our impressions of the rotating photo module smartphone

The successor to the ZenFone 7 is called the ZenFone 8 Flip. It takes up its positioning, design, ergonomics. It also uses its now famous rotating photo module with multiple advantages. But is this its only argument against the competition? What are the improvements compared to ZenFone 7? Answer in this comprehensive test.

Last week, Asus presented its two new high-end smartphones. These are the ZenFone 8, a small flagship with a screen measuring less than 6 inches, and the ZenFone 8 Flip, subject of the article you are reading now. Find now in our columns a presentation of the two smartphones, as well as the full review of ZenFone 8.

Read also – Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review: attack on titan

ZenFone 8 is the “best” of the two, insofar as it embeds all the most advanced technologies: 120 Hz screen, 16 GB RAM module, optical stabilizer for its main photo sensor, etc. The ZenFone 8 is a bet for the Taiwanese firm: that of establishing itself in the small flagship segment, where Apple has failed to convince with the iPhone 12 Mini. A very risky bet.

zenfone 8 flip test

The ZenFone 8 Flip directly replaces the ZenFone 7 (and not the ZenFone 7 Pro). It incorporates ergonomics and design, including this rotating photo module that offers selfies a much higher image quality than direct competition. Even today, the ZenFone 7 Pro is considered one of the best smartphones for selfies.

But is the ZenFone 8 Flip just a replacement for the ZenFone 7? Is it just a premium selfie phone? Does it suffer from the same heat concerns as the ZenFone 8? And, of course, is it a good smartphone? Here are some of the questions we’ll answer in this comprehensive test.

Our video test

Price and availability date

The ZenFone 8 Flip will be available in France from May 31, 2021. Its price at launch, excluding promotion and subsidy, is 799 euros. The smartphone is the same price as the ZenFone 7 Pro. It is therefore 100 euros more expensive than the ZenFone 7, its predecessor.

zenfone 8 flip test

The price difference can be explained by two technical details. The first is SoC. ZenFone 7 and ZenFone 7 Pro did not have the same processor (SD865 and SD865 +, respectively). This year, the ZenFone 8 Flip benefits from the same SoC as the ZenFone 8: the Snapdragon 888.

Then, the ZenFone 8 Flip is equipped with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage (expandable with a microSDXC card), like the ZenFone 7 Pro. This too helps to explain the tariff increase applied this year. Remember that there is only one version of the ZenFone 8 Flip, unlike the ZenFone 8 which comes in four configurations, three of which will be sold in France.

zenfone 8 flip test

In the box, you will find an AC adapter, a USB type-C cable, as well as a rigid plastic shell. It protects the smartphone right out of the box. This is the case with all of the brand’s smartphones. And we can only praise this initiative, even if you decide to adopt another hull, like that of Rhinoshield which you can find the photo below.

Design

Aesthetically, the ZenFone 8 Flip is identical to the design of the ZenFone 7. Moreover, their dimensions are almost the same: a slight millimeter less in height for the most recent model. And the weight is the same, 230 grams. Asus therefore retains the ergonomics and bulkiness of the previous generation of ZenFone. Regulars should therefore not be disoriented.

zenfone 8 flip test
ZenFone 7 Pro on the left and ZenFone 8 on the right

Let’s take a tour of the owner. At the rear, we therefore find the famous rotating photo unit capable of switching from classic photo mode to selfie mode. It is a block formed by a frame formed of cast liquid metal. It incorporates three photo lenses and a flash, all protected by mineral glass. The maximum opening angle offered by the block is 180 °. But you have the option of opening it to different angles as needed. Three angles are pre-stored in the photo interface, but you can easily assign any of the three shortcuts to an angle for your convenience.

zenfone 8 flip test

Under the photo block, you will find a microphone, the only other technical element to see on the back of the ZenFone 8 Flip. The back of the smartphone is covered with mineral glass, here Corning Gorilla 3. This glass is curved on the side edges. Its finish is shiny? This means that it keeps more fingerprints compared to the ZenFone 8. A gray “Asus ZenFone” marking is visible, but it is much more discreet than that of the ZenFone 7 and ZenFone 6. On the other hand, the legal marking was not engraved on the shell, but just glued with a sticker.

