What’s the most important department in a smartphone? Well, we can’t point to one specific section right, well certainly not but a smartphone’s battery is, of course, the most important department for any user. Though other features like display, processor do matter a lot it is the battery that counts. Asus has realized the importance of it and launched the Zenfone Max smartphone with a mammoth 5000mAh battery back in January, which claims to solve the battery problems. It did solve the battery problems by providing incredible battery life, but it fell short regarding performance. The company took some time out and had come up with all new refreshed Zenfone Max smartphone with same 5000mAh battery but this time with a better processor and new operating system on board. The All new Asus Zenfone Max is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 615Soc coupled with 2GB Ram(the variant we have) although you can get an extra gig of Ram for Rs.2,000 extra. Yes, Snapdragon 615 is relatively old for current times, but it is far better than Snapdragon 410 on the earlier variant. So how well does it fare? That’s the 10,000 rupee question here that needs to be answered. Let’s get started.
Asus Zenfone Max Build and Design: Asus’s has a different style in designing their smartphones, the Zenfone 5 was a refreshingly new design back when the market was flooded with a conventional design. But that changed soon enough when Asus kept launching smartphones with the same look, and that can be seen even with the new Zenfone Max. Nothing has changed from the earlier Zenfone Max design wise. We are not complaining about it, but it is a fact that needs to be addressed. The Asus Zenfone Max fits perfectly in our hands and is comfortable while using it. The leather back gives it a premium look and incredible grip while using it. Like we said, design wise there is pretty much nothing that changed a lot.
Talking about the design, Smartphone sports a 5.5-inches display HD IPS display. On the front, the device features a primary earpiece which is accompanied by a front 5-megapixel camera, Proximity, Ambient light sensor and Asus branding engraved in Silver color. On the bottom, Three touch type capacitive buttons that do not light up and these capacitive buttons do have haptic feedback when pressed. These buttons are painted down the display thus having extra bezels on the bottom.
On the rear side, there is a 13-megapixel autofocus rear camera with LASER autofocus, LED flash, Secondary Mic for noise cancellation and Asus branding, as said above the back panel is made of leather type material that feels good. The back cover can be removed giving access to the SIM card slots and a MicroSD card slot, though the back panel is removable, the 5000mAH battery isn’t. On top, 3.5MM audio jack and on the bottom we have the MicroUSB port for charging and data transfers. On the right side, we have the volume rockers, power on/off button and these buttons do give the proper amount of feedback and are tactile.
Asus Zenfone Max Display: The Asus Zenfone sports a 5.5-inches HD 720p IPS display with slim bezels on both the sides. Just like any other budget Asus smartphone, the Zenfone Max display is quite impressive for an HD display. The device is visible in broad daylight with excellent viewing angles. You can use the splendid default app to tweak the display color contrast Furthermore according to your taste. The color reproduction is good enough but is not crisp due to low pixel density.
The device comes with an auto-brightness sensor, and it works well, but we are not satisfied with the lowest brightness setting, using a third-party screen filter is suggested. It also comes with blue light filter, and you can enable it while reading books or during low-light. On the whole, the display is quite impressive for a smartphone that is priced below Rs.10,000, but it would have been great if Asus had used a 1080p panel instead of HD.
Asus Zenfone Max Performance: The Asus Zenfone Max is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 615Soc coupled with 2GB Ram(the variant we have; there is also 3GB Ram model) coupled with Adreno 405 GPU. The general day-to-day performance is quite good and being a smartphone that keeps its primary focus on battery backup; you can’t expect incredible performance. We played games likes Asphalt 8, Need for Speed Run, Subway surfers during the time we test out the device and one thing that is quite obvious is the heating, thanks to SD 615.
Games like Asphalt 8 which is a heavy graphic intense game, all other games ran quite well and with Asphalt 8 and other high-end titles started lagging and made it is completely unplayable. Snapdragon 615 is now an age-old chipset, but it works out quite well unless and until you start playing heavy games. More often than not we did notice lag in the U.I and this lag is seen when you have 10’s of apps running the background, but if you are planning on buying the smartphone make sure you buy the 3GB Ram variant. This extra 1gig of Ram can give you a better multitasking experience. Apps open up fast enough when you have very few apps running in the background, the Ram management is pretty average. When you compare the performance of the old Zenfone Max that comes with Snapdragon 410, the new Zenfone Max’s performance is quite better but not out of the moon.
Asus Zenfone Max OS: The all new Zenfone Max runs on Android 6.0.1 with Zen U.I on top. The user interface is close to stock, and though the look and feel are near stock, you can still customize the user interface with different fonts, themes that are available in the theme store, pick wallpaper and lock screen from a vast collection and much more. Asus had a terrible name for stuffing their phones with unnecessary bloatware apps and it’s no different with Zenfone Max either; you do have few bloatware apps but the good thing here is you can remove them by just uninstalling. The transition animations, colorful icons won’t bring out that boring feel in you.
With Android 6.0, Google has introduced app permission by default and that feature is available here on the board. App locking feature is available by default, so you don’t need to install a third-party app for it, but the device misses on Fingerprint sensor for better security. All the Zen U.I default apps are available under a single roof to update them or even remove them if in case you won’t be needing them. Overall the U.I is quite good, and it’s pretty darn good of Asus to launch a phone running Android 6.0 for just 10,000.
Asus Zenfone Max Camera: The Zenfone Max comes with a 13-megapixel autofocus rear camera with LED, Laser autofocus and on the front, there is a 5-megapixel camera for selfies and video calls. Talking about the camera performance, just like any other budget smartphone, the Zenfone Max camera can click decent to good images when you have ample lighting and outdoors. The colors look sharp and accurate, but it tends to go overboard with color contrast at times. And in indoor conditions, the camera is a complete failure, the images look noisy and washed. The Owl mode or the low-light mode might help sometimes, but the camera needs some serious changes for indoor shots.
The front 5-megapixel is quite good for selfies and video chats. The camera app now comes with a manual mode allowing you to adjust ISO, white balance manually, and more. Just like any other Asus phone, it comes with HDR mode, Owl Mode, time-lapse, beautification, etc. Check out the camera samples to know the camera performance.
Asus Zenfone Max Battery: The Zenfone Max comes with a 5000mAH battery, the battery backup on the device is nothing short of incredible, it gave us a screen-on time of over 12 hours of screen on time justifying the company’s claims regarding the battery. Good software and battery optimization is one strong point for this amazing battery life. During the time, we tested out the Zenfone Max; the battery lasted for a day and a half with a single charge. One bad thing about the battery is that it takes forever to charge completely from 10-100%. Impressive stuff from Asus once again.
Connectivity Features: The device comes with Dual SIM slots and MicroSD card slot for memory expansion, the device does support 4G LTE and WiFi signal reception is ok, we did face issues like sudden WiFi disconnection, signal drop, on the other hand, the call quality was excellent. Bluetooth, OTG, GPS are some obvious features.
Conclusion: The Asus Zenfone Max is really a great device with decent performance combined with the latest operating system and incredible battery life which is a strong feature of the device. But can it compete with other smartphones that come with better specifications and an extra set of features like fingerprint sensor and IR blaster? It kind of can and cannot. Can compete in OS, incredible battery, nice build quality departments and cannot in hardware additions, excellent performance, 1080p display. So set your priorities right and decide it yourself.