Asus Zenfone Max ZC550KL
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About the Phone
A bit bulkier but similar in design like its predecessor, the ZenFone Max does not seem to arrive with any positive shocker. Armed with a killer 5,000 mAh battery as the only chief modification and flagship, the ZenFone Max fails to get a mark in the fierce flagship competition. Asus is playing it too safe making this release redundant and dated.
A jacked-up battery that does not seem to die, ZenFone Max’s only significant flagship is the staggering 5,000 mAh battery with enough juice to last for more than two days. It keeps on chugging even after heavy use which is a spectacular feat from any flagship phone. However, the poor charger supplied by the company makes a terrible match for this powerful piece.
Regarding performance, display, and camera, ZenFone Max makes only a moderate score. Coming with a battery as the key feature, ZenFone Max is a disappointment in the flagship smartphone market. It is recommended for Asus fans and for only those people who are tired of deteriorating battery and does not look for other flagship features in their smartphone.
ZenFone Max comes as an answer to the growing public demand of a reliable battery coupled with good performance in a smartphone. Priced at Rs. 9,999, ZenFone Max is a power bank with mind-blowing ability to perform for 2-3 days with a single charge. However, it needs to do serious work on other aspects.
Easily spotted by its signature Asus design, the ZenFone Max has come up with no significant upgrades to upset the flagship market. Its only top feature – an undeniably outstanding battery which stands out in the flagship market and is the only dear takeaway from this below-average set.
Staying true to Asus’ signature design formula, Asus ZenFone Max comes with the distinct concentric circles on the front and the metal strip running along the side. The increased battery gives it a weight of 202 grams that is much more than its flagship rivals but adds to the sturdiness of the phone. At the bottom of the display is the familiar capacitive soft keys which are sensitive to touch.
It comes in a white and black variant, each having a different texture on its back panel. The white variant has a smooth finish while the black one has a faux-leather touch, similar to ZenFone Zoom. The back panel is removable, and the microSD and SIM are placed under it.
While it cannot be called a cheap-looking device, ZenFone Max does not bring any genuine novelty in the market.
The display of ZenFone Max has not brought any improvement over its predecessor. Arriving with the same 5.5-inch 720p display, it is bright and good for video and multimedia purposes but gets a harsh blow from rival Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and Lenovo K3 Note, both having upgraded to 1080p. Lower pixel density leads to the lack of sharpness and details which is noticeable. The display does not look crisp, nor does it provide suitable viewing angles. Sunlight legibility is poor. The display has a punch of warmer colours, but it does not help with the low brightness levels, tackled much better by flagship rival Redmi Note 3 or LeEco Le 1S. It does help in saving power but since it is already equipped with a capable battery, it cannot be a fair excuse.
Performance is one of the key areas that ZenFone Max has brought in changes, replacing Snapdragon 410 with the 1.2 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, partnered with the 2GB and 3GB variant. However, the Snapdragon 615 does not perform like a flagship improvement. It can handle basic tasks like calling, messaging, and camera apps easily and can run games like Real Racing 3 and Dead Trigger 2 smoothly. However, at times, it struggles with basic tasks like opening the notes app or the dialer making multitasking a frustrating affair. It also has a heavily customised Asus ZenUI with preloaded bloatware, which contributes to the slowing down. However, these are not removable and will eat up precious space in your phone.
ZenFone Max does not bring upgrades to its camera. Fitted with the same 13MP rear camera with laser autofocus like the ZenFone 2 Laser, the camera performance of ZenFone Max is not brilliant. Outside images do not capture details and appear washed out. Intense sunlight can completely whitewash the pictures you click.
However, laser autofocus works wonderfully indoors and while clicking close-up shots. It captures enough details, less visual noise and slight movements too.
The camera app used in this phone is the same as ZenFone 2 Laser, with 14 modes to play with. The front 5MP camera is effective indoors and clicks moderate selfies that could be used in social media. Both cameras can record passably good-quality 1080p videos.
The only flagship feature that ZenFone Max offers is its whopping 5,000 mAh battery. It’s a power bank which can get you up to four days without charging with moderate use. An average of two days with heavy usage is a fair measure of the excellent strength of the battery. It passed the test of continuous video loop by staying alive for a fascinating 25 hours – a score only beaten by Gionee Marathon M5. However, this massