Asus Zenfone 3 Max Zc553Kl )

What has hãng asus done to lớn justify that 80 percent bump in price over the original ZenFone Max? More importantly, has the company done enough?

Anirudh RegidiNov 09, năm 2016 15:37:16 IST







From the moment hãng asus announced its ZenFone 3 lineup in India way back in August, I was worried. Hãng asus appeared lớn be charging a premium for decidedly mid-range specs và it was with that fear at the back of my mind that I approached the new ZenFone 3 Max.

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This phone is the successor lớn Asus’ own ZenFone Max. The Max gets its name from the humongous battery it packs in. The original Max came with a 5,000mAh battery while this new ZenFone 3 Max packs in a smaller 4,100mAh unit though. The ZenFone Max was also a decidedly budget điện thoại cảm ứng thông minh with a starting price of just Rs 9,999.

There are two units of the ZenFone 3 Max available. The first is a 5.2-inch variant with a MediaTek chip & 5.2-inch screen that costs Rs 13,999. The other is a 5.5-inch variant with a Snapdragon 430 for Rs 17,999. The smaller one is called the ZenFone 3 Max 5.2 và the larger one the ZenFone 3 Max 5.5.

The ZenFone 3 Max we received for đánh giá is the 5.5-inch model.

So what has asus done lớn justify that 80 percent bump in price over the original? More importantly, has the company done enough?

Build and Design: 7/10

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There’s nothing much to say about the design. All smartphones look largely the same these days và the ZenFone 3 Max is no different.

You get a white, rectangular slab of a phone with 2.5d glass on the front. The back panel is made of metal and there are two plastic panels at the top and bottom lớn allow for wireless connectivity.

The buttons on the front face are capacitive, but are not backlit, making them a little difficult lớn use in the dark. The upper half of the front portion features the earpiece speaker, front camera unit and ambient light sensor. An LED is embedded under the surface of the front panel as well & it serves as a notification LED.

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The rear features the camera và fingerprint sensor, both of which are aligned to lớn the centre-line at the back. A dual-LED flash & laser focus-assist sensor grace the sides of the camera unit.

Given that the back panel is made of an aluminium alloy, the phone gets bonus points for build quality. The finish isn’t very good, however. The border where the metal meets plastic is rough, as is the transition from glass khổng lồ metal on the sides.

That said, the build quality is leagues better than the cheap, plasticky feel of the original ZenFone Max.

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The dimensions are also great. The phone is just 8.3mm thick & weighs 175g. The iPhone 7 Plus, by comparison, is 7.3mm thick. The ZenFone 3 Max also has a much better screen-to-body ratio of 73 percent as opposed khổng lồ the iPhone 7 Plus’ 65 percent.

The phone feels nice to lớn hold, if a cảm biến too slippery & it’s way more pocketable than many phones with the same screen size. The buttons are also nice và clicky, which I like.

I’m personally not in favour of a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, but I can’t really dock points for a personal preference of that nature.

Features: 7/10

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The feature-set for this phone is very confusing. You get 3GB RAM, 32GB of storage, an expansion slot that supports microSD cards up khổng lồ 128GB in size, a massive 4,100mAh battery, a Full HD 5.5-inch display that’s actually not bad & a 16MP rear camera unit.

Countering this very reasonable spec sheet is an entry-level Snapdragon 430 processor and a mono speaker.

As you’ll see in the performance section, the SoC ruins what could have been a great phone.

The star of the show is the battery, however, which can be even be used to juice other devices via an OTG cable. Asus claims that the ZenFone 3 Max can provide 1.5A of current for charging, which is quite commendable.

Display: 7.5/10

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The phone’s display is as confusing as the specs of the device. At 5.5-inches & Full HD (1920x1080) resolution, the kích cỡ of the screen and pixel density is quite nice. You’ll need a higher resolution for VR, but at this price, that’s asking for too much.

Colour reproduction is also good enough and you won’t have any complaints unless you place it side-by-side with something lượt thích an iPhone. In such a scenario, you’ll notice that the Max’s screen is on the cooler side (tending to lớn blue).

