Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Review: Marathon battery life with faster, powerful processor
Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Review: Marathon battery life with faster, powerful processorRohit KVN/ IBTimes India

Last month, Asus launched the new version of the company's bestselling smartphone Zenfone Max in India.

The new Asus phone model comes with the same 5000mah battery seen in its predecessor, which was unveiled in August last year. However, in other key aspects such as processor, RAM and storage capacity, it has got a huge upgrade. It boasts of advanced 64-bit class 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core SoC (System-on-Chip) with 32GB inbuilt memory and 3GB/2GB RAM options.

We have been using the review unit (with 2GB RAM) for almost a month and it has fared well in almost all aspects.

Here's our take on Asus Zenfone Max:

Design:

Like all Zenfone series, the new Max version boasts trademark chin with concentric circles at the bottom. The three capacitive buttons (back, home and recents) at the bottom and even the front camera are also same in terms of positions.

Front panel may look identical to its predecessor, but the similarity ends when we look at the rear side. The company has incorporated the polycarbonate-based bright orange hued shell with leather-like texture on the rear. It gives a firm grip for hands to hold on to the phone and the ergonomically designed tapering end further helps in doing one hand operation.

On the rear side, Asus Zenfone Max's holds the primary camera module on the top with dual-tone LED flash placed to the left and a laser emitter on the other side. Just below it, there is shiny silver-hued engraving of Asus name. Further down, "zenfone" brand is etched and there is a four-grille speaker at the bottom.

It also comes with metal-based chassis around the edges, which exudes premium look and also acts as stable structure to withstand accidental fall.

The metal frame also holds the power button and volume rockers on the right side, whereas on the top it houses 3.5mm audio jack and at the bottom, it features micro-USB port with a mic beside.

Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Review
Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Display PanelRohit KVN/ IBTimes India

Processor, RAM and storage:

Asus' new Zenfone Max comes with 3GB RAM (base model: 2GB) and 32GB inbuilt storage, double that of the first generation model. It also boasts more powerful Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor with Adreno 405 graphics engine.

We tested the device on three benchmarking applications. It scored an impressive 37,459 and 987 points on AnTuTu and Base Mark OS II, respectively.

On Geekbench 3, it managed to get a respectable 635 and 2670 points in single-core and multi-core tests, respectively.

To test processor's prowess in the practical terms, we opened multiple apps and switched between them numerous times and it did not disappoint us at it showed no sign of lag in terms of response time.

We also played a few graphics-heavy games, the phone fared well when played for short durations (10 to 15 minutes), but we saw heat building up on the back when we prolonged the session. This is not a big deal considering that other phones behave same under the these conditions.

Also read: Asus Zenfone Go 4.5 (2nd gen) review: A good option for first-time smartphone buyers

Battery:

Previous Zenfone Max version had 5000mAh cell and it successfully delivered very long battery life, but the new phone which has same battery capacity runs even longer, thanks to Doze power optimization in Android Marshmallow.

Under mixed usage, the phone easily lasted more than two days. If kept idle, it can stay awake for more than three weeks.

However, we have one qualm about this phone as it takes an awful lot of time to get fully charged up. During our testing, it took more than 3 and half hours to charge from zero to 100 percent.

Honourable mention:

The Zenfone Max (2016) package comes with OTG cable, which can be used as reverse charging another smartphone. This is a small detail, but its nice to know that Asus is making a geniune attempt to increase use of excess battery of Zenfone Max (2016), thereby evoking loyalty among fans.

Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Review
Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Back PanelRohit KVN/ IBTimes India

Camera:

Asus Zenfone Max (2016) houses a 13MP camera with PixelMaster technology, Dual-LED Real Tone flash, laser auto-focus and a 5mp camera with wide-angle field of view.

During the testing, the Zenfone Max's primary camera snapped really good quality photos in bright day light conditions. We were impressed with auto-focus feature, as it was quick in adjusting the focus on the subject. But, we cannot say the same about the camera's ability under low light condition.

That said, it is better than the Redmi Note 3 (in closed environment).

Also read: Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 review: A near-perfect budget phablet

As far as front camera is considered, it fared much better compared to other phones in the sub-Rs.10,000 price range. [See the photo samples below].

1/8
  • Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Review: Sample 1 day light (Primary Camera)Rohit KVN/ IBTimes India
  • Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Review: Sample 2 taken during day light under tree shade from primary cameraRohit KVN/ IBTimes India
  • Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Review: Sample 3 taken during day light closeup shot from primary cameraRohit KVN/ IBTimes India
  • Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Review: Sample 4 taken during day light closeup shot from primary cameraRohit KVN/ IBTimes India
  • Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Review: Sample 5 taken during night from primary camera with flashRohit KVN/ IBTimes India
  • Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Review: Sample 6 taken during night from primary camera without flashRohit KVN/ IBTimes India
  • Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Review: Sample 7 taken during night from primary camera with flash close upRohit KVN/ IBTimes India
  • Asus Zenfone Max (2016) Review: Sample 8 taken during daylight from front cameraRohit KVN/ IBTimes India

Mobile Operating System:

Asus runs custom ZenUI interface based on the latest Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow OS, but addition of unnecessary apps by Asus plays a spoilsport. It's really tiresome to navigate through the phone. Despite the huge collection of application in the phone, the phone performed well in terms of app loading thanks to powerful Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor inside.

Also read: Asus Zenfone Zoom Review: Blend of high-grade hardware and near-perfect camera

Verdict (3.5/5):

All-in-all, Asus' 2016 series Zenfone Max met our expectations on most of the criteria we expect a phone should perform, considering the fact that how intense the competition is in the sub-Rs.10,000 category.

Pros:

  • Marathon battery life of Zenfone Max (2016) is exceptional
  • One of the best camera phone in budget category (closest rival Xiaomi Redmi Note 3)
  • Good built quality

Cons:

  • No backlit buttons in the display panel
  • ZenUI is cluttered with unnecessary apps
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