Asus ZenFone Max (2016) Review: Goodbye Portable Chargers!

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Asus Zenfone Max 2016 Review

Gone are the days when people had to carry a large power bank, along with their expensive smartphones with pathetic battery backup. Asus’ new ideology changes the entire scenario and the way you look at smartphones, in general. Their latest offering, Asus ZenFone Max is certainly a disruptive smartphone considering its huge battery backup. If you remember, Asus did bring another phone with the same name sometime back, which disappointed a few in terms of performance and other factors. Considering all those suggestions and feedback, Asus is back with yet another powerful (quite literally) smartphone, the updated Asus ZenFone Max or the Asus ZenFone Max (2016) as some people choose to call it.

In this post, we’ll be talking about several aspects of the smartphone and the pros & cons which will want you to buy the phone right off the shelves, or make you stay away from it. So, here’s our in-depth full review of the Asus ZenFone Max (2016).

Design

If you’ve ever looked at a ZenFone previously, that’s exactly how the new Asus ZenFone Max looks. The phone includes removable back cover, gold chamfered sides and the chin with concentric circles. Believe me, it becomes really hard to distinguish between the entire Asus ZenFone series, and this adds to the difficulty by following exactly the same design factor. The phone is available in white, black, blue and orange colours, and with us we have the quirkiest colour of the lot, orange!

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On the front side of the phone, we can locate the earpiece, 5-megapixels  front camera and the Asus branding on the top; and the three non-backlit keys can be located near the chin. Around the edges of the phone, we can find the charging port, 3.5mm headphones jack, volume rocker and the power button. Rear side of the phone contains a 13-megapixels sensor, a dual-tone flash and laser (for autofocus and distance measurement). With the same design analogy, the phone looks really good in hand and the leathered back cover offers an additional grip which prevents phone from slipping during single hand usage. The buttons are well placed and the texture on them helps you find them in tough circumstances. What disappoints me is the missing fingerprint scanner, which is included in many smartphones offered at similar or lower price.

Display

With the ‘upgraded’ ZenFone Max, display doesn’t seem to have taken a leap. Because Asus still offers a 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) IPS display on a 5.5-inch screen, which really helps them in conserving battery and hence offers prolonged usage for you. There’s no much improvement in the display in general, and it comes with the same screen with 267ppi pixel density.

Asus Zenfone Max 2016 (7)

Screen performs great indoors, but the natural light outdoors make it difficult for us to read text messages and view image. You will be able to fix the outdoor display performance, with a little manual tweaks with the brightness settings. Well, if that doesn’t concern you then Asus ZenFone Max is definitely the phone you should go for, since the display is very well coordinated to save a lot of power.

Performance

The previous version of the Asus ZenFone Max carried a Snapdragon 410 SoC, which is a low-mid segment processor but the new upgraded ZenFone Max has a Snapdragon 615, which enable the device to provide a much better performance to the end consumer. The difference in the performance is notable, between the two generations of the Max. We tried out several applications and services on the smartphone and pretty much all of them ran free from lag, so your day to day usage will not at all be affected, but the 1.5GHz octa-core processors and 2GB RAM might give you an added advantage of multi-tasking.

During the usage period, there weren’t any problems with the device with normal usage, but when we purposely tried to exceed the limits, with running high performing games, along with several other applications and clicking pictures from the camera one after the other, the smartphone did lag. But that’s no way going to be your everyday routine, hence, I am pretty sure that this phone is not at all going to disappoint you on its performance front, but you’ll be really happy for having to own this masterpiece. Some of the standard benchmarking applications say the following about the device, which reveal about how strong (technically) the device is.

Benchmarking Application Score
AnTuTu 41628
Quadrant 26059
GFXBench 24 fps

 

Camera

This is one segment, which does not bring in a lot of change when compared to the predecessor. Using the same camera modules, a 13MP rear camera sensor and a 5MP front shooter. There’s the dual-tone LED flash and laser autofocus on either sides of the rear camera. The rear camera performs great while taking pictures indoor, but struggles with shot outdoors. During most of the images, laser autofocus will do the job for you, but there might be a few cases where you’ll have to go through repetitive trials to focus on the right object. Below are some camera shots taken by the ZonFone Max for your reference.

[Camera shots coming soon..]

Battery

Hands down, this is by far one of the best battery experience I have ever had. Living up to the claims made by Asus (trust me, that doesn’t happen with every brand), the phone survived for over three days of normal usage, and two days with extreme usage. If your usage revolves around 4G LTE/WiFi always turned on, making occasional calls, sending and responding to texts and browsing the web casually, trust me when I say – this is the smartphone meant for you. With its unmatched performance, Asus ZenFone Max (2016) gets a thumbs up in this segment. You can refer to the tabulated data to know more about the backup.

Task Duration Percentage Drop
Cellular Call 50 minutes 2%
Streaming YouTube videos on WiFi at 1080p 30 minutes 2%
Gaming (Real Racing 3) 10 minutes 3%
Browsing the web 25 minutes 1%

Perhaps the best feature of the smartphone is the inclusion of the OTG cable inside the box that allows us to reverse charge your primary smartphone (incase you choose to own ZenFone Max as your secondary one). This then describes the title of the article, which bids a goodbye to portable charges/power banks.

Verdict

Asus has lived upto its standards and delivered a quality product, which they can proudly call the upgraded Asus ZenFone Max. The new version brings in a much better performance and a quality camera. Though the Snapdragon 615 tends to drain a lot of battery, which otherwise could’ve been used to complete other useful tasks, but the new ZenFone Max with the same battery backup, that is 5000mAh performs exceptionally well! If your are more of a casual phone user, with a little to do with performance and graphics, I would highly recommend you to buy this phones (links mentioned below). For the power users, I’d like to put forward a different perspective. Battery life is exceptional for your tasks as well, but you might feel the phone heating up a little – the leather prevents it, to a certain extent – and a degraded performance after usage for a couple of hours straight.

Apart from the better performance being a huge plus point for the phone’s success, one factor which can pull it down is the missing fingerprint sensor, which has kind of become mandatory for devices these days – resonating to the security required on personal technology gadgets. There are smartphones like Redmi Note 3, Vibe K4 Note, LeEco Le 3 which are of close competition to the Asus ZenFone Max (2016), but in case you want an exceptionally long battery backup – you know which one to go for.

Asus ZenFone Max

Rs 9999
Asus ZenFone Max
79

Design

8/10

    Display

    8/10

      Performance

      7/10

        Camera

        8/10

          Battery

          10/10

            Pros

            • Amazing leather back, which is also available in various colours, and gives a great grip to the phone.
            • A huge improvement in the camera, and now indoor shots have become better
            • The 5000mAh battery is more than sufficient for an easy 3 day usage.

            Cons

            • Snapdragon 615 is known for heating up and draining battery life, with bare minimum usage.
            • Sluggish performance for power users occasionally.
            • Missing fingerprint sensor, else it would've been a clear winner.

            Karan Uppal

            Karan Uppal is the Editor-in-Chief for Virtuaniz. He is currently a bachelor student of Computer Science at Bangalore and is working with a few start-ups. Karan is a keen learner and loves to travel. He loves reviewing gadgets and claims them to hold an important part in his life. Follow him at @freezethinker to get his updates.

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