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Asus Zenfone 8 Flip review

    Asus Zenfone 8 Flip review

    by
    Amaan
    Jun 12, 2021

    Introduction:

     

    Asus with the Zenfone 8 series takes a different approach as the smartphones in the series are named Zenfone 8 and Zenfone 8 Flip, while the Zenfone series had Pro and non-Pro models. The Zenfone 8 Flip carries on the legacy of the iconic flip camera mechanism. On the other hand, the Zenfone 8 tries to fill in the gap of a top tier mini-Android flagship.

     

    Regardless of the place in the market, Asus seems to be filling the spot of an enthusiastic brand that challenges the trend and offers flagship killer devices like OnePlus used to do.

     

    Body165.0x77.3x9.6mm, 230g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass 6), glass back (Gorilla Glass 3), aluminium frame.
    Display6.67" Super AMOLED, 90Hz, HDR10+, 1000 nits (peak), 1080x2400px resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 395ppi; Always-on display.
    ChipsetQualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm): Octa-core (1x2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3x2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4x1.80 GHz Kryo 680); Adreno 660.
    Memory256GB 8GB RAM; UFS 3.1; microSDXC (dedicated slot).
    Rear Camera

    Wide (main): 64 MP, f/1.8, 26mm, 1/1.73", 0.8µm, PDAF;

    Ultrawide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 112˚, 14mm, 1/2.55", 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF;

    Telephoto: 8 MP, f/2.4, 80mm, PDAF, 3x optical zoom.

    Selfie CameraMotorized flip-up main camera module.
    Video Capture

    Rear camera: [email protected], [email protected]/60/120fps, [email protected]/60/240fps, [email protected]; gyro-EIS, HDR;

    Front camera: [email protected], [email protected]/60/120fps, [email protected]/60/240fps, [email protected]; gyro-EIS, HDR.

    Battery5000mAh; Fast charging 30W, USB Power Delivery 3.0.
    Operating SystemAndroid 11, ZenUI 8.
    Misc.Fingerprint reader (under display, optical); NFC; 3 microphones;

     

    We are not saying that the flagships from other brands are lacking in any way. However, the Zenfone 8 series smartphones each offer something that others don’t. The Zenfone 8 Flip is the selfie king and the versatile camera setup on the back is a bonus. On the other hand, the vanilla 8 is a well-rounded compact flagship, a total rarity in this day and age.

     

    For this review we’ll focus on the Zenfone 8 Flip. It’s impressive how the device not only fits the budget but also comes with flagship grade specs. A quick peek through the specs sheet suggests a phone that fits the criteria of a fully packed flagship handset with clean Android UI. That might sound familiar, since that’s what OnePlus used to do.

     

    The Zenfone 8 Flip doesn’t seem to have much to brag about. The phone has the same 90Hz OLED display besides the unchanged camera setup. It’s sad that there is no 3.5mm jack, given that the more compact vanilla Zenfone 8 has it. There seems to be more than what meets the eyes, so let’s get down to it and see what the Zenfone 8 Flip has to offer.

     

    Unboxing:

     

    The Asus Zenfone 8 Flip comes in a stylish, gray-colored box which packs some other stuff inside. Starting with the phone itself, of course, then there is the 30W fast charging adapter and USB-C to USB-C cable.

     

    The company also gives you a custom protective case in the box. We have a mixed opinion about it since it’s made of hard plastic which makes the phone even bulkier and less grippy. However, we appreciate the patterned design, since it’s way better than the cheap transparent case that usually comes with phones. The fact that there is a case with the phone is a good gesture in its own way.

     

    Talking of the case, it has a small switch next to the camera module which locks the flip camera in place. Asus says that it is useful when the phone is put on a bike, for instance. The system itself would sense the lock, and the module would stay in place despite strong vibrations.

     

    Design:

     

    There is not much change in terms of design compared to the previous generation of Zenfones. The phone is heavy and has a glass sandwich built with big curves to the side. The frame is made of aluminum with anodized finish. The front is guarded by Gorilla Glass 6 while the back has Gorilla Glass 3 protection.

