Asus has been a very active company when it comes to handset launches and in the last six months has launched as many phones, and the company does not seem to slow down. Asus recently launched Asus Zenfone Max (2016), a new version to the phone that was launched just in January this year. The phone more or less remains the same until you look under the hood which has been added with superior Snapdragon 615. Let’s explore the phone further and find out if the phone is really different.
Being an Asus phone, there is not much change when it comes to design. The phone has black metal frame on the front with the striking metallic chin at the bottom which has been an Asus trademark. The back is a polycarbonate panel and is given leather-ish finish to make it look premium. The device looks exactly the same when compared to its older version. The screen ratio or even the weight sits at 202 gms, making it bulkier than usual phones but that is due to the massive 5000mAh battery sitting inside it.
The phone overall looks clean and non-fussy with camera and the flash placed in the middle at the back with laser focus completing the trio. The Asus logo that just sits below the camera is more of a shiny sticker and may come off if you have sweaty palms. The bottom back has Zenfone branding with a speaker grille completing the back. The front bottom has capacitive back, home and recent keys with the crown having the Asus logo, an earpiece and a front camera.
Along with the black and white back panels, Asus has introduced two new colours – Orange and Blue.
Specifications and Battery
This is called an upgraded version of Zenfone Max (2016) that was released in January and Asus has certainly upgraded the phone with Snapdragon 615 processor, the memory is bumped up from 16GB to 32GB of internal storage. The GPU capabilities too have received an upgrade from Adreno 306 to Adreno 405. The company has released two versions of the phone in two price ranges. The lower-end variant of the new ZenFone Max (2016), has 2GB of RAM and costs you Rs 9,999. But the Rs 12,999 variant gives you extra power with a 3GB RAM. Charging Rs 3000 for extra 1GB of RAM seems unreasonable when you see that apart from RAM there is no difference between the two variants. The phone has an out of the box Android 6.0 Marshmallow which is a major plus when compared to others in the same price range.
We were provided by Asus with the 2GB RAM model, and the device runs extremely smoothly due to the octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor which does good job than the previous Snapdragon 410. However, when you are utilising the phone for some graphic heavy stuff, there is a little heating near the camera but that has been the case for most phones these days. The phone scored 34750 in AnTuTu Benchmark and 22808 in Quadrant, a decent score when it comes in the mid-pricing category.
The star that shines bright on the phone is the battery of the phone. The humongous 5000mAh battery really helps the modern smartphone user who craves for that extra juice when on the go. The ZenFone Max is the ideal companion for these folks who are away from their chargers for most of the time and can overlook a few chinks in the phone. We tested the phone with heavy usage of multimedia, games and email and could extract a good 2 day battery life without seeing the charger for even a single time. An unheard of when compared to today’s power hungry devices.
The Snapdragon 410 variant did run a little bit longer than this but that is expected, as the Snapdragon 615 is not as energy-efficient as the Snapdragon 410, and this impacts battery life to some extent. However, it’s still excellent, and the phone ran for two full days with heavy use. Additionally, it comes with an OTG cable which lets you turn it into a power bank and charge other devices.
The speaker on the rear surface of the ZenFone Max isn’t much in terms of quality. It sounds a bit muffled and the maximum volume isn’t what we’d call impressive.
One of the let downs on this device is the lack of a FullHD display, something that has been seen in even the mid-pricing phones and has become a standard. This device still sports a 720p HD panel with a pixel density count of 401ppi. The display is decent and gives good viewing angles even outdoors. The 5.5 inch panel makes it a good device for your gaming and video needs and coupled with the battery it becomes one of the undying devices among the group.
Asus for long has been stating that a number of its phones will be sporting Android 6.0 Marshmallow and the new Zenfone Max comes with the new Android version out of the box which is a good thing but the ZenUI again plays the spoilsport when it comes to experience. The UI is cluttered with Asus’ own apps and even some third party apps which the user might not want. You can uninstall the third party apps but you still have to bear with the Asus apps.
A lot has been written about the experience but Asus has not taken heed to these complains. Asus’ ZenUI, has now become more intrusive and a bit frustrating as it keeps popping notification about various native apps and how signing up for a particular app will enhance the experience. It came to a point when on first boot you find that about three dozen apps need to be updated.
As stated previously, the spec upgrade has not resulted in improvement on the camera front. The upgraded Asus ZenFone Max has the same 13-megapixels unit that was sported by its predecessor with a 5-megapixel secondary camera. The 13MP rear camera just manages to impress us with the laser autofocus that does an incredible job when taking those macro shots. But it too sometimes manages to have a life of its own and changes focus at will. The images are more than satisfactory when it comes to the price range and the low light images surprise with Smart Brightness option which is available in the setting. The camera has a number of modes whose range includes manual, beautification, GIF, slow motion, tilt-shift and more. The images give out a bit of dull colour and warmer tone even after a lot of adjustments. The videos turn out good and don’t suffer the same fate as images.
The front camera too is an average 5MP shooter which lacks the sharpness and the detail. This one too has a number of beauty modes to enhance to get the perfect pouty picture. Overall, the camera lacks the punch and is definitely not for the selfie lovers, or even for photography enthusiasts who are always on the clicking spree.
A number of improvements have lined up the new phone but it misses out of a few key areas such as a Full HD display and the pricing for the 3GB variant which has been overpriced by Rs 3,000, a bomb considering only an upgrade of 1GB of extra memory is all you get. ZenUI still continues pulls down the phone in terms of the experience. The battery has been the selling point for Max and the new version too has an amazing battery performance which may set the phone apart from its competitors in the market.