zenfone 8 flip test

The slices of ZenFone 8 are very classic. You will find practically the same technical elements as in ZenFone 7, with one exception: the fingerprint reader. It is no longer positioned on the right edge, integrated into the power button, but under the lower part of the screen. Its activation is convenient and quick. Some prefer this location. Others the slice (like the ZenFone 7). Others still at the rear (like the ZenFone 6). It’s a question of taste.

zenfone 8 flip test

Let’s take a tour of the slices: main speaker, primary microphone, notification LED and USB type-C port at the bottom, drawer for the SIM on the left, secondary microphone at the top (little space on this slice monopolized by the hinge of the module photo), power button and volume control on the right. The frame is made of metal with visible separations for the antennas. The aluminum here is matt.

zenfone 8 flip test

You will notice the absence of the 3.5mm jack port here. This connection has made a great comeback in the ZenFone 8 and ROG Phone 5. Too bad the ZenFone 8 Flip does not take advantage of it. Another important point about the design, the ZenFone 8 Flip is not IP68 certified. Besides, there is no advertised protection against water. According to Asus, this is due to the rotating photo module. Besides, the ZenFone 7 was not protected against water, either.

zenfone 8 flip test

Let’s finish with the front facade. The ZenFone 8 offers a large touch screen without a punch or notch. The slab is flat. The corners are rounded. The borders around the screen are relatively thin (the bottom border being slightly thicker, as always). The earpiece is hidden in the gap between the metal frame and the Gorilla 6 mineral glass. The smartphone is large and relatively slippery. So be careful when your hands are wet.

Screen

Now let’s talk a little more about the display. This is the same screen as that of the ZenFone 7. We therefore find the same technical characteristics, whether in terms of definition, brightness and colorimetry. So there are no real surprises, neither good nor bad. Even though it is larger, the screen of the ZenFone 8 Flip is less attractive than that of the ZenFone 8 which is more precise and smoother.

zenfone 8 flip test

Let’s go into detail. First of all, this is a 6.67 inch panel. It’s not the largest screen in Asus’s catalog for 2021. The ROG Phone 5 is 11 hundredths of an inch above it. But its size is largely sufficient for usual uses, such as streaming movies or series, or even video games. The ZenFone 8 Flip is also more pleasant to use in these uses than the standard ZenFone 8 for a simple reason of… size.

The screen definition here is Full HD + in 20: 9 format. Or 1080 pixels in width and 2400 pixels in height. The resolution reaches 395 pixels per inch, which is fine without being extravagant either. We find this to be a good balance: the fineness of the display is sufficient to meet all needs, but the requirements in terms of computing power and power remain moderate.

zenfone 8 flip test

The refresh rate is 90 Hz. You can set this rate to 90 Hz or 60 Hz. You can also choose an “automatic” mode which changes the refresh rate according to uses and content. As with the ZenFone 8, the automatic mode cannot go below 60 Hz and there is no intermediate plateau. We would have appreciated the integration of a rate at 120 Hz to bring more fluidity into the game, as is the case with the ZenFone 8. Especially since the ZenFone 8 Flip has the necessary battery to assume this use. … Also note that the sampling frequency is 200 Hz.

The backlighting is AMOLED, a promise of deep contrasts and intense blacks. The panel is also HDR10 + compatible. Like the ZenFone 8, the ZenFone 8 Flip offers four color display modes, in addition to a customizable mode: default, cinema, standard and natural. You also have a slider that allows you to warm or cool the color tones as you wish.

zenfone 8 flip test

As with the ZenFone 8, Cinema and Standard modes respect colors relatively well. The average temperature is almost perfect (6594 °), but the average Delta E exceeds 3.5. Blue, green and brown are the least respected colors. With the other two modes, the temperature exceeds 8000 °. And the Delta E of some colors (light blue and light green) exceeds 8. Conversely, some colors are perfect: purple, orange, yellow.

The maximum advertised brightness is 700 nits in automatic mode, when the phone is used outdoors, under the sun. It can reach locally, according to Asus, 1000 nits. Obviously, indoors, you won’t achieve this brightness. On the other hand, the maximum manual brightness is not that far apart depending on the display modes. We measured up to 630 nits in default mode. Some modes are much less bright, like Cinema Mode, which has a maximum manual brightness of just 430 nits.

