Update, June 29, 2021 (10:37 AM ET): The Asus Zenfone 8 is now available in the United States. It starts at $629.99. However, early birds can get a $30 discount, bringing the phone down to $599.99. This will last until July 13, 2021.
Original article: The Asus Zenfone series has quietly carved out a niche over the years as a flagship series that stands out from the pack. 2019’s Zenfone 6 introduced a flipping camera setup that bucked the trend of notches, punch-holes, and pop-up cameras, while last year’s Zenfone 7 series built atop this foundation and introduced a second model with the Zenfone 7 Pro.
Now, the Asus Zenfone 8 generation is here and we’re looking at two very different offerings in the Zenfone 8 and Zenfone 8 Flip. Here’s everything you should know about these phones.
Zenfone 8 series at a glance
The Asus Zenfone 8 series launched on May 12, 2021, and is the company’s flagship family for the year. That means you can expect top-end power, high refresh rate OLED screens, and other typical flagship stylings. The phones became available in Europe first, with Indian and US launches happening a bit later.
Asus is positioning the standard Zenfone 8 (seen above) as a more compact but otherwise traditional flagship owing to its 6-inch screen size. Meanwhile, the Zenfone 8 Flip is more in line with the previous models, featuring a near-identical flipping camera mechanism. But the two Zenfone 8 devices differ in more ways than you might expect, with the standard phone offering a number of extra features.
The Zenfone 8 will retail for $629 / €699 / £599 while the Zenfone 8 Flip is priced at €799 (~$970). The Zenfone 8 will be available in Obsidian Black and Horizon Silver, while the Flip will be offered in Glacial Silver and Galactic Black options.
Is the Zenfone 8 series worth buying?
Both phones pack Snapdragon 888 chipsets, ticking the all-important power box for bonafide 2021 flagships. But the Zenfone 8 also has a 6-inch screen size and a more affordable price tag, making it worth considering if you feel most of today’s flagships are simply too big and too expensive.
The standard phone lacks a flipping camera setup but does make up for this omission with an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance as well as a 120Hz refresh rate. It also offers optical image stabilization on the main camera, which is missing on the Flip model. There are a couple of other compromises on the more compact phone though, such as the lack of a telephoto camera and a smaller battery.
The Asus Zenfone 8 and Zenfone 8 Flip are starkly different devices, with each having its upsides and downsides.
Did you like the vanilla Zenfone 7 and its flippy camera but simply want a more powerful experience? That’s exactly what you’re getting with the Zenfone 8 Flip (seen above), featuring near-identical specs as the vanilla Zenfone 7 — notably not the Zenfone 7 Pro — bar the upgraded processor. That flippy camera setup means you can take selfies with the higher quality main camera, the ultra-wide shooter, or even the telephoto lens if you want. So vloggers and selfie enthusiasts might want to keep this in mind.
Zenfone 8 and Zenfone 8 Flip specs
There are plenty of differences between the Zenfone 8 and Zenfone 8 Flip when you look at the all-important specs. In fact, Asus is calling the standard Zenfone 8 its main flagship. You can check out the specs table below.
|Asus Zenfone 8||Asus Zenfone 8 Flip|
120Hz refresh rate
Corning Gorilla Glass Victus
90Hz refresh rate
Corning Gorilla Glass 6
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888|
|GPU||Qualcomm Adreno 660||Qualcomm Adreno 660|
Expandable with microSD card (up to 2TB)
30W wired charging
30W wired charging
64MP Sony IMX686 sensor with OIS, 2x lossless zoom
Dual LED flash
Front: 12MP IMX663
64MP Sony IMX686 sensor
Dual LED flash
Tertiary: 8MP 3x telephoto
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6E (US only)
|Operating System||ZenUI 8
No 3.5mm port
|Dimensions||148 x 68.5 x 8.9mm
|165.04 x 77.28 x 9.6mm
What’s the deal with the Zenfone 8 Flip’s camera setup?
The Zenfone 8 sports a traditional rear-facing camera setup, but the Zenfone 8 Flip adopts the flipping camera system the series has become known for. That means you can take selfies with the main cameras and have an uninterrupted full-screen experience too.
This isn’t quite the same flipping camera system as the Zenfone 7 though, as Asus says the new motor is “stronger, smoother, and more durable.” In the case of the latter, Asus says the flip system is designed for 300,000 flips. That’s 150 flips a day for over five years.
The company also has an angle sensor that lets you swivel the camera to a predetermined angle at the push of a button. More specifically, you can set the camera motor to automatically swivel to zero, 45, 90, or 135 degrees. The firm says you’re also getting faster panoramas and automatic motion tracking thanks to that motor too.
Are the Zenfone 8 series cameras good?
