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ASUS Zenfone Max Review

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The battery trend is on, starting from the Gionee Marathon M5, Lenovo Vibe P1 and now the ASUS Zenfone Max. The Max simply points to the maximum battery life. Having a 5000 mAh battery that also doubles as a power bank, the Zenfone Max can last long with a lot of promises from ASUS. Besides, the same internals as the ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser (Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 variant), the Zenfone Max has a grown up battery with a slight change in the aesthetics. While the battery is the main highlight here, there’s more stuff to find out in our ASUS Zenfone Max review.

ASUS Zenfone Max Review

In the Box

  • ASUS Zenfone Max with built-in battery
  • Micro USB Cable
  • Power Brick
  • A User Guide and a Warranty Card
  • USB OTG Cable

Just like any other ASUS smartphone, the Zenfone Max doesn’t include headsets.

ASUS Zenfone Max Hands-on Images Review (5)

ASUS Zenfone Max Specifications

  • Display: 5.5-inch IPS HD Display covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Software: Android 5.0.2 (Lollipop) with ZenUI
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz Quad-core 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916)
  • GPU: Adreno 306
  • Memory: 2 GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • Storage: 16 GB eMMC internal storage, Expandable up to 64 GB using MicroSD, Lifetime 5 GB of free ASUS WebStorage, Free 100 GB of Google Drive Storage for 2 years.
  • Main Camera: 13 MP Auto Focus with dual-tone LED flash, F2.0 aperture, Wide View, Manual Mode
  • Front Camera: 5 MP Autofocus, F2.0 aperture, Wide angle 88-degree lens, 140-degree Selfie Panorama
  • Connectivity: WLAN 802.11 b/g/n, Micro USB (support OTG), Bluetooth V4.0 (EDR and A2DP), Wi-Fi direct, GPS, GLONASS, AGPS & BDS
  • Network: Dual Micro SIM card, 4G LTE dual-SIM (GSM + GSM), supports 4G on SIM1 and 2G/3G on SIM2
  • Battery: 5000 mAh Li-Polymer (non-removable)
  • Dimensions: 77.5 mm x 156 mm x 10.55 mm
  • Weight: 202 grams
  • Color Variant: Black and White

Design and Build

The bulky smartphone looks the same as all the ASUS Zenfones on the front yet the design is quite changed from the last generations i.e. its companion Zenfone 2 Laser. The power button on top and the volume button on the back are relocated to the right side which seems a traditional way of putting the hard buttons on the sides.

The ASUS Zenfone Max has a 5.5-inch IPS HD display, a Snapdragon 410 SoC, 16 GB storage, and other specifications used from its predecessor Zenfone 2 Laser. However, the battery under the hood is the one that has been grown a tad higher capacity and due to this, the Zenfone Max is now heavier (202 grams).

ASUS Zenfone Max Review

As you can see, the buttons have changed its position on the right. There is a golden colored bezel on the sides that looks like a metallic frame but it’s made up of plastic. In fact, the whole smartphone body is of plastic still on the heavier side.

ASUS Zenfone Max Review - Maximum Battery Life

Moving to the front, it has a 5 MP shooter with F2.0 aperture wide angle 88-degree lens supporting autofocus. The touch buttons on the bottom don’t light up and it is quite difficult for the people at night to navigate the buttons.

ASUS Zenfone Max Review - Maximum Battery Life

ASUS Zenfone Max Review - Maximum Battery Life

Moving towards the back, the leather-finished cover is removable, however, the 5000 mAh battery is non-removable. As the back is made of a faux leather design, it still pleases you giving a nice grip on your hands.

Moreover, it has a 13 MP autofocus camera behind with dual tone LED flash and an ASUS branding of course. Can you spot the small microphone around the camera? The infrared on the right side of the camera is used for laser focusing.

ASUS Zenfone Max Review - Maximum Battery Life

The Zenfone Max is a 4G enabled smartphone. It supports dual SIM cards. The SIM1 supports 4G network while the second SIM slot i.e. SIM2 supports 2G or 3G network. There is a Micro SD card slot to expand the storage further up to 64 GB.

