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Asus ZenFone 8 Flip review: Unique motorised flip camera module makes this smartphone stand out – Mark Kavanagh

Asus ZenFone 8 Flip review: Unique motorised flip camera module makes this smartphone stand out - Mark Kavanagh

Asus ZenFone 8 Flip review: Unique motorised flip camera module makes this smartphone stand out – Mark Kavanagh

I’ve been testing ASUS Zenfone 8 Flip for several weeks now. Its predecessor ZenFone 7 Pro was the most complete and powerful Android smartphones of 2020.

The newer model ditches the Pro tag and is armed with less best-in-class specs but it is still a hugely capable device.

And it’s still got the incredible and unique motorised flip-up camera system which means your selfies are shot in the exact same high quality as your rear camera image captures.

There is a more compact 5.9in ZenFone 8 available too. This comes without the flip-up camera but includes a brighter 120Hz display with Gorilla Glass Victus, optical image stabilisation in the main camera and a headphone port.

Design and build

ZenFone 8 Flip is an almost identical glass and aluminium crafted to the ZenFone 7 Pro.

You can get it in silver and black. My review model was the latter.

It’s noticeably heavier and thicker than other flagships, but feels more solid and robustly built in the hand.

I appreciate the extra heft, but others may not.

Asus ZenFone 8 Flip is robustly made from premium materials

The motor for the flip-up camera has been improved for finer angle control.

Security features include an in-display fingerprint reader and face unlock but I disabled the latter as it needs the flip-up camera to work. The fingerprint sensor is faster and consistently reliable.

Display

One of the key benefits to this phone’s singular camera system is that there is no front-facing lens embedded into the screen.

So the 6.67in ZenFone 8 Flip is a rare truly all-screen handset. There are only the slimmest of bezels around the sides and there is Gorilla Glass 6 protection.

If only every smartphone had no notch, punch-hole or dual punch-hole camera obscuring the view.

Asus ZenFone 8 Flip
The display on ZenFone 8 Flip is bright, colourful and responsive

The display is exactly the same as last year’s model. This means you get a FHD+ AMOLED panel with 90Hz refresh rate, 200Hz touch sampling rate and a one millisecond response time.

It’s perhaps disappointing that such an all-screen experience does not have a 120Hz or 144Hz refresh rate, but the 90Hz is still smooth and fluid.

It’s great for viewing HDR10+ content with peak brightness at 1000 nits. Brightness averages at 500 nits when not viewing HDR content.

Cameras

As mentioned above, this camera system means your selfies are captured in the same high quality as your rear camera images.

That includes 4K video capability which should have particular appeal to vloggers.

The system comprises a 64MP Sony IMX686 wide-angle camera with a fast f/1.8 aperture and dual PD autofocus; a 12MP, f/2.2, 113-degree, ultra-wide Sony IMX363 sensor and an 8MP telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom.

The main lens can capture video at up to 8K at 30 frames per second (fps).

There is no optical image stabilisation (OIS) on any of the lenses but there is electronic stablisation (EIS).

Asus ZenFone 8 Flip
Images captured on Asus ZenFone 8 Flip are consistently pleasing

In general, the results from all three shooters are consistently pleasing, if lacking the finesse and computational photography smarts of the likes of Apple’s iPhone 12 series, Google’s Pixel 5 and Samsung’s S21 series.

There are a variety of shooting modes available in the responsive and intuitive native camera app. I’m a fan of the Pro mode which includes bracketing with different exposure values and the ability to save custom shoot presets for swift access.

The redesigned flip module offers great flexibility. As well as being able to quickly flip to a forward-facing position with the tap of a button, you can adjust the angle more creatively while still able to view the display perfectly.

And there is a built-in G-sensor that detects sudden falls and retracts the camera to a safe position relatively quickly. I’ve tested this and it works.

Performance

ZenFone 7 Pro was the fastest Android phone I used in 2020 and the new model is just as zippy to use everyday as other 2021 flagships.

It can handle everything you throw it, multitasking with ease and breezing through the most intensive mobile games.

While benchmark tests I carried out gave scores that beat both OPPO Find X3 Pro and OnePlus 9 series.

Asus ZenFone 8 Flip
In everyday use and benchmark tests, ZenFone 8 Flip is one of the fastest phones of 2021

Only the iPhone 12 series was faster, and Apple trumps all Android phones year in, year out with its own chipsets’ power and speed.

ZenFone 8 Flip runs Android 11 with the Zen UI skin on top. It’s an almost pure Android experience with useful customisation options such as the ability to create custom profiles.

My review model had 8GB of the fastest UFS 3.1 storage and an ample 256GB of onboard storage for saving content.

Battery life

Battery life from the 5000mAh power pack is outstanding. I’m a heavy user and it lasted all day, every day.

There’s a 30W HyperCharge charger in the box and the device supports QuickCharge 4.0 and USB-C PD.

There is no wireless charging support. This is not a deal-breaker for me or many other consumers.

Other features

ZenFone 8 Flip has dual-SIM support, 5G connectivity and NFC.

The firm promises two full OS updates along with two years of security updates.

There is also no IP-rating for water resistance.

Asus ZenFone 8 Flip
Asus ZenFone 8 Flip alongside the more compact ZenFone 8 which has no flip-up camera

But there is an excellent Cirrus Logic amplifier that delivers great sound from the stereo speakers.

And you get Hi-Res audio capability too along with support for the aptX HD, aptX adaptive, LDAC and AAC codecs.

Verdict

This phone is priced similarly to the OnePlus 9 and arguably offers a better camera system and a superior battery.

You get a 6.67in AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate, Snapdragon 888 chipset, 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM and that awesome 5000mAh battery.

That’s a lot of bang for your buck.

It’s less expensive than iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Mini, two of the only handsets that offer superior performance and speed.

And it’s considerably less expensive than 2021 Android flagships such as OPPO Find X3 Pro, OnePlus 9 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Pricing and availability

Asus ZenFone 8 Flip costs £649 (approx €766) from Asus .

Key specs

Dimensions: 165.4 x 77.28 x 9.6mm
Weight: 230g
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G
RAM: 8GB LPDDR5
Storage: 256GB (expandable via microSD)
Display: 6.67in AMOLED, FHD+ resolution, 90Hz refresh rate
Flip camera module: 64MP Sony IMX686 main wide angle camera with EIS, 12MP Sony IMX363 ultra-wide, 8MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom
Battery: 5,000mAh
Charging: 30W HyperCharge
Connectivity: USB-C, Wi-Fi 6/6e, Bluetooth 5.2, 5G, NFC

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