Asus Zenfone 3 Max 5.5″ (ZC553KL) Review – Terrific Battery but …

We are here with the newly launched Asus Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 inch variant ( ZC553KL Model ). The Asus Zenfone 3 Max was announced at the Zenvolution event as a part of whole Zenfone 3 phone family. Asus Zenfone 3 Max was released in two variants: a 5.2-inch and 5.5-inch version. The main differences between them are the key specs such as the Zenfone 3 Max 5.2″ version sports MediaTekProcessor-Camera( 13MP and 5MP )-HD Display and whereas the 5.5″ version comes with SnapDragon 430 Processor-Camera(16MP and 8MP)-FHD Display.

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Asus mainly boasts about the massive 4100mAh camera of Zenfone 3 Max. If you just want a brief personal review of the phone, go to the last section of this page. But first, here is an unbiased technical review.

Let’s kickstart the review with the specifications of the Zenfone 3 Max.

Asus Zenfone 3 Max 5.5″ (ZC553KL) Specifications

  • Build: Premium-crafted all-aluminum-alloy design with 2.5D contoured glass, 2.25mm bezel and 73% screen-to-body ratio.
  • Display : 5.5inch 1920 x 1080 FHD display 2.5D contoured glass
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 Octa-core 64-bit processor
  • GPU: Adreno 505
  • Memory : 3GB RAM | 32GB ROM | 128GB Expandable
  • Camera: 8MP Front Camera and 16 MP Rear Camera with EIS/Dual Flash
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth® 4.1, WiFi, 4G with VoLTE
  • SIM cards and SD slot: Micro SIM (3G/4G) and Nano SIM (3G/4G) / Micro SD – Hybrid Slot
  • Software: Android™ M with ZenUI 3.0
  • Battery: 4100mAh

Others Features:

  • Supports Reverse Charging and Super Saving mode | Audio – ICEpower® enhanced speaker
  • Dual microphone with noise cancellation
  • Audio Wizard for enhanced audio experience
  • Dimensions: 151.4 x 76.24 x 8.3mm
  • Weight: 175g
  • Color: Titanium Gray, Glacier Silver, Sand Gold ( Available in India )

Price : Rs. 17,999/-

Asus Zenfone 3 Max Review

 

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Review unit at a glance:

  • Model: Asus Zenfone 3 Max 5.5″ (ZC553KL)
  • Colour: Glacier Silver

Contents inside the box other than the handset:

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  • Charger
  • USB Cable
  • OTG Cable
  • Hybrid SIM Tray Ejector Tool

Design and Looks

Talking about the device, it sports a smooth silver colored aluminum crafted metal on the rear and 2.5D Contoured Glass on the front with white bezels which looks gorgeous. It has noise cancellation vents on top and bottom of the phone; a hybrid SIM Tray and Volume Rockers with Power button on opposite sides of the phone; Speakers on the bottom and headphone jack on the top. Physically, the device is very smooth and is hence, slippery. Though the phone sports a massive 4100 mAh battery, it doesn’t weigh much. The fingerprint sensor is placed below the rear camera which is really comfortable in the locking the device.

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The Asus Zenfone 3 Max, by which I mean the 5.5-inch version I’ve been using; is slightly smaller than the Asus Zenfone Max the older version which sports the 5.5-inch Display thanks to the decreased body to screen ratio. I usually prefer 5.2-inch phones over 5.5-inch because they fit perfectly in pockets and also for easy usage. But, Zenfone 3 Max is an exception. It is really easy to carry around in pockets and provides a pleasant experience. Summing up, Asus Zenfone 3 Max looks premium and good.

However, as said earlier, the phone is really slippery – like it slides down when kept on a smooth surface like paper. And the screen is made of 2.5D glass, which isn’t Gorilla Glass 🙁 (Not too sure about its strength, though). The navigation buttons do not have a backlight – not a deal-breaker but still causes inconvenience.