ASUS Zenfone Max Review - Maximum Battery Life

On the top, it has an audio jack while on the bottom, it has a Micro USB port and a microphone. The right side has a power button and a volume control button while the left is kept empty.

ASUS Zenfone Max Review - Maximum Battery Life
Top
ASUS Zenfone Max Review - Maximum Battery Life
Bottom
ASUS Zenfone Max Review - Maximum Battery Life
Left
ASUS Zenfone Max Review - Maximum Battery Life
Right

Display

The ASUS Zenfone Max comes with a 5.5-inch HD IPS display with a resolution of 1280 x 720p pixels protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass 4. Although some competitors use a FullHD display, ASUS used a 720 display for the battery life concerns since a low-resolution display uses less battery. The same display was spotted on the ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser.

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The viewing angles are great and the image quality won’t be affected when seen from a different angle. However, the visibility under direct sunlight as well as under sunlight shade is poor hence, isn’t any great. The indoor viewing is bright enough.

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Viewing Angles Are Great
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Under Sunlight Shade (Left), Indoors (Right)

The colors feel natural and look decent. ASUS gives a color customization options under the display settings. It has four options – Balance, Bluelight Filter, Vivid, and Customized. You can change the color temperature from cool to warm and vice versa using the slider. The Customized option can tweak the colors using the Hue and Saturation.

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Software and UI

The software on the ASUS Zenfone Max is the same, Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, not the new Android Marshmallow. On top of it has a ZenUI 2.0 skin that makes it look different from a regular Android interface. The user interface is very smooth and intuitive with so many options to customize and preinstalled apps that are useful for a smartphone user albeit some may find it bloatware.

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The ZenUI software skin is highly customizable and can be tweaked according to the user. The notification bar has quick shortcuts such as one tap to boost performance, autostart manager, calculator and much more. Swiping from the bottom to top on the homescreen takes you to the homescreen customization menu where you can lock apps, apply icon packs, add widgets, apply wallpapers, etc.

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Moreover, you have the themes on the ZenUI that can be downloaded online from the preinstalled ‘Themes’ app.

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Another unique app ‘Laser Ruler’ that uses your camera to measure the distance of any object using the laser autofocus.

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The software also features a kids mode that lets you lock the phone using a passcode which comes handy if you hand over the smartphone to the kids.

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The ASUS Mobile Manager is used to handle all the things like battery saver, boosting the performance, free the RAM, virus scanning, notifications, autostart apps on boot.

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Hardware, Performance, and Gaming

The ASUS Zenfone Max is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 SoC having a 1.2 GHz quad-core 64-bit processor along with a 2 GB of RAM and an Adreno 306 GPU. It’s the same SoC that was used in the Zenfone 2 laser hence the performance is entirely identical.

It takes around 37 seconds to boot. We ran several popular apps including WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapdeal, and Soundcloud to check the app performance and no major lagging issues found on the Zenfone Max. There are also no crash reports from the tested apps. The performance is exceptionally fluid and it doesn’t lag on the first usage. Installing too many apps can consume the RAM and you might get slight lags, however, the performance is satisfactory with the Snapdragon 410 SoC.

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We ran some benchmark tests on the ASUS Zenfone Max. The AnTuTu benchmark scored 25144 points maximum during 3-pass testing. The score is close to the Coolpad Note 3 Lite (27490) yet better than the Samsung Galaxy On7 (21320).

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The Geekbench scored 401 points on single-core performance and 1140 points on multi-core performance. Here’s the full Geekbench 3 benchmark test of the Zenfone Max.

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We also ran a few games to check out the gaming performance on the Zenfone Max and it turns out that the smartphone is better for an entry level gaming and somewhat good for a mainstream gaming but certainly not best for high-end gaming. The Overkill 3 had slight framerate dropouts but the other games ran fine. Games like Asphalt 8 and other heavy games may run on the phone with low graphics but not fluently.

