ASUS ZenFone 8 Flip Review — room for improvement
The ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip is a good device with the Flip Camera as its trump card, but lacks some key features that could have been easily added to make it a much better option for everyone.
1 Year Warranty
+ 30W charger comes in the box
+ Sleek and familiar design
+ Good performance across the board
+ Built-in speakers sound awesome
+ ZenUI 8 is fluid and snappy
+ Decent camera quality; excellent Night mode
+ Flip Camera offers amazing selfies and easy panoramas
+ Reasonably priced
- No USB-C to 3.5mm dongle included; USB-C port does not have analog audio output
- Still supports microSD and dual SIM cards
- Low-light conditions results in noisy shots
- Telephoto camera is weak: no OIS, poor autofocusing in low-light
ASUS has not released a member of their ASUS Zenfone series here in Malaysia for two years now. This year, it seems that they finally consider the ASUS Zenfone 8 series worthy of challenging the top dogs here in Malaysia. Today, we have the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip, the successor to the ASUS ZenFone 7 from last year. It packs pretty similar specifications as well, but since we didn’t get to check out the ASUS ZenFone 7, all of this is quite fresh to us.
It is also worth noting that while the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip is pricier, the smaller Zenfone 8 is the true top-of-the-line flagship for ASUS this year, so we are in for a rather confusing time. But without further ado, let’s see what ASUS has brought to the table with the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip, and whether it can compete against the flagships available in Malaysia today.
The packaging of the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip is pretty classy, with a streaky gray finish and a smart “8” emblem that reflects the “flippy” capability of the device inside. The size is pretty substantial too, so you know that there’s a charger inside.
What you get inside is pretty similar to just about every device in the market today, except for the most recent flagships from Apple and Samsung. ASUS has yet to follow the recent trend of removing the charger, and it comes with the same 30W USB-C power brick that came with the ZenFone 7 and also all the ROG Phones before the ROG Phone 5. However it is missing a USB-C to 3.5mm dongle, which is a really odd omission as the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip does not come with a headphone jack.
I am willing to forgive ASUS over this transgression though, as the included case here is an absolute beauty. Since everyone will probably use the case more than the 3.5mm dongle, I appreciate that ASUS diverted the costs of a 3.5mm dongle towards putting a better case in the box. ASUS calls this the Active Case.
The case even has a little latch to lock the camera in place. ASUS baked in a sensor to identify when the lock is engaged, preventing the camera from opening up and also displaying a message reminding you that the camera is currently locked. As violent swinging movements can actually cause the Flip Camera module to flip out by accident — at which point it will immediately retract itself — this latch ensures that you won’t have any issues with the Flip Camera popping up when it isn’t supposed to.
ASUS started using the Flip Camera mechanism for a number of reasons. The first being that they could now offer absolutely chart-topping selfie capabilities, and the second being that you won’t need bezels to house the selfie camera anymore. As such, the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip has minimal bezels, although it is worth noting that they are still thicker than those found on something like the POCO F2 Pro. More on that later.
Over on the back, ASUS went with a glossy finish. Ours here is the Galactic Black color option, and it has a very nice deep sheen to it, which is presumably the reason behind the Galactic in its name. Unfortunately, it picks up fingerprints prodigiously. Only the ASUS Zenfone 8 has a matte variant, which is quite a bummer. And of course, right at the top you can see the flip camera which boasts of a rather sizeable hump to house the trio of cameras. Right under the cameras is a microphone to support the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip’s Mic Focus feature.
The bottom houses the single USB-C port as well as the primary loudspeaker. No headphone jack here, but you can see ASUS did include a notification LED here right beside the USB-C port. That’s really uncommon in designs today, so kudos to ASUS for still finding room for one. It’s probably unnecessary to most people, but it is nice to have.
Over on the top, we can see the hinge of the Flip Camera, and the secondary microphone. It is worth mentioning that the speaker at the top is actually in the Flip Camera module, so the sound has to pass through the gap between the Flip Camera module and the main frame, before reaching the earpiece grille. In practice, this does not lead to a noticeable difference compared to more conventional designs, but it is just cool to note. You can see that the frame is really thin right behind the Flip Camera module, so there isn’t any room here for a speaker anyway.
ASUS has moved the fingerprint scanner from the side to under the display, so here you get a standard power button highlighted in blue, and a volume rocker. Not much to see on the other side, other than the SIM tray. The frame is ever so slightly tapered towards the front, making for a better in-hand experience. The aluminum here is finished in matte black, which is a good thing as I definitely do not need more glossy surfaces to wipe down.
