Asus Zenfone Max Review : Awesome Battery life

The Zenfone Max is the latest mid range smartphone from ASUS, after the Zenfone 2 Laser. Over the past two years, ASUS has launched some good mid range/entry level devices starting with Zenfone 5, Zenfone 2 (Read Review), Zenfone 2 Laser (Read Review) and few more. The Zenphone Max is priced exactly at the same price at which Zenfone 2 laser was i.e. at Rs. 9,999 in India. The company sent us a Zenfone Max review unit, and here is our opinion of the same based on our experience of using it as our primary smartphone, for almost a week.

The variant that we tested was the Model No. ASUS Z010D ( ZC550KL) Black color. Even though the retail box of the device mentions MRP of Rs. 11,549, it is available for Rs. 9,999 only.

ASUS Zenfone Max

Brief Technical Specifications

  • Display : 5.5 inch HD IPS with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection
  • OS : Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • CPU : 1.2 GHz Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410
  • GPU : Adreno 306
  • RAM : 2 GB
  • Camera  : 13 MP Primary with laser auto-focus and dual-LED real tone flash (f/2.0 Aperture, 5-element Lens) + 5 MP Front
  • Dual Sim (LTE+ LTE)
  • 16 GB ROM + Micro SD Card support up to 64 GB
  • 4G (LTE)
  • OTG Support
  • Battery : 5000 mAh embedded

Design and Build Quality

The Zenfone Max comes with curved rounded plastic back (removable)  just like the Zenfone 2 laser, and has a smooth textured finish which lets you hold it comfortably. Even though it is a plastic cover, it does give a premium feel. ASUS has done away with their design of placing volume rockers buttons at the back and Power button at the top. With the Zenfone Max, the buttons are placed conventionally, with both the Power & Volume Rocker buttons on one side of the device. This design is much better and comfortable,

Due to the 5000 mAh battery which backs the phone, the device feels a bit heavy compared to other smartphones, but after few days of use, you will get used to it. It is more than 200 gms whereas usual smartphones weigh in the range of 150 gms.

An additional feature “Double tap to wake” is available in the Zenfone Max, which wakes up the device just by double tapping the screen. Double tap works perfectly every time except few rare cases when you pull out the device from your jeans pocket, and in this  case it needs a bit harder double tap. Speaking of which, there is no accidental wake-up, when if the device is in your pocket.

The menu buttons at the bottom of the screen are not back-lit, which makes it a bit uncomfortable to use it in the dark. The speakers are at the back of the device, at the bottom with a grill across the width, though if you open the back cover, speaker is just at one side. The battery at the back is embedded and cannot be removed.

Display

The phone sports a 5.5-inch HD IPS Display, with resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels and is protected by Gorilla Glass 4. The size of the screen may appear big for some people, but most 5.5 inch device users will be accustomed to it after few days of usage. The display appears great if you manually set the brightness. It appears a bit dull if you set it to the auto adjust mode. The display was good enough and adjusted itself quite well even in surroundings outside except in some cases with heavy sunlight around noon. It also comes with great viewing angles, letting you view the screen even at steep angles.

As the screen is just HD screen and not a full HD screen as in the case of devices like Lenovo K3 note, you may feel like you want more in screen quality. The colors on the screen looked great.

It also comes with a display tuning app from ASUS, letting you choose different screen modes like Standard, Reading, Vivid or Balanced or you can customize one for yourself. It also features a Glove mode, letting you use the phone with your gloves on in the winter.

Performance and Benchmarks

The ASUS Zenfone Max is powered by a 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916) processor with 2 GB of RAM, and hence you can only expect a mid range performance.  The Zenfone Max lacks a bit of punch unlike the flagship Zenfone 2 (the 4GB Model) which was a beast. We played some heavy games like Asphalt 8 on it simultaneously with other games and using other features of the phone, we did feel a bit of lag or frame drops at random after continuous usage for more than 15-20 minutes. The issue though was not bad, as it happened only when we were multitasking.

Initially, we did face some small issues like the UI getting hanged a bit at random, including the dialer and the camera app, but the problem appears to have vanished after an OTA update from ASUS during the testing period.

The graphics details in the games and HD videos was good enough but not great. There was negligible heating of the device while playing intensive games, multitasking or using the device for too long or in any other scenario.

