Asus launched an upgraded version of the Zenfone Max in India in May starting at Rs. 9999 as a successor of the first Zenfone Max that was launched back in January. It has a faster Octa-Core Snapdragon 615 SoC, runs on Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) and has 32GB of storage. It also has a 3GB RAM variant for Rs. 12,999. Is the phone worth the price? Let us find out in the complete review.
We unboxed the new Zenfone Max recently, check out the video below.
- Asus Zenfone Max (ZC550KL-6A072IN) smartphone in Black color
- 2-pin charger (5.2V-1A)
- Micro USB cable
- USB OTG cable
- User manual and warranty information
Display, Hardware and Design
The new Zenfone Max has the same 5.5-inch HD screen as the predecessor with resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels and a pixel density of about 267 PPI. It has 72% screen-to-body ratio. It also has Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection that prevents the screen from scratches. Even though the pixel density is low, the colors are vibrant and the viewing angles are good as well.
There is a 5-megapixel camera on the top along with the usual set of proximity and ambient light sensors but it doesn’t have a magnetic sensor or gyroscope. There is an Asus branding below the earpiece.
There are the usual set of back, home and menu/recent apps buttons below the display. These are not backlit but offer haptic feedback when pressed. There is an addition space below the buttons making it tall. It is 77.5mm wide and 156mm tall, making it slightly bigger than some of the smartphones with a 5.5-inch screen, including the latest Moto G4 Plus and Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 smartphones.
It is 10.55 mm thick. The volume rocker and the power buttons are present on the right side of the phone. Even though the phone is in black color, the chrome finish on the sides have a gold finish. The 3.5mm audio jack is present on the top and the micro USB slot and a tiny microphone hole are present on the bottom.
On the back there is a 13-megapixel camera along with dual-tone LED flash and Laser auto focus. There is a large ASUS branding below the camera and the Zenfone branding on the bottom part of the back, just above the speaker grill. The back cover has leather-like finish that gives the phone a premium look. The leather finish offers a good grip to hold the phone. Overall the build quality of the phone is good.
Opening the back cover reveals a huge 5000mAh built-in battery.
The phone has dedicated dual micro SIM slots next to the camera module. The microSD card slot is present below the camera and the phone accepts cards up to 64GB.
The 13-megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture is decent. It has several modes such as (Auto, Manual, Super Resolution, Time Lapse, Effect, HDR, Panorama, Night, Low light, Miniature, Depth of field, Smart remove, All smiles, Beautification and GIF animation). We had already seen these features in Zenfone 2. Manual mode lets you adjust white balance, Exposure, ISO and Shutter speed manually, but it doesn’t have live preview mode. The front-facing camera has beauty mode and few other modes such as Effect, Selfie Panorama, Low Light, and Time Lapse.
Daylight shots are decent, but it could have been better. Thanks to the f/2.0 aperture, macro shots came out pretty good. The laser auto focus lets you focus in a fraction of second. HDR shots and the 52MP high-resolution images were good, but you need to hold the phone steady, otherwise the shots end up blurry. The Low light mode uses different image-processing techniques to reduce noise and boosts color contrast, but it reduces the image size to 3-megapixel. Even though low-light mode captures more details, these still have noise. Flash is not overpowering, and the dual-tone flash helps to offer accurate skin tone. Overall, the camera is decent for the price, but it’s not the best compared to other phones in the price range.
Check out the camera samples (Click the image to view the full resolution sample).
It can record videos at 1080p resolution. The video quality is good. Thanks to the secondary microphone, audio is good as well.
It runs on Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow) with ZenUI on top. It also has a Themes store to download more themes.
You can add up to 7 homescreens and the customizable quick settings menu has toggles for one hand operation, Wi-Fi hotspot, Glove mode apart from the usual quick settings toggles. There are default shortcuts in the first row. It has brightness slider on the top with auto brightness option. Lockscreen has Quick access shortcut to launch camera, dialer and messages easily. The One Hand Mode reduces the screen’s size so that you can use the phone in a smaller window
Out of 2GB RAM, 1.89GB of RAM is usable. About 897MB of RAM is free when default apps are running in the background. Out of 32GB of internal storage, about 24GB is usable. It doesn’t have option to move apps to the SD card, but 24GB is more than enough even if you install large games.
Apart from the usual set of Google apps and some utility apps, the phone comes with a Clean Master, Amazon Kindle and Puffin in the Apps4U folder. You can also arrange these apps automatically in folder using Smart group feature.
Music Player and FM Radio
The music player has simple UI. There is also equalizer in the settings. It has FM Radio that lets you add up to 6 favorite station, but it doesn’t support RDS or recording. The phone has SonicMaster Audio Technology for a better audio experience.
The phone doesn’t come with bundled headset in the box. Audio quality is decent through third-part headsets and loudspeaker output is good as well but the call audio through the earpiece is low.
Dual SIM and Connectivity
It has dual SIM support and 4G LTE connectivity. Both the SIMs support 4G but you can use 4G on only one SIM at a time while the other SIM goes to 2G. Other connectivity features include, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS. It also has USB on-the-go (OTG) support.
Performance and Benchmarks
It is powered by an Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 64-bit processor that has four ARM Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.50 GHz per core and other four Cortex A53 cores are clocked at 1.21 GHz per core. 2GB of RAM is enough to run several apps smoothly, but you can also go for the 3GB RAM variant. Check out some synthetic benchmark scores below.
AnTuTu Benchmark 6
It scored 40952 points in the AnTuTu Benchmark 6.
Vellamo 3 MultiCore
It scored 3047 points in the Geekbench 3 Multi-Core benchmark.
Geekbench 3 Multi-Core
It scored 3047 points in the Geekbench 3 Multi-Core benchmark.
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited
It scored 9474 points in the 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited GPU benchmark. Check out the complete set of new Asus Zenfone Max benchmarks here.
The Adreno 405 GPU clocked at 550 MHz offers decent performance and graphics. We did not face any heating issues, even though Snapdragon 615 SoC is known for heating issues.
The 5000mAh battery offers brilliant battery life. With full charge it lasts up to 2 days even with heavy use. With minimal use it lasts more than 3 days. It also has several power saver modes such as Performance, Normal, Power saving, Super saving and customized. It lacks support for fast charging so it takes several hours to charge the phone.
It achieved a One Charge Rating of 19 hours and 59 minutes mainly due to brilliant talk time and good rating in video playback test. Check out the complete set of Asus Zenfone Max (2016) battery life test results here.
One of the main highlights of the smartphone is the reverse charging feature that lets you use the bundled USB OTG cable to charge other phones using the Zenfone Max. It can also charge other devices quickly if you prefer rapid reverse charging mode that has output of 1.5A but it turns off the Zenfone Max.
Starting at Rs. 9999, the Zenfone Max (2016) is definitely a worthy upgrade to the first Zenfone Max. The massive 5000mAh battery with reverse charging feature is the main USP of the phone. Other features of the phone don’t disappoint. Wish Asus had added support for fast charging. It has a 720p when most phones in the price range come with a 1080p screen. Even though it is out of stock on Flipkart currently, the phone is available through ASUS Exclusive Stores and retail outlets across India. To summarize, here are the pros and cons of the smartphone.
- Brilliant battery life with reverse charging
- Good build quality
- Decent camera
- No fast charging
- Low resolution display
- Earpiece audio is low for calls