Call it an upgrade, a refresh, or a new launch, ASUS has come up with the new Zenfone Max, the battery life-oriented smartphone from the company with some better internal specs than what were on the Max. With smartphones getting upgraded in terms of specifications in every other aspect and becoming more smarter by the day, the quintessential battery life of smartphones is largely being ignored. But with the Zenfone Max, Asus has done a great job in giving amazing battery capacity, more than decent specs and more importantly an affordable price tag.
The company has managed to keep the price of the new Zenfone Max similar to the earlier model even after improving in the storage and processor segments. If you are looking for a smartphone which can work as your daily driver and give you good battery life, let’s look at the Zenfone Max, which I have been using from some time as my primary device and here’s about the important aspects of the device.
Design and Build Quality:
The Zenfone Max is not one that impresses you with its looks, with the new model carrying the same design and form factor from its predecessor having a textured (leather like) plastic back which feels good to hold and the copper frame in the middle which gives some style statement to the device which is bland from all aspects.
It is now available in two new colors Orange and Blue apart from the Black and White colors which are available from the earlier model. Back of the device houses the Camera with the LED flash and the Laser Autofocus on either side. The Asus Branding is seen in the middle with the Zenfone branding just above the Speaker grill on the bottom. The right side of the device sport the volume rockers and the Power button with the front of the device having the capacitive touch button below the display and the top having the ear piece and the light and other sensors on either side.
One thing which we can appreciate Asus for is the thickness and feel in hand which is good for a device with a 5000mAh battery inside. It measures 10.5 mm in thickness which is thicker than most of the devices in and around the price tag. We can expect the size to be big with the massive battery underneath, with the curved edges it is easier on the hand to hold and use.
The amount of space under the display is pretty huge with the capacitive buttons below the display and the some more space left out below it making it quite huge if you have small hands. It weighs a good 202 grams as well. Overall we can say that it is decently built, and we cannot expect it to be the slimmest smartphone with that amount of battery capacity inside.
The Zenfone Max sports a 5.5-inch HD display with a resolution of 720×1080 pixels with around 265ppi pixel density. The colors are good on the device but one thing which you will notice immediately while using the device under bright light or outdoor is the low Brightness, which makes it unreadable in some instances. It was not the case in the earlier Zenfone Max; I am not sure if it is a problem with my device or in general.
Asus has given the option to play around with the color temperature manually which helps a bit, and even the “vivid” option improved the display a bit but not what is desirable. If you are a person who reads a lot while traveling or under bright light look elsewhere as you will strain your eyes for sure. Overall a decent display but if the brightness levels were higher it would have been great.
The Zenfone Max runs on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow OS with the ZenUI on top. One thing which is obvious is the amount of customization taken place along with a lot of pre-loaded apps. It comes with all the features which are packed in the ZenUI seen from the earlier model like the double tap to wake gestures etc. It comes with a one-hand usage mode along with the power saving mode which was quite effective in practical use.
Asus needs to look at decluttering the UI a bit to enhance the performance of the device. The company also should do something about the number of pre-installed apps. It isn’t really a list that one would want to have in their phone all the time, and given that this is Android OS, you know there are good apps always available in the Play Store to install later.
The Zenfone Max is powered by a 1.5 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 Processor which comes with Adreno 306 GPU and coupled with 2GB RAM. It comes with increased 32GB internal storage space along with microsD card slot to expand it further up to 64GB. Although the Snapdragon 615 SoC might look a bit on the lower side it is a successful processor which we have seen in some successful devices in the past. And we need to remember that the Zenfone Max a Battery oriented smartphone and not one aimed at high performance.
That said, the Zenfone Max is pretty decent in performance you can get through all your daily work and stuff with ease. I have been using it as my primary device doing, browsing on Facebook, Twitter, Google Chrome, using the camera a lot and watching videos, and the device got me through the day with ease. There was a slight delay or lag while multitasking between switching apps but nothing which can be a problem. It is overall a decent / good performer to get you through the day without much problem but does not expect it to support and let you use high-end games etc.
The device comes with a 13MP rear camera with PDAF and Laser Autofocus along with dual LED flash and a 5MP front-facing camera. The rear camera is feature packed with many options like Time Lapse, HDR mode, Panorama, Miniature, PixelMaster, Time Rewind, Smart Remove, etc. The photos taken in natural light were quite impressive with great detail and color reproduction, focusing was fast too thanks to the PDAF and Laser Autofocus features with which the device is equipped.
Check: ASUS ZenFone Camera Samples: Link
Indoor photos or low light photos were not that impressive, with a lot of noise seen in the images. Images taken with flash were natural thanks to the dual LED flash. The front camera is good as well, could capture decent selfies even in dull lighting conditions. The Asus camera features like the adjustable beautification mode, and other features are available in the Zenfone Max as well.
Now we have finally come to the USP of this device which you have been waiting for; the Zenfone Max comes with a 5000mAh battery the Zenfone Max can also act a portable charger as well. I have been using the Max as my primary device and it ever since I have stopped worrying about carrying a power bank or a charger with me while going outside or when I know that I will be outside the whole day. With my usage which includes, regular use of social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram along with Youtube for streaming videos and browsing whenever I get free time. Have been playing games as well on the device, and it is lasting me well over a day and sometimes will get finished at the end of the day.
The Zenfone Max has helped in acting as a portable power bank as well for a couple of times when needed thanks to the OTG cable provided by Asus with the device. The main drawback is the amount of time it takes to get completely charged, from 0-100% it took around 5 hours which is quite a lot for a smartphone. But if you plug it in while you are off to sleep it will be ready to go when you are awake and last for the day until you sleep again. The standard 1A/5V charger is the one to blame, and Asus should have managed to fit it quick charge into the device.
Asus has done one thing right; the pricing is spot on with the new Zenfone Max, which comes with upgraded Snapdragon 615 processor along with increased internal storage space and managing to keep the price at Rs. 9,999 in the affordable smartphone segment is quite impressive for a smartphone with a 5,000 mAh battery. Sure, there are some things that could have been better, but ASUS has managed to impress with the overall performance.
The display is decent with a bit low on the brightness side but decent enough for regular usage. It comes with the latest Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow OS with ZenUI on top. The camera is similar to the one we have seen in the earlier Zenfone Max with good options in the Camera App. Overall with great battery life (which takes ages to charge) decent camera, decent display and latest OS the Asus Zenfone Max is a great device to purchase if you are looking for a smartphone with good battery life and decent performance with an affordable price tag.
ASUS ZenFone Max Giveaway
Loved the phone based on the review already? Here’s how you can win one!
UPDATE: The winner of the Giveaway is: @saiprasadsunny5.
Congratulations to the winners, and others, thanks for participating.
Note: The ASUS ZenFone Max that we are giving away is a unit shared by the company for review. It doesn’t have a bill, but we will ensure you get any support needed for service for one year. The giveaway results will be announced on 25th June 2016.
Review by Varun Pandula