ASUS India gave us a glimpse of the Zenfone Max back at the ZenFestival in August 2015. The smartphone that comes with a massive 5000mAh battery was then officially launched in India again in January 2016 and went on sale starting from January 15. The speciality of this smartphone is its battery without an iota of doubt as we do not have a lot of options when it comes to ‘buying a smartphone with 5000mAh battery that costs Rs 9,999’. We have tested this device for quite sometime now and thus bring you the ASUS Zenfone Max Review. Does it really have a terrific battery life? Let’s find out!
ASUS Zenfone Max Review : Hardware & Build Quality
Lets quickly have an overview of the Zenfone Max in case you’re not aware of it. It has a 5.5-inch HD IPS display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, which is covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 4. It packs in a quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor clocked at 1.0 GHz and comes with a Adreno 306 GPU. It has 2 GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage that can be expanded up to 64 GB. It rocks a 13 megapixel rear camera along with a 5 megapixel front-facing camera. The Max runs on Zen UI 2.0 based on Android 5.0 Lollipop OS. It supports 4G LTE on both SIM cards and packs in a whopping 5000mAh battery.
It is a solidly built smartphone that has an ergonomic design. It is obviously on the heavier side but does feel quite comfortable to grip and hold for long periods. Looking at the front topside, we find the 5 megapixel front shooter on the left side followed by the earpiece on the middle and ASUS branding below it. Then, we have the 5.5-inch HD IPS display protected by Gorilla Glass 4. Below the display, we get the three shiny capacitive buttons followed by a shiny reflective bezel. We get the volume rocker and power/unlock button on the right and there is nothing on the left. At bottom, we just have the microUSB port and primary microphone and on top left we get the 3.5 mm audio jack. Turning the phone, we have the 13 megapixel rear shooter followed by Real Tone flash and Laser Auto Focus on either sides. It is followed by another ASUS branding in the middle, Zenfone badge at the bottom along with the speaker holes. If we open up the matte finish back cover, the main attraction of this phone aka the 5000mAh Li-Polymer battery is seen but unfortunately, it is not removable. Also, We get the Dual SIM and microSD card slots above the battery. A rim made up of chrome runs around the body of the phone which is 10.55 mm thick and weighs 202 grams.
ASUS Zenfone Max Review : Battery
First things first, this phone exists due to its battery and lets talk about it. The Zenfone Max packs in a massive 5000 mAh battery under the hood. It is made up of Lithium-Polymer and you cannot remove it, although the back panel is removable. The battery takes about 4 hours to completely charge from 0-100 %. If you consider standby time, you can forget your charger for more than 10 days easily as the UI is well optimized and there is negligible battery leak. However, we do use our smartphones a lot and on heavy usage, the Max will serve will for about 2 days on average with about 10-12 hours of SoT (Screen on Time).
The Zen UI has a lot of Power management tweaks up its sleeve. We have different battery modes that ranges between Performance, Normal, Power saving, Super saving and Customized. You can also auto schedule between any of these modes in terms of battery level or time schedule. Check out some of the screenshots of the battery usage, power management UI and more below.
ASUS Zenfone Max Review : Display
The Max comes with a ‘decent’ 5.5-inch display that has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. In this price segment, we have seen Full HD panels but as it is primarily targeted at consumers wanting more juice out of the device, a HD panel makes complete sense. The pixel density is on the lower side with just 267 ppi though. The color reproduction, brightness and contrast ratio is above average and looking at the display in bright sunlight is a bit of an issue. However, it is a big immersive display and you will end up consuming a lot of content on it. A massive plus point of the display is its Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection.