The Zenfone Max comes with 16 GB internal storage with support for Micro SD cards. The operating system and preloaded apps take around 5GB of storage and hence the end user gets only about 10GB of internal storage. Apart from Micro SD cards, it also supports USB OTG and hence you can use an external USB storage to add more capacity to the device on the go.

The call quality during voice calls was pretty clear without any issues. The dialer app also gives you an option to record calls without installing any additional app or rooting the device. Usually, in most devices, you need to root your device first and then install an additional paid app to record calls. By default, this feature is turned off and you need to enable it if you need to record your calls.

The AnTuTu benchmark score for Zenfone Max comes out to be about 24,900 points which is on expected lines considering the fact that it is powered by a Snapdragon 410.

Camera

The phone comes with a 13 MP main rear camera with dual-LED real tone flash with laser focus and a front 5 MP front camera. We tested the camera under different lighting conditions. The camera was great under normal lighting conditions, but it wasn’t so good in low light conditions or if you are standing in some shade with heavy sunlight around. The colors appear to be washed out often in those varying light conditions. But overall if  in good lighting conditions, the camera produced good quality shots.

The laser focus did a good job in focusing faster, but often the camera app gets confused when there are too many objects at same distance or objects, that it thinks as primary subjects and may result in bad focused shots.

The camera app comes with loads of modes such as Low Light mode, Selfie mode, night mode, super resolution mode, HDR mode, Panorama mode and much more just like most of the ASUS smartphones. It also comes with a manual mode which lets you adjust different camera settings on your own. If you are a professional photographer or geeky enough to play with those settings, it can produce some good shots.

The front 5 MP camera was great and produced some good pictures. It’s good enough to click some good selfies with wide viewing angle.

Camera samples

Checkout the images below taken under different light conditions and different modes. Click on the images to enlarge to original full size image. Click on the images for full resolution images on Flickr.

Battery

This is where the ASUS Zenfone Max amazed us. The battery performance was excellent, and surpassed all our expectations of a good battery life on any smartphone. Even with heavy use of the device, we were able to keep it away from charger for almost one and half days easily. During our normal usage, it lasted for more than two and half days. Keep in mind that we always had a working 4G connection during the day or WiFi during the evening and night.

Zenfone Max Battery

We were able to get a SOT (Screen on time) of more than 9 hours during some days, but on an average we always got a screen on time of 8.5 to 9 hours easily.

[easyazon_link identifier=”B018VKZPG4″ locale=”IN” nf=”y” tag=”apure-21″]Buy Asus Zenfone Max ZC550KL (Black, 16GB) from Amazon[/easyazon_link]

Operating System and UI

The Zenfone Max is powered by Android 5.0 Lollipop with ASUS’ own user interface, ZenUI, on top of it. We are not a big fan of custom UIs from OEMs running on top of stock Android, yet we do like the ZenUI. It appears to have better integration with Android’s UI and doesn’t feel like a different or new user interface. Also, it is clean and simple compared to those from other OEMs. You can treat this as my opinion and many of you may differ with me on the ZenUI.

It comes with some custom features from ASUS such as the ultra saving mode, optimized mode or customized mode for battery. Apart from this, it also comes with support for gestures using which you can open applications without even unlocking the device. You can customize the gestures as per your need quite easily. You can also customize the toggles in the notification area.

ASUS needs to get rid of the pre-loaded bloatware in its smartphones. The device came with loads of pre-installed apps, and some apps were installed on their own the moment we connected the device to Wi-Fi for the first time. It may irk many consumers like me. The only good thing though here is, ASUS lets you uninstall any or all the bloatware pretty easily without the need to root the device. And the first thing we did was of course, uninstall all the bloatware.

Review on Youtube

Conclusion

If battery life is your first priority, then the ASUS Zenfone Max is the best smartphone that you can buy for Rs. 9,999. The excellent battery life trumps some of the shortcomings of the device.

[easyazon_link identifier=”B018VKZPG4″ locale=”IN” nf=”y” tag=”apure-21″]Buy Asus Zenfone Max ZC550KL (Black, 16GB) from Amazon[/easyazon_link]

The premium feel in terms of design and build, a decent camera with laser focus and excellent battery life turns the ASUS Zenfone Max into a winner. On a side note, we can say that this is basically a Zenfone 2 laser with a much bigger battery, different build & design.


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Avinash Kumar
Founder- Editor at Androidpure : A Mechanical Design Engineer by profession, but passionate about Computers, Smartphones, Gadgets, software and anything that helps to learn something new or different. Love to do things which i don't know and dive into unknown territories.

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