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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  • Linustechtips12#6900xt - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    I do get it inefficient and I don't use it other than with dex but it something that's nice I was at a colts game and there was a wireless charging pad available for everyone and it happened to be i was without a charger and at about 20%, its just a convenience like a micro-sd or a headphone jack. Reply
  • nico_mach - Wednesday, May 19, 2021 - link

    I think the drawbacks are overstated. I used wireless charging nightly on my s8 and the battery is still fine all these years later. The software, otoh... Reply
  • ads295 - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    I'm really liking this thing by the looks of it. IP rating + headphone jack + compact size + 4000mAh battery is a winning combination. Hope they work on the camera though, I'm sure the mediocrity lies in the software rather than the hardware. Reply
  • skydiverian - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    Can't stand notches or holepunch displays (i.e. I only want displays that are symmetrical on 2 axes - my Pixel 3a tbh still annoys me with rounded corners. Talking of the 3a, it's as big as I want to go. Guess I'll be holding onto it for the next 10 years at this rate. Otherwise this could be a contender for a replacement but I just can't stand that holepunch. Reply
  • Spunjji - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    I hated them at first, but got used to a notch after 2.5 years of owning a phone with one. Now have one with a punch-hole, I'd say it's neither an improvement nor a step back. I'd still prefer a top and bottom bezel and better front-facing speakers, but it's not the end of the world. Might be worth contemplating when it becomes time for a replacement. Reply
  • inperfectdarkness - Sunday, May 16, 2021 - link

    This is why I love the Xperia XZ2 Compact. Bezels. The 18x9 form factor just looks better and feels better. Reply
  • c933103 - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    No. A 68-69mm wide phone is not compact. I have tried Xperia X Performance and Galaxy S10e. They don't fit in single hand. Now Zenfone 8 and Xperia 5 series are all trying to pretend they are compact but they aren't. The only option remaining is to spend 700USD to import an Aquos R2 Compact with Snapdragon 845 from Japan, or buy the Xperia XZ1 Compact with Snapdragon 835, for someone in Android ecosystem. Reply
  • ads295 - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    Both those devices aren't even in sniffing distance of 3000mAh battery capacity. Good luck with your battery life. At least the Sony uses 720p resolution which should help battery life, but the Aquos should be really mediocre with that high end chipset, high res display and relatively tiny battery size @2500mAh. I agree that phones could be still smaller but now we're talking about a fraction of an already small percentage of consumer base overall who want small phones. Reply
  • hemedans - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    xperia xz1 compact has best battery life than most flagship, better than many 4000 and 5000mah phones, usually i get 10+ hrs of on screen time. sd 835 was efficient and 720p help a lot. Reply
  • inperfectdarkness - Sunday, May 16, 2021 - link

    2700mAh for xz1 compact. 2870mAh for xz2 compact. Reply

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