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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  • Tams80 - Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - link

    The XZ2 isn't really compact. Reply
  • Tams80 - Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - link

    And?

    You do realise there are people happy to make that trade-off, even if they are only a small group? And the XZ1 has pretty decent battery life.

    The market is absolutely saturated with large phones, which are popular. That doesn't mean only large phones should exist.

    People like you really grate my gears.
    Reply
  • Findecanor - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    Agreed. Smartphones do keep getting bigger, but people's hands do not.

    It is also not "the smallest flagship by far". It is about the same size as the iPhone 12/Pro, and weight-wise in-between. And if we compare to flagships from last spring, we got the Samsung Galaxy S20.
    Reply
  • haukionkannel - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    True… only iPhone 12 mini seems to be allmost compact and no Android versions have been around for years… Reply
  • Linustechtips12#6900xt - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    12 mini or se 2020 Reply
  • Linustechtips12#6900xt - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    as an s10e user, the s10e without a case does very well fit in a single hand thank you very much especially when used with the one-handed feature or just on one ui, in general, that's what one UI was made for to be better on bigger phone and make them easier to use even though s10e is compact it is a very decent phone. Reply
  • inperfectdarkness - Sunday, May 16, 2021 - link

    XZ2 Compact > XZ1 Compact, imho. Damn shame Sony doesn't care diddly squat to make another 5" phone. Everything is 6" now. Reply
  • prophet001 - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    Anybody know a good 4g phone that's like the size of a Blackberry Bold. I like having it in my pocket and can't find anything that is that size and still has email, web etc.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • hemedans - Thursday, May 13, 2021 - link

    sony xperia xz1 compact
    -height
    bold 115cm
    xz1c 128cm

    -width
    bold 66cm
    xz1c 65cm

    -depth
    bold 10.5cm
    xz1c 9.3 cm

    xz1c will be narrow and compact but a little bit taller.
    Reply
  • inperfectdarkness - Sunday, May 16, 2021 - link

    Bold: 115 x 66 x 10.5 mm (4.53 x 2.60 x 0.41 in)
    XZ1 Compact: 129 x 65 x 9.3 mm (5.08 x 2.56 x 0.37 in)
    XZ2 Compact: 135 x 65 x 12.1 mm (5.31 x 2.56 x 0.48 in)

    Those are the closest you'll find outside of something pitifully small and unusable--which is pretty much every phone in the < 4" size.

    The XZ2 Compact - international version - can handle dual SIM cards or SIM + SD.
    Reply

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