     

     

    The noise-cancelling microphone is placed below the camera bump since most of the space is taken by the flip mechanism. The camera bump has sharp edges but doesn’t stand out more than regular camera modules.

     

    There is hardly any change visible in the “Flip” part of the phone. The sound of the motor when opening or closing the module is very satisfying. Just like before, the flip angle of the camera module can be adjusted manually. The motor module detects the angle of the flip camera using an angle sensor. The output shaft is 50% stronger, compared to the previous model, in return improving the longevity of the motor. Asus claims that the motor can endure 300,000 flips (or nearly 5 years of normal usage with 150 flips per day). The phone has a 0.5-degree microstep solution for smoother and accurate positioning of the module.

     

     

    If you accidentally drop the phone, the G-sensor will automatically retract the module before it hits the ground.

     

    The front has a flat glass with no curves. However, the screen itself is sticking out a bit resulting in a ridge.

     

    The bezels are very thin and the handset gets extra points for having no cut outs. The front is fully covered by the OLED screen that runs unobstructed. Apart from the bottom bezel the top is second thickest, which houses the tiny earpiece. The proximity and ambient sensors are placed underneath the display.

     

    Contrary to the current trend the Flip retains the notification LED. The phone maker has found a pretty cool place for the LED as there is no place for it on the front. The LED is placed at the bottom side of the frame, beside the USB-C port accompanied by the speaker grille and the main microphone.

     

    The left side of the frame houses the SIM card tray, which has slots for two SIM cards and a dedicated microSD card. Moving on, the right side accommodates the volume rockers and power button placed conveniently with the reach of the thumb. The fingerprint reader is seated behind the display well within the reach of the thumb.

     

    Display:

     

    Asus Zenfone 8 Flip uses the Samsung-made OLED display and it seems to be proud of it. In theory the display seems to be up there with top flagships, however it just has a 90Hz refresh rate which is bare minimum. The Flip comes with the same 6.67-inch OLED screen with 1080 x 2400px resolution (20:9 aspect ratio) as the Zenfone 7 Pro, even though the Flip isn't a direct successor of the Pro model from last year.

     

     

    The phone is advertised with 110% DCI-P3 gamut coverage dE2000 less than 1, 700nits maximum brightness and up to 1000 nits spot brightness. The display supports 200Hz touch sampling rate. The phone in manual mode has a peak brightness of 518 nits while in auto the brightness can go as high as 735 nits.

     

    The refresh rate locks at 90Hz in most cases even though not actively using the screen or doing nothing sitting on the home screen. The good thing is that the refresh rate immediately drops to 60Hz when playing videos either on Netflix, YouTube or the built-in video player. Which is the place where most of the brands omit to lower the refresh rate.

     

    Battery life & Charging speed:

     

    The Asus Zenfone 8 Flip packs a 5,000mAh battery. The phone has a decent video playback time of 16:37 hours while talk time recorded was 40 hours and the phone can last for 11:28 hours of web browsing.

     

     

    The phone is shipped with a 30W adapter. The phone charges from zero to 53% in 30 minutes while it takes well over one and a half hours to charge fully back to 100%. It is really lagging since the Samsung Galaxy S21+ is ahead of it even though it uses the same standard at 25W.

     

    Speaker:

     

    Asus this time around partnered with the Swedish Hi-Fi company, Dirac. The partnership helped Asus to solve issues small speakers have and also to minimize distortion and enrich the bass. The company developed an algorithm that adjusts the frequency response curve in real-time.

     

    The specs of the hardware include 8 x 9mm top speaker, 12 x 17mm bottom speaker and both powered by a dual NXP TFA9874 smart amplifier.

