The ASUS ZenPad 3 8.0 is a new iPad Mini competitor with pretty good specs, an 8 inch display and integrated 4G LTE for a relatively cheap price. It is the smaller brother of the ASUS ZenPad 3S 10, which got very good results in my review. How good is the ZenPad 3 8.0? That’s what we want to find out with this tablet test.
Design: Plastic instead of metal
While ASUS used a full metal body with the 10 inch version, the ZenPad 3 8.0 is completely made out of plastic – even though the bezel looks a bit like aluminum. On the back there is a leather pattern, which actually looks quite nice and gives you a good grip. Even though everything is made out of plastic the build quality is pretty good. It’s just 7,57mm thin and weighs around 320g.
On the bottom there are a microphone and a USB Type C port which is pretty rare on a tablet right now. On the right side are the power button, volume controls and on the other side are slots for your SIM card and the MicroSD card. On the top sits an audio port.
The cameras on the back and front have a resolution of 8 and 2 megapixel. Obviously they are not the best but quite usable for snapshots. Two speakers are positioned in the front and the quality is good, but not the best. I expected more from speakers with DTS HD-Premium-Sound.
Display: A 4:3 Design
The IPS display is 8 inches and has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 which is identical to the resolution of the iPad Mini and Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0. Like those two the aspect ratio is 4:3 which is perfect for reading books or browsing the web. It’s not ideal for watching movies or tv shows though since they are often shot in a 16:9 format and you have to live with big black bezels.
Over all I like the display a lot. For 8 inches the resolution is high enough so that text and images look very sharp. It’s quite bright as well and the viewing angles are good.
Compared to the Huawei MediaPad M3 the display looks a bit yellow though, it is quite warm. In the settings you can adjust the color a bit but not as much as I would like. I only noticed it when comparing these two though. Otherwise I would have never suspected a difference in color temperature.
ASUS is not offering an active stylus like they do for the ZenPad 3S 10.
Hardware and Performance
Inside the ZenPad 3 8.0 runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 which is a middleclass hexa core CPU made up of two fast 1.8GHz Cortex A72 cores and four 1.2GHz Cortex A53 cores. Beside those sit 2GB of RAM and an internal storage of 16GB. There’s also a version with 4GB and 32GB which does not seem out yet anywhere though.
Further it supports WiFi, Bluetooth, LTE 4G and GPS.
While the Snapdragon 650 is not the fastest chip out there the performance is good enough for most apps and games. I could watch YouTube and browse the web in Chrome very smoothly. I had no problems playing games like Modern Combat 5 or Dead Trigger 2. Even Asphalt 8 Airborne runs very good but there can occure some minor lags from time to time.
Compared to more high-end tablets like the MediaPad M3, the loading times of games and levels inside the games are noticeably longer. That’s probably because of the smaller RAM. It might not be as pronounced with the 4GB RAM version.
A performance difference is also noticeable in benchmarks like Geekbench 4 and AnTuTu. In Geekbench 4 the ZenPad 3 8.0 gets 1477 points in the single core test and 2696 points in the multi core test. On AnTuTu it gets a result of almost 74000. So in benchmarks it’s slower than the ZenPad 3S 10 and MediaPad M3 but faster than the Galaxy Tab S2 8.0.
Marshmallow and ZenUI
On the ZenPad 3 8.0 runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow and as usual on top of it sits the ZenUI, the own interface from ASUS. With that the design of the operating system is customized quite a bit and there are a lot of apps preinstalled. We know them from previous devices already – preinstalled are apps like SuperNote for taking notes, a weather and a do it later app. I usually don’t use the preinstalled apps but you can only deactivate and not remove them completely.
What’s quite usefull is the Mobile ASUS Manager which gives you an overview over your data usage, you can control which apps are allowed to send you notifications or you can configure the energy modes to save battery life. There’s a phone app as well so you could replace your phone with this tablet. Headphones would be useful when doing so.
By now ASUS has released an update to Marshmallow for the first generation of ZenPads. So it is possible that the ZenPad 3 8.0 will get an update to Android 7.0 Nougat in the future. The company did not make an official announcement yet though.
The battery has a capacity of 4680mAh and should last for a runtime of up to 11 hours according to the manufacture. And the battery life is quite good indeed, even compared to a lot of competitors. In my battery test the ZenPad 3 8.0 got a runtime of these 11 hours.
I always do the same battery test. I’m letting a 720p HD video run until the battery goes dead. Brightness is always set to 50 percent, the sound is shut off, WiFi is activated and there are no social networks like Facebook or Twitter installed which would send constant notifications. From time to time there are notifications coming in from Gmail though.
ZenPad 3 8.0 review: Final remarks
In my opinion the ASUS ZenPad 3 8.0 is a very good tablet. It’s a bit sad though that it’s completely build out of plastic. The display, battery life and performance are very good for it’s price though. Especially because LTE 4G seems to be integrated in all versions. If you’re looking for a solid android tablet for under 300$ including mobile internet then you’ll probably be very happy with this tablet.
It is not the best tablet out there though. The MediaPad M3 for example has a nicer build quality and the performance is noticeably better. But, as you might expect, it is more expensive.
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