My real complaint with the screen is with its brightness. Hãng asus claims khổng lồ be using a 400nit screen (nit being a measure of brightness) và while it should be adequate for reading in bright light, it isn’t.

The screen is fine indoors, but in bright sunlight, I was always left wishing that I could boost the brightness just that little bit more.

Software: 8/10

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The phone runs app android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with ZenUI on top. Android’s chip core functionality remains unchanged — you can still access Google Now and use Now on Tap, for example — and hãng asus adds layers of functionality & design on top of it.

Again, this is my personal preference, but I like a stock android experience as opposed khổng lồ a custom one, especially if it’s not done well. To lớn its credit, Asus’ interference with stock android is minimal. You get a bunch of new icons, a completely new set of animations (which I didn’t like because they were too slow) & other little touches lượt thích notification bubbles on tiện ích icons.

You can also download themes from Asus’ Themes store, which is nice.

You’ll find a plethora of new options in the settings menu. These help customise the apk experience to lớn your taste and let you showroom or remove software features. You can enable settings that will let you take photos with the fingerprint sensor (or double-tap lớn wake the camera). You can also enable touch-screen functionality that lets you draw on the screen to open specific apps.

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Other functionality such as double-tap to wake or sleep, motion gestures lượt thích placing the phone on your ear khổng lồ answer a call và even a glove mode to increase the sensitivity of the screen can be enabled or disabled at will.

By default, most of these gestures và features are disabled và I just wish the opposite were true. I know too many people who’re too intimidated by the settings menu lớn bother going into it.

An interesting addition is the GameGenie app. Think of it as a Steam overlay or the DVR bar in Windows 10. You can keep GameGenie as a persistent icon when gaming và tap on it anytime khổng lồ stream your screen on something lượt thích Twitch or YouTube. You can also use it lớn quickly access a browser to look up something online.

It’s thoughtful of asus to not force these features on you và let you decide whether you want something or not. However, it might have been better if hãng asus had simply enabled some of the more useful features by default.

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One feature that I rely heavily upon, raise-to-wake, is absent. Double-tap almost makes up for it though. Almost.

Performance: 4/10

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Great software needs lớn be paired with great hardware và that’s the one thing hãng asus failed to lớn do. While everything else falls into the “good” or “not bad” category, Asus’ decision to go with a Snapdragon 430 SoC falls into the “terrible” category.

The phone feels sluggish at all times. There’s a kind of hesitancy to the UI. You tap on something & then wait half a second for the phone khổng lồ process the input. Opening apps, tabs, the multi-tasking menu, the notification drawer, they’re all slow and jittery.

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Even YouTube doesn’t run smoothly on this phone at HD resolutions và randomly freezes while viewing.

Switching to lớn performance mode under power nguồn Saving options noticeably speeds up some actions, but the overall experience is still a juddery one. Animations are rarely smooth và there’s a perceptible lag khổng lồ everything.

On a phone under Rs 10,000, the performance might be acceptable. On a phone going for twice that amount, it’s not.

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Making things worse is the fact that there is no phone in the market today that carries such an abysmal SoC at this price. The Redmi lưu ý 3, which starts at Rs 9,999, packs in a Snapdragon 650. The older Nexus 5X packs gets a Snapdragon 808. Phones lượt thích the Vibe X3, Xperia XA và even the Moto X Play pack in better specs than this one.

If you think about it, the Rs 6,999 Redmi 3S packs in a Snapdragon 430. That phone sells for a third of the price of this ZenFone 3 Max. The Rs 8,999 Redmi 3S Prime offers almost the same specs as the ZenFone 3 Max. Let that just sink in for a bit.

In terms of value, the only phone I can think of that’s worse than the ZenFone 3 Max is the iPhone 5S, which released in 2013.

