it is too early to say whether that will be the case with the newly launched phones, we can still go over what we could like and what rubbed us the wrong way with the two new Asus phones.
Flip continues the exciting mechanism, but is easy 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 camera (though without OIS) and the 12MP IMX363 for the ultra-wide snapper. The 8MP telephoto module with 3x optical zoom is also pulled straight from the Zenfone 7. All this means we need to see similar images as last year’s models, which are not bad, but leave us wondering 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 a fingerprint scanner on the screen instead of the side-mounted one on the outgoing model. Those are the only major changes we get, which leaves a bit of disappointment when Asus went for a minor facelift and called it a day. We would love to see an even higher refresh rate display and a more up-to-date camera setup. Hopefully we see a Zenfone 8 Pro or Ultra sooner rather than later.
Finally compact Android flagship
While the Zenfone 8 Flip is Asus’ sure bet, the regular Zenfone 8 offers a unique offer to the right buyer. It brings a compact 5.9-inch AMOLED panel into a world of smartphone hides with close-up 7-inch screens. Asus believes that there is still a market for compact flagships, and it is certainly time that we see more options for devices that you can freely use with one hand.
At just 147.78 x 68.45 x 9.23mm, the Zenfone 8 is almost as big as Apple’s iPhone 12, marking the first time in a long time, while we’ve got a compact Android with a premium chipset. The smaller 5.9-inch screen also features a 120Hz refresh rate compared to 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 world based on its size and specifications.
Sure, the camera setup is limited to a 64MP main and 12MP ultra-wide, so no fancy telephoto or periscope here. The main comb comes with OIS, which you do not get on Flip and some other competitors.
You also get a solidly built phone with Asus’ pure ZenUI interface, stereo speakers, a headphone jack, up to 16 GB of RAM and a first for the Zenfone series IP68 water / dust resistance. All this combined gives a pretty sweet deal and places the Zenfone 8 as a worthy consideration for users who are sick of large screen devices.
Vanilla wins the number race
Smartphone manufacturers have often made their more expensive and larger devices more desirable by paralyzing the vanilla counterparts, but Asus has opted for that shape, and that’s a good sight.
It can be argued that Zenfone 8 is actually the better equipped phone this time as it boasts a higher refresh rate at 120Hz vs 90Hz on Flip, OIS on its main camera and an IP68 rating. Factor in the same Snapdragon 888 chipset and up to 16 GB of RAM (Flip tops ours with only 8 GB of RAM), and you’ve got yourself a mighty compact machine.
Timely software updates?
Asus is committed to two-year Android version updates for the latest Zenfones, which is on par with most Android manufacturers.
Proper updates are important, especially in the premium segment, and if we follow the Zenfone 7 series, we can not say for sure whether upcoming Android versions and security updates will arrive on time in the Zenfone 8 series. Recently, Oppo and vivo extended their software support commitment to three years, which is always nice to see, but we do not have the same promise from Asus at this time.
Pricing is impressive
Asus really nailed the pricing this time. In Europe, the Zenfone 8 starts at € 599 for early bird orders in its 8/128 GB trim. The price is set to go up to € 670 at the end of the month, but even then this is among the most affordable entry points for a Snapdragon 888 in this part of the world.
The Zenfone 8 Flip costs € 799, which still outperforms competitors when you consider premium specifications and unique rotating camera. Discounts and additional offers are bound to take prices even lower, so the Zenfone 8 Series has a huge advantage in terms of pricing, which can be crucial for most buyers.