ASUS Zenfone Max (2016) Review: Battery is Everything, Indeed!

If there is one company that is heavily concentrated on the Indian market and vigorously pushing devices one after the other, that is none other than ASUS! But wait, that is not bad after all! Because the company is busy launching devices across platforms to serve every user. ASUS’s innovative approach sent over a locked box with device kept inside with a key attached to it. The company took a web stream approach to #LiveUnplugged to launch the upgraded version of mammoth battery series, ASUS Zenfone Max (2016).

Before we start with our review, the upgraded ASUS Zenfone Max (2016) is available in two variants. The 2GB variant is exclusively available on Flipkart for INR. 9,999 whereas the 3GB variant is available across Amazon, Snapdeal, and Flipkart for INR 12,999. The 3GB RAM variant will also be available at ASUS Exclusive stores and all other retail stores across India, in coming days.

Asus Zenfone Max 2016 Review

Specifications

When compared to the previous version of the Max series, the Zenfone Max (2016) variant runs on 1.5GHz Oct-core processor, Snapdragon 615 which is definitely a worthy upgrade over SD 410. Well, in most of the scenarios, this is a worthy upgrade. Snapdragon 615 is faster and has better performance over low-end Snapdragon 410. It has a 5.5-inch HD display. The device comes in two variants, 2GB, and 3GB versions. However, one will have to shell out 3000 bucks more for the extra gig of RAM, which for me is not a good move by the company.

In terms of storage, the device gets a bump from 16GB to 32GB. It has a 13MP rear-facing camera with laser auto-focus and dual LED flash. There is a 5MP front-facing camera. Lastly, there is a mammoth 5000mAh battery under the hood.

Build and Design

In terms of the look and feel, the Zenfone Max (2016) variant looks strikingly similar to its predecessor. It is made up of removable plastic back cover with a hint of faux leather finish. There is a chrome rim around the device which looks like metal but sadly it isn’t. All the button, volume rockers, and power/lock button are kept on the right-hand side. Navigation buttons are kept below the display with a shiny material suggesting no backlit feature again.

asus-zenfone-max-2016-build

The 5.5-inch HD display is surrounded by a bigger bezel. There is a charging/USB port on the bottom and 3.5mm jack on the top. The speaker is kept in the rear section. The rear camera is kept at the rear top-center with a dual LED flash onto its left and a laser auto-focus onto its right.

All-in-all, the build quality looks decent. But sadly, it weighs more than expected. The Zenfone Max (2016) variant weighs 202 grams which is not only heavier but also makes the device look bulky. All thanks to the 5000mAh battery sitting under-the-hood.

Display

The Zenfone Max (2016) flaunts an HD IPS display similar to the previous version. Though made up of low resolution, it does a pretty good job in terms of dynamic and vivid colors. Not so good under the sunlight, but can be adjusted via screen color mode where you can manually change the color temperature. It does come with a pretty good 178-degree viewing angles. All good for normal application usage, but not great for gaming.

User Interface

As most of you all known by now, ASUS packs its own lack of UI called Zen UI on top of the Android OS. Same goes with Zenfone Max (2016) variant as well. Though the device comes with Android Marshmallow out of the box, the Zen UI is again a performance puller and of more intrusive in nature. There were more 40+ apps waiting for the update as soon as we turned on the device. Yes, that’s crazy!

Some of the Zen UI apps are more irritating at times. They keep sending notifications for various things, such as setting up a particular account, activating the battery saver mode, or controlling the way a particular app interacts with the device. At the same time, ASUS has kept more important features of Marshmallow without any modifications to it. Like  Do Not Disturb Mode, Doze Mode, Now On Tap, and revamped app permissions.

Camera

On the camera department, the Zenfone Max (2016) packs a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front-facing camera. The rear camera is backed by a dual LED flash and a laser auto-focus. Both cameras are capable of recording video at up to 1080p-30fps resolution.

asus-zenfone-max-2016-camera

ASUS has implemented their proprietary camera technology, Pixelmaster in this phone as well with a similar set of features. Features included on the rear camera are Wide View, PixelMaster, Zero Shutter Lag, Night mode, Photo Effects, Panorama mode, Miniature, Time Rewind, Smart Remove, Time Lapse, HDR mode and GIF animation. That’s a hell lot of it to play with.

