Asus Zenfone 8 vs Sony Xperia 5 III: What’s the difference?

(Pocket-lint) – When it comes to compact phones with plenty of power, there aren’t a huge number of choices in the Android space. Sony has long operated in this area, offering a compact version, with the Xperia 5 III being the latest model in this range. 

Asus has joined the fray with the Zenfone 8, taking its phones in a different direction and wanting to offer a compact powerhouse of its own. Here’s how the two phones compare.

Design

  • Zenfone 8: 148 x 68.5 x 8.9mm, 169g
  • Xperia 5 III: 157 x 68 x 8.2mm, 168g

Sony’s Xperia 5 III will look familiar, because it follows similiar design lines as previous models, most notably defined by the 21:9 display, meaning it’s a tall handset. Well, tall for something that’s compact. 

It’s almost 1cm taller than the Zenfone 8, while these phones are otherwise a similar width, so theyt are equally easy to grip. Asus has the advantage in that you’re more likely to be able to reach the top of the phone, but Sony Mobile’s counter argument would be that it’s offering you more screen space without increasing the width, an argument that has merits. 

Sony has a flatter design, with Asus using curves to the rear of the phone; we think Sony’s device looks more interesting, but that comes down to personal preference. Both have IP65/68 water protection which is a real benefit, but Asus uses Gorilla Glass Victus while Sony has Gorilla Glass 6 – so Asus’ device might have greater scratch resistance. 

Both come in at the same weight, but Sony’s phone is a little slimmer.

Display

  • Zenfone 8: 5.9-inch, AMOLED, 2400 x 1080, HDR, 120Hz
  • Xperia 5 III: 6.1-inch, OLED, 2520 x 1080, HDR, 120Hz

Both these phones feature and AMOLED display, both have Full HD+ resolutions, but the Sony phone is taller, so it offers 6.1-inches of screen space compared to 5.9-inches on the Zenfone. 

The aspect is the big difference with a 21:9 aspect on the Sony deivce making it a little more distinct. Reletively Sony packs in a few more pixels with a pixel density of 449ppi compared to the Zenfone’s 446ppi which is essentially the same. 

Both phones support HDR, both also claim really accurate displays and both offer 120Hz refresh rates. There’s not going to be much to pick technically between these displays – again, it’s whether you want that taller Sony screen.

Hardware and specs

  • Zenfone 8: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, 8-16GB RAM, 128-256GB strorage, 4000mAh
  • Xperia 5 III: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, 8GB RAM, 128-256GB storage, 4500mAh

Both these phones offer the same core hardare, with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G delivering the latest power. Both start at 8GB RAM, but Asus offers up to 16GB (depending on the region). That means both will offer 5G – and the performance of these phones should be similar. In our testing, we’ve noted that the Zenfone 8 gets pretty hot when gaming – we’ve not been able to test the Xperia 5 III yet, but this wasn’t a problem we encountered on the Xperia 5 II. 

Both also come with 128 or 256GB options, but the Xperia 5 III offers microSD expansion up to 1TB, so might be the better device for those who crave physical storage.

Sony has the advantage when it comes to battery capacity, with a 4500mAh battery and 30W charging. The Asus comes in with a 4000mAh battery and 30W charging, so it’s likely that Sony will offer slightly longer endurance – but Sony also offers wireless charging which Asus doesn’t.

Both phones have a 3.5mm headphone socket and stereo speakers.

Camera

  • Zenfone 8: Douple rear camera
    • Main: 64MP, 1/1.7in, f/1.8, 0.8μm
    • Ultra-wide: 12MP, 1/2.55in, f/2.2, 1.4μm
    • Selfie: 12MP, 1/2.93in, f/2.2, 1.22μm
  • Xperia 5 III: Triple rear camera
    • Main: 12MP, 1/2.6in, f/2.2
    • Ultra wide: 12MP, 1/1.7in, f/1.7
    • Telephoto: 12MP, 1/2.9in, f/2.3-f/2.8
    • Selfie: 8MP , 1/4in, f/2.0

Wading through the mass of camera specs, the big difference is that Asus offers 8K video recording on the Zenfone 8, thanks to that 64-megapixel main sensor, while Sony manages to offer a whole additional camera – and it’s a periscope-type telephoto, offering lossless zoom at 3x and 4.4x thanks to the variable focal length in the lense.

That gives Sony an immediate advantage here: it’s offering a wider range of cameras and lenses – and although we’ve not seen the performance from that camera, just offering an optical telephoto will deliver images that Asus won’t be able to match on quality.

Asus’ play comes from video, promising 8K video which Sony can’t match. Both offer 4K at up to 120fps for slow motion, while Sony also offers HDR video capture at 4K. 

From the spec sheet it’s impossible to judge the performance of the cameras, with Asus putting in a good showing from what we’ve seen from it so far. But Sony is likely to emerge as the favoured model because of the additional zoom.

Price and availability

  • Zenfone 8: from £599/€599
  • Xperia 5 III: TBC

The prices aren’t known for all models, but the Zenfone 8 will start from 3/€599, which is likely to be cheaper than Sony – who hasn’t confirmed the pricing of the Xperia 5 III. The 16/256GB version will cost £699.

The Sony phone will be available in summer 2021, and the Zenfone 8 will be available in May 2021.

Conclusion

Both these phones sit in the compact phone space and share a lot in common: both have similiar core hardware, and the same power and both are likely to offer a similar experinece from Android 11 so in normal day-to-day use, there’s probably little between them. 

Both come well packaged, with the Sony the more interesting phone to look at (although you may disagree), but the Zenfone 8 is shorter, so some might prefer it from a usability point of view. Technically the displays are closely matched, the only real difference being the aspect – with Sony’s 21:9 being more unique, but leading to a taller phone. 

Sony is expected to have the longer battery life thanks the physically larger cell, while it also packs in a variable focal length periscope zoom on the rear, so will offer a range of photography choices that the Zenfone 8 can’t match – and that’s likely to come at a cost, with Sony expected to have a higher price. 

As a daily driver, the Zenfone 8 looks like a great choice for those wanting something compact and not too expensive – but Sony’s display might be preferred by those who want to watch more movies or play more games.

Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Britta O’Boyle.





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