Asus is surely expanding its products portfolio in India. With the launch of Zenfone 3 series, Asus is trying to place its foot in this emerging market. Asus is now focussing on device’s build quality and premium feels to users rather than the in-house specs.
Asus Zenfone 3 Max is the successor of Asus Zenfone Max, which is a budget mid-range device having 5000 mAh battery starting at Rs 9999. The Max gets its name from the humongous battery it packs in. We have already tasted Asus Zenfone 3 and we liked the every single bit of the ingredients.
(Also See: Asus Zenfone 3 Review: A Refreshing Change)
Asus Zenfone 3 Max, on the other hand, is packed with 4100 mAh battery and is priced way more than Asus Zenfone Max. Asus Zenfone 3 Max is available in two variants, one with the 5.2-inch screen and Mediatek processor priced at Rs. 13,999, another variant has the 5.5-inch display with Qualcomm processor for Rs. 17,999.
We have received Asus Zenfone 3 Max 5.5-inch variant in silver color. Although, the device comes in two more colors: Gold and Grey.
Let’s get straight into the review and find out more about this device.
Build and Design: 9.0/10
All smartphones look largely the same these days and the ZenFone 3 Max is no different. It has the regular metallic design. We find the build quality quite appealing. Asus has always given good build quality to its consumer and this device left no chance to prove that wrong. The device looks elegant, simple and little bit premium too. If you compare this device with other brands under the same segment, Zenfone 3 Max will definitely get an edge in terms of build quality.
The device is a rectangular phone with the 2.5D front display. The back panel is made of metal and there are two plastic panels at the top and bottom to allow for wireless connectivity.
The buttons on the front panel are capacitive but unfortunately, they are not backlit. I don’t why Asus never gives the backlit buttons. Moving on, the design is gorgeous with glassy and metal look. The front 5.5-inch display is not protected with Gorilla Glass protection and therefore we found it to be prone to scratches so you’ll want to be really careful with it. And that’s the only bad point we have for display.
The back panel is made up of aluminum alloy, giving this phone a bonus point for design. The Zenfone 3 Max measures 151.4 x 76.24 x 8.3mm and weighs 175g which is heavier as compared to other devices with same specs. The phone feels nice to hold, not that slippery and it’s way more pocketable than many phones with the same screen size.
The Zenfone 3 Max has 5.5-inch full HD IPS display with a pixel density of 401 ppi. The display is sharp and the 400 nits brightness is very good, offering great sunlight visibility. Viewing angles on the phone are good with a very mild color shift when viewing it from extreme angles but that’s the case with most of the smartphone these days. All in all the display is great and this smartphone gets another edge. While the smartphone does not have any protection so you might wanna use it carefully. You will get Oleophobic coating and thus your display will not be prone towards fingerprint smudges.
The Zenfone 3 Max comes with an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 Soc clocked at 1.4 GHz. The device comes with Adreno 505 GPU with Android Marshmallow. Talking about the storage, It has 32Gb of internal storage which is quite acceptable and is clubbed with 4Gb of Ram in our review unit. While you can also get other Ram versions. You can also expand you internal storage up to 128Gb using Micro SD. One thing you should remember is that this device has the hybrid slot so you can either use the second SIM or the microSD card, but not both.
The device also supports reverse charging means you can charge another device from your Zenfone 3 Max via OTG Cable. There’s a bundled OTG adapter in the box. The biggest drawback is that this device does not support fast charging. Now, you can easily get fast charging below 15k category. The smartphone takes more than 3 hours to charge completely which is definitely a pain. Personally, I never purchase smartphones without fast charging. I am using LeEco Le 2 and that device charges 50% in exactly 30 minutes. It’s a shame a device with such a fantastic build quality lacks one of the basic features a user can demand.
Asus Zenfone 3 Max also has a fingerprint scanner. Almost every other phone nowadays comes with a fingerprint scanner. While Asus has always given amazing fingerprint but in this one, we are certainly disappointed. While the recognition is just fine, the authentication is a bit slow or requires the slight pressure of the finger.
Asus has one of the finest portfolios of Zenfone 3 series giving amazing build quality and great camera performance. But two things they have always done wrong no matter what. Firstly, pricing of the device and secondly, software. Yes! software. I don’t like Asus ZenUI that much. Yeah! it gives you stock kinda feel that’s why we have given this 7 points to Asus.
Talking more about software, Asus ZenUI comes with large numbers of preloaded apps which no one uses. When I received this review unit, disabling the useless apps was the first thing I did. I guess Asus should minimize the preloaded apps. One can opt for disabling them but they still use your storage.
One of the best things of Asus ZenUI is that you can customize it to large extent as compared to other brand’s UI. You can use third party icon packs, chooses between one page or two-page layout and much more. ZenUI gives you lots of great features such as built-in search functionality which can be used by swiping down on the screen. This feature allows you to search installed apps, contacts or trending terms. You also get the inbuilt theme store which lets you customize your device from icons to the font, basically everything.
The best thing about their UI is ZenMotion which allows you to enable some premade gestures, Double-tap to wake up or sleep and motion gesture too. You can also set quick trigger for One Hand Mode. The fingerprint scanner can be used to answer incoming calls, launch the camera app, or take a picture.
Overall, The UI is good but not finest. Asus should focus on providing a good experience not just in build quality but also in terms of software.
Everything was going fine for this device but then Asus decided “Hey! Let’s make it worst”. The device is packed with the same specs as in Xiaomi Redmi 3s which is priced under 10k. What does Asus think while deciding their prices?
Zenfone 3 Max doesn’t give you great performance. Reason? I guess their software is not optimized. The phone appears to be sluggish and lagging most of the times. Most of the time the device was greeting me with “System UI stopped working” error which is annoying.
Even if you’re doing simple multitasking, the phone will disappoint you. Opening apps, tabs, the multi-tasking menu, the notification drawer, they’re all slow and jittery. With the ZenFone 3, there are times when the keyboard just freezes up and I have to stop typing till the words catch up.
To its credit, the phone doesn’t seem to heat up much. Asus should have gone for Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 Soc or higher. With little improvements in hardware as well as in software, this device can become the best version but Asus take it all away.
Asus Zenfone 3 Max comes with 16 Megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, Phase Detection Autofocus and laser auto-focus, Electronic Image Stabilization for shooting videos, and dual-LED flash. Asus also claims that the camera can focus in 0.03 seconds.
The device also comes with 8 MP front camera with f/2.2 aperture. In daylight, Camera performance is quite well which takes sharp pictures with good details. Images look all right on the phone’s screen, but zoom in even slightly, reveals pixelation. In low light condition, the camera sometimes works fine and sometimes don’t.
As claimed by Asus, the focus should take 0.03 seconds but it is not in the real case. The focus takes little bit more time than that and also shutter lags which sometimes result in blurry pics. The front works exceptionally good, we have no complaint on this one and produces images with good color reproduction.
We agreed that Asus Zenfone 3 Max comes with great build quality and long battery life and even above average camera. But if you look at the pricing, it’s absurd. The device is priced at Rs. 17,999/- which is way more what we expected. We were looking more for 10-15k. On the other hand, due to less software optimization, the phone performance is terrible. Even with the camera, the device performance was above average.
Asus should really decide pricing looking at the competition in the market. For 18k the device sounds more like a laughing stock. Again, if you are a fan of Asus or simply wants average performance or simply want to taste its build quality, you can go for it. And for others, you should look somewhere else.