Beyond numbers and measurements, the ZenFone 8 Flip screen is fun to look at and use. It suffers from the same flaws as the display of ZenFone 7 (but also ZenFone 8 and ROG Phone 5), but in use these flaws are not crippling.

Interface

The ZenFone 8 Flip, like the ZenFone 8, works with the Zen UI interface, here in version 8 (based on Android 11). We have talked a lot about this interface with the ZenFone 8. We obviously advise you to take a look at this test to find out more. It is a very light overlay, taking over the achievements of Android and enriching certain aspects for a complete and very qualitative experience. There is no difference between that of the ZenFone 8 and that of the ZenFone 8 Flip, apart from the controls dedicated to the rotating camera.

zenfone 8 flip test

For anyone who doesn’t want to switch pages and stick with us on the ZenFone 8 Flip, here’s a quick summary of what Zen UI has to offer. First of all, you find a relatively classic Android interface, with the home screens, Google News, the application drawer, the quick settings area and the notification area. Note that Asus disables Android’s virtual keys here to adopt gesture-only navigation, as with the ZenFone 8. We find that this is less justified here.

zenfone 8 flip test

On the other hand, Asus also retains the one-hand mode introduced with the ZenFone 8. Here, the interest of this mode is even more obvious since it allows access to the virtual keys and buttons located at the top of the screen without having to need to use a second hand or change the position of the phone. To activate it, go to the “advanced” section of the settings menu. Then just activate the mode.

zenfone 8 flip test

You can also adjust the intensity of the interface drop to suit the length of your thumb. Once activated, one-handed mode can be used by sliding your finger up and down at the level of the icons located at the lower end of the screen (here phone, message, Play Store, Chrome or camera). You can perform this gesture across the width of the screen.

zenfone 8 flip test

The advanced tab also hosts other Asus additions to Zen UI: Smart Key, Mobile Manager, Game Genius, Twin Apps and Optiflex. As with the ZenFone 8, there are quite a few preinstalled applications. Netflix, Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger. Asus software is also relatively scarce. However, the list of preinstalled Google applications is more extensive. This interface is fast and fluid, easy to use and overall very pleasant.

Performance

The fluidity of the interface is due to the software optimizations and the relative simplicity. But not only. There is also the power of the platform. A high-end platform since it is based on the all-powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 888. The 5G compatible SoC comes with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. A good configuration for a smartphone which is therefore positioned in front of a Find X3 Neo, for example. The latter is equipped with a Snapdragon 865 and 12 GB of RAM. We were very curious as to who would take the lead between the two.

zenfone 8 flip test

Note, before moving on to the benchmark results that the AnTuTu test was updated to version 9 during the month of May 2021. It is therefore no longer possible to make the comparison with the smartphones tested previously. Which is a shame. Fortunately, we have other tests (Geekbench and 3DMark in particular) at our disposal to make some comparisons. You will also find below other benchmarks recently incorporated in some of our tests: Basemark GPU and Geekbench ML. The latter is one of the first tools dedicated to performance measurement in the field of artificial intelligence.

zenfone 8 flip test

Let’s come to the results. First remark first of all, brought by Geekbench: the Snapdragon 888 of the ZenFone 8 offers a real difference in the performance of the CPU compared to the Snapdragon 865 of the Find X3 Neo, with an improvement of about 15% of the results, both in terms of single-core than multi-core. We didn’t have such a difference between the Find X2 Pro (SD865) and the Find X3 Pro (SD888). Same thing with PC Mark where the difference is 40%. It’s quite impressive.

zenfone 8 flip test

Second remark, this time from AnTuTu: the 8 GB of RAM of the ZenFone 8 Flip offers the same fluidity as the 16 GB of RAM of the ZenFone 8, whether in terms of CPU, GPU and the same writing speed of the RAM. The only significant difference is in the user interface tests where the ZenFone 8 is rated higher. And more precisely in what AnTuTu calls “the user experience”. This means that, as long as you don’t use more than 8 GB of RAM, the ZenFone 8 has no technical advantage over the ZenFone 8 Flip.

zenfone 8 flip test

Third remark, the performance of the ZenFone 8 Flip is as interesting as that of the ZenFone 8. But Asus has not adopted the same strategy when it comes to heat management. Since the ZenFone 8 Flip is larger, it therefore benefits from a greater internal volume to dissipate heat. In addition, the calorific components (SoC, battery, battery controller) are more spaced. The ZenFone 8 Flip therefore remains efficient for longer.