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Specifications and Software

Zenfone 3 Max, specifically the 5.5-inch, sports an Octa-core 64 bit Snapdragon 430 processor with speed 1.47 GHz and Adreno 505 GPU with 3 GB of RAM. Its display PPI is 403 and resolution of 1080 X 1920. It doesn’t have USB Type C Charger Slot. It comes with a 16 MegaPixel Camera on the rear and an 8 MegaPixel on the front. As said earlier, it doesn’t use a Gorilla Glass. The screen visibility in sunlight is mediocre. Zenfone 3 Max doesn’t have huge specifications, and it’s main selling point is its 4100mAh battery. Though it has a massive battery, it doesn’t weigh much like its older version, which is impressive.

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Talking about the sensors, it has all required sensors to support VR Functionality, but it doesn’t have an IR Blaster. The fingerprint sensor is the coolest part on this phone. The fingerprint sensor of Asus Zenfone 3 Max is the best one I have used in recent times.

The Battery, Adreno 505 GPU, Fingerprint sensor and the Camera impressed me. Furthermore, the discussion on specs will continue in the Performance section.

Talking about Software, it comes with Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 with ZenUI. Its interface as same as the Asus Zenfone 3 UI, and its smooth enough. ZenUI has like 20 bloatware apps which we people possibly might not use like Laser Ruler, Photo Collage, and Asus Community Apps. However, you don’t need more apps for freeing up memory and other minor issues. The Mobile Manager deals with all battery saving modes, permissions and lets you keep things handy. And hey, you’ll get 100GB of Google Drive free for 2 years. However, there are critical system bugs and are explained in further sections. The best part I liked in ZenUI is that we can adjust the icon size which many launchers and UIs lack.

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And yeah, it supports VoLTE, and the connectivity is smooth as butter.

However, there are critical system bugs and are explained in further sections.

Camera

Zenfone 3 Max flaunts a 16MP Rear Camera and 8MP Front Camera. It is good and not so outstanding as Asus Zenfone 3. Though it boasts of a focus time of just 0.03 seconds, it found difficulty focusing on minute details such as flowers. It has various modes like Slow Motion, Time Lapse, GIF, Macro, etc. ; but most of the time Auto mode does the job. Its HDR Pro mode is worth mentioning. Outdoor photography is good, and HDR mode adds more beauty to the photos. You can check more samples below.

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With HDR Mode

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Coming to the front camera, selfies are beautiful. And by ‘Beautiful’, I mean the beautification mode 😛 . It softens the skin details and removes all kinds of blemishes. Even in low light, the selfies are good and beautified. Video shooting is also good and steady, thanks to the electronic image stabilization (EIS). Overall, the camera of Zenfone 3 Max is decent.

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Performance

As said earlier, Asus Zenfone 3 Max doesn’t have any heavy specifications. It comes up with Octa-Core Snapdragon 430 Processor and Adreno 505 GPU which are just fine. Initally when we used the phone, we found it heating up occasionally (But c’mon, its metal! It will heat up!). However, it was more ‘warming’ than ‘heating’, we should say. The heating did reduce though, on later use.

And yes, the performance is fair and not so awesome. With Snapdragon 430 we can’t expect more performance but, the price tag of this phone doesn’t make the performance satisfactory. Adreno 505 GPU helps with the graphical output and yeah its good. Normal games are good, but with high-end games, lag is experienced.

In our tests , we used Zenfone 3 Max as our primary phone. Used WhatsApp with full media, used all social networking apps and still we got enough RAM optimized. Coming to Internal Storage, we get 23GB of Storage usable out of the claimed 32GB.

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It comes  with 3 gigs of RAM, and we never expected any shortage of RAM. The phone is perfectly balanced with its specs. Check the benchmarks from GeekBench below.

3 gigs of RAM, and we never expected any shortage of RAM. The phone is perfectly balanced with its specs. Check the benchmarks from GeekBench below. Asus Zenfone Max which is priced nearly at 10K got better benchmarks than this, lol!