Games Tested on ASUS Zenfone Max:

  • Overkill 3
  • Shadow Fight 2
  • Subway Surf
  • Traffic Rider
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Overkill 3
ASUS Zenfone Max Review
Shadow Fight 2

The 2 GB RAM is sufficient for regular usage. The RAM usage on the Zenfone Max is fair. The system takes around 800 MB of RAM and the user gets around 1.2 GB free. The below screenshot shows that if there are many apps installed, the RAM usage may increase. In our case, 789 MB of free RAM was available out of 2 GB RAM.

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With a long duration of gaming, the Zenfone Max did not reach the 40-degree temperature. It remains cool on heavy use. The temperatures according to the HW Monitor were around 37 degrees while playing games and 30 degrees on light usage.

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Remains Cool

Camera

The Zenfone Max sports a 13 MP F2.0 shooter with laser autofocus and many features along with a dual tone LED flash. It also features a laser focus seen on the Zenfone 2 Laser. ASUS uses their Pixel Master technology on the Zenfone Max.

ASUS Zenfone Max Review - Maximum Battery Life

The camera software features different modes such as Manual, Low Light, Depth of Field, Super Resolution, Beautification, GIF Animation, Slow Motion, Time Lapse and many more. The camera settings can be found on the settings gear icon that consists of ISO, White Balance, Exposure, and etc.

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Here are the camera shots taken from the 13 MP and the 5 MP camera on the Zenfone Max.

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Daylight Shot
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HDR Shot
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Another HDR Shot
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Laser Focus

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ASUS Zenfone Max Review (51)

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Auto Mode
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HDR Mode
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Super Resolution Mode (8192 x 4608 pixels = ~7MB)

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HDR

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HDR
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Night Mode
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Low Light Mode

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Zoomed, On A Tripod
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Under Artificial Light, Indoors
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Indoor Lighting
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Grayscale Effect, Indoors
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Panorama Shot

The camera performance might be identical to the Zenfone 2 Laser or even better at some point. The main camera takes amazing shots thanks to its laser autofocus. The laser focus is fast enough focusing on objects within 0.03 seconds. The colors tend to be rich and the camera captures more details in daylight conditions but the low-light shots are filled with little noise yet decent. Some over-exposure occurs with indoor images. The good thing is the laser autofocus can focus the objects without needing the LED flash. It would be better if ASUS could have given a dedicated camera key like its flagship companion Zenfone Zoom.

See the full resolution images here.

The front 5 MP gives you decent shots considering that it has an autofocus which many smartphones lack in this price range. It does support some camera functions like the main camera. Overall, the 5 MP front camera fulfills the selfie requirements.

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Selfie
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Front Cam 5MP

The video shooting is good but not the best. While shooting video, it doesn’t properly focus. The main camera supports FullHD resolution and video stabilization functions. We also captured slow-motion videos on the Zenfone Max but they are not as smooth as the slow-motion videos captured using LeEco Le 1S.

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Call Quality and Audio

The network quality on the Zenfone Max is exceptionally strong. When you place a call, you can hear a clear voice from the recipients. The loudspeakers sound loud despite having a mono speaker.

ASUS Zenfone Max Review
Loudspeakers On The Back Are Loud

It comes with an AudioWizard app for tweaking the audio quality while listening to the music and movies.

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AudioWizard

Storage and Connectivity

The ASUS Zenfone Max sports a 16 GB of storage in that the user gets around 10.38 GB. There are preinstalled apps that take some storage space can be removed if not required.

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Interestingly, Zenfone Max gives you a 100 GB of cloud storage space on Google Drive for 2 years. In addition to that, 5 GB of lifetime storage is provided from ASUS on their WebStorage.

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It bundles a USB OTG cable that means thumb drives can be connected using the provided cable. The thumb drives having FAT32 file system can be used, but the NTFS file system somehow doesn’t work. NTFS file system is found on most of the portable hard disks.

Battery Life and Charging

The ASUS Zenfone Max comes with a huge 5000 mAh battery. This time, the battery is non-removable. The Zenfone 2 Laser had a user replaceable battery. As the number says it all, the 5000 mAh battery on the Zenfone Max really lasts long. Here’re our battery stats which shows that the battery can last around 3 days on mix usage. The battery dies on the 4th day and you have to plug into a charger.