Both the cameras scored decent scores in terms of the quality of the images taken. Both of them were very quick at focusing the object. The rear camera was about to shoot some good photos under natural light circumstances, decent while shot indoors and were all noisy in low-light conditions. The front camera was good for selfies and the Beautification mode was able to enhance the pictures to a certain extent.

Performance

asus-zenfone-max-2016-performance

Call Quality

Decent call quality, good reception on both Wi-Fi and mobile networks. Was able to quickly connect to 4G whenever needed.

Sound

The speaker is kept in the rear part and it is obvious to expect the low audio output when kept on the flat surface. There is not much change while on normal usage as well. While playing the songs on the loudspeaker produced a good output. But again while on the full volume it was producing cranky noises.

Gaming

The Zenfone Max (2016) variant did perform decent while playing games. But the HD display wasn’t able to produce smooth frames per second. Yes, the device tends to heat up a little upon playing games for a longer duration.

Battery

Do we really need to talk about it?! Like I said in the title “Battery is Everything, Indeed!”

We really meant it. With 5000mAh battery under the hood and lower resolution screen, the Zenfone Max (2016) is a great device who always cries about the low battery on their phones. Under heavy duty, the device lasted for one full day usage with 7 hours of screen on time and on wifi/4G mix usage. On the lighter usage, the device lasted up to two and a half days on a single charge.

The device would have been even better, but it is at a little lower end due to Snapdragon 615 which is not as energy-efficient. Impacting the battery life to some extent. Also, the bigger mAh battery needed a quick charge feature, but the Zenfone Max (2016) doesn’t have it. This is again one heck of a headache as charging the 5000mAh battery from 5-100% took almost 7 hours!  Spoiling the whole joy of having a mammoth battery!

However, the device comes with a reverse charging technology and has an OTG cable in the box that could help using it as a power bank to other phones. But again, you would need it to charge the device which just a pain due to standard 1A/5V charger.

Benchmarks

The benchmark scores these days are purely dependant on the processor used in the phone. Similar to any other Snapdragon 615-powered device, the Zenfone Max (2016) scored, 40,783 in AnTuTu, 26,200 in Quadrant, 24fps in GFXBench and 9,871 in 3DMark Ice Storm. These scores are a definite improvement over the earlier Asus ZenFone Max that had Snapdragon 410 SoC.

Verdict

At a price tag of INR 9,999, the Asus Zenfone Max (2016) is a quite good buy for those who needs a longer battery life smartphone. I wouldn’t recommend completely as other devices like Lenovo Vibe P1m, Gionee M4 were able to provide better performance and battery backup with weighing 20-30gms lower. Also, paying 3000 more for just an extra gig of RAM makes no sense either. Asus needs to work on many areas in their next iteration of Max series.

The Review

Asus Zenfone Max (2016) - ZC550KL

8.2 Score

"Asus Zenfone Max (2016) - ZC550KL was launched in India May 24, 2016, in India for INR. 9,999 for 2GB variant and INR. 12,999 for the 3GB variant. It packs a Snapdragon 615 processor, HD display and a bigger 5000mAh battery."

Lowest Price at::

₹9999

Where to buy:

The Good

  • Battery Life
  • Pre-installed Android Marshmallow
  • Decent Performance

The Bad

  • Average Camera
  • HD Display
  • Normal Charging Speed

Breakdown

  • Build and Design 75%
  • Display 75%
  • User Interface 80%
  • Camera 75%
  • PERFORMANCE 85%
Vinay

Author

Vinay

Avid blogger, crazy about gadgets and mobiles especially about Android powered devices! Tech is all you get out of me! You can follow him on Facebook and on Twitter. To get in touch, simply drop a mail