Sometimes bigger is better when it comes to smartphones. This is particularly true of people who use their Android phones for productivity tasks, such as working on spreadsheets on the move. Asus’ 6.8-inch ZenFone 3 Ultra and the Xiaomi’s 6.44-inch Mi Max Prime are as big as they come. The very different price points of the two phones, though, is perplexing.
If you thought 5.5-inch phones are a bit too big to hold, wait till you get your hands on the mammoth Asus ZenFone 3 Ultra or the Xiaomi Mi Max Prime.
The ZenFone 3 Ultra is quite unlike any smartphone that you may have seen so far, and is significantly longer and wider than the Mi Max Prime. The all-metal unibody feels premium, and the phone is just 6.8mm thick. It is all about getting used to the size of the phone, but once you do, it is plain sailing. To keep the size in check, the bezels around the screen have been kept slim. The volume and power buttons are placed on the right-side spine, and so are easily accessible while holding the phone. Both phones are built well.
The 6.8-inch display is the highlight of the ZenFone 3 Ultra, and it is an IPS screen with the Full HD (1,920x1,080) resolution. In comparison, the Mi Max Prime gets a 6.44-inch IPS LCD display (1,920x1,080 resolution). There are two sides to this big-screen tale, with both phones. First, the resolution is more than enough for most typical smartphone apps and media content, even though a higher resolution would have perhaps made things even more beautiful to look at. The colours look good and the brightness levels are fine. However, because of the screen size itself, certain apps may not scale perfectly—till app developers release updates. On the other hand, you get a fantastic experience while browsing Web pages, reading ebooks and even watching movies.
In case of the ZenFone 3 Ultra, the media consumption experience is helped by an image processor that is similar to what you get in high-end televisions, which takes care of reproducing detailing, removing distortions and also maintaining smooth fast-moving visuals, among other things. The ZenFone 3 Ultra is also the world’s first DTS Headphone:X capable smartphone, which will deliver multi-channel audio if you are using high-quality headphones or earphones. Both these things combined will surely add value for someone who intends to use the smartphone to the fullest, for watching movies and perhaps even using Netflix regularly.
For a phone that sits squarely in the flagship territory, the ZenFone 3 Ultra runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor, with 4 GB RAM. While we did not encounter any sluggishness in performance or stutters while multitasking, not ticking off the specification sheet with a more powerful processor means that some potential buyers may have doubts whether the phone is good enough. This is where Xiaomi has got the pricing spot on for the Mi Max Prime, which runs similar specifications.
In terms of battery life, the 4,600mAh battery in the ZenFone 3 Ultra lasts two days of fairly heavy usage. Xiaomi has packed in a bigger 4,850mAh battery in the Mi Max Prime, and that goes through two days of usage with consummate ease.
Storage is where the Mi Max Prime has an advantage, because it packs in 128 GB internal storage, while the ZenFone 3 Ultra has 64 GB internal storage. Both phones have memory card slots as well.
While it packs in a lot of technology and features, the ZenFone Ultra’s 23-megapixel camera remains a case of two halves. In good light, the photos are detailed, rich and with good colour separation. However, low-light shots are not as sharp and detailed and colours look a bit warmer than they actually are. The 16-megapixel camera in the Mi Max Prime is a let-down. The photos are not sharp or detailed enough, and the colours don’t always look accurate. If you like clicking photos with your smartphone, both phones are essentially disappointing, one more than the other.
The Asus ZenFone 3 Ultra and the Xiaomi Mi Max Prime are meant for people who want a smartphone for productivity tasks on the move, and also for anyone who watches a lot of media content on their phone. The big screen isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but those who want a phone this big, will love these two phones. And both have their strong points. Both phones look good, are made well and run similar hardware. However, while the ZenFone 3 Ultra does offer a slightly bigger screen and some goodies that enhance the media playback, one cannot ignore the Mi Max Prime’s much more affordable price tag.