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Battery Life

The battery life of this phone is what we need to talk about. It comes with 4100 mAh battery, and it is cool. I used Zenfone 3 Max with two SIMs, continuous data usage, Pokemon Go ( which drinks lots of battery ) and music, videos, etc like a hardcore user, still managed to get it till the day end. And without Pokemon Go, I’ve got like 40 % of battery remaining for the night and one day with minimal usage got 60% of battery remaining :-O. With normal usage, you can manage it to get for 2 days. Overall battery life is terrific and best around this price range!

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Zenfone 3 Max doesn’t come up with Quick Charge, it charges completely in 3 hours and its fine.

Bugs encountered

  • Device is HD Capable Notification sticks with the Notification Bar with VoLTE usage.
  • Bugs with Calls when Music Player is active.
  • Incoming VoLTE calls sometimes stop the caller app, restarts the system.
  • Music sometimes plays from earpiece instead of the speaker. That’s disgusting!

 

Summing up,

Pros

  • Battery Backup
  • Beautiful Design
  • Finger Print Sensor
  • Decent Camera

Cons

  • Weak specs.
  • Mediocre Performance.
  • Bloatware.
  • Overprice.

My Review

Now that the neutral technical review is done, let’s compare the phone and look at it from a different perspective.

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Asus Zenfone Max which was released like 6-7 months ago has the following configuration.

  • Snapdragon 615
  • 5000 mAh Battery
  • 2GB version around Rs.10K

Now digging deeper, let’s see phones that you can consider to be matching/competing with the Asus Zenfone 3 Max.

Xiaomi Redmi 3S Prime

  • Snapdragon 430
  • 3GB RAM and 32GB Internal Memory
  • 13MP and 5 MP Camera
  • 4100 mAh Battery
  • Priced at Rs.9000/-

Lenovo Z2 Plus

  • Snapdragon 820 Processor
  • 3 GB RAM and 32 GB ( 64GB also available )
  • 13 MP and 8MP Camera
  • 3500 mAh Battery
  • Priced at Rs.17999/-

And here comes the best seller phone of the year 2016 above 10K Price Range

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3

  • Snapdragon 650 Processor
  • 3GB RAM and 32 Gb Internal Memory
  • 16MP and 5MP Camera
  • 4050 mAh Battery
  • Priced at Rs.11,999/-

And, now Let’s TALK.

What if I say, Zenfone 3 Max is the costliest phone with Snapdragon 430?

Yeah! I’m not kidding.

Asus Zenfone 3 Max is officially the costliest phone with Snapdragon 430. I don’t agree this phone being priced in this range. Yes there are pros and cons, but yet I’d prefer Asus Zenfone 3 instead of Zenfone 3 Max. Talking from a consumer point of view, how can one show interest in buying a phone with low-end specs on paper? Will anyone buy an SD430 when we can SD 820 Processor at the same price? Moreover, Asus had Zenfone Max as it best selling mobile and had been received positively in all e-commerce websites. Also, that Asus has a very good brand value and reputation in after sale services. If it were priced according to its specs, this phone would have surely taken the market by storm. I have no idea why Asus Zenfone 3 series phones are sold with higher prices in India where they are cheaper in other Asian countries.

Indian Mobile Market is with continuous mobile launches and strong competition among companies; every phone is a benchmark; mainly in this year starting from Motorola Moto Series, Xiaomi Redmi Series, Lenovo K Series which includes the very recent Lenovo K6 Power which took the market by storm. And in this flow, I sincerely think Asus Zenfone 3 Max doesn’t seem to be good choice specs wise.

But if you still want a good looking phone with a long lasting battery and don’t care about specs on paper, the phone is decent. If you forget the price tag and use it, you’ll really like it. There isn’t a strong negative point on this phone except that it doesn’t match with the market.

Please share your views in comments.