We may soon have a new challenger in our list of the best small smartphones. Asus has shared an invite to its launch event for the Zenfone 8 with the intriguing tagline of “Big on Performance. Compact in Size.”
The company has also created a page on its site repeating the mantra with a countdown clock to the event, which will kick off on May 12 at 10 a.m. PT or 1 p.m. ET. After the lackluster reception to the acclaimed iPhone 13 mini, we'll be intirgued to see whether Asus can make smaller smartphones appeal in the face of bigger handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S21.
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How compact is "compact?" Well, Asus has left little to the imagination, by including a screen protector with the invite with the dimensions of 148mm x 69mm (5.8 x 2.71 inches). That’s pretty small by current phone fashions, but is still a bit bigger than the iPhone 12 mini, which has screen dimensions of 131.5mm x 64.2mm (5.18 x 2.53 inches).
Even so, fans of small phones can be pretty excited by this development. Compact Android handsets have been out of fashion for some time. Indeed, it’s fascinating to note that the original Samsung Galaxy Note phablet had a 5.3in screen, which is dwarfed by almost every handset you can buy in 2021.
Where compact Android handsets do exist, they tend to be lower specced, so it’s reassuring that it seems Asus won’t be scrimping on parts here. Indeed, a Geekbench listing for an Asus phone emerged earlier this month packing the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip and a overly generous 16GB RAM, meaning the Zenfone 8 should be a match for the lightning performance of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro.
Asus Zenfone 8 outlook
Of course, quality and sales are two very different things. And it’s fair to say that while Asus is a huge name in the computing space, its entries to the smartphone world haven’t really set the world alight in terms of market share.
In that respect, it makes sense for the company to target a neglected section of the market: compact handsets with top-tier internals. But that strategy isn’t without its risks, given the well documented problems Apple has had shifting the iPhone 12 mini. Indeed, sales of the diminutive handset have apparently been so far below expectations that Apple was rumored to be discontinuing production.
But that could simply reflect a dividing line in the differing wants of iPhone and Android buyers. Asus’ gamble is that a small Android flagship can secure a sizable niche in the market, and we’ll see how likely that plan is to pay off when the company unveils the full specs of the handset on May 12.
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Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.