Overall, I would say that the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip looks decent enough, and it would stand out quite easily from the slew of flagships available in the market right now with its unique camera hump. The front is probably less exciting, but it does do away with notches and punch holes, which might be novel to some.
ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip Specifications
|CPU||Snapdragon 888, 5nm FinFET
1 x Cortex-X1 @ 2.84 GHz + 3 x Cortex-A78 @ 2.42 GHz + 4 x Cortex-A55 @ 1.80 GHz
|GPU||Adreno 660 @ 840MHz|
|Storage||256GB UFS 3.1, expandable via microSD|
|Display||6.67″ FHD+ (2400 x 1080) Samsung AMOLED display, 90Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time
110% DCI-P3 gamut, Delta E < 1, HDR10+, 1000 nits peak brightness
200Hz touch sampling
Corning Gorilla Glass 6
|Main Camera(s)||64MP f/1.8 main, Sony IMX686, 2×1 OCL PDAF, 26mm (35mm eqv.) 78.3° FoV
12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle, Sony IMX363, Dual PDAF, 11mm (35mm eqv.) 113° FoV, 4cm macro
8MP f/2.4 3X telephoto, OmniVision OV08A
3-axis EIS, AI Camera, Auto HDR, Auto Night Mode, Night Mode, Motion Tracking, Portrait, Pro Video, Up to 1080p60 HyperSteady video, Up to 720p480 / 4K120 slow-mo, Up to 4K60 / 8K30 video
|Selfie camera||Flip Camera, Same as Rear Camera|
|Connectivity||5G Band n1, n2, n3, n5, n7, n8, n12, n20, n28, n38, n77, n78
LTE Band 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 28, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, WiFi 6E
USB 2.0 (Type-C)
|Software||ZenUI 8 based on Android 11|
30W fast charging, Quick Charge 4.0, USB PD 3.0 PPS
30W USB-C power adapter included
|Dimensions||165.04 x 77.28 x 9.6 mm|
Antutu v8 puts the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip above the ROG Phone 5 and the Xiaomi Mi 11. But of course, as we have previously established that the ROG Phone 5 isn’t particularly outstanding in its Dynamic profile. It is currently the fastest 2021 flagship we have tested. I also inserted the ASUS ZenFone 5z just to give an idea of how much the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip improves over the last ASUS ZenFone flagship that was available officially in Malaysia.
CPU performance of the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip also shines, with strong single-core and multi-core performance. It slots right between the two other Snapdragon 888 smartphones we have tested, nothing too special here.
We see the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip bagging the top spot by quite a comfortable margin versus the other devices we have tested. The dugi is actually tuned quite conservatively, which we will get into in a bit with the 3DMark Stress Test results.
The ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip comes with performance profiles that you can play around with, just like the ROG Phone 5. But we will only be testing two today, and they are actually quite interesting. The graph shows that the High Performance mode handily outperforms the Dynamic mode, with excellent consistent performance unlike what we saw with the X Mode vs Dynamic mode on the ROG Phone 5.
It seems that ASUS tuned the thermal tolerance and power limit in the High Performance mode to be higher, with the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip hitting a good 10°C higher temperatures, hitting 47°C, versus Dynamic mode’s peak temperatures of 37°C. I believe that you would be able to enjoy a good experience in most games in Dynamic mode, so the High Performance mode might just be an extra that you will want to keep around when future games need the extra horsepower.
Battery life in my daily usage is quite good, with 6 hours and 36 minutes of screen time over 13 hours away from the plug. It seems that the AOD gobbles up quite a bit of battery, but this should be improved in future updates as it should be easily fixed via software.
The 30W fast charging might sound pretty slow by today’s standards but it does suffice, bringing the battery from 10% to 65% in 30 minutes. The remaining 35% takes much longer though, with the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip needing an extra hour connected to the plug before being fully charged. That’s good for the longevity of the battery, and since 65% battery should be enough for close to a day of light usage, I guess it’s acceptable.
Unlike most of the flagship devices in the market now, the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip still touts support for storage expansion via microSD along with true dual-SIM support. It should be great if you want to just chuck in an extra microSD card for your media storage, if for some reason the 256GB in the device itself is insufficient. It is worth noting that only the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip has support for a microSD card; it’s smaller brother does not.
