While the Taiwanese manufacturer, Asus has recently launched the Asus Zenfone 3S Max, the old Zenfone 3 Max still up for sale. It’s no surprise that Asus keeps on introducing new smartphones almost every month with few improvements over the previous versions.
The Max series of Asus is majorly known for its huge battery life which is not offered by any other manufacturer even at a greater price. Asus claims to provide enough power in Max series smartphones to last a single day heavy usage even after charging your other smartphones using their device. That sounds more of like the future smartphones with no battery problems. But its 2017 now, smartphones with huge battery are dime a dozen. So what makes the Zenfone 3 Max different? Does the Zenfone 3 Max has what it takes to last in 2017? Should you consider buying any new/refurbished Zenfone 3 Max device? This is the Zenfone 3 Max in-depth review.
Table of Contents
Asus Zenfone 3 Max Review
The Zenfone 3 Max is surely a looker with a great in-hand feel & unique design. It surely looks much better when compared to other budget smartphones like the Vibe K6 Note or Redmi Note 4. Unlike the previous Zenfone devices, the Zenfone 3 Max has a metallic back with plastic covering at the top and bottom of the device.
The curved edges & plastic bottom allows better grip & premium feel in hand. I’m really impressed with the build quality of the device which looks very premium & durable. Both the Volume & Power buttons are located at the right of the device. Both the buttons are coated with the the traditional “Zen design” which helps to locate the buttons more easily. At the bottom front, we have capacitive buttons but are not back-lit, which makes it difficult to use in dark conditions.
At the back we have 16MP with dual LED flash & just below the camera module, we have a fingerprint scanner. Personally I’m not a fan of fingerprint scanner at the back as it comes to unlock the device when it’s placed on a surface. The thing about finger print scanner is, it just doesn’t work sometime. I don’t know if it’s the case only with my device, or its with every device. The Fingerprint scanner is fast, when it works. It is faster than the K5 Note & almost same as the Redmi note 3.
At the top we have a 3.5mm headphone jack, we’ll talk about the sound quality later in this review. While at the bottom, we have a USB charging port & a mono speaker. At the left of the Zenfone 3 Max, we have the SIM/Micro SDcard slot.
The device does feel heavy & its not the slimmest phone in this segment with 8.33mm. Its not pleasing to hold the device for long time. But consdering that huge battery & big display, it is one of the lighter phone in its segment. The Zenfone 3 Max has decent bezels around the screen giving it pretty good screen-to-body ratio of 73%.
But overall, the build quality is really great & its not much slippery. It’s gradual curves and rounded corners make it a very comfortable and ergonomic phone to hold.
The Asus Zenfone 3 Max sports a 5.5″ Full HD (1920×1080) resolution display with 401 ppi pixel density. Asus claims, the display can be brighter upto 400nits. The display was bright enough to view in moderate light but it was really difficult to see the screen in direct daylight. So the display isn’t as bright, as Asus claims it to be.
The screen does has some yellowish tint which you might notice while viewing colourful pictures or videos. The annoying part here is, you don’t get a screen calibration option allowing you to fix the yellowish color on the screen. However the color reproduction & the viewing angles are great!
The device doesn’t comes with Gorilla glass protection making it prone to scratches. Atleast for this price (Rs. 17,000), I expect a company to put Gorilla glass as other smartphones like Redmi Note 4 comes with Gorilla glass protection at much cheaper price.
Hardware & Performance
The Zenfone 3 Max powers a Snapdragon 430 chipset built on the 28nm process technology along with 3GB of RAM & 32GB of Internal storage which can be expanded upto 128GB. The device comes with Hybrid sim slot which leaves you with a single sim device if you run out of storage. Well, now it’s the case with every manufacturer. Either you get a dual sim device or 1 sim & 1 Micro SDcard.
The entry-level Snapdragon 430 processor isn’t the perfect SoC with such great specs. Although the device feels smooth on normal usage, I did experienced some lag on heavy usage or launching apps during multi-tasking. You tap on something and then wait half a second for the phone to process the input. The poor SoC is the only reason this device lacks in terms of hardware.
