Asus Zenfone Max (2016) : Verdict

Premium builds and high-end specs in an affordable price bracket. Budget Smartphones are all the rage these days in price sensitive markets like India and China. Today we review the latest offering by Asus, the Zenfone Max.

The new offering from Asus packs in a massive 5000 mAh battery under a 5.5 inch 720p IPS LCD panel coupled with the Snapdragon 615 and adreno 405 GPU. Snapdragon 615 is an Octa Core processor with four cores clocked in at 1.5 GHz and the other four at 1.2 GHz. On the storage side it packs in  32GB internal storage. With a 13 mega pixel rear facing shooter equipped with Laser Auto Focus, a 5 mega pixel front facing camera, dual sim support along with an expandable storage of 64 GB and 2 gigs of ram, this sturdily built gadget  should be sufficient for almost anyone considering this is priced aggressively at ₹9,999  in India.

BUT… is it?

 

Specs Overview

Display  :                      5.5″ 720p HD IPS LCD, 267 ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection

Processor :                   Snapdragon 615 Octa Core (cortex A-53)
1.5GHz quad core / 1.2GHz quad core

GPU :                              Adreno 405

RAM :                             2GB

Internal Storage :         32GB

Expandable Storage : 64GB

Rear Camera :               13MP, Laser autofocus, dual tone flash

Front Camera :             5MP

Battery :                          5000mAh

OS :                                  Android 6.0.1

Network :                       GSM (2G), HSPA (3G), LTE (4G), Dual SIM, Dual Standby

Fingerprint Scanner :  NO

LED Notification : YES

Build

With a 5.5″ screen the Asus Zenfone Max 2016 sizes up 6.14 x 3.05 x 0.42 inches and weighs in a heavy 202 grams as is expected out of a phone with a huge 5000 mAh battery. You probably saw it coming but Asus has done a good job with the weight distribution and the device doesn’t feel as bulky as it may have felt. Thus our first pro is the build quality.

The device is solid and sturdy, and even without a metal uni body design  that has taken the smart phone industry by storm, the Zenfone Max feels quite premium for its price with a fake leather back made of plastic.

Zenfone-MAx-6

Display

The display is just 720p and not 1080p which would have been ideal for a 5.5 inch large display and thus a very low pixel density of 267 pixels per inch. Really? This is 2016 and 267 ppi is quite a bummer even on a budget smart phone that comes towards the higher end of the budget. Also considering the competition like the 2GB variant of Redmi Note 3 has a much better display. Though for a screen with such low pixel count, it is still not a bad display. The colors are fine and the touch response is okay. It retains the double tap to sleep and double tap to wake from its predecessor’s so all in all, it’s still a decent display save for the disappointing pixel count but that is just personal opinion.

very low pixel density of 267 pixels per inch

still a decent display

 

Network

The Zenfone Max supports all the Gs from 2 to 4 so there should be no complaints about that and the cellular call quality on this 5.5 inch Asus is good enough and the sound through the earpiece and the microphone is clear but if you take a lot of calls depending on the rear facing speaker you’ve run out of luck because it is just not satisfactory and also not loud.

2G bands GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 – SIM 1 & SIM 2
3G bands HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 – India
4G bands LTE band 1(2100), 3(1800), 5(850), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300), 41(2500) – India
Speed HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE Cat4 150/50 Mbps
GPRS Yes
EDGE Yes

 

Battery

Let’s face it, you’re probably only interested in this device for that nice sized 5000 mAh Lithium polymer box inside this. Does it deliver? A little too much. With an average usage including a few hours of calls, videos, browsing and everything a bored person usually does with his phone the Zenfone Max can easily last you for a day and even more. It can last for 48 hours on one full charge and can give you a 7-8 hours of screen-on time as well. Although you will want it to last even longer at times if you forget to charge it overnight because with such a huge battery power, comes a huge charging time. Not necessarily, but in this case it does due to the absence of any sort of quick charge support.. It takes almost 4 hours and more to charge from under 10% to 100%. By any standards that is a of time to charge a smart phone. So do remember to charge it overnight.

can last for 48 hours on one full charge

7-8 hours of screen-on time.

takes almost 4 hours and more to charge from under 10% to 100%

 

Gaming

With a reasonably powerful processor and GPU combination of Snapdragon 615 and Adreno 405 it is no surprise that the Zenfone Max  handles gaming quite smoothly and doesn’t stutter or lag even with the heavy games like Asphalt 8 and Modern Combat 5 however it does show its price point with N.O.V.A. 3 although the lags are only minor and at this price, it can be ignored. The best part however is this phone does not heat even with extended gaming of over 20 minutes which cannot be said for a lot of other android smartphones out there. The maximum it touches is around 40°C to 42°C . With 32GB of internal storage compared to the other smartphones priced similarly, there’s ample room for a lot of games.

The speakers are rear facing, not very loud and that hampers the overall experience but there’s a 3.5 mm headphone jack if you want.

doesn’t stutter or lag even with the heavy games

with N.O.V.A. 3 although the lags are only minor

does not heat even with extended gaming

speakers are rear facing, not very loud

 

Camera

Asus Zenfone Max sports a 13 MP rear facing camera and it performs well under natural lighting, i.e, outdoors in the sun. The colors are a little over saturated but there is a lot of detail in the pictures taken. In artificial lighting the pictures turn out to be a little softer but it’s okay. It’s a budget device. Under low light situations though, do not expect much of it. Every smart phone this cheap does struggles quite obviously under low light photography and the Zenfone Max is sadly no exception. The front camera performs similarly as the rear facing one in terms of picture quality, the only difference being the mega pixel count and hence the level of detail and resolution.

Although talking about the video recording, it does record video at 1080p but there’s some over sharpening which is enough to be disappointing for some.  Overall, it’s a decent camera considering the price and users that have not gone out of this price range for a smart phone will actually have nothing much to complain.

 performs well under natural lighting

lot of detail in the pictures

struggles quite obviously under low light photography

users that have not gone out of this price range for a smart phone will actually have nothing much to complain.

 

Performance

Performance, one thing almost every one today can expect a smart phone to be good at in any price range. The Zenfone packs quite the specs for its price on paper but do all those tiny parts click together and turn it into real world performance? Yes, for the most part. The Zenfone’s performance is great mostly but Asus has done a little over engineering here. Funny how there’s one over done thing in almost every department. It just has a lot of bloatware and background apps running so if you’re not someone who buys a phone and roots it, you will want to be aware of the not so great ram management. It’s not very bad, but it has some issues. The system UI reloads almost twice everyday. We’d say that shouldn’t be a deal breaker for an average user , one who is not very nit picky.

performance is great mostly

lot of bloatware

system UI reloads almost twice everyday

Price

USA :                $185

Europe :           €170

Britain (UK) : £120

India :               ₹9,999

Canada :            240 Canadian Dollars

Australia :        250 Australian Dollars

Malaysia :         725 Malaysian ringgit

Sri Lanka :         24,800 Sri Lankan Rupees

Pakistan :          18,750 Pakistani Rupees

 

Verdict

For the price of  ₹9,999 ($185), the Asus Zenfone Max is a good enough phone if you can ignore the low pixel count, the bloat and the not so great rear facing speakers, absence of a finger print scanner and the extremely slow charging time. Personally, we can not mainly because, the display. It is the first thing you notice about a smart phone when it boots, and it is what one has to be looking at, and  267 pixels per inch is so last year. Even if one can ignore that, there is no Fingerprint Scanner. If you’re crazy about battery life, you can try this but if not, this is not for you.

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