One thing worth noting is that the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip is a rather chunky device. It’s quite thick, and it weighs a good 230g. I guess that’s why ASUS decided to make the ASUS Zenfone 8, because the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip won’t be a good fit for daintier hands. ASUS does try to make things slightly better by tapering the edges towards the front, and it does fit better in the hand that way. Personally, I am used to this size and weight, but I would prefer it slightly lighter. I do think that it isn’t an option if you want the Flip Camera and a big battery like what the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip offers, but a man can hope.
Display and Audio
The ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip’s display isn’t particularly outstanding, but neither is it lagging behind the competition. It’s decent enough for pretty much every use case out there, with a smooth-enough 90Hz refresh rate, small enough bezels and sharp-enough FHD+ resolution. I emphasize “enough” heavily here, because the competition is now pushing for higher refresh rates, resolutions and ever narrower bezels, so the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip does feel slightly inferior if you directly compare its display against more premium device, but the panel here isn’t a bad display by any means.
It also has an odd quirk of having a noticeable darkening when switching from 90Hz to 60Hz, which is very noticeable in apps like Telegram and Facebook. When the keyboard is brought up to reply to a message or comment, all of sudden you will notice that the gray/dark blue background gets deeper. You can easily lock it at 90Hz at the expense of battery life for a less distracting experience, but you may have to keep it at 90Hz forever as I somewhat doubt that it is fixable via a software update.
As mentioned earlier, the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip has stereo audio. The top speaker is housed in the Flip Camera module, but it channels the sound to the front of the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip via some nifty little holes. The ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip sounds good, with a slight tinge of bass too. Unlike the ROG Phone 5 which has some massive speakers, ASUS had to add some artificial tones to the output to simulate deeper bass. You aren’t going to be doing critical listening via the loudspeaker anyway, so this is just an interesting detail that actually improves the listening experience.
If you want to tune the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip’s sound, you can also do so via AudioWizard which serves up a few preset profiles as well as a 10-band equalizer. ASUS worked with Dirac to tune the audio output on the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip, and I found the music mode sounds the best. But of course, if you want, you can adjust the sound yourself. Speaking of which, I found the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip to be most enjoyable to listen to when I am holding it in vertical orientation instead of in landscape, probably because of the asymmetrical speakers.
One thing to note is that there is apparently no analog audio circuitry in the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip, so if you are looking to get a 3.5mm adapter for the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip, you have to make sure that you get one with a DAC. For some reason there are headset profiles for ROG analog earphones though, so I am not exactly sure what’s going on here.
ASUS is using ZenUI 8 for the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip, but it is actually quite close to the ROG Phone 5’s ROG UI, except without most of the gaming features. It is also darker, for some reason. The ROG Phone 5’s dark mode has grayish backgrounds across most of its UI, while the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip’s is black. So here you get what looks like a much cleaner UI, that is probably as close to stock as you can get without losing out on major features that you won’t get with vanilla Android.
Speaking of which, ASUS added a healthy helping of customized features to improve the user experience on the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip. You can customize the shape and color of the quick toggle icons and the system font too. There’s also stuff like Smart key, Game Genie, Mobile Manager and even customizable performance profiles.
If you are particular about overcharging your battery, the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip has a charging limit, allowing you to stop the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip from charging once it hits 80%, 90% or the standard 100%. You can even set it up to have a scheduled charging time so the device knows when you will be plugging it in and adjust the charging to suit your schedule. ASUS seems to be harnessing their experience with laptops and putting it to good use in the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip, and I really appreciate that.
ASUS seems to have directly carried over the camera from the ASUS Zenfone 7 to the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip, which means no OIS on any of the cameras. That’s quite unfortunate as the Zenfone 8 gets OIS for its main camera, and it would have made for a welcome upgrade for the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip. At the very least, OIS for the 3X telephoto camera would have been great, but nope.
The camera interface is similar to the ROG Phone 5, but it seems to offer a more responsive camera experience than the ROG Phone 5. While I left the auto HDR mode enabled, the horrific shutter lag doesn’t seem to be here anymore, which is great. There’s a little icon at the side that brings up a small menu that you save customized preset camera angles to. All you have to do is manually adjust the camera angle to where you want it, and then long press one of the three preset to save your new preset.