zenfone 8 flip test

Here we have three proofs of what we are saying. The first: the 3DMark scores of the ZenFone 8 Flip are higher than those of the ZenFone 8. But the latter is also hotter than the former. Second proof: the stress tests of the ZenFone 8 Flip show better stability, while the temperature rises just as much: 84% against 60%. Finally, the last proof, the maximum temperature reached by the ZenFone 8 Flip during our tests is higher than that of the ZenFone 8: 51 ° C. A warmth that is felt especially in the upper left corner, but which diffuses into the screen and all over the metal frame.

zenfone 8 flip test

Rest assured. When you play with the ZenFone 8 Flip, this is rarely felt. To heat up the smartphone, you not only need to play with a very greedy game, like Genshin Impact (with graphics set to very high and at 60 frames per second), and for quite a long time. You will notice in the screenshots that it takes more than 8 minutes to see a significant reduction in performance under these conditions. Otherwise, the smartphone does not heat up and you keep the same fluidity throughout your game. This was the case with Dead Cells or with Genshin Impact with the default graphics quality.

zenfone 8 flip test

Autonomy and recharging

The ZenFone Flip can therefore become a gaming smartphone if the need arises. And this even if you will have to pay attention to the few weak points that we saw in the previous part. You will also need to pay attention to battery life. Because, despite a relatively generous 5000 mAh battery, the ZenFone 8 Flip does not last that long when it is called upon. First, because the Snapdragon is greedy and because it gets hot. Secondly, because the screen is large and it displays Full HD + images at 90 Hz. This also has an impact.

zenfone 8 flip test

We played, as always, with Genshin Impact. First there was a first 15 minute session with graphics at the default level (here moderate) and a refresh rate of 30 frames per second. The battery is only 5% low. It’s a very good score. Theoretical autonomy is therefore about 5 hours. You will notice that the autonomy of the ZenFone 8 Flip is similar to that of the ZenFone 8 with equivalent battery capacity (5000 mAh on the Flip, 4000 mAh on the classic).

There was then a second 15 minute session with graphics at peak and a refresh rate of 60 frames per second. Here the battery has dropped by 12%. Which is obviously much worse. Theoretical autonomy is slightly more than 2 hours. These figures are confirmed by the 3D Mark stress test. You may have noticed in previous screenshots that the ZenFone 8 Flip’s battery has dropped by 21% during a 20-minute session. Or a theoretical autonomy of 1 hours and 35 minutes. There is a difference between the two measures. The temperature of the ZenFone 8 Flip at the start of the test was higher during the stress test, partly explaining this poor performance.

zenfone 8 flip test

Counterbalance that for all those who do not gamble (or who indulge in casual gaming). Outside the game, the smartphone offers good autonomy thanks to its large battery. We were able to use it for a day and a half with a classic use, mixing social applications, messaging, eMail, photo, audio and video streaming and surfing the Internet.

Once the battery is empty, it must be recharged. We therefore take in hand the charger supplied with the smartphone, a model compatible with 30 watt fast charging, and the USB cable. As with the ZenFone 8, the charge is quite fast up to 95%, then stretches in length during the last few percent. It takes an hour and forty-six minutes to fully charge the smartphone’s battery (from 0% and with the screen off all the way). Which is really huge. On the other hand, it only takes 30 minutes to go from 0 to 52%. And it takes a little over an hour to get past 90%.

zenfone 8 flip test

Of course, you get the same battery care tools you get with ROG Phone 5 and ZenFone 8. Load restrained, so you can use less power. The limited load, to set the maximum authorized load at 80% or 90%. Or the programmed charge, which adapts the charging time to your habits. The aim is to limit wear and tear and loss of autonomy as much as possible.

