|Slow performance, with no real difference to the cheaper AS5
|Biometric fingerprint unlock
|Doesn’t compare well to other phones in its price range
|Buy the Aspera AS8!
|Buy On Amazon
Aspera Mobile’s latest low-cost mobile phone, the Aspera AS8 has the looks of a phone that should cost a fair amount more than its actual $149 price point. Many cheap phones – such as the AS8’s recently-reviewed stablemate the Aspera AS5 – tend towards plain style, but the Aspera AS8 manages to look a little bit nicer than that.
That’s a big plus, as is the massive improvement in battery life compared to the AS5, but with that slightly higher price comes competition from other brands that doesn’t make the Aspera AS8 look quite as compelling as it might.
It’s still a good value phone that should be considered if you need some of its additional features such as NFC or biometric security – but equally you can do a little better in performance terms even at this low price.
The Aspera AS8 is built around a 6.3 inch HD+ (1480×720) IPS display with moderate sized bezels and a teardrop notch for the front-facing camera. I say moderate, because I’ve tested the Aspera AS8 out directly after reviewing the Aspera AS5, and that phone had big thick chunky bezels.
The larger display on the Aspera AS8 does a good job of justifying its higher price relative to the AS5 straight off the bat, because it’s a much more pleasant experience for most everyday smartphone uses, such as web page scrolling or social media.
Aspera AS5 review
I criticised the Aspera AS5 for its incredibly generic reference style design, but that’s not an issue for the Aspera AS8. You only get a single colour choice, in Mint Green. Still, that’s a step up from basic black, and it gives the Aspera AS8 a rather nice style tone. At 190 grams it’s relatively light for a phone of its size, too.
Controls are minimalistic with volume and power buttons on the right hand side and USB-C power and headphone jack at the base. Aspera does include a set of wired headphones that somewhat mimic the style of the buds you used to get with iPhones… only not quite as nice. They’re the type that will do in an absolute pinch, but audio quality is not high here, as you might expect at this price point.
The Aspera AS8 also manages to look a bit more expensive than it is thanks to two large circular lenses located at the back, giving the illusion that this might be a slightly higher-end camera phone than its price might suggest.
See the word “illusion” above? It’s there for a reason, because despite those dual lenses, this is absolutely the kind of camera phone you might expect for just $149. At the rear there’s a primary 8MP sensor, with a secondary 0.8MP sensor.
No, that’s not a typo, because while it looks big, the secondary sensor is just a simple focusing lens – and not really a fast one at that.
For selfie purposes, you’ll be shooting with 5MP front sensor, located in a centrally mounted teardrop style notch.
It’s always the case with these cheaper phones that you have to temper your expectations. As a basic happy snapper kind of camera, the Aspera AS8 is OK at best, but you’ll need a fair amount of patience with shooting and with its very slow camera app. Expect some washed out colours, a little grain in lower light and blurring if there’s much action — but then this is very much expected at this price point for budget smartphones.
Just switching between modes is a chore in itself, so if you’re hoping to get that quick action shot of your delightful grandchildren (or whatever), you’re probably going to miss it.
Aspera AS8 Sample Photos
The Aspera AS8 advertises itself as running on a “1.6 GHz octa-core processor” with no other details provided. As per CPU-Z, it would appear to be the exact same Unisoc 9863A as found in the cheaper Aspera AS5.
That’s an interesting choice to save build costs, partly because the 9863A is an older chip, but mostly because there are other competitors at this price point that offer better underlying specifications that you could buy.
With just 2GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage, the Aspera AS8 is strictly in Android Go territory, with Android Go 13 preinstalled. During my review period in August/September it was only running the May 2023 security update, which isn’t great.
Android Go means that Geekbench 6 won’t run by developer decree, but 3DMark will. I wouldn’t expect huge scores out of the Aspera AS8 in this respect, because this is still a $149 phone, but what’s more interesting here is how it compares to similarly priced handsets, such as the Motorola Moto e13. Here’s how it compares using 3DMark Slingshot Extreme:
None of these phones are gaming powerhouses – frankly, they’ll run Candy Crush quite slowly too – but there’s quite the performance gulf there between Motorola’s similarly priced effort and the Aspera AS8.
Android Go is still a very nice, quite capable OS for basic Android functions, though it can be a bit hit and miss as to whether Google Play will permit specific other Android apps to install.
That’s not the Aspera AS8’s fault to be clear; theoretically an Android Go phone could install any full Android app – albeit slowly – but developers can limit access around specific software or hardware features, and this seems to be happening more with Android apps and Go phones in my experience.
Not that it’s all doom and gloom for the AS8, because it does include a few key features that do distinctly add to its value. For a start, it’s NFC-enabled, which isn’t super common in the true budget space. NFC is the technology that enables contactless payments, so you could set the Aspera AS8 as your tap and go payment card for shopping or selected public transport services.
It’s also got a fingerprint reader, located on the back in a circular indent next to the camera lenses. It worked quite well during my testing, and comparatively neither the AS5 or Moto e13 have any biometrics at all.
Motorola Moto e13 Review
The Aspera AS8, like the AS5 features a removable battery, which is a rather rare feature to see in any smartphone these days, period. Dropping it in and removing it is quite easy, with the back case popping off with minimal pressure.
That reveals a 4,000mAh battery, a big step up from the titchy 2,000mAh battery found in the AS5. I had genuine problems with the AS5 in this regard, so my hopes for the AS8 were not high.
The Aspera AS8’s battery life is acceptable given its price point, but I can’t really call it anything better than acceptable.
To give it some comparative context, I ran it through my standard YouTube streaming battery test from a full battery for an hour to give in an indication of likely battery drain.
Phones (like the AS5) that can’t manage to retain at least 90% battery life after an hour are typically those that will struggle to get through a day’s moderate usage. Here’s how the Aspera AS8 compares against the AS5 and previously mentioned Motorola Moto E13:
90% isn’t a bad score – and it’s a lot better than the AS5, but I’d expect that given it quite literally has double the battery capacity. Still, it’s outdone again by the Moto e13 and its 5,000mAh battery in this test.
In more anecdotal usage, the slower nature of the Aspera AS8’s system meant that I did end up using it less during most testing days, leading to it usually having 20% or more power remaining at the end of a work day.
One very nice point of difference between the Aspera AS8 and the cheaper AS5 is that while the AS5 still languishes with an ancient microUSB connector, the Aspera AS8 is USB-C compatible. You even get a charger in the box, though at 5W it’s not exactly a fast charger.
Aspera AS8: Alex’s Verdict
As with any sub-$200 budget phone, you’ve got to match your needs to the compromises you’re willing to deal with. No budget phone is super fast and equipped with high-end cameras and processors, because if they were, they’d be outside that price range.
While it’s rather similar under the hood to the Aspera AS5 in processor terms, the extra $50 that the Aspera AS8 does not go to waste in a comparative sense, bringing with it a better screen, better cameras (though still not particularly good ones) and above all better battery life. If you were only comparing the two, even despite the effective 50% price rise, the Aspera AS8 would be a much better bet.
However, the Aspera AS8 does not exist in a vacuum, and there are other options in this sub-$200 space, such as the aforementioned Motorola Moto e13. That’s the phone I’d buy if I only had $150 to spend on a phone for performance and battery life, leaving the Aspera AS8 as a “next best” option. Of course, if you can score one at a discount to that RRP, it’s a slightly different story.
Aspera AS8: Pricing and availability
The Aspera AS8 retails in Australia with an RRP of $149.
|Buy the Aspera AS8!
|Buy On Amazon