Asus ZenPad S 8.0 Z580CA Review (4GB/64GB)
The new ZenPad S 8.0 family introduces a new breed of premium Android tablets that inherited a lot of the ZenFone design philosophy. While we already reviewed the low-end variant of the ZenPad S 8.0 before (which we bought from the US), official units arrived this month with the 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage.
Along with the box of the ZenPad S, there’s also another thinner box that includes the Zen Clutch which is case cover for the ZenPad, and doubles as a multi-angular stand for the tablet.
Design and Construction.
The ZenPad S 8.0 is one of the 3 sub-families of the ZenPad line (along with the ZenPad C and ZenPad S 7.0) which incorporates top hardware configuration in a premium build. The biggest claim to fame of the ZenPad S 8.0 is having the world’s first 4GB of RAM, following the same strategy as the ZenFone 2.
At 6.6mm, the ZenPad S 8.0 is among the thinnest tablets around. It’s as thin as the Samsung Tab S 8.0 and perhaps that was Samsung’s inspiration (even the nomenclature is strikingly similar).
However, Asus drove it up a notch when it created a two-layer back panel that is crafted from brushed aluminum complemented with faux-leather finish. This provides it with a premium look but with practical use as the leatherette cover adds texture and better grip when held with one hand.
In the portrait orientation, the power button and volume controls are found on the right side. The 3.5mm audio port is up top while the USB TYpe-C port for charging is at the bottom. For the low-end variant of the ZenPad S 8.0, they used the traditional micro-USB port but the higher-end variants already have the USB Type-C port. This means faster file transfers and charging but you will need to bring along the Type-C charging cable all the time.
Along the leather-clad corner at the back (accessible on the left side as well) is the microSD card slot which supports up to 128GB of extra storage. A huge Asus logo is carved in the middle with the metal back getting a criss-crossed brushed pattern.
At the front is the Gorilla Glass 3 panel that covers the entire section, a 2MP front-camera on the upper section and a large Asus logo at the bottom corner. A thin silver trimming outlines the outer corners of the tablet although we found out that even a little accidental bump can actually cause the paint to chip off easily.
The tablet comes with an 8-inch diagonal display with a 4:3 aspect ratio that is similar to the iPad Mini. Screen resolution is pretty high at 2048 x 1536 pixels (320ppi) which pretty close to the pixel density of the iPad Mini Retina.
The IPS display is clean and crisp, images pop out and colors are very accurate. The high resolution can sometimes affect performance of the tablet but for the most part, navigation and UI animations are smooth and fluid thanks to the PowerVR G6430 GPU that powers the device.
The screen is very reflective, even in indoors, and we think the display can use higher brightness level. Outdoor visibility is almost impossible. The display has 74% screen-to-body ratio which is among the highest we’ve seen in a tablet so far.
Camera and Multimedia.
The ZenPad comes with a native AudioWizard apps that you can use to configure the sound profile of the tablet based on the type of media you are playing – movie, music, gaming or voice. You can set the bass level as well as the treble, manually set the EQ or activate dialog enhancement.
The ZenPad S 8.0 also features DTS-HD Premium Sound and SonicMaster technology which is pretty evident when playing music and movies. Suffice to say, the ZenPad S 8.0 has one of the best speakers in any tablet we’ve reviewed in years.
The 5-megapixel rear camera has a fixed focus and takes mediocre to decent photos. Videos are decent and can be very shaky since there’s no image stabilization of any kind.
OS, Apps and UI.
The simple and clean ZenUI on the ZenPad is very similar to the one we are already familiar with in the ZenFone although there are a few adjustments made which are more useful in tablet mode.
We liked the auto-sort function of the ZenUI which figures out what type of app you just downloaded and installed then adds them automatically to pre-existing folders.
The ZenUI comes with nice features such as ZenMotion which gives you option for Touch Gestures that automatically launch apps and functions from the off screen by merely drawing a gesture (or letter) on the display. We first saw this very same features in the Color OS of Oppo. It also includes double-tap to wake or sleep. Other motion gestures include shake-twice to screenshot from any app.
Performance and Benchmarks.
Just like the ZenFone, the ZenPad’s single biggest claim to fame is having the world’s first 4GB of RAM in tablet. This allows it to open dozens of apps and windows at the same time without directly sacrificing performance.
The ZenPad scored a 6,152 on PCMark’s Work Performance which is actually pretty good but Antutu Benchmark only gave it a decent score of 46,483.
The scores are significantly better compared to the 2GB variant we tested a couple months back.
Connectivity and Battery Life.
The ZenPad S 8.0 comes with the basic connectivity options for a tablet. There’s WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and Miracast. It is missing NFC connectivity although we were not really expecting it to have one. The USB Type-C port offers better charging and data transfer performance but you will have to make sure to bring it all the time.
In our standard battery benchmark, the ZenPad managed to run for 7.5 hours in a loop of video playback at 50% brightness and 0% volume. However, the tablet only managed to last 6 hours and 37 minutes using PCMark Battery Test which is significantly better than the 2GB variant we reviewed earlier (4 hours and 49 minutes).
Even during heavy continuous usage, we did not experience the device to become to hot to the touch. A section of the metallic back would become warm but it’s tolerable and would not last very long. Perhaps the low-power processor and mostly metallic body helped especially with heat dissipation.
The ZenPad S 8.0 is, without a doubt, the best and more beautiful yet affordable Android tablet Asus has ever made even beating the ones they made for the Google Nexus program in terms of design and performance.
Perhaps our only problem with the tablet is the transition to the USB Type-C port. It’s a step forward but something that is currently limiting due to compatibility and availability of 3rd-party chargers.
Asus certainly put a lot of effort and value into this offering – great design and good performance packaged at an affordable price point. Asus learned a lot in their success with the ZenFone line and we believe they will have the same success with the ZenPad.
ASUS Zenpad S 8 (Z580CA) specs:
8.0-inch QXGA IPS display @ 2048 x 1536 pixels, 320ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Intel Atom Z3580 2.33GHz quad-core processor
PowerVR G6430 GPU
4GB LPDDR3 RAM
64GB internal storage
up to 128GB via microSD card
100GB of Google Drive space for 2 years
5MP rear camera
2MP front-facing camera
3950mAh Li-Ion battery
Android 5.1 Lollipop
203.2 x 134.5 x 6.9mm (dimensions)
317 grams (weight)
The Asus ZenPad S 8.0 has been released in the Philippines with the 4GB/64GB variant retailing for Php16,995.
What we liked about it:
* Impressive display quality
* Very nice design and build quality
* Great performance
* Generous amount of RAM
* Large internal storage
What we did not like:
* Average battery life
* Poor camera performance