Smartphones these days are no less than personal computers or laptops. They come in all form and sizes and have enough armory to execute the most demanding tasks without breaking a sweat. With the technology they pack in underneath, you can run multiple applications simultaneously, play graphic intensive games, take DSLR like images and carry the world in your pocket.
However they still lack in one important aspect, which serves as the lifeline of these technology marvels. Yes you guessed it right; we are talking about battery technology. Smartphone makers have tried to address the issue by playing with the software (Battery Stamina modes) and hardware part (Quick Charge technology in SoCs), but they still have not been able to come up with some concrete solution.
One smartphone manufacturer, which is trying something significant in battery technology, is Asus. The Taiwanese tech giant introduced ZenFone Max back in January, which was a sub Rs 10k smartphone and packed in a mammoth 5,000mAh battery unit. It was indeed a solution to the battery problem and did quite well in the smartphone market.
Jump to May 2016, Asus is back with a refreshed variant of ZenFone Max, which in addition to a powerful battery unit, improves on other important hardware aspects such as processor, camera, etc. Will it write a new success story for the company? Let’s try to find out with the following review.
It is said that ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. This phrase seems quite right for the Asus ZenFone Max. The Taiwanese smartphone maker has not tweaked the design of the latest ZenFone Max and it is visually and physically identical to the original ZenFone Max handset. The overall dimensions and weight is also same.
While the smartphone has a substantial weight to it (202g), but it’s a logical and acceptable trade-off for a powerful battery unit.
Asus ZenFone Max has a gold coloured trim along the sides, which adds a premium touch to the handset. The signature concentric circles occupy the base of the display and the removable rear panel has been given a faux leather texture, similar to the flagship Zenfone Zoom, which feels good in hands.
The front has a 5MP camera along with the earpiece and the ambient light sensors and the back is supported by a 13MP camera sensor with dual-tone LED flash, laser module and the secondary noise cancellation mic. The audio is handled by a speaker unit placed at the bottom.
Overall, ZenFone Max feels quite well build and premium for the price point it comes at.
If you are in the market to buy a handset with a 1080p display, then you might feel a bit disappointed as ZenFone Max ships with a 720p resolution display. However the display itself is not a bummer. It is very responsive, fairly bright and offers vibrant colors.
The 5.5-inch display size will please users who love to watch videos, browse web pages and play 3D games. Asus has also added a number of software tweaks to customize the display as per user’s requirements. The display settings come with a Splendid app, which offers a Balance mode, a Bluelight Filter, Vivid, and a custom setting mode where you can set the Hue and saturation as per your liking.
A battery monster
The highlight of the smartphone is definitely its 5,000mAh battery unit, which also serves as a power bank. If you carry another handset, you can connect it via a USB OTG and ZenFone Max will boost up that too. This is one of the reasons you would want to spend your money in Asus Zenfone Max.
Talking about the real-life usage, I managed to get a two day backup with a heavy usage. And trust me I am always hooked to my smartphone for social networking, camera, videos, music, etc.
ZenFone Max keeps on going and if you are a moderate user, you can easily extract a battery backup of more than two days from the smartphone.
Hardware and Pricing
The new ZenFone Max has a similar outlook when compared with the previous variant but it substantially improves on inner hardware. The smartphone upgrades on performance by improving on processing power. It is loaded with an octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor compared to the Snapdragon 410, which powered the previous ZenFone Max.
This results in better overall computing. The applications loads up quickly, gaming performance is improved and most task are handled comfortably without any performance lags.
I did not face any issues with the call quality, audio performance and while running multiple applications simultaneously. The 2GB RAM made sure that everything works without a hitch.
The smartphone will also be available in 3GB RAM variant for Rs 12,999, which is even better at multitasking. The 2GB RAM variant is priced at Rs 9,999. Both the variants get 32GB inbuilt memory, which can be expanded by up to 64GB via microSD card.
Asus ZenFone Max will be available on e-commerce websites such as Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal as well as offline stores throughout the country.
Connectivity options include 4G LTE, 3G, GRPS/EDGE, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi.
The latest Asus ZenFone Max ships with the same 13MP rear camera with Asus’ PixelMaster technology. The camera sensor has an aperture size of F/2.0, which is quite decent to result in bright and vivid images. The output is good when light is ample and camera also manage to offer good low-light images.
The camera UI is also neat and also offers plenty of interesting modes to play with such as Low light mode, manual mode, miniature photography, super resolution, etc. In total you get 14 modes, which will keep you busy once you fire up the snapper.
The front has a 5MP shooter, which also offers decent selfies and works well for video calling.
The new ZenFone Max comes with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box, which is also a significant upgrade when compared with the previous ZenFone Max. The Android Marshmallow offers a number of new features such as Google Now on Tap, Do Not Disturb Mode, Doze Mode, revamped app permissions, etc.
The device comes running with Asus Zen UI on top of Marshmallow.
During my review time with the smartphone, I did not face any performance issues with the software of the smartphone and it worked quite smoothly without any jitters or lags.
The latest Asus ZenFone Max is a significant upgrade to company’s previous supercharged handset. The smartphone improves on some important grounds such as computing and storage and manages to last longer even with a heavy usage of everyday tasks.
It is also priced quite aggressively in the Indian market, which makes it a decent overall budget smartphone for consumers who don’t want to compromise on features, especially battery backup.