The never ending quest for maximum screen to body ratio spawned some very interesting design solutions in the past few years. From the infamous notch to the pop-up camera, phone manufacturers are constantly pushing the limits to offer the mythical edge-to-edge display experience.
Asus developed its own contraption to add to the wackiness of modern smartphones – the flip camera. The Zenfone 6 introduced the design in 2019 and basically, the main camera system is mounted on a motorized module that rotates 180 degrees, giving you the best selfie experience, while keeping the display free from notches, cutouts, and other eyesores.
Asus persisted with the design and also perfected it through the years – the system in the Zenfone 7 Pro was far more robust and capable. This little history lesson brings us to the Zenfone 8 Flip. Asus has decided to diversify its portfolio this year and offer a conventional Zenfone 8, while keeping the flip idea alive with the Zenfone 8… well, Flip.
This move makes sense – people tend to prefer bigger phones nowadays, and while the Zenfone 8 explores new “compact” horizons, the Flip builds upon its predecessor to expand on the four points that Asus thinks are key to great user experience – performance, battery life, an all-screen display, and a unique camera system.
And the phone delivers. It sports the latest Snapdragon 888 chipset, an ample 5,000mAh battery, the display is gorgeous and the camera system is exactly that – unique. Of course, there are no perfect things in our Universe and the Zenfone 8 Flip isn’t perfect either. It’s quite heavy, tends to overheat, and the buzzing mechanical motor in the camera system doesn’t inspire confidence in its longevity.
Nevertheless, Asus has managed to offer two unique devices this year, covering two vastly different market spaces – that of a compact and powerful, yet affordable flagship, and that of a heavyweight – literally and metaphorically – all-screen champion.
The Zenfone 8 Flip carries over lots of design elements from its predecessors. Actually, it’s almost identical to the Zenfone 7 Pro. You get the same glass sandwich with a curved back, metal frame, and a flat 2.5D Gorilla Glass on top of the display.
The metal frame is also slightly chamfered, and there’s a noticeable plastic bumper between the display and the metal frame, dampening potential shocks that can crack the screen. The rotating camera module houses three cameras and is positioned in the upper center.
Just like its smaller sibling, the Zenfone 8 Flip features a color accentuated power button, but there’s no 3.5mm audio jack as the flip mechanism takes almost all of the upper frame. Asus could’ve placed it in a different position but the Zenfone 7 Pro didn’t have it either, so it’s continuity, I guess.
Overall, the design of the Zenfone 8 Flip can be described as solid. I really liked the Zenfone 7 Pro and my only complaint was the weight. The Flip weighs exactly the same as its older brother – 230 grams. If you like heavy phones, this won’t bother you.
The rotating camera module is positioned in the center, and it looks cool, both in a closed and open state. It’s almost uncanny to look at this clean huge display with no interruptions.
Speaking of the display, it’s another Samsung-made AMOLED panel, just like the screen of the Zenfone 8, and it’s equally good. For starters, it’s quite bright, as in our test we managed to get 772 nits out of it (Asus boasts 700 nits outdoor brightness and peak maximum brightness of 1000 nits).
The 6.67-inch HDR 10+ display has a resolution of 2400×1080 pixels, and the strange numbers are a consequence of the 20:9 aspect ratio. With a pixel density of around 395 PPI, it still manages to produce sharp and clear images.
Just like the display of the Zenfone 8, this panel can be put in four different color modes, with Standard being the most accurate one. In our tests, the average Delta-E was around 2.8 which is still a good result, even though it’s not the sub-1 Delta-E marketed by Asus.
The Standard mode also produces the warmest image from the predefined modes. You can always use the Custom setting and adjust the color temperature manually, and you can add a bit of pop to the colors if that’s your thing.
The Zenfone 8 Flip display goes up to 90Hz, not as smooth as a 120Hz panel but still not too bad. Watching Netflix content with HDR support on this phone is a treat, and going back to a notched or perforated display is a technology shock of great proportions.
Low Brightness DC dimming takes care of the annoying flickering in low brightness scenarios, and there’s also an improved Always on Display mode that lets you schedule when you want it to be active and save some battery while you’re asleep for example.
Camera & Audio
The Zenfone 8 now proudly bears the Flip addition to its name. So, let’s focus on the rotating mechanism first. It’s an improved version of the stepper motor found in the Zenfone 8 Pro with better precision and improved durability.
Asus claims this motor has 2.2x more torque and it is 40% smaller compared to the system in the Zenfone 7 series. You can manually control the rotation of the module and also use predefined angles to quickly adjust the camera position. According to Asus, the Zenfone 8 Flip can endure up to 300,000 flips or 150 flips per day for more than 5 years.
Frankly, it’s a gimmick but kudos to Asus for allowing users to fiddle with the angles. In normal scenarios, you’ll probably use the camera completely closed or completely flipped-up when you’re doing selfies. You can shoot from a 90-degree position and it can be convenient but remains really situational.
Now onto the cameras. The system uses the same configuration as the Zenfone 8 but adds a telephoto camera. This means you get the same flagship-grade Sony IMX686 64MP sensor with an aperture of F1.8. The second ultrawide camera uses another sensor from Sony – the 12MP IMX363.
Numbers might mean something to photographers and geeks but I tend to stick to real-life results. You can check all the camera specs on the Zenfpne 8 Flip page, though. As with the Zenfone 8, the results are quite pleasing. You can also jump to the Zenfone 8 review and compare the shots, as the scenes are identical.