If you expected a major upgrade over last year’s Zenfone 7 series, then you’ll definitely be disappointed. The Zenfone 8 Flip maintains the Zenfone 7’s flipping triple camera system, featuring a 64MP IMX686 main camera, 12MP IMX363 ultra-wide snapper (112-degree field of view), and 8MP 3X optical telephoto sensor. Unfortunately, none of these cameras offer optical image stabilization (OIS). But again, you’ll get high-quality selfies due to the use of the flipping camera system.
The standard Zenfone 8 is a mixed bag on paper too. It features the Zenfone 8 Flip’s 64MP main and 12MP ultra-wide cameras but ditches the telephoto lens. So you’re left with a dual rear camera system, along with 2x “lossless” zoom via the main camera. The one upside is that the phone is equipped with OIS for the main camera, so expect smoother video and better low-light performance than the Flip. Selfies are handled by a 12MP punch-hole camera (1.4-micron pixels, IMX663, dual PDAF).
The Zenfone 8 Flip offers a versatile camera setup but lacks OIS, while the standard phone packs two rear cameras but offers OIS.
Both phones are also capable of 4cm macro shots via the ultra-wide camera, owing to the sensor offering autofocus. In terms of video, both phones offer 8K recording (8K/24fps for the Zenfone 8 and 8K/30fps for the Flip), 4K/120fps video, and 4K/60fps.
Additionally, the two phones offer HyperSteady video recording at 1080p/60fps, presumably combining EIS and the ultra-wide camera for a more stable video experience. The phones also offer triple mics for wind filter functionality, audio zoom, and mic directivity capabilities.
Asus is also appealing to vloggers with a new Object Focus feature on the Flip model. This automatically switches to the foreground when an object/subject is detected, such as when a vlogger is showing off an item or product (as opposed to staying focused on the face).
What about the Zenfone 8 series battery life?
It’s business as usual for the Zenfone 8 Flip, as it’s equipped with the same setup as last year’s phones. That means a 5,000mAh battery with 30W wired charging. The standard Zenfone 8 sees a big capacity drop to a 4,000mAh battery but still maintains 30W wired top-ups.
The Zenfone 7 Pro delivered two days of usage in our review, with a full day of heavy usage possible too. Given the flagship internals and 90Hz refresh rate appearing again, we’re expecting a similar level of endurance. It took roughly 90 minutes for the Zenfone 7 Pro to fully charge, so this gives us a broad idea of what the new phone is capable of.
Related: The best phone charging accessories
The combination of a much smaller battery and a higher refresh rate means we’re expecting shorter endurance from the standard Zenfone 8. But the Galaxy S21 is also equipped with a 120Hz screen and 4,000mAh battery, and we called its battery life “perfectly adequate” in our review. So there’s hope that you won’t be reaching for the charger during the day. Asus says the phone takes 80 minutes to hit full capacity via 30W charging.
What about performance?
Both Zenfones are equipped with the Snapdragon 888 SoC — the undisputed Android phone processor of 2021 in terms of pure speed. Both phones should fly in tasks like swiping through system menus, web browsing, launching apps, and camera-related activities.
The chipset also enjoys a class-leading GPU, which means advanced 3D games should be a very smooth experience. In fact, the Snapdragon 888 should deliver a smooth experience in games for the next few years compared to phones with mid-range silicon.
Snapdragon SoC guide: All of Qualcomm’s smartphone processors explained
The one downside in this regard is that the standard Zenfone 8 has 6GB of RAM in the cheapest model compared to 8GB across the board in the Flip. But at least the vanilla Zenfone 8 can also be had in 8GB and 16GB flavors if you need the extra memory.
Both phones are also equipped with 128GB or 256GB of storage, but only the Zenfone 8 Flip gets microSD expansion. So you’ll need to be 100% sure that the 128GB option is enough if you buy the base Zenfone 8.
Zenfone 8 software and updates
Asus doesn’t have the best reputation among Android manufacturers when it comes to prompt updates and lengthy commitment periods. Sadly, it doesn’t seem like we have any dramatic changes with the Zenfone 8 series.
The company has confirmed that “at least” two major OS updates are in the works for the Zenfone 8 series. This does theoretically leave the door open for a third version update, but we wouldn’t count on it. Otherwise, the phones run ZenUI 8 atop Android 11.
Zenfone 8 vs Zenfone 7: What’s new?
The vanilla Zenfone 8 misses out on a few features compared to its predecessors, namely a telephoto camera, flipping camera setup, uninterrupted full-screen display, and a 5,000mAh battery. But the phone steps things up with a more powerful chipset, higher refresh rate, IP68 rating, and a 3.5mm port. Yep, the latter two options are completely missing from the Zenfone 7 series and Zenfone 8 Flip.
Asus Zenfone 7 series: Everything you need to know about these flippy phones
Turning to the Zenfone 8 Flip, it seems like the new phone is a very incremental upgrade over the Zenfone 7. You’re essentially getting a beefier SoC and a more durable camera motor. But you’re still getting the same battery size, charging speed, refresh rate, basic design, and camera system (albeit without OIS seen on the Zenfone 7 Pro).
What are some good Zenfone 8 series alternatives?
The Zenfone 8 and Zenfone 8 Flip are two unique propositions in the Android smartphone landscape, but we’ve still managed to find a few alternatives you should consider:
- Asus Zenfone 7 (~$634): Like the idea of a flippy Zenfone but don’t want to spend a ton of cash on the new phones? That’s where last year’s Zenfone 7 comes in, bringing that swivel camera setup for under $650 on the likes of Amazon. You do miss out on a new flagship chipset, but you’re still getting a powerful SoC, high refresh rate, and a big battery. Plus, you’re getting identical cameras here.
- Samsung Galaxy S21 ($800/€799): Samsung’s cheapest 2021 flagship is also a good match for the standard Zenfone 8, as they share a number of features. Snapdragon 888? Yep. 4,000mAh battery? Indeed. 120Hz OLED panel? Sure. Water-resistant design? Of course. The Zenfone 8 misses out on a telephoto lens though, with the S21 using a hybrid zoom camera in this regard. Samsung is also offering four years of security updates and three versions of Android updates. The Asus phone is also much cheaper in Europe (at €600) compared to the S21’s launch price in the market, and offers a 3.5mm port.
- Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra (€1,200): The Mi 11 Ultra might be an ultra-premium phone, but it still scratches some of the same itches as the Zenfone 8 Flip. You’ve got the Snapdragon 888 chipset, 5,000mAh battery, and a high refresh rate OLED screen. And much like the 8 Flip, you can use the main rear cameras for selfies. Other notable features include a 120Hz refresh rate with QHD+ resolution, IP68 rating, 5X periscope camera, and 67W wired/wireless charging.
- Google Pixel 5 ($699): Google has a reputation for sensibly sized phones, making the Pixel 5 a prime candidate for being a Zenfone 8 alternative. You’re getting a 6-inch 90Hz OLED screen, a similar dual rear camera system (main and ultra-wide), an IP68 rating, and a 4,080mAh battery that’s in line with the Zenfone 8. Google’s strength is software and you’re getting stock Android and three years of Android version updates. But the phone does lack power compared to even last year’s flagships (let alone the Zenfone 8), owing to the use of mid-range 5G silicon.
- Apple iPhone 12 Mini ($699/€809): Zenfone 8 still a little too big for you? That’s where the iPhone 12 Mini comes in, packing a 5.4-inch OLED screen instead. You’re also getting a blazing-fast A14 processor, water resistance, and a similar dual rear camera system. The Asus phone one-ups the Apple device thanks to a much bigger battery, a high refresh rate, more base storage, and a cheaper price in Europe. But Apple’s device offers wireless charging and access to the firm’s ecosystem of services and apps via iOS.
Where to buy the Zenfone 8 series
- Asus Zenfone 8 (8GB/128GB): $629 / €699 / £599
- Asus Zenfone 8 Flip (8GB/256GB): €799 / £699
The Taiwanese company has confirmed that the Zenfone 8 series will be available globally, with some caveats. The Zenfone 8 Flip will likely not land in the United States, for example, but the Zenfone 8 will. Some or all of the phones will also come to the United Kingdom, Europe, and India.
As of now, the Asus Zenfone 8 is available in the US, Europe, and the UK. It starts at $629 / €699 / £599 for the version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Prices go up to $699 / €749 for the version with 256GB of storage (that version does not appear to be available in the UK as of yet).
As for the Zenfone 8 Flip, it is available in Europe and the UK for €799 / £699 which is for the only variant with an 8GB/256GB configuration.
We are still waiting for Asus to announce Indian pricing and availability.
Do note that Asus has revealed that the Zenfone 8 comes with Wi-Fi 6E in the US, but this feature is missing in other markets due to “local and regional regulations.”
Q: Do the phones have 3.5mm ports
A: Only the standard Zenfone 8 has a 3.5mm port.
Q: What type of Gorilla Glass is used on the phones’ displays?
A: The Zenfone 8 uses Gorilla Glass Victus and the Flip uses Gorilla Glass 6.
Q: Do the phones have any IP ratings?
A: The Zenfone 8 has an IP65/68 rating, while the Zenfone 8 Flip does not have an IP rating.
Q: What’s the refresh rate on the Zenfone 8 series?
A: The Zenfone 8 has a 120Hz refresh rate, while the Zenfone 8 Flip has a 90Hz screen.
Q: Do the phones have microSD card slots?
A: Only the Zenfone 8 Flip supports microSD expansion.
Q: Do the phones come with chargers in the box?
A: Yes, both phones come with a 30W charger.
Q: What comes in the box when you buy the phones?
A: In addition to the 30W charger, the phones also come with a USB-C to USB-C cable, an ejector pin, and documentation. The Zenfone 8 also comes with a bumper case while the Flip comes with an active case.
Q: Does the Zenfone 8 series support 5G?