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Small phone lovers rejoice: The Asus Zenfone 8 is a fantastic option

For those of us who remember the early days of smartphones, “handsets” were fairly small devices that worked great for one-handed use. But thanks to burgeoning specs and features—as well as user demand for more screen real estate—phones have become larger and larger, and now smaller options are hard to find. Into this landscape walks Asus and its Zenfone 8, the company’s latest mainstream flagship device. This sub-6-inch phone doesn’t sacrifice power for size, and it’s a fantastic option for small phone lovers.

Asus Zenfone 8 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Left to right: Asus Zenfone 8, Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate, and Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra.

At PCWorld we know Asus more for its laptops and PC hardware components, but its phone division has been making some very strong devices for many years now. In fact, a couple of months ago, Asus released the ROG Phone 5, which I consider to be the one of the best “gaming phones” available. The Zenfone line is aimed more at mainstream users, and despite having a small marketshare worldwide, it’s garnered a nice following.

For the Zenfone 8, Asus wanted to make “the ultimate compact Android phone,” aiming it at the small phone market that has been traditionally underserved. And, wow, did they swing for the fences. The 5.9-inch FHD+ AMOLED Samsung panel runs up to 120Hz and has a peak max brightness of 1100 nits. Display nerds will also enjoy hardcore specs like 112 percent DCI-P3 and Delta-E<1 for super accurate colors. This display is beautiful in every environment and a real treat for small phone lovers.

Asus Zenfone 8 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Inside the Zenfone 8 is the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G chip paired with up to 16GB or LPDDR5 RAM and up to 256GB of UFS3.1 SSD and cooled via heat-pipe. Comparing Zenfone 8 to my time with the ROG Phone 5 sporting similar specs, I found the mainstream phone to be just as snappy and responsive. Nothing was lacking for power, and I was super impressed with its performance in both normal and heavy tasks, like gaming. The phone did get a bit hotter under heavier workloads than the ROG Phone 5, but with the size reduction that didn’t surprise me and it wasn’t a serious problem.

The 4000mAh battery probably contributed to that heat as well, because that’s a huge battery to put in a phone. But despite the power and size, the battery did get me through a full day of use with the display refresh rate set to auto. The 30W Hypercharge system—which Asus claims is the “most powerful charger of any phone below 6 inches”—helps to top off the phone in an emergency. 

Asus Zenfone 8 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

More than enough screen to read articles.

When it comes to software, ZenUI 8 is based off Android 11 and sticks pretty damn close to stock but with some smart improvements. Added features are all smart additions and help to get the most out of this hardware: Battery care options are plentiful; there’s some extra sound tuning for more pleasing audio out of the dual speakers; and the same feature-rich Game Genie software found on the ROG Phone 5 can be used to configure your gaming experience.

All of these features and more are easy to navigate within the settings and are powerful additions to Android, but ZenUI 8 is not without its quirks. I had problems using my third party launcher with the newer swipe navigation system, and saw some odd flash frames when exiting apps. With a bit more ironing out, ZenUI would easily become my custom Android OS of choice. 

Asus Zenfone 8 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

One-handed mode ensures even the smallest hands can reach the top.

Probably the weakest part of the Zenfone 8 is the design—it’s very basic and uninspiring. This doesn’t bug me too much, though, as the phone will most likely live in a case, and Asus’ focus is more on one-handed usability rather than flashy aesthetics. Asus said they put a lot of time and research into finding the best blend of height and width to support single-handed use, and here they hit the nail on the head.

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Mac users, rejoice — CrossOver for Mac runs all those Windows apps right on your Apple computer

TLDR: With CrossOver for Mac, Windows apps and other software runs on Mac computers natively without all usual compatibility problems.

There are Coke people and there are Pepsi people. There are people who roll the toilet paper forward over the top of the tube and those who let it fall behind the tube. Then, there are Windows people and Mac people. And it’s among the absolute bitterest of divides.

Mac people tout the heightened security and proprietary nature of Apple that make Macs run like a dream. Meanwhile, Windows people are all about the versatility, customization and lower prices. Oh yeah…and there are a lot more apps available for Windows than for the Mac.

That’s one that still really sticks in Mac users’ craw. Especially if you’re a Mac user at home, but a Windows user at work. Too often, vital software used on a Windows machine just won’t work on the Mac. Well, unless you’re using CrossOver for Mac ($39.99 for a Pro license, 33 percent off, from TNW Deals), the Rosetta Stone of compatibility software.

For over 10 years, CrossOver has been a favorite of most Mac users, effectively translating all the commands in a piece of Windows software into Mac commands so that Windows app can run seamlessly on a Mac without the use of an emulator.

With single-click installation, CrossOver is up and running — and you won’t have to reboot your Mac every time you try to run a Windows app. And CrossOver knows no bounds, working to run everything from productivity software to utility programs to games, all without any of the lag common when trying to run Windows programs with an emulator. Apps run like they were written for the Mac and you don’t even have to have a Windows license to make it all work.

If you work in a Windows workplace using apps like the Office 365 suite, CrossOver can let you work on all those documents right on your Mac at home with zero problems. While CrossOver can’t handle every Windows app, there are still literally hundreds of Windows apps that run like a dream on a Mac all because of CrossOver.

Right now, a Pro license for CrossOver for Mac, a $59 value, is available now at almost $20 off, down to only $39.99. That license includes a year of Pro service, featuring minor software upgrades and full support throughout your 12 month subscription. Or you can just get CrossOver for Mac without the upgrades or support for $19.99, almost 50 percent off the regular price.

Prices are subject to change.

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