Asus Zenfone 3 Max Review


Asus has mastered the art phone with long battery life. It started off with the Zenfone Max, then came the Zenfone Max 2016 (review) which was a much-improved version of its predecessor and now we have Zenfone 3 Max. It not only does what it is supposed to, calls, superior battery backup but also is a beautifully built phone.

While the original Max came with a 5000 mAh battery pack this one has got a slightly smaller i.e. 4100 mAh battery pack. Another major difference is the price. The original Max was priced at Rs. 9,999 while the Zenfone 3 Max comes in two variants. The 5.2-inches screen variant comes with MediaTek Processor and is priced at Rs. 13,999  and 5.5-inches Zenfone 3 Max (ZC553KL) with Snapdragon 430 processor is priced at Rs. 17,999.

Today we will review the  Zenfone 3 Max 5.5-inches model

Specs: 5.5-inch Full HD display | 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor | 3GB RAM | 32GB internal memory | 16MP PixelMaster Camera + 8MP Pixel Master Front Camera |4G dual sim | Android M v6.0.1 with ZenUI 3.0 | 4100 mAh battery

Zenfone 3 Max – Unboxed

Inside the box, you get pretty regular stuff like

  • Zenfone 3 Max Mobile phone itself
  • a 10W Power/Travel Adapter
  • Data cable
  • SIM ejection tool
  • OTG cable
  • Quick Start Guide

Asus ZenFone 3 Max Build and Design

The design is a highlight of the device. It catches your attention at the first sight. The use of metal in designing the devices have given the Asus phone a premium look. Although most of the phones in the market these days almost look same, however, the way the curvy edges and 2.5D glass on the front meet, it makes the phone a delight to hold. The back is made of metal with plastic panels on top and bottom for wireless connectivity. Although the grip is ergonomic, the metal back makes the phone a bit slippery.

A 3.5 mm audio jack is located on the top along with a secondary noise cancellation mic. On the top, front we have the front facing camera, earpiece speaker grille, and ambient light sensors, aligned very neatly. A notification led is located on one side.

The device comes with capacitive buttons on the front which is weirdly nonbacklit. It is hard to operate the device in the dark since a lot of devices have a different button arrangement these days. I kept fumbling between, back and recent history button often.

The Volume rocker and power buttons are placed at the left and have a good tactile feedback. A hybrid dual sim tray is located on the right side. I’m not a big fan of hybrid sim slots as they limit you as a user to use either a sim card or a microSD card. A lot of people need both on a device in this segment hence this is a letdown.

A mono speaker grille and micro USB port are located at the bottom. While most of the phones these days are switching to USB-Type C port, Asus has kept the connectivity port as micro USB since that is a standard in most of the phones and Zenfone 3 Max comes with a reverse charging facility hence it made sense.

Asus Zenfone 3 back
Asus Zenfone 3 back

The rear Camera is housed on the back of the device with the two tone flash and a laser focus sensor on each side and a fingerprint sensor located just below the camera unit.

I loved the overall feel of the device. Although it has its flaws (a tad bit slippery) feels good to hold and show off. Personally, I’m happy that Asus has moved away from the plasticky design and the full HD display is an icing on the cake.

Asus ZenFone 3 Max Software

The phone runs on Android 6.0 out of the box with Asus Zen UI on top. A major issue I had with Asus earlier (Read Asus Zenfone 3 review) was the sheer number of preloaded apps. This time, however, the number of apps have decreased, and you get an option while setting up the phone to choose additional apps to install. However, bloatware can still be further reduced. You can find a new set of animations like the drum like effect when you key in you key lock etc. I feel too much customization and animation has impacted the performance of the device.

I’m a big fan of Stock Android UI. However, I feel that Zen UI is highly optimized for the hardware hence you will not face app crashes or forced stops.

Asus ZenFone 3 Max Performance

The Zenfone 3 Max is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC which is less powerful than the devices at this price point like the Lenovo Z2 Plus or a LeEco LeMax 2 which come with a Snapdragon 820 or is priced way premium than the best seller Redmi Note 3 which has a Snapdragon 650 SOC.

Using a low-end processor clocked at lesser frequency ensures battery efficiency. The battery easily lasts for 2 days with regular usage like few calls, browsing the internet, WhatsApp, and light gaming. In normal day to day usage, I did not feel much stutter, however, frame drops and lag could be noticed while playing heavy games.

Thanks to the ample amount of RAM (3GB here) day to day tasks and occasional gaming were smooth. You only realize the difference in performance if you compare the phone with another powerful device at the same time.

The fingerprint sensor on Zenfone 3 Max worked without fail. It works directly from standby and you do not need to wake up the device to unlock it, however, its delay in unlocking the device and flaring up the screen was quite obvious compared to few devices in the same price segment. One can consider it nitpicking but it was evident.

Asus ZenFone 3 Max Battery

Battery always has been the highlight of the Max series and the battery performance on Zenfone 3 Max is better than the previous iteration despite having a smaller 4100 mAh battery. Hardware here is one of the major reason behind that.

I would say Zenfone 3 Max is meant for an average person, who does not want to charge the device often or keep carrying the charger along. This phone offers 2 days battery backup for a person with average usage. Even if you’re a power user it will run easily for a day and a half and if that is not enough you have various power profiles which offer more juice.

If you carry multiple devices than the reverse charging feature using the OTG cable on the phone can be handy. Fast charging is yet another feature I would’ve loved and missed the most on the phone.

I’ve played Asphalt 8 on the phone more than an hour and the phone did just get “warm” and battery just dropped from 100% to 89% which was heartening to see.

Asus ZenFone 3 Max Camera

Asus Zenfone 3 Max
Click for a full size image. Check out the entire Album on Flickr!
Click for a full size image. Check out the entire Album on Flickr!
Click for a full size image. Check out the entire Album on Flickr!

Zenfone 3 Max has an 8megapixel front camera and 16-megapixel rear camera. As with Asus phones, they come with a lot of setting (a bit too many for my liking) on camera app including a full blown manual settings mode. The camera does not disappoint. The laser focus and phase-detection autofocus help to focus fast and accurate. Even for the videos, there are a lot of option available; hyper lapse mode is present, but slow motion recording is missing.

Color reproduction in outdoor shots was a bit dull and, faded, to say the least, and there was visible noise in images once zoomed in. Clicking pictures and recording video was easy and the camera app loaded up quickly.



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