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In our battery benchmark, apps Also, apps like YouTube took 2% and the video player took 1% playing a 720p video. When surfing through Chrome browser for about 1 hour took 4% of the battery. 1 hour 54 mins of voice calling took about 12% of the battery and keeping Wi-Fi turned on for about 1 day 22 hours took 7%.

Moreover, games like Overkill 3 ran multiple times yet took just 1% in 10 minutes and with the same minutes, the Shadow Fight 2 took about 2%. Note that the Wi-Fi was turned on during Shadow Fight 2 gameplay.

Apps/GamesBattery usedRuntimeBrightnessWireless
 Overkill 31%10 minutesAutoAirplane Mode
 Shadow Fight 22%10 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
 YouTube2%16 minutesMaxOn (Wi-Fi)
Chrome (Surfing)4%1 hour 1 minuteAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Voice calls12%1 hour 54 minsAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Wi-Fi7%1 day 21 hours 59 minsAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
720p Video1%10 minutesMaxAirplane Mode

If you are a light user, using the smartphone for phone calls, messages, and the camera then the battery can last 4 days straight unless you use the GPS nad mobile data. If you still want a longer duration, you can set the power saver settings under power management. The super saving mode can be very useful if you are on less battery but still want to use the phone for calls and SMS.

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In addition to that, the ASUS Zenfone Max supports reverse charging that acts as a power bank enabling you to charge any other device.

Battery Charging

The power brick provided to charge the battery is not the right pick in this fast charging trend. During the switch off mode, the Zenfone Max battery charges fully in ~5 hours. It takes around 5 hours to charge the smartphone completely from 0% to 100%.

ASUS Zenfone Max Review

Here’s a screenshot of the timer we kept while charging. In our battery charging test, it took nearly 4 hours 38 minutes to charge from 3% to 98% i.e. 95% of the battery. Please note that slow charging can extend the battery life.

ASUS Zenfone Max Review
Charges Slowly From The Provided Charger

Pricing, Variants, and Support

The ASUS Zenfone Max is available for a price ₹9,999. There are two color variants, one is back and the other is white.

  • Zenfone Max Black
  • Zenfone Max White

The Zenfone Max comes with a one year warranty. You can find the support information on the MyASUS app. The Zenfone Max also receives OTA updates from ASUS with the last update being on 25th January 2016.

ASUS Zenfone Max Review

ASUS Zenfone Max Review

Verdict

Having a smartphone with a bigger battery is a deal breaker even though it weights a tad high. As a decent performer, the ASUS Zenfone Max has a good camera package overall and a great battery life. With a sturdy build quality and a pleasant feel on the back along with nice software skin on top of the Android Lollipop and lots of useful apps preinstalled makes it overall a worth buy.

The only major con is the Zenfone Max takes around 5 hours to charge the battery from 0 to 100%. Nevertheless, larger the battery, the longer it takes to charge unless you use a fast charger. Besides, what’s extra you get is a 100 GB of Google Drive cloud storage free for 2 years. So, at a price of ₹9,999, we can’t ask more than what the ASUS Zenfone Max offers.

However, if you are too much concerned about the specifications that it provides, there are other smartphones like the Coolpad Note 3, the LeEco Le 1S and Lenovo K4 Note to look for.

Competitors

People who already owns ASUS Zenfone 2 Laser and want to stick with the brand, know that there isn’t much difference in the hardware and the camera but just the battery and its design. If you think that you want a good battery life and a new design with the traditional power and volume buttons position, you should go for it.

Pros

  • Nice feel and grip
  • Good Camera Performance
  • Good Build Quality
  • Great battery Life
  • MicroSD card support
  • Customizable ZenUI interface
  • Decent Loudspeakers
  • Low Heating
  • 5 GB lifetime ASUS WebStorage, 100 GB Google Drive

Cons

  • Bulky (202 grams)
  • Weak charger; ~5 hours to fully charge the battery
  • 4G only works on SIM1, 3G on SIM2
  • No backlit touch buttons

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