ASUS India had announced the Zenfone Max (ZC550KL) at the ASUS ZenFestival in August last year. However, it went on sale in January 2016. This smartphone’s USP was its massive 5000mAh battery under the hood with relatively good specifications, priced at Rs 9,999. The response for this device was so incredible in the Indian market that it became the best seller for ASUS India, hence they have repackaged the device with better internals and have relaunched a ‘better’ phone on March 23, 2016.
The new Zenfone Max comes in two variants – one has 2GB RAM and another has 3GB RAM, but both has 32GB base internal storage. They are priced at Rs 9,999 and Rs 12,999, respectively. Also, the old model is now selling in the country for Rs 8,999. Since last week, we have been using the new ‘better’ Zenfone Max (2GB RAM variant) and hence we bring you the unboxing and first impressions of the smartphone.
ASUS Zenfone Max Unboxing
The Zenfone Max box is simple and compact as most of the other ASUS smartphone packaging. Once opening up the box, we get the phone, USB cable, a 1A wall charger, a USB OTG Cable and some warranty information along with IMEI stickers. Since, ASUS India advertises that the phone can be used as a powerbank and hence can charge other devices as well, it is very thoughtful of them to include the USB OTG cable, which will help the user to charge other devices using their Max.
ASUS Zenfone Max First Impressions
First of all, kudos to the ASUS team for launching a Rs 9,999 – 12,999 smartphone that runs on the latest Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, since most other manufacturers still ship their devices with Android Lollipop on board. We will come back to the software part later, again. Now, lets check out the display. The Zenfone Max features the same 5.5-inch HD display that has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. In this price segment, a Full HD panel is very common, but the target audience of this phone are power users who would like to have more juice in their device at the end of the day, hence a HD panel makes complete sense. In spite of being a 720p display that has a pixel density of 267 PPI, it is very crisp and sharp, color reproduction is accurate and it is very bright as well.
Now coming to the processor, the new Max is powered by a 1.5 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 chipset along with Adreno 405 GPU, instead of the 1.0 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 SoC present on the older variant. This CPU surely provides the added boost when compared to the old one but it was ‘infamous’ for getting ‘overheated’. However, we have not faced any ‘heating issue’ on this smartphone whatsoever. Once again kudos to the ASUS team for getting it right with the ‘infamous 615’. 32GB internal storage as base, which can further be expanded up to 64GB via microSD card, is a big deal as well, since most smartphones in this range has either 16GB as base internal storage or come with Hybrid SIM slot, where the user has to sacrifice one SIM slot, in case they want to expand the storage via microSD card.
Lets now talk about the cameras on this device. It rocks a 13 megapixel rear camera and a 5 megapixel front-facing camera. The quality of the images are not the best but we have to do some more testing. Hence, we will reserve our final comment for the full review, that will be up by next week. The build quality of the device is pretty solid but it is slightly on the heavier side as it weighs 202 grams and is 10.55 mm thick.
The performance of the new Zenfone Max has improved substantially compared to the old model, since it is running on Android Marshmallow. We still get the Zen UI 2.0 on top of it along with a lot of ‘bloatware’ apps, but we can always customize it to our own liking. More on the software in our full review. We have the usual 4G LTE support, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS/GLONASS as connectivity options and all of them works fine.
Now, coming to the most important feature of the phone – the non-removable 5000 mAh polymer battery. First of all, since it is a massive battery, it takes a lot of time to charge the device (around 4-5 hours) and it does not support quick charging. This quick charging feature would have been appreciated in a phone with a massive battery, but we cannot expect all the goodies in a Rs 10,000 smartphone. However, if we charge the device with other fast chargers, it will take comparatively less time than the supplied 1A charger. We will post full charge cycles (with supplied charger and other chargers) in our full review soon. If we talk about the battery life, we could easily use it for 2-3 days with moderate usage and it gave us a standby time of up to 7-8 days (with WiFi switched on).
So, is it worth buying the Zenfone Max in this crowded mid-range market? With our initial testing, it is certainly worth the moolah and if you are someone who hates to charge their smartphone every now and then, it is made for you. The biggest USP of the device is that it runs on Marshmallow. If you’re still on the fence, then wait for our complete Zenfone Max Review, which should drop in very soon.