We recently took the time to check out and review Australian-owned Aspera Mobile’s latest entry-level handset, the AS5. While we found it far from perfect, it’s undoubtedly one of the best phones you can get for A$99, packing in an impressive amount of features like facial recognition and dual-sim compatibility.
The AS8 is undoubtedly a step up in terms of both value and quality, sitting at an impressive A$149. For that price, the AS8 offers a 6.3-inch HD+ display, 8MP+.08MP dual rear cameras and dual-sim compatibility once again.
Design & Screen
The AS8 follows many of the same design choices that the AS5 did, although it feels a little more premium. While the back is still plastic, its ridged texture feels great in the hands and rarely attracts any fingerprints or smudges. Should you want to add a little protection, a clear case is also included in the package. We got our hands on the mint version, and can safely say that it provides a lovely pop of colour in comparison to the black AS5, all while remaining sleek and minimal.
The larger 6.3-inch HD+ display fits right into the modern market, competing with mid-range phones in terms of outright quality. For the most part, the resolution and overall colour accuracy feel fine, even if the screen’s brightness struggles to hold up in brighter environments. Its viewing angles also aren’t great, but are still considerably better than the cheaper AS5. At the end of the day, it’s perfectly fine for both streaming and general social media scrolling.
The AS8 puts both its volume rocker and lock button on the right-hand side of the device, with the USB-C charging port and handy 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom. Around the back, you’ll also find a fingerprint sensor up top next to the camera, which we’ll touch on below.
The Aspera AS8 packs in the same Octa-Core 1.6GHz CPU as the AS5, along with 2GB RAM, and 32GB of internal storage, which is also expandable via MicroSD (up to 128GB). Much like the AS5, the chipset is worthy of most everyday tasks, but it’s unfortunately not the smoothest experience. While the 2GB of RAM does its best, apps will stutter when closing and opening them, with more than 5-6 background apps pushing that RAM to its maximum.
The AS8 provides fingerprint recognition around the back of the device, which comes in handy when it’s too dark to use facial recognition software. Unfortunately, it’s a little hit-and-miss with how it reads my finger and took more than a second to unlock at times. It’s also a little hard to reach, feeling a little too high up in comparison to my natural grip on the device.
Facial recognition is also included here and does a decent job of scanning in darker environments and wider angles. The AS8 also comes with a removable 4,000 mAh battery and USB-C charging. While 4,000 mAh seems average on paper, it got me through an entire day and into the next on more than one occasion.
The AS8 also includes Bluetooth 5.0 to connect to wireless devices like speakers and car systems and dual-sim functionality, which is impressive, particularly for this price. Like the AS5, it provides Wi-Fi hotspot compatibility and works on any 3G or 4G network with VoLTE (Voice over LTE) for better audio quality during calls.
While the screen does a decent job when it comes to streaming and general media consumption, the single rear speaker leaves much more to be desired. It’s not very loud, and sounds incredibly tinny, with almost next to no bass. Given the separate rear speaker being used instead of the upper front speaker, I’m surprised that it doesn’t fare at least a little better.
The 8MP+.08MP dual rear camera is certainly a step up from the single 5MP lens on the AS5, and once again provides more vibrant images and natural skin tones in decent light. I wouldn’t be using this often in lower light situations, but it’s worth noting that the 0.8MP lens helps with overall zoom quality, while the autofocus never feels like it gets in the way. Unfortunately, rear camera shots contain a fair bit of noise, meaning that even in the best light, photos will still look a little grainy.
The 5MP selfie camera also provides some natural colours and skin tones without the input of oversaturating AI software, but once again does not do great in low light situations, retaining a fair amount of noise and grain.
Verdict & Value
For all the issues the Aspera AS8 might bring, make no mistake; this is still incredible value for a phone at A$149 based on the sheer amount of features alone. While the camera and speaker let it down at times, there’s more than enough to unpack here for the everyday user who wants the most bang for the buck.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: An impressive amount of features on offer for an impressively low price
Lowlights: Speaker and camera quality hold the experience back at times
Review based on unit supplied by Aspera.