Asus continuing its launch of smartphones with Zenfone line-up. This time its Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 ranging at INR 17,999. The Max gets its name from the vast battery it packs in. The original Max came with a 5,000mAh battery while this new ZenFone 3 Max 5.5  packs in a smaller 4,100mAh unit though.

ASUS launched the first ZenFone Max in 2015, the follow-up version had more memory and faster processor, but both devices were chunky plastic smartphones that didn’t impress many.

However, the ZenFone 3 Max 5.5 aims to change that with a well-rounded smartphone experience coupled with premium design, while continuing the focus on battery life. Will ASUS hits the market with the Max? Let’s find out.

The ZenFone 3 Max we received for review is the 5.5-inch model.

DISPLAY

The phone looks attractive, stylish and largely the same as most smartphones look these days.

The unboxing gives you a white, rectangular slab of a phone with 2.5D glass on the front. The back panel is made of metal and there are two plastic panels at the top and bottom to allow for wireless connectivity.

Fingerprints aren’t much of an issue as there’s an oleophobic coating on the glass. What’s dissapointing though, is that there isn’t any form of scratch protection for the display, which is something we usually take for granted in this price segment.

DESIGN

ASUS has finally brought an all-metal design to the ZenFone series, later than when most people would’ve liked. Even entry-level budget smartphones in 2016 boasted of an all-metal design. Better late than never, though. There’s nothing extraordinary about the design, but neither is it run-of-the-mill.

The homogenous design language of the ZenFone series is apparent, a premium one at that, bringing the flagship design to the budget smartphone. It is well-built and the aluminum chassis gives it a solid feel. It’s not very slippery, yet, since it is an all-metal phone, you’d have to get used to the smoothness and take care of the phone slipping out of the hand.

PERFORMANCE

The ZenFone 3 Max features a 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.

The contrast ratio is not exceptional though, and if you’re a fan of vibrant, and even over-saturated AMOLED displays, like I am, this one is just average. Viewing angles on the phone are, however, quite good. There is a little color shift when viewing it from extreme angles, but that’s the case with most smartphones. This chip handles day-to-day tasks pretty well but lacks punch when it comes to heavy apps and games.

Clearly, the device is geared towards casual smartphone users – and that is where it excels. However, I think the company could squeeze some extra juice from its internals with better software optimization. Some other phones in the market tend to offer smoother experience with similar hardware specifications.

There has been a drop in the battery capacity of the Max this time around (to go away from that chunky size), however, the 4100 mAh battery – with the hardware it packs and the software optimizations that ASUS has done – still manages to offer phenomenal battery life. With basic to moderate usage, I was easily able to get two days battery life on the phone, which is quite good. You can stretch that, and coupled with power saving features, can even squeeze more than that!

HARDWARE

The ZenFone 3 Max 5.5 comes with 32GB of internal memory, further expandable by up to 128GB via a microSD card slot. The dual SIM smartphones features a hybrid slot, so you can either use the second SIM or the microSD card, but not both.

The phone supports reverse charging, and can be used to charge other devices via OTG. There’s a bundled OTG adapter in the box. For a smartphone with a focus on battery life, it’s a shame that it doesn’t support fast charging. It ships with a regular charger, which takes painfully long to charge the big battery completely.

The fingerprint scanner can be used to answer incoming calls, launch the camera app, or take a picture, but is not quick enough. While the recognition is just fine, the authentication is a tad slow or requires slight pressure of the finger. Also, the capacitive keys on the front are not backlit. Of course, with impulse you get used to tapping the finger or thumb at the right place but sometimes it gets a tad annoying, especially in the dark or when you’re not holding the phone as you do usually.

CAMERA

The ZenFone 3 Max 5.5 sports a 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.

                          

Outdoors in daylight, the camera performs very well and takes sharp pictures with good details. The color reproduction is mostly accurate. Although the pictures are generally noise-free, zooming them reveals pixilation which is more pronounced when I viewed them on a 40-inch display. For most people though, who just share photos on social media, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Indoors or in low-light conditions, the night mode is a mixed bag. Some of the shots give great results, better than auto mode, however, several times, they’d end up very noisy with messed up metering.

The camera focusses nicely and quickly, although there is a definite shutter lag and often I’d end up with a blurry photo when I was attempting to take a shot of a moving subject.

On the front, there is an 8-megapixel camera with f/2.2 aperture that manages to click detailed selfies even in tricky lighting.

The camera app on the Zenfone 3 Max is the same as on the company’s flagship ZenFone 3 smartphone. While the options are great to tinker around, including a manual mode, the camera on the ZenFone 3 Max is just above average.

SOFTWARE

The ASUS ZenFone 3 max 5.5 runs Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box with the new version of the company’s proprietary ZenUI 3.0 on top of it. Virtually, every nook and corner of the Android experience gets a fresh coat of paint.

Right up, that’s a good thing. The older versions of ZenUI were plagued with bloatware and gimmicky UI elements that marred the overall user experience. The latest version is a complete makeover, and offers a clean UI with subtle animations. There are several nifty utilities, but there’s still a plethora of ASUS-branded apps that I’ve hardly seen anyone using really. Unfortunately, only a few of these can be uninstalled and while you can disable most others, they still occupy storage space on your phone.

MAJOR SPECS

Display – 5.50-inch

Processor – 1.4GHz octa-core

Front Camera – 8-megapixel

Resolution – 1080×1920 pixels

RAM – 3GB

OS – Android 6.0.1

Storage – 32GB

Rear Camera – 16-megapixel

Battery Capacity – 4100mAh

VERDICT

ASUS Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 is all about Multimedia & Battery. The screen is a multimedia charm & the great battery life gives a great screen on time with media & gaming. However, in performance segment the device is a player of the lower medium segment. The Multitasking experience is good but, gaming on the device is quite average.

So, this device is for those who want a great battery life even with high usage as this device can easily last a day or more. You can also do moderate gaming on it but, High end gaming with high graphics setting will definitely cause noticeable frame drops. The camera is decent but not great. So, for serious photography enthusiasts, it’s not a great choice.  So, keeping high end gamer &  super high grade photography seekers out of the list, we will recommend this device.

Stores
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ZenFone 3 Max (ZC553KL)

Price: Rs.17,999

Click Here to Buy

Amazon
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Asus Zenfone Max ZC550KL-6A068IN (Black, 2GB, 16GB)
Price: Rs.9,149


Asus ZenFone 3 Max ZC520TL-4G110IN (Gold)
Price: Rs.12,550


Asus Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 ZC553KL-4H080IN (Titanium-Grey)
Price: Rs.16,990

Asus Zenfone 3 (Black, 32 GB)

Asus Zenfone 3 (Black, 32 GB)

Price: Rs.21,999

Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML (Silver, 128 GB)

Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML (Silver, 128 GB)  (With 4 GB RAM, With 2.3 GHz Processor)

Price: Rs.22,999

Click Here to Buy

Asus ZenFone 3 Max (ZC553KL)
Design7.8
Camera8.1
Display7
Software7.1
Performance6
Battery life9
Value for money6.2
PROS
Good design and build quality
Vibrant display
Capable cameras
Long battery life
Good audio quality
CONS
Hybrid SIM slot
Fingerprint sensor can be iffy
Weak gaming performance
No Gorilla Glass
A bit expensive
7.3
10

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