Asus’ ZenFone line-up has multiple phones with similar names. They are separated from each other through slight price difference and minor changes in configuration. Asus ZenFone 3s Max, priced at Rs14,999, is one such phone which belongs to the Max series and lies between the 5.2-inch ZenFone 3 Max (Rs12,999) and the 5.5-inch ZenFone 3 Max (Rs17,999).
Design: Slightly heavy but handy
For a phone that houses a 5,000mAh battery, the ZenFone 3s Max looks quite sleek (8.9mm thick). Though compact and handy, the phone feels a bit heavy (175g) but that is to be expected from a big battery phone. It looks a lot like the other two smartphones in the Max 3 series and has a very similar full-metal finish and curved edges. The only major difference is the position of the finger print sensor, which is now integrated with the home button on the front panel and not on the back. The finger print sensor is a bit slow but is accurate most of the time.
Display: A fine balance
The smartphone’s 5.2-inch display is ideal for users who find a 5-inch display too small (for typing comfortably or reading) and a 5.5-inch display too big for one-handed use. The display has resolution of just 1,280x720p, which is lower than what some rivals are offering at the same price. Despite the low resolution, the screen doesn’t always look inferior in terms of quality or experience. The display handles colours well which makes watching YouTube videos quite enjoyable. The lack of sharpness is more noticeable with high end games. Display customisations are limited but there is a blue light filter which means less stress on eyes.
Software: Runs new Android
This is the first budget smartphone that runs the latest (Nougat) version of Android out of the box. Even though Asus has overlaid it with its proprietary ZenUI, the new features such as side-by-side multi-tasking, the easy settings panel, and bundled notifications are available to users. This gives the ZenUI on this phone a slightly different and more polished look than the Zen UI on the other two Max smartphones which run on an older Android Marshmallow. Despite the good points, one can’t ignore the fact that the Zen UI is still bloated with too many apps and a clutter of features.
Performance: Long lasting battery
Powered by a 1.5GHz MediaTek MT 6750 octa-core processor with 3GB RAM, the ZenFone 3s Max was able to wade through most day to day tasks and games without any hiccups or heating issues. However, if you are a heavy gamer, this will not suffice as many of the graphical games such as FIFA 16 and F1 2016 are still not available on it. The phone’s internal storage stands at 32GB and you can add another 256GB via microSD card.
The main attraction of the ZenFone 3s Max is the 5,000mAh battery which, backed by an improved Google Doze 2.0 feature, delivers over two days of backup on a single charge comfortably.
Camera: Impresses mostly in outdoor conditions
The 13-megapixel camera works best in brightly lit outdoor conditions. In the absence of it, the lack of detailing and noise is quite evident. It is good with colours and was able to get it right in most conditions. The phone’s big highlight is the many camera modes it offers such as night-light, super resolution, time lapse, and beautification. The night light can light up the image a little, but doesn’t make much of a difference to the overall picture quality. The super resolution combines multiple images to create an image of higher resolution.
The ZenFone 3s Max can’t be ignored on account of its great battery backup and premium design. It also runs the latest version of Android and can handle most basic tasks well. If you are a power user who likes to play mobile games, the Lenovo Z2 Plus (Rs14,999 onwards) is a better proposition. It has sharper (1,920x1,080p) display, runs on a more powerful 2.1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor, weighs just 149g and runs clean on near plain version of Android. Its battery (3,500mAh) backup is not as good as the ZenFone 3s Max, but can last about a day and half with ease.