Camera - First Impressions

The camera of the Zenfone 8 isn’t something that I had particularly large hopes for, given the fact that it seems to have the same hardware setup as on the Zenfone 7, which showcased quite disappointing results in our dedicated review of that device. Bar any surprises by ASUS in terms of improved software image processing, we should see rather similar results.

For this piece, I’m keeping things simple and just showcasing sample images from the ZF8 – I’ll be following up with a larger camera centric article across all recent flagship phones in the market in a few weeks' time.

 

In this first scene, we see rather familiar results reminding us very much of the images produced by the Zenfone 7 last year. The shots are characterised by a tendence to flatten out textures a whole lot, some kind of side-effect of ASUS’ HDR algorithm, I think. The scene ended up quite a lot darker than it actually was and there’s just a general lack of any small detail highlights throughout the scene.

While the phone lacks a telephoto module, it’s possible to get to reasonable quality 2x shots via the use of the native 64MP shooting mode of the camera – ASUS here actually uses this by default when going from 1x to 2x zoom mode, something a lot of vendors with similar high-res camera hardware seem to not always get right. The result isn’t great given the 0.8µm pixel size, with very little dynamic range and a lot of fuzziness, but it’s still higher quality than a digital magnification.

 

In this scene I’m again reminded of ASUS’s issue with dynamic range and the tendency to just flatten out luminosity across the scene, giving it a 2D look rather than preserving depth of objects.


 

Looking at the ultra-wide angle shot, the phone does alright with the colours but completely loses out texture preservation compared to the main camera, with a large amount of blurring of details.

Dynamic range continues to be an issue in most scenes with the camera just not being able to preserve depth of objects unless in the most forgiving lighting conditions.

Generally, we also see that the optics of the module doesn’t keep up with the 16MP auto mode results of the sensor, as we’re seeing hazing and ghosting around highly contrasting edges.

Colourful subjects have again the issue that there’s lot of gradations and details that are seemingly lost due to the processing.

ASUS has added auto-focus to the ultra-wide angle this year, meaning this module is now able to focus extremely close to subjects down to 4cm, which can actually give quite good results and is a flexible way to enable macro photography.

Functional, not competitive

Overall, the results of the Zenfone 8 camera are disappointing, but not surprising. ASUS’s phones in general have historically had lacking cameras and image processing that was not up to par with other flagship devices. The Zenfone 8 positions itself as a 2021 flagship phone, but its camera system is far from that. It’s functional for the occasional shot, but it’s pretty much outshone by essentially any other camera solution in the market, with very little silver linings in favour of the device.

If you’re looking for competitive cameras in a phone, the Zenfone 8 is not the device for you.

Battery Life Conclusion & First Impressions
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  • itsjustaprankbro - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    Yeah, wife also uses S10e. Thought about this phone but she loves wireless charging. There is also the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G, but also no wireless charging (and no OIS on that one). Sony's compact phones also lack wireless charging, despite costing twice as much. There is only the S20-S21, but those phones have some utterly horrible battery life and performance (minus the Snapdragon models). So I guess, the S10e will have to serve a few more years. Reply
  • BedfordTim - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    It was one of the many annoyances of my Nokia 9. I can't imagine going back to 128GB. Reply
  • yetanotherhuman - Saturday, May 15, 2021 - link

    I use a phone with 64GB and don't give a shit. I guess we're all different. Reply
  • itsjustaprankbro - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    Silliest comment of the year. If not the decade. Yes, Samsung made 512GB edition of the Note 9. Released 1TB edition of the S10+. And? It keeps releasing the S20 Ultra, S20, S20+, S21 Ultra, S21 and other phones with a measly 128gb storage ONLY. And there is NO dedicated microSD slot (like on the Zenfone 6-7-8), just a hybrid SIM slot.

    If anything, Samsung is pathetic. Yes, I am salty about their decisions because a new S21 costs an insane amount of cash and it has no storage?
    Reply
  • quiksilvr - Wednesday, May 12, 2021 - link

    Uh, that plastic gasket piece between the metal frame and display is essential for durability. It is actually something you are supposed to have. Removing it is the cheap move, not the more expensive move. Reply
  • Wereweeb - Wednesday, May 12, 2021 - link

    Tell that to people who think a smartphone's function is to look pretty in your hand. Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Wednesday, May 12, 2021 - link

    The problem with your statement is that it's true and thus makes sense 🙂; unfortunately, many people prefer looks over function. Reply
  • arashi - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    All iPhones are cheap phones to Andrei maybe. ;) Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Wednesday, May 12, 2021 - link

    Thanks Andrei! I don't like that they dropped the microSD slot; there are fewer and fewer phones in the upper middle and flagship range that have those. Regarding the battery life, maybe ASUS could come out with a Zenphone 8 Lite with everything like this (plus mSD slot, please) , but with the SD 780; plenty fast, much easier on power draw Reply
  • Kangal - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    I agree 100%.
    They can't compete when it comes to Software Updates, or Camera Quality, or Customer Service. So there's no point for them to compete in the Luxury/Flagship category.

    They should've just made ONE variant: QSD 780, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, and decreased the price by $100 to compete in the High-end category instead. Don't make different RAM/Storage options, or different 3G/4G/5G radio variants... that's a waste of money.

    Their winning strategy against those cheaper Chinese competitors? Just do a clean Stock AndroidOS, have unlockable bootloader, and include the basic features. Basic features are: 3.5mm Jack, microSD, IrDa. Also great features are Front-firing stereo loudspeakers, Flat Display, IP68 protection or User Removable Battery. I know I'd buy it, even with the QSD 780G, as that is actually a Flagship-level Processor, unlike QSD 845 or QSD 768G (or lower).
    Reply

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