Asus launched Zenfone Max targeted towards those consumers who prefer to have great battery life in their smartphone under an affordable price. Zenfone Max (Review ) turned out to be a smartphone with an awesome battery life. Asus decided to bump up hardware specifications of this already great smartphone and launched the New Zenfone Max with a better Processor & twice the storage along with latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system at the same price.

Here is our review of this New Zenfone Max based on our experience with the smartphone as our primary device with dual SIMs, an always on 4G data connection and even a week under roaming conditions. The variant that we tested was the Model No. ASUS Z010D ( ZC550KL) Black color which comes with 2 GB of RAM and priced at Rs. 9,999 which is same as the earlier model price. There is a 3 GB RAM  variant of Zenfone Max available too, but at a higher price of Rs. 12,999.

New Zenfone Max

If you have read our earlier review, this one will appear similar as this is the same device with better hardware specifications.

Brief Technical Specifications

  • Display : 5.5 inch HD IPS
  • OS : Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • CPU : Octa-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
  • GPU : Adreno 405
  • RAM : 2 GB LPDDR3
  • Rear Camera  : 13 MP Pixelmaster with laser auto-focus and dual-LED real tone flash (f/2.0 Aperture, 5-element Lens),  75 degree
  • Front Camera: 5 MP Pixelmaster with f/2.0 aperture,  85 degree
  • Storage : 32GB ROM + Micro SD Card support
  • Connectivity: 4G LTE, Dual Sim (LTE+ LTE), USB OTG Support
  • Battery : 5000 mAh embedded
  • Dimensions: 77.5 x 156 x 10.55 mm
  • Weight: 202 grams

Design and Build Quality

There is no design changes in the new Zenfone Max and it comes with same curved rounded plastic back (removable) cover with a smooth textured premium finish making it comfortable to hold in hand. The volume rockers and Power button are placed conventionally, with both on one side of the device.

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It feels a bit heavy, thanks to the 5000 mAh embedded battery, 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.

As with all the Asus smartphones, 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.

Display

It comes with the same 5.5-inch HD IPS Display as the earlier one with resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The display appears great if you manually set the brightness to highest level and even the auto brightness features works great adjusting brightness based on the surroundings, though it appears a bit dull in that mode. It also comes with great viewing angles, letting you view the screen even at steep angles.

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Performance and Benchmarks

The new ASUS Zenfone Max is now powered by a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 instead of earlier Snapdragon 410, with 2 GB of RAM ( There is a 3 GB model too, but we tested the 2 GB Model only). The upgraded CPU has done some wonders for the smartphone and we can clearly feel the difference compared to the earlier model.

We played heavy graphics intensive games such as Asphalt 8 and Mortal Combat X on the smartphone continuously for 15-25 minutes with loads of other apps open in the background. And we didn’t feel any lag or frame drops even if random after continuous usage for more than 15-25 minutes.  In the earlier variants, we had noticed few random frame drops, but now with Snapdragon 615, those issues are gone.

Yes, we did face some random UI issues like the ZenUI getting hanged 2-3 times while receiving calls during our almost 10 days of usage, but we feel that these small bugs can easily be addressed via a OTA update from ASUS.

The graphics details in the games and HD videos was great. There was negligible heating of the device while playing intensive games, too long but you won’t notice it as any smartphone will heat up by few degrees if you play heavy graphics intensive games on it.

The Zenfone Max comes with 32 GB internal storage with support for Micro SD cards. The operating system and pre-loaded apps take around 7 GB of storage and hence the end-user gets only about 24+GB 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. You can also record voice calls using the Asus dialer app without installing additional app or rooting the device. 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 has almost doubled now compared to earlier Zenfone Max variant and it comes out to be about 40,000+ points on expected lines considering the fact that it is now powered by Snapdragon 615 processor.

Camera

It comes with same cameras as that of the earlier Zenfone Max model i.e. a 13 MP main rear camera with dual-LED real tone flash with laser focus and a front 5 MP front camera, hence the experience hence remains same as before. As expected, it shot some great pics under normal lighting conditions, but faltered in low light conditions or in shades 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 low light mode does wonders for pure dark cases. Check out some of these images in camera samples below. Also, Just read our earlier review of Zenfone Max for more details.

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Camera samples

Checkout the images below taken using the New Zenfone Max 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 again. In spite of an upgraded CPU i.e Snapdragon 615 instead of Snapdragon 410, the battery performance was excellent and surpassed the earlier model. Even with heavy use of the device, we were able to keep it away from charger for almost two days easily. During our normal usage, it lasted for more than two and half days. Keep in mind that we always had two SIMs and working 4G connection with roaming conditions during the testing period.

Zenfone Max Battery Life

We were able to get a SOT (Screen on time) of more than 10 hours during some days which is 1 hour more than earlier one, but on an average we always got a screen on time of 8.5 to 9 hours easily. We assume that Android Marshmallow Doze feature helps in achieving the awesome battery life.

Operating System and UI

The New Zenfone Max is powered by Android 6.0 Lollipop with ASUS’ own user interface, ZenUI, on top of it. Even though the operating system is upgraded to Android 6.0 Marshmallow, yet you won’t notice anything new or different visibly thanks to the same ZenUI. But Marshmallow in the background does improve the user experience. We always believed that ZenUI is one of the better OEM customizations as its clean and comes with some nifty features such as Power saving modes which actually works and not gimmick.

Again, ASUS needs to get rid of the pre-loaded bloatware in their smartphones.

Conclusion

Here we reiterate what we had said earlier too. 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 awesome battery life trumps everything that you think you can miss. For a price of Rs. 9,999 you get a premium design and decent build, Better performance, a decent camera with laser focus and awesome battery life.


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