All of this is still not as bad as the typing experience. I"m not bragging, but I do type very fast on a phone. With the ZenFone 3, there are times when the keyboard just freezes up and I have lớn stop typing till the words catch up. This happens with third-party keyboards lượt thích Swiftkey as well. It"s not a very frequent occurrence, but it does happen & when it does, it"s very frustrating.

Benchmark figures also bear this out, indicating performance that is on par with some of the lowest performing devices in our charts.

To its credit, the phone doesn’t seem khổng lồ heat up much, only getting noticeably warm under heavy load và camera use. If only asus had seen fit to include a Snapdragon 650 or equivalent SoC, it would have been the perfect complement to the rest of the device.

The speaker’s performance is just about acceptable. It’s a mono-speaker và not very loud, but it’s loud enough lớn be useful. In fact, the speaker is like the display, it’s not bad, but it needs that little bit more oomph.

Camera: 6.5 / 10

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The camera unit on the device has a lot going for it on paper. The rear camera is a 16MP f/2.0 unit with PDAF và Laser-assist focussing. It also features EIS (not as good as OIS), a super resolution mode, HDR, low-light mode, etc. Asus also claims that the camera can focus in 0.03 seconds.

In real-life, however, the camera isn’t that impressive. The camera does focus và meter quickly và consistently, but nowhere near the claimed 0.03 second speed. I would estimate that the camera takes a good half second lớn one second to lớn establish focus. Focussing is about as fast as on an iPhone 6s Plus, but without the seeming fluidity of the iPhone’s camera.

Images are noticeably washed out và lacking in detail. They look all right on the phone’s screen, but zoom in even slightly và all you’ll see is a painting rather than a photo. Competing phones lượt thích the Redmi lưu ý 3 and Nexus 5X produce relatively better images.

HDR & night mode also didn’t bởi much khổng lồ help shots that required them. While images in HDR did show more dynamic range, the washed out colours remained.

Night mode is supposed to lớn reduce the resolution of the image and enhance light sensitivity while toning down noise, và it seems to bởi vì that, but the results aren’t worth mentioning. The camera also struggles very hard to focus in low-light.

The Super Resolution mode was also disappointing.

Frankly, I preferred the tự động modes khổng lồ both low-light và HDR modes because the increased contrast in that mode serves khổng lồ offset the washed out images a bit.

Battery: 9/10

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Battery life is impressive, the only good thing about this phone I’d say.

My daily driver is an iPhone 6s Plus, which packs in a 2,750mAh battery & lasts me a full day of use. My daily use consists of at least 2-3 hours of clip playback (I have a long commute), a couple of calls, dozens of e-mail, 50+ messages (sometimes more) và at least 2-4 hours spent browsing the web.

Where the iPhone lasted me a full workday (about 16 hours), at mặc định settings, the Zenfone 3 Max lasted over 30 hours, và that’s after charging my iPhone by 10 percent with the OTG charging feature on the Max.

Our standard PCMark battery kiểm tra failed khổng lồ run on the phone so I can’t tell you, objectively, how it compares to lớn the competition. I can however say that no phone, barring the original ZenFone Max and the Redmi chú ý 3, has ever smoked my iPhone in the battery life department. The fact that the ZenFone 3 Max can vì chưng it is testament to lớn its capabilities.

I vì have one complaint about the battery & that’s to vày with its charging rate. Charging is extremely slow with the bundled charger and I only saw the battery go from 3 percent lớn 40 percent in 2 hours. My iPhone goes from 0-100 in 2 hours & I thought that was slow.

Verdict & price in India

I can’t for the life of me figure out why hãng asus has priced the ZenFone 3 Max as they did. I appreciate the battery life và the build unique at this asking price of Rs 17,999, but that sluggish SoC completely ruins the experience for me. The camera is also lack-lustre.

The elephant in the room is, of course, the Redmi chú ý 3, & that device sells for about Rs 5,000 to lớn Rs 7,000 less than the ZenFone 3 Max. It also offers a massive performance bump, a better camera và the same battery life. Why would anyone in their right minds pick a ZenFone 3 Max over the Redmi lưu ý 3, at the current pricing?

I wouldn’t.

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