The Adreno 505 GPU performs well while playing heavy games like Nova 3, Asphalt 8 & Need for Speed. But the device was giving somewhere around 40-45fps in high end games whereas, around 60-80fps in mid-range games like Dead Trigger 2. The device does struggle while minimizing games & switching to apps.
With a phone priced at Rs. 16,999, the performance is completely unacceptable. With this price, the device directly competes with OnePlus 2, which offers lot better performance & hardware.
The Asus Zenfone 3 Max runs on not so latest Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 along with custom ZenUI 3.0 skin out of the box. The latest ZenUI 3.0 does minimal changes & offers near to stock experience. Its one of the best custom UI which fast, smooth & well optimized. The latest version comes with very few apps thereby reducing the amount of bloatwares.
An interesting addition is the GameGenie app. Think of it as a Steam overlay or the DVR bar in Windows 10. You can keep GameGenie as a persistent icon when gaming and tap on it anytime to stream your screen on something like Twitch or YouTube. You can also use it to quickly access a browser to look up something online.
The new ZenUI offers lot of useful apps like Mobile Manager which helps in better RAM management & keeps lot of free RAM. Overall the software on this device is great but could have been better with timely updates to Android Nougat 7.0. Recently Asus released VoLTE update for Zenfone 3 series & other zenfone devices.
The Asus Zenfone 3 Max has a 16MP f/2.0 rear camera & a 8MP f/2.2 selfie shooter. The Camera on this device does seem a big deal on paper. In real-life, however, the camera isn’t that impressive. The camera features EIS, a super resolution mode, HDR, low-light mode and other bells & whistles. Asus also claims that the camera can focus in 0.03 seconds. The camera focus does work great but not as great as claimed.
The Camera on this phone is good but not great. In daylight, the camera performs really great & can get you some really cool shots. Here are some of the camera shots in daylight:
The image does seem great but on zooming, the images lack detailing. Talking about pictures in low light condition, the Zenfone 3 Max captures too much noise & the images seems washed out, more of like a painting. Here are some low light shots from the Zenfone 3 Max:
While the HDR mode did help a bit, helping me to capture some decent selfies, the night mode didn’t help much in low light. The camera struggles while focusing in low light condition. Talking about the front camera on this device, it’s pretty decent & manages to capture good images. It performs better than the rear in low light conditions. The HDR mode works pretty good.
The audio output from the 3.5mm jack & bottom mono speaker is crisp & clear. The Zenfone 3 Max comes with an “Outdoor Mode” which increases the volume as claimed. However, I didn’t notice any major change in the output; just slight increase in the volume.
Coming to the major selling point of this device, the “Battery”. I must say the battery life on this device is simply amazing. On average usage like for chatting, web browsing, using Facebook, twitter & watching some YouTube videos, the device lasted for about 2 days. On heavy usage which includes Gaming & watching movies, the device easily lasted for a day.
Sometimes I used to charge my OnePlus 3 with it’s reverse charging feature, which is really amazing. After using the Zenfone 3 Max as my daily driver & switching back to my OnePlus 3 after 2 weeks, I did feel like the OnePlus 3 has very poor battery. That’s how good the battery of Zenfone 3 Max is!
Drawback in the battery section is, no fast charging availability. With a device with such a huge battery & no fast charging, you can imagine the time it would take to charge it. Charging the Zenfone 3 Max was really not an issue, since it doesn’t require frequent charging because of that huge battery.
The Asus Zenfone comes with decent features & great battery life but at for high price. The device could have been improved with better hardware & camera. It lacks fast charging, Gorilla glass protection & software updates when compares to other smartphones in the same price segment. However, the Max series is mainly aimed for the battery hungry consumer & it surely hits at the right spot. With a huge 4100mAh battery, Zenfone 3 Max is surely a beast which is overpriced. Would you buy a smartphone this such specs for $250 (Rs. 17,000). Let us know in the comment section below.