Audio

On the audio side, the ZenFone 8 Flip benefits from a dual speaker. The largest is positioned on the lower edge. And the smaller one is hidden in the earpiece. Unlike the ZenFone 8, the ZenFone 8 Flip does not benefit from Cirrus Logic hi-fi amplifiers, but components from NXP. They are less qualitative. The audio experience offered by the ZenFone 8 Flip is still good, but it does not have the smoothness of that of the ZenFone 8.

zenfone 8 flip test

Like the ZenFone 8, the Flip version also has three microphones. The advantage of this configuration is to dedicate one of the microphones to capture audio in video. This microphone is located under the rotating photo module. It is therefore perfectly positioned when taking videos. The other two microphones are more classic. One captures your voice, while the other monitors ambient noises to erase them during conversations.

Unlike the ZenFone 8 and ROG Phone 5, there is no 3.5mm jack port on the ZenFone 8 Flip. And that’s a shame. This is not a problem of space (although the mechanism of the photo module consumes a lot of space), but a deliberate choice, according to Asus. First, a good jack port (with a DAC like the one on the ZenFone 8) costs money. Then, Asus preferred to bet on the battery. An argument that is difficult to counter.

zenfone 8 flip test

Like all Asus smartphones, the ZenFone 8 Flip benefits from a comprehensive audio equalizer. It is integrated into the Zen UI interface. You can access it through the settings menu, then by choosing the “sound and vibration” tab and finally “Audio assistant”. Zen UI’s equalizer was developed with Dirac, a Swedish audio company. It is with her that Asus has reinvented the stereo sound of ROG Phone 3 (partnership renewed for ROG Phone 5). This tool is used to balance the different audio frequencies according to the uses and types of content. There are automatic and preset modes. But you can also act manually.

Photo

Let’s finish this test with the photo, a very important subject for the Flip and its rotating photo module. This block is made up of three sensors. Let’s take a look at what it is. In the photo opposite, you can see the three objectives.

zenfone 8 flip test

In the middle is the main sensor. This is a 64 megapixel model, the Sony IMX686. It incorporates a dual phase detection autofocus and is associated with a lens opening at f / 1.8. There is no optical stabilizer, unlike the ZenFone 8. The pixel size is 0.8 microns. But, since it captures in 16 megapixels by default (Quad Bayer mode), the pixels then measure 1.6 microns per side.

zenfone 8 flip test

On the left is the wide-angle lens. It opens at f / 2.2. The sensor associated with it is a 12 megapixel model, an IMX363 from Sony. It is equipped with a dual pixel type phase detection autofocus. Each pixel is 1.4 microns. Note that these first two pairs of sensors and lenses are the same as those of the ZenFone 8 with one detail: the main sensor of the latter is stabilized.

On the right, you find the telephoto lens. This is THE strong point of the ZenFone 8 Flip compared to the ZenFone 8 (apart from the rotary module). It opens at f / 2.4. It offers 3x optical zoom. But the digital zoom can go up to 12x. The associated photo sensor is an 8 megapixel model with phase detection autofocus here too. Again, no stabilization here. And that’s a shame. There is obviously no selfie sensor here.

zenfone 8 flip test
Main sensor, automatic mode

The photographic configuration of the ZenFone 8 Flip is therefore strictly the same as that of the ZenFone 7. We therefore expect the same results, with the same advantages, but also the same faults. Is that the case ? The answer is yes. So overall you have a good camera in your hands and, above all, one of the best smartphones for taking selfies. So let’s take a closer look at the results.

zenfone 8 flip test
Main sensor, automatic mode

The main sensor, first of all, takes beautiful shots during the day with lots of color, a good balance between shadow and light, enough contrast (but not too much either to keep it natural) and a smoothness that is not. too accentuated (but which will still degrade some, especially in the background). Sometimes it lacks a little light. Also watch out for white balance, which can vary considerably from one photo to another, and unwanted movements that can spoil a photo. Here the absence of stabilizer can be felt.

zenfone 8 flip test
Main sensor, HD mode

You can of course activate HD mode to take pictures in 64 megapixels (4/3 format only). You get a lot more detail then, but you lose control of the brightness, even contrast. This is a mode to reserve when the light conditions are good. Indeed, as soon as the day falls, the results are definitely worse.

zenfone 8 flip test
Main sensor, night mode
zenfone 8 flip test
Main sensor, night mode

At night, precisely, the main sensor also takes beautiful shots (in 16 megapixels with night mode). Colours. Contrast. Beautiful details also when the focus is in the right place. And it is not always easy to choose the right place … The control of light sources is not always very precise. Here too, the lack of stabilizer is regrettable. But that’s not where we miss this technology the most.

