Review: Asus ZenFone 3 Max is impressive, but lacks the cool quotient

Asus’ new smartphone impresses in most aspects, but doesn’t really have that wow factor


The Asus ZenFone 3 Max is a solid addition to the sub Rs 20,000 segment
The Asus ZenFone 3 Max is a solid addition to the sub Rs 20,000 segment

Taiwanese smartphone and PC maker Asus has been making its presence felt in the smartphone segment for a while now. The latest in their fast-growing ZenFone line-up of smartphones is the ZenFone 3 Max. It is priced at Rs.17,999, and is likely to appeal more to buyers looking for big screen phone with a large battery as well. It is competing against the likes of LeEco Le Max2 which is selling at the same price and Lenovo Z2 Plus (Rs.17,999 onwards).

ZenFone 3 Max is a good looking phone with a unibody metallic finish
ZenFone 3 Max is a good looking phone with a unibody metallic finish

Design: Premium looks, handy feel

ZenFone 3 Max is a good looking phone with a unibody metallic finish. For a big battery phone it is surprisingly slim and handy. It weighs 175g, which is impressive for big battery phone. The slight curve around the spine gives it a nice feel in the hand. The navigation keys are you based and placed outside the screen but the bezels look sleek, unlike the earlier ZenFones. The SIM tray which also has third slot for microSD cards is placed along the left side, while the speaker is on the base. Flip it over, and you get a finger print sensor and a 16-megapixel camera. the finger print sensor adds a layer of security and unlock the phone instantly every time.

The phone’s key attraction is the bright 5.5-inch LCD display which comes with a screen resolution of 1920x1080p
The phone’s key attraction is the bright 5.5-inch LCD display which comes with a screen resolution of 1920x1080p

Display: Big and bright

The phone’s key attraction is the bright 5.5-inch LCD display which comes with a screen resolution of 1920x1080p and a layer of Gorilla Glass 3 for protection against scratches. Colours look good and bright which makes it ideal for watching movies and gaming. Despite the highly reflective nature of the screen, its visibility is better in bright light than many other phones we have seen in this price point. It also comes with a blue light filter which changes the colour of the screen so the blue light, which is usually higher in low light, won’t stress your eyes.

Performance: Works smoothly, big battery

Driving the phone is Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor paired with 3GB of RAM. It is a dependable processor and has been used in Xiaomi’s Redmi 3s and Redmi 3s Prime smartphones. Despite the fact that the phone runs a very resource intensive UI, the phone works without any signs of sluggishness or earning up on the back or edges. It was cable to handle multi-tasking and games such as FIFA 16 and Asphalt Xtreme without any hiccups. The device offers 32GB of internal storage and can take in up to 128GB microSD card. The two SIM slots support all major 4G networks in India.

Powered by a 4,000mAH battery, the ZenFone 3 Max can comfortably eke out almost two days of backup on a single charge.

Software: Cluttered UI

The phone runs the 6.0 (Marshmallow) version of Android OS with the feature rich ZenUI 3.0 on top of it. It is one of the most cluttered user interfaces we have come across. It comes preloaded with a lot of utility apps from Asus. It offers plenty of customisation options too. For example you can switch between a one layer mode with no app drawer and a two layer mode where you get an app drawer. You can also change the look and feel by applying new themes and app icons. It is a very funky looking UI but too many apps and features can be confusing.

Camera: Works well in daylight

The 16-megapixel camera impresses with its detailing and colour reproduction. Colours look rich without feeling unrealistic at any point. There is no macro mode yet close-up shots look clear. In landscape shots, the colours look accurate but on a bigger screen we noticed a little noise too. The shots look a bit sharper in the super resolution mode which combines multiple shots to produce a shot equivalent of a 64-megapixel camera. Low-light results look a bit blurry and even under the low-light mode we didn’t notice any major improvement in picture quality. The 8-megapixel snapper on the front can shoot crisp looking shots and offers beautification, HDR and time lapse mode.

Verdict

The ZenFone 3 Max is a solid addition to the sub Rs 20,000 segment. It impresses most with its performance, battery backup and display. LeEco Le Max 2 has a lower battery, but it offers a bigger and sharper display (2,560x1,400p resolution) and runs on a more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB RAM. It also offers free video content worth over Rs 4,000 from YuppTV and Eros Now and has a much superior audio output in earphones. If you are looking for phone with smaller display, the Z2 Plus is by far a much better option on account of its superior hardware (Qualcomm Snapdragon 820), clean Android UI and dependable 4,100mAh battery.

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