Due to the ongoing MCO 3.0, it’s quite hard to really evaluate the camera of the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip as I can’t really go anywhere interesting. As you would expect, the cameras do a pretty good job in good lighting, especially with its HDR capabilities balancing out the exposure very well. ASUS tends to lean towards a more realistic color profile, which looks a touch more boring, but it is closer to what I actually saw with my eyes than what most Chinese smartphones produce. But the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip begin to falter when the lighting dies down.
Even indoors, we can see the main camera and ultra-wide angle shooter let through a lot of noise. I would also say that the macro camera doesn’t provide too much of an effect, as while you can focus a lot closer, it doesn’t have the same shallow depth of field that you would get with a macro lens with a longer focal length. But hey, I always love my ultra-wide angle with autofocus, so at least it isn’t all bad. Speaking of which, it does an excellent job, probably better than many mid-range smartphones’ main cameras. I guess the Sony IMX363 is still not obsolete yet.
The telephoto camera does a decent job in good lighting, but doesn’t perform well at all in poorer lighting. Autofocusing is abysmally slow in poor lighting, and the lack of OIS means that you will have to try to stabilize the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip yourself. However I still have to hand it to ASUS for actually using the telephoto camera instead of cropping in on the main sensor when zooming in poor lighting.
While the cameras don’t do well in poorer lighting conditions, that’s only until the auto Night mode gets triggered. The Night mode here works very well, detecting low light situations and immediately bringing up a tiny popup to show you that your shot will be taken with Night mode active. It works on both the ultra-wide and main camera, but not on the telephoto shooter, for obvious reasons. While it takes 4-second exposures, it is able to stabilize against normal breathing motion, which is good enough in my book. I do wish the notification popup was a bit more apparent, as sometimes I am taken by surprise and have to hold myself steady for longer than I expected.
Thanks to the rear camera being the same as the selfie camera, you get autofocus, which means sharp selfies just about every single time. It also means that you can take 8K30 selfie vlogs, if you want. Or really detailed selfies, which are apparently not desirable, according to my better half.
Of course you can always smooth out the details with the Beautify filter. And you can even take awesome selfies in low light, since the front camera is the rear camera and it can use the Night mode for selfies as well. Worst come to worst, you can blast yourself in your face with the LED flash. Personally, I think the coolest feature about the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip is the ability to shoot really, really wide panoramas without moving a muscle.
As you would expect, panoramas cannot use the impressive Night mode capabilities of the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip. As such, low light photos turn out a lot noisier. It is only really useful in bright situations, where the full sweep is well exposed. There are still some mild stitching artifacts here, but I would consider it to be a great feature regardless. And it is definitely a lot more convenient than trying to move your phone in a straight line. Let the phone do the work instead. You paid for it.
For the full-sized samples, you can head on over to this link here.
The ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip is priced at RM2999, which is a pretty interesting. In practice, it is a great device, especially if you plan on shooting a lot of vlogs, where the flipping camera will come in handy. The 8K30 selfie video capability is not common at all, so that’s where the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip has an upper hand. The software user experience of the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip is also quite nice, with truly useful features, instead of just cramming everything and the kitchen sink into it and calling it a day.
There are quite a few areas where it doesn’t quite match the competition though. It loses out on some fancier features like OIS, 120Hz refresh rate and ingress protection, all stuff that similarly priced devices are offering nowadays. I do understand why the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip can’t offer an IP rating, but OIS and a higher refresh rate are both features offered by its own sibling, the ASUS Zenfone 8, which makes the device we are looking at here all the more lackluster as a 2021 flagship.
But I guess that’s almost understandable, because the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip isn’t ASUS’ true 2021 flagship. That would be the aforementioned ASUS Zenfone 8. However considering that ASUS could have quite easily added OIS to the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip’s cameras — as they have already done it in yesteryear’s ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro — and maybe swapped out the display for a higher refresh rate panel, but decided against it, leaves me wondering just why weren’t these upgrades used to offer ASUS ZenFone 7 series users something to look forward to.
Instead, what we have now is what seems like a rather half-baked device. Owners of the ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro users have virtually nothing to look forward to with the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip, aside from a chipset upgrade. The only justification to get the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip over any other flagship out there is the Flip Camera, and even then, this is not ASUS’ best Flip Camera, as that would be the one in the ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro, with two of its cameras equipped with OIS. I am not saying that the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip is a bad device, as it is actually an interesting option if you need insanely good selfie capabilities, but it just could have been so, so much better.
Our thanks to ASUS Malaysia for sending us the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip for review. You can check out the ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip on Shopee via this affiliate link to support what we do here at Pokde.net.