zenfone 8 flip test
Main sensor, night mode
zenfone 8 flip test
Main sensor, automatic mode (left) and night mode (right)

Let’s finish this analysis of the results of the main sensor with the portraits and self-portraits. In addition to the beautiful qualities already observed previously in terms of contrast, color and details, you also benefit here from an effective clipping of the subject and a beautiful background blur (of which you can obviously adjust the intensity) . Self-portraits obviously benefit from the same advantages and the same precision. We notice that the skin smoothness is sometimes (but rarely) a little accentuated, even when the beautification tools are turned off.

zenfone 8 flip test
Main sensor, portrait mode
zenfone 8 flip test
Main sensor, automatic mode (left), portrait mode (right)
zenfone 8 flip test
Main sensor, automatic mode (left), portrait mode (right)

The sensor with wide-angle lens also takes beautiful shots, with beautiful colors, light. The processing of the images in terms of contrast is similar to that of the main sensor. This is also the case with the smoothing of details, which is sometimes a bit harsh. The distortion correction is good, but it causes very marked blurring in the corners of the photos. Panorama mode always offers very surprising results. But, out of curiosity, you will only do so very rarely. Remember that this sensor is also in charge of macros with results benefiting from the same qualities.

zenfone 8 flip test
Wide angle sensor, automatic mode
zenfone 8 flip test
Wide angle sensor, automatic mode
zenfone 8 flip test
Wide-angle sensor, macro mode
zenfone 8 flip test
Wide angle sensor, night mode

Let’s finish with the telephoto sensor. Very correct colors. The contrast could have been a bit higher. And the brightness is well managed. The smoothing observed previously is present here too, but it is less noticeable. At night, the results are much worse. The main reason is the incompatibility of this sensor with the night mode. But it is also a question of stability.

zenfone 8 flip test
Telephoto sensor, 3x zoom, 5x zoom and 12x zoom
zenfone 8 flip test
Telephoto sensor, auto mode, 3x zoom

Because, of course, it is here that we regret the lack of a stabilizer the most. Our opinion: it should always be with all lenses offering an optical zoom. This would considerably reduce the waste in the shots, by day and especially at night. And that is obviously the case here. Especially since, like the ZenFone 8, the digital zoom performs better here than with most of the competition. Le zoom 3x est optique, donc très précis. Le zoom 8x est également bon. Et le zoom 12x offre des résultats parfaitement exploitable, même si du grain est visible.

Conclusion

Le ZenFone 8 Flip est un bon smartphone. Il conserve les atouts de son prédécesseur. Il en améliore certains aspects, notamment au niveau du bloc photo rotatif. L’expérience photographique est toujours très intéressante, grâce à ce design amovible qui bouge pour vous. L’expérience selfie reste l’une des meilleures sur le marché. Son interface est fluide et efficace. Et son autonomie, hors jeu, est très bonne. Nous trouvons donc que le ZenFone 8 Flip est donc un bon remplaçant du ZenFone 7.

test zenfone 8 flip

Mais son plus gros défaut est de se contenter d’être qu’un remplaçant dont on reprend la bonne formule sans y ajouter les innovations qui vont faire la différence. Qui vont montrer vraiment qu’il y a du mieux. La photo est un bon exemple. L’absence de stabilisateur est un défaut que nous attribuons à une stratégie marketing qui pouvait se justifier en 2020, entre le ZenFone 7 et le ZenFone 7 Pro, mais qui n’a plus lieu d’être avec le ZenFone 8 tant il est différent du ZenFone 8 Flip.

Et c’est la même chose pour l’écran, strictement identique à celui du ZenFone 7, ou encore l’expérience audio, tronquée d’un port jack 3,5 qui avait autant sa place ici que dans le ZenFone 8 ou le ROG Phone 5. Et étonnamment, Asus a eu l’ambition d’intégrer un Snapdragon 888, le même composant que dans son smartphone gamer. Un choix risqué puisque le smartphone n’arrive pas toujours à bien gérer la chaleur qu’il émet. Malgré tout cela, le ZenFone 8 Flip est un bon smartphone avec de vrais atouts. Et un prix bien inférieur à de nombreux concurrents. Nous ne serons donc pas trop tatillons.

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