     

    The sound is clean and well-balanced with good bass. Asus says that there are artificial tones added to the bass, so you can perceive it as deep bass. Loudness apparently needs some work. The speakers are undoubtedly not among the loudest speakers out in the market. The reason might be the positioning of the top speaker that also happens to be the earpiece or could be the other way around. The actual cavity is located inside the moving camera module so when the mechanism is closed, the small speaker blasts through the small earpiece grille where the glass and the frame meet. Meaning, the driver doesn't play directly through the opening.

     

    Last but not the least, Asus and Dirac have provided a 10-bar equalizer apart from the 4 preset sound profiles. Furthermore, there is an “Outdoor mode” that boosts the speaker’s loudness.

     

    Performance:

     

    Although, Asus claims that the Flip isn’t the true flagship this year, it still features the Snapdragon 888 chipset. The chipset is manufactured using the 5nm process. The CPU consists of eight cores - 1x 2.84 GHz Kryo 680 Prime (Cortex-X1 derivative), 3x 2.42 GHz Kryo 680 Gold (Cortex-A78 derivative) and 4x 1.80 GHz Kryo 680 Silver (Cortex-A55 derivative) alongside Adreno 660 GPU which manages the graphically-intensive tasks.

     

     

    The phone is available in only one memory variant which is the 8GB RAM and 256GB UFS 3.1 storage, which is expandable up to 2TB via microSD card. The company says that there is NTFS file system support which enables the usage of external hard drives too.

     

    As for the benchmarks, on the Geekbench 5 test the phone performed exceptionally well with a score of 1126 points in the single-core test which is the same as the OnePlus 9 Pro and 3673 points in the multi-core department beating the OnePlus 9 Pro.

     

    Unfortunately though, the Flip was beaten by both Zenfone 8 not so big a difference and the OnePlus 9 Pro by a long shot. The Zenfone 8 Flip on the AnTuTu 8 test scored 675,851 points.

     

    The smartphone has a dedicated performance mode, control over temperature and the so-called OptiFlex memory management system. This system analyses which apps to keep open in the background and which ones to shut down. The amusing part is that it works alongside the built-in Android Adaptive Battery.

     

    Camera & Photo Quality:

     

    Rear Camera64MP (wide) Sony IMX686, 1/1.7” sensor, 0.8µm pixels, f/1.8 aperture, PDAF, no OIS
    8MP (telephoto), f/2.4 aperture, 1.75µm pixels, PDAF, 3x optical zoom
    12MP (ultrawide) Sony IMX363, f/2.2 aperture, 1.4µm pixels, 112o, 1/2.55”, dual pixel PDAF
    Selfie CameraMotorized flip-up main camera module

     

     

    Daylight image quality:

     

    Main camera

    The quality of photos taken in daylight are excellent, with a high level of detail and looking extra sharp alongside a wide Dynamic range that is enough to keep the highlights and shadows balanced. The Asus keeps the color accuracy in a reasonable range while the color are quite vivid.

     

     

    A slight change in light results in added noise and reduction in detail. Getting close to the subject produces good results.

     

    Telephoto camera

    The processing of the telephoto shooter is quite close to that of the main camera but it is falling short in the resolution, sharpness and detail department compared to other flagships. The HDR seems to be doing its job well and the color rendering is at par with the main camera. There is noise visible in shots taken indoors, but that doesn’t affect the overall quality.

     

     

    Ultrawide camera:

    The ultrawide camera isn’t what you call stellar, but it’s not lagging behind your average ultrawide camera either. For a 12MP image the sharpness and detail are outstanding. Color production, dynamic range and lens correction are all great. Furthermore, there is no issue of color fringing, which is often the case with ultrawide shooters.

     

    Low-light image quality:

     

    Main camera

    Shooting at night time with default Photo mode won’t give the result you are expecting as the images turn out to be noisy, soft and at times lack contrast.

     

    Night mode can be of some help here, turning it on gives access to a toggle with two options – 4 and 6 seconds of simulated exposure. We recommend using the second option as it is able to capture images which are clear and resolve more fine detail. The software may opt for a brighter exposure, depending on the scene.

     

     

    It doesn’t matter which option you choose, as long as the Night mode is on, you will get images with great sharpness, detail, contrast and dynamic range. The images also have a remarkable reduction in the level of noise. The software removes the noise in shadows while retaining the fine detail. Light sources seem to be more balanced and well-contained. For the best results possible we recommend going for longer exposure. As a matter of fact, with the 6s toggle, we can definitely say that 8 Flip has one of the best Night modes.

     

    Telephoto camera

    Unlike some phones, the 8 Flip instead of cropping the main sensor uses the telephoto snapper for night shots. The result isn't as amazing as you might think, there are grains visible in the sky with no uniform backgrounds. It’s sad but the images lack the sharpness and detail as well. You won’t get any assistance from the Night mode here.

     

    Ultrawide camera

    You might think that the ultrawide shooter would be outmatched by the harsh low-light. Shots captured with this sensor turn out to be fuzzy, out of focus and noisy.

     

    Don’t worry, the Night mode is here to help you. The night mode sprinkles the much-needed sharpness, detail and recovers the highlight/shadows balance and reduces the noise to the level where it is hard to see.

     

    Portraits:

    When capturing portraits, the software crops images from the main camera, and sadly you can’t turn it off. The phone upscales the photos back to 16MP but there is still some level of zoom visible, though. As for the quality, the portraits are really great with faux bokeh. Despite the challenging conditions, the phone manages to capture portraits with the face of the subject well exposed and balanced. Some noise starts to seep in when the light is not sufficient which can be noticed only when you zoom enough.

     

    Overall, the shots look amazing and the subject separation is convincing.

     

    Selfie:

    Having a main camera module also as a selfie camera is a spectacular deal for selfie lovers. It’s not necessary to point out that the telephoto camera won’t be of much use here, especially with its 3x zoom. The selfies taken with the main camera are sharp-looking and have great level of detail, even in more challenging scenes and excellent dynamic range. The phone makes the skin look pale but it still manages to capture that reddish glow.

     

    The ultrawide camera produces some softer-looking images. The ultrawide camera of the Zenfone 8 Flip is leaps and bounds ahead compared to the other competitors with dedicated ultrawide selfie units. The autofocus gives the 8 Flip an upper hand.

     

    The dedicated Night mode can also help you take some really amazing shots, the software actually manages to get the most out of the situation. Notwithstanding the subject’s softness, the face seems to be well exposed and fine details can be spotted throughout the photo. The ultrawide seems to be struggling in certain situations but it's usable.

     

    Video recording:

     

    Just like every other flagship out there, the Zenfone 8 Flip supports up to 8K (7680 x 4320) video recording, which even has electronic stabilization. There is also a HyperSteady mode which tops at [email protected]

     

    The quality of the details in the 8K videos is great, noise is nowhere to be seen, contrast is amazing and colors are vivid.

     

    Apart from the choppiness, the same could also be said for the 2160p. Although the 4K has lower resolution, it’s hard to differentiate between 8K and 4K even when zooming. The sharpness is Excellent.

     

    It is surprising but the quality of videos shot on ultrawide camera is at par with the main camera in terms of processing with ample of sharpness.

     

    Final Verdict:

     

    There is hardly any stuff we would want to change about the Asus Zenfone 8 Flip. However, we would have appreciated it if the phone had better battery life and higher refresh rate for the display.

     

    The Zenfone 8 Flip is surely a great phone which offers an exceptional user experience. The phone packs some rare features such as the dual SIM slot with microSD card support, the full-screen frontal design, the LED notification light, and the 256GB base internal storage.

     

    Camera quality is really amazing and the flip camera is something that might catch the eyes of selfie-lovers and vloggers. Provided they already have a phone with a flip camera, since the Zenfone 7 from last year also has the same mechanism.

     

    All things considered, you might not find the Zenfone 8 Flip neither cheap nor unique, and that would make it tough for an ambitious company like Asus to sell the phone. Unless the Zenfone 7 somehow vanishes overnight, the chances of the new and more expensive model, with few upgrades over its previous version, being recommended are very low.