ASUS Zenfone Max Review : Performance & Gaming
The Zenfone Max is powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 chipset that is clocked at 1.0 GHz. It comes with 2 GB RAM along with Adreno 306 GPU. As we all know, the Snapdragon 410 is an old horse which is a thing of the past now but it is still reliable. It handles day-to-day tasks quite well with negligible lag. If you’re multitasking with several apps opened, it lags a bit and drops a frame here and there. As the audience for this smartphone is completely different, Snapdragon 410 is quite suitable for the device. Calling capability of this phone is very good and sound from the earpiece is clear and crisp. The speakers situated at the back is quite loud and clear, and if you put on a headphone, it will not disappoint you either.
Again, it is not a smartphone meant for gaming. It does pretty well with casual games but does struggle against high graphics intensive games. In short, if you’re a casual gamer, it will suffice your need but if you’re a hardcore gamer, look elsewhere.
ASUS Zenfone Max Review : Camera
It rocks a 13 megapixel primary rear shooter that comes with f/2.0 aperture and does a pretty satisfactory job. However, the satisfaction is limited to outdoors and natural lighting only. When you’re indoors or in low-light, the camera disappoints. Outdoor shots are quite natural and vivid but color saturation is on the higher side (usual on ASUS phones). Low-light images are filled with grain/noise and even the Laser Auto Focus cannot focus properly at times. You can use the Real Tone (Dual tone) flash that comes with the camera and get some desirable and usable shots but we are not a fan of using flash, on any smartphone. Also, as usual the HDR mode rocks in this ASUS smartphone as well. Coming to video recording, it can shoot Full HD (1080p) videos but we would not suggest you to get the Zenfone Max, if you’re into mobile videography. It is average and we do not blame ASUS since the company doesn’t expect their customer to purchase the mobile for shooting videos. Although, we won’t have any issue occasionally shooting with it.
Coming to the 5 megapixel front-facing shooter, it again comes with f/2.0 aperture and a 85-degree wide-angle lens. Hence, selfies and group selfies are great outdoors but it is an issue in low-light, again.
ASUS Zenfone Max Review : Camera samples
Do take a look at the unedited camera samples taken in various lighting conditions. First set of pictures shot on auto mode and the second set being shot with HDR mode on.
ASUS Zenfone Max Review : Software & Connectivity
It runs on the in-house Zen UI 2.0 skin on top of Android Lollipop OS. ASUS is expected to upgrade it to Android 6.0 Marshmallow and the latest version of Zen UI (presumably Zen UI 3.0) in the near future. We have reviewed a lot of Zenfones in the past and Zen UI is almost same on most of them. If you read our ASUS Zenfone 2 ZE551ML Review, you can see that the Zen UI is heavy and is accompanied by a lot of pre-installed apps (bloatware). Personally, the UI is a bit dull in our opinion but you might like it. However, it is very well optimized and you can customize it the way you want starting from adding widgets, setting up multiple personalized home screens and changing themes to change the look and feel of the UI.
Coming to connectivity, it supports 4G LTE and that works on both the SIM cards. It supports LTE – Band 1/3/38/39/40/41. Out of 16 GB of internal storage, around 10.3 GB is available for users. The phone supports USB OTG and external memory via microSD card, you can add up to 64 GB. It has the usual WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS as well.
ASUS Zenfone Max Review : Final Verdict
The ASUS Zenfone Max is available in Black and White color variants at Rs 9,999 in India and it sells exclusively on Flipkart. It comes with an ergonomic design in spite of packing a huge battery and big 5.5-inch display. You do feel the weight (202 grams) initially, as it is on the higher side, but it is not an issue after getting in the groove. The Zenfone Max gives solid performance along with a good camera and a battery life, that will make your counterparts jealous. It is a no brainer if you do not wish to remain a wall hugger (charges smartphone all the time due to low battery) anymore and forget your charger for couple of days.
If we look at the competition, you will not get a smartphone with 5000 mAh battery in Rs 9,999. However, you might take a look at the Gionee Marathon M4 and Lenovo Vibe P1, if you’re willing to spend around Rs 15,000. Also, Huawei Honor Holly 2 Plus with a 4000 mAh battery priced at Rs 8,499 is worth looking at as well.