The dynamic range is good and there are lots of details in the pictures, although it was a particularly bright and sunny day during the photo shoot. Colors tend to pop out a bit too much for my personal taste and there’s a discernable difference in color tone between the main and the ultrawide camera – images turn out a bit purplish on the main camera and with a cooler blue tint on the ultrawide.
The third telephoto camera can do 3x optical zoom but I wasn’t impressed with the end results. Zoomed images turned out too soft and often lack detail and dynamic range. You can get a decent shot with this lens but it’s not on the level of the other two cameras in the module.
Obviously, the big plus in having this flip mechanism is that you can take selfies with each of the main cameras. If you fancy looking like Mr. Fantastic from Fantastic Four you can use the ultrawide camera. Or you can take a weird and uncanny close-up with the zoom lens. Jokes aside, it’s the best selfie camera in business, because it’s also the main camera system. Nothing more to say here.
The Zenfone 8 Flip can shoot videos with a resolution of up to 8K, although you’ll be perfectly fine with 4K60fps. I was really impressed with the Hyper Steady mode, sadly it’s available only when shooting in FHD, as some aggressive image cropping might be going on. When in FHD, you can also switch between the different cameras during video recording.
Software & Performance
The Zenfone 8 Flip comes equipped with the latest and fastest Qualcomm silicon – the Snapdragon 888. The synthetic benchmarks returned more or less the same results as other SD888 phones but due to the larger chassis, thermal throttling isn’t an issue. Don’t get me wrong, the phone gets hot under pressure, but this doesn’t affect the performance score.
Mobile processors are getting more and more powerful each year and it’s hard to measure the real performance benefits in a smartphone. The sheer raw power of the SD888 is probably enough to fly space shuttles but in normal day-to-day use, you won’t feel much of a difference compared to any modern flagship.
Everything works smooth and there’s no stutter or lag. One thing that can make your phone feel even faster is the ability to control the speed of interface animations. This option is hidden on normal Android phones but Asus has decided to take it out of the shadows and give it to you. Turning off interface animations feels like everything happens instantaneously, the trade-off being the lack of any pretty transition effects.
The Zenfone 8 Flip comes with 8GB of RAM and 128/256GB of storage but the good news is that the SD card slot is alive and kicking – offering support for 2TB cards, so storage isn’t really a problem here.
The ZenUI8 is the custom software that Asus has put on top of Android 11, and it works pretty well. It’s close to stock Android in looks and feel but offers deeper customization, nice little features like the Audio Wizard and the battery control center, as well as, of course – Game Genie.
The Zenfone 8 Flip is absolutely capable to be a dedicated gaming phone. You have the hardware power, the software needed, and the beautiful big AMOLED screen. It’s not a ROG phone, and there are no fancy active cooling systems and gaming controllers but still, gaming on a 6.67-inch clean AMOLED screen is a treat. The 200Hz touch sampling rate and the 1ms response time of the display also help with that.
The battery inside the Zenfone 8 Flip has an ample 5,000 mAh capacity. The results from our battery tests are quite interesting. Although the battery capacity is substantially bigger than the Zenfone 8, the Flip produces somewhat similar results, and even lags behind in the YouTube test.
I ran it several times just to make sure, but the result was pretty much the same. The Zenfone 8 Flip lasted 8 hours playing YouTube videos, while its smaller sibling managed to stay alive for more than 11 hours. Yes, the Flip has a bigger screen but still, it’s a mind-boggling result.
On the other hand, the phone finished our gaming test with flying colors, managing 10+ hours of gaming time in 60Hz mode. The browsing time was okay-ish, so at the end of the day, it’s a mixed bag.
Using the phone outside of benchmark and tests, you can get two full days, but you can also drain the battery for less than 24 hours if you really put your heart into it. I guess it all depends on the use scenario – with the SD888 and all the different display and battery modes, your mileage can vary and by a lot.
There’s a 30W fast charger in the box and it charges the big 5,000 battery in just a hair under 2 hours. Nothing to write home about but that’s the price to pay for such a large battery. Another price that’s been paid is wireless charging. It’s absent on the Zenfone 8 Flip – Asus is sticking with its no-wireless-charging policy, at least for now.
Best Asus Zenfone 8 Flip alternatives
There aren’t many phones out there that can offer the Zenfone 8 Flip package at the moment. We’re talking about an all-display experience with the best selfie camera in the business, and all this coupled with the latest and fastest Qualcomm chipset.
Apart from the Oppos and Vivos that can give you the same edge-to-edge display, there are only a handful of options available. There’s the OnePlus 7T Pro with its pop-up camera but it’s quite old now and the selfie camera is not as good. Then you can get a Samsung A80 if you find one, this one has a good camera package but it’s underpowered and 2 years old.
Actually, the real alternative here is the previous model – the Zenfone 7/Pro. It offers pretty much the same experience, the design is similar, the size and weight are practically identical too. If you like big and heavy phones, you can check out the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, although its display is spoiled by a cutout, despite having a secondary selfie display in the camera bump.
So there you have it. The Asus Zenfone 8 Flip retails for 799 Euros (US prices to be announced soon), and it’s not the cheapest phone out there, for sure. Nevertheless, it offers a unique experience that you just can’t have with other devices.