Updated: March 3, 2022 11:53:25 am
Some years back, Apple did something unusual by launching the iPhone mini, bringing small phones back into the limelight. Now, Asus too seems to be bullish about this small form factor, especially when those like me had given up all hope of seeing a true flagship-level compact Android phone someday. This is where the Asus 8z feels refreshing. But the question is how well will users respond to a device like this when they are already accustomed to big-screen phones? I lived with the Asus 8Z for a few days and here is what I think about the smallest Android flagship you can buy in the market today.
Asus 8z review: Design and aesthetics
The biggest complaint I have about current smartphones is that they are too big for my hands. The iPhone 13 comes closest to what I think is the perfect size for a smartphone — it’s neither too big nor too small. But then it’s not a small phone by any means; iOS users at least can opt for the iPhone 13 mini. But that’s not the case if you live in the Android ecosystem. Yes, Google Pixel 4A is there but it isn’t a flagship-level device. The Asus 8z fills the void and becomes a pocketable alternative to the iPhone 13 Mini.
But how small is this phone? Can I keep the phone in my short pocket? Yes is the answer. It’s the most compact high-end Android flagship available in India, at least to my knowledge. I can use this phone one-handed (Hello!) and although it doesn’t look tiny, the Asus 8z is actually slightly smaller than the iPhone 13. The front panel is protected by Gorilla Corning Victus, while the back uses Gorilla Glass 3 with a frosted finish — almost a matte look. The phone’s frame is made of aluminum, giving it a premium look. A small phone matters to a lot of people and so does a headphone jack. The 8z is rated IP68 for dust protection, though the phone feels a little heavy at 169 grams. Reaching the power button feels natural and the built-in in-display fingerprint scanner is fast and responsive.
Asus 8z review: Display and audio
Technically yes, the Asus 8z is a small phone but it does not seem ‘tiny’ to me. The 8Z has a 5.9-inch Samsung AMOLED display rated at 2,400 x 1,080 pixels resolution, which works out to be 445 PPI. The front panel is flat, and the phone is designed in such a way that it gives the impression of a small device. Since the screen is large enough, those who want to migrate to the Asus 8z might not feel lost and that’s a good thing. Whether you are reading a story on indianexpress.com, watching a YouTube video or playing games, the experience of using the 8z is not different from any other phone.
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The screen is not only HDR10 certified but also supports a smooth 120Hz high refresh rate. The display supports something called adaptive refresh rates that toggles between 60Hz, 90Hz, and 120Hz. This way the battery is unlikely to get deleted fast. Asus phones have always been better in the case of onboard speakers, especially the ROG-branded gaming phones. The 8z comes with two speakers, both loud and clear. I can use them for casual listening or even attend a Zoom call. The sound output from the speakers is impressive. For a change, the phone also has an old fashioned 3.5mm headphone jack.
Asus 8z review: Performance and battery
So, how does the Asus 8z perform, and does it make it a good investment considering the price tag? The good news is that it performs brilliantly. It’s got a Snapdragon 888, found inside the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 and OnePlus 9 Pro. Coupled with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage (microSD slot is missing, unfortunately), this makes the phone an excellent performer when it comes to multitasking. These specs are more than enough for browsing the web, playing any game you could imagine, and opening apps. The phone comes with Android 11 with ZenUI baked on top – the proprietary user interfaces similar to Xiaomi’s MIUI or Samsung’s OneUI. The good thing about the ZenUI is that it seems close to stock Android and ‘bloatware’ has been kept to a minimum.
While the UI is clean and impressive, I am not too sure about Asus’ commitment when it comes to major software updates as soon as possible. But how about the battery life? Well, the phone’s 4000mAh cell can last a full day but don’t expect it to go beyond. If you are using Instagram a lot or you are into gaming, then probably you need to charge your phone in the evening before you call it a day. Don’t worry, Asus has added a couple of battery saving modes that increase battery life. The device also supports 30W wired charging and the power adapter is included in the box. Wireless charging isn’t supported, which is not a hit or miss feature but these days it is seen as a premium feature on flagship phones.
Asus 8z review: Dual cameras are good, if not the best
The phone comes with a dual-camera setup on the back: a 64MP main camera with a 1/1.17-inch Sony IMX686 sensor with OI and a 12MP secondary camera with a 1/2.25-inch Sony IMX363 sensor and a 113 ̊ field of view. During my testing, the photos had good detail and the colours picked up really well. Overall, the Asus 8z captured some nice images. Photos look natural and the camera never overprocesses the image. Shots were taken in low light also came surprisingly well. What’s missing however is a built-in optical zoom or telephoto lens. The front camera is a 12MP Sony IMX663 with a 1/2.93-inch sensor. It does an excellent job.
Asus 8z review: Should you buy it?
It’s a bit of a complex question really. There’s no doubt that Asus has made, if not the best a decently equipped Android smartphone that’s smaller than rival phones. It’s the most powerful small Android smartphone without a doubt. It fits easily in one hand and I can fit in the pocket of my skinny jeans. Priced at Rs 42,999, Asus 8z is a comfortable phone to carry around but at the same time, the size limits adding a bigger battery or more camera lenses. I don’t know whether or not the Asus 8z can compete with the best phones from the likes of Apple and Samsung, but I see a new wave of small premium phones making their way into the crowded market with a particular audience in mind.
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