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Asus 8z Review: Compact, Powerful and Priced Right

Asus 8z comes in two colours. (Image: Abhik S/ News18)

Asus 8z comes in two colours. (Image: Abhik S/ News18)

Asus 8z review: Priced at Rs 42,999, can the new Asus smartphone with 5.9-inch screen trump competitors?

The Asus 8z is a bold smartphone from Asus, which is known for high-end gaming laptops and smartphones. It comes with a 5.9-inch screen and Qualcomm’s erstwhile flagship Snapdragon 888 that still powers many premium smartphones like Galaxy Z Fold 3, the OnePlus 9 series, and more. Due to its small, compact form factor, many even called it ‘the iPhone 12/13 mini’ of the Android world. The analogy is partly accurate since the Asus 8z is still a thick device that measures 8.9mm. The iPhone 13 mini, on the other hand, features a relatively smaller 5.4-inch display, but it is far slimmer at 7.65mm. If we keep these measurements aside, Asus is clever enough to know that there still exists a market for compact smartphones.

We received the Black colour model for review, and customers can choose the silver colour variant. The phone has a sole 8GB RAM and 128GB storage variant that costs Rs 42,999 on Flipkart. In case you’re wondering, the phone’s direct competitor, the iPhone 13 mini, costs Rs 64,900 for the same storage variant.

Asus 8z design and display: The Asus 8z comes with a no-frills design, and the phone looks quite banal. That does not mean it looks bad by any metric, but it certainly depends on customers on what they prefer. If your priority is a minimalist design that doesn’t demand too much attention – the Asus 8z might be the answer to the question.

(Image: Abhik Sengupta / News18)

That being said, we get a 5.9-inch screen with Corning’s high-end Victus glass protection, and the back panel has Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The rims are made of aluminium, as you’d expect from a smartphone above Rs 40K-mark. Due to its compact form factor, the rear camera module looks extra small. Similarly, the front camera inside the hole-punch cutout on the left has an inexplicable ring that is quite distracting. However, I like the teal power button that adds a bit of life to the overall design. The Asus 8z is among the rarest flagship smartphones to include a 3.5mm audio jack.

(Image: Abhik Sengupta / News18)

Overall, the Asus 8z feels quite comfortable in your palm and at times, you even forget it is in your pocket. If you’re switching from a smartphone with a 6.1-inch screen or above, it may take some weeks to get used to the Asus 8z. And if you’re not a fan of the smooth finish on the back, the packaging includes a hard protective case with rough finish for a better grip.

Motorola Edge 30 Pro, Asus 8z and iPhone 7. (Image: Abhik Sengupta / News18)

The overall display performance is also satisfactory, but there’s a big problem. Although you won’t be disappointed while watching videos on OTT platforms, thanks to the 120Hz Full-HD+ AMOLED display, the typing experience will take a long time to get used to.

Due to my profession, I review new smartphones almost every month, and this is the first time in a very long time that I have got a device with a display smaller than 6 inches. I can tolerate watching movies on a small screen, but the typing experience on a small keyboard pad isn’t comfortable. However, if you’re upgrading from a small device already, you notice too much difference.

(Image: Abhik Sengupta / News18)

The display settings will also offer lots of options such as adaptive brightness, night light, smart screen, always-on panel, and more. The under-display scanner and face ID are responsive, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset. The smaller screen results in higher PPI (pixels per inch), leading to a vibrant viewing experience.

Asus 8z performance: It is no secret that Asus is behind the curve launching this smartphone in India when brands are slowly introducing Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-powered devices. However, the Snapdragon 888 remains a powerful chipset and is capable of handling demanding tasks. But the Snapdragon 888 isn’t perfect, nor is the Asus 8z, and the device heats up considerably when the load is heavy. The heating issues were easily noticeable while gaming, charging, and watching long videos.

That does not mean the performance will start lagging; however, overheating could lead to more battery consumption, which we’ll cover in a bit. Regular customers who want to check social media or use other daily apps will also notice slight heating, but apps will run smoothly.

The Asus 8z scored 1,104 points during Geekbench’s single-core CPU test and 3,146 points in the multi-core test. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-powered Motorola Edge 30 Pro that I reviewed recently had scored 1,186 points on the single-core test and 3,488 points on the multi-core test. It somewhat survived 3D Mark’s WildLife Extreme Stress Test, where the internal temperature rose from 35 degrees to 47 degrees. The highest framerate it achieved was 11fps, and the best loop score was 1,529.

If we keep the numbers aside, the phone mostly runs without any stutters and perhaps the best part is the clean Android experience. We get very little bloatware, and the Asus 8z is not affected by spammy notifications. We get Android 12, which also brings considerable privacy updates like LED indicators for the video camera and mic security, intuitive themes, and more.

Asus 8z Cameras: The Asus 8z packs a dual rear camera setup that houses a 64-megapixel Sony IMX686 sensor with OIS (optical image stabilisation) and a 12-megapixel Sony IMX363 ultra-wide sensor with 113-degree FOV. At the front, we get a 12-megapixel Sony IMX663 that can record 4K videos at 30fps. Additionally, the primary camera can shoot 8K videos with electronic image stabilisation (EIS), and the ultra-wide-angle camera offers 4K at 60fps recording. The good part is the smartphone delivers a reliable camera performance as the spec sheet promises.

Most photos that we clicked during the daytime collected natural colours, and the software did not add warmer tones that some users may like. I am generally a fan of natural colours as I can always edit the images as per my need later. Additionally, the OIS captures significant details in daylight. Night photography and videos via the dual rear cameras were equally good, and more users will find nothing to complain about.

(Image: Abhik Sengupta / News18)
(Image: Abhik Sengupta / News18)

However, the 12-megapixel front camera on the Asus 8z is substandard in low light conditions, as most images were highlighted with a strange softness. The camera AI likely does this to remove grains from images, but I am sure many would not enjoy it.

(Image: Abhik Sengupta / News18)

Asus 8z Battery: The Asus 8z packs a 4,000mAh battery, which also explains the chunky size of the smartphone. It takes roughly an hour and ten minutes to fully charge with the bundled 30W charger that includes a USB-C port. Overall, the battery performance gets a mixed bag of reviews – depending on how you use the device. I tend to be a heavy user with maximum refresh rate and brightness enabled. I also kept the always-on panel feature that consumes more battery. Despite all this, the phone delivered roughly full-day backup, but I did need to charge it late at night if I played games in the daytime. I noticed a 7 percent drop while demanding titles like Pokemon Unite.

Naturally, if you keep things standard (60Hz refresh rate, always-on mode disabled), the battery life of the Asus 8z will extend. The Settings app will also give more control to preserve battery health. However, users must note that there’s no wireless charging that you’d expect from a flagship device.

Asus 8z Verdict: Overall, the Asus 8z does feel like a flagship smartphone, and we also get the latest connectivity options like Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 with support for multiple codecs. It is also 5G enabled (Dual SIM), so that’s a plus point. The display and camera performance is highly satisfactory, and the clean Android 12 UI makes it very delightful to use.

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However, the only thing to keep in mind is the size of the smartphone that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. We all spend too much time on our phones, and a large screen does make a huge difference when it comes to reading or viewing content. A small 5.9-inch screen will not solve that problem but will likely make you desperate to upgrade. But the Asus 8z will not disappoint if you’re a fan of small screens and compact build. I also truly believe the smartphone is ideal for elderly customers who may not want to use such a premium device right now, but it will be ready for all tasks that they might want to try with time.

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first published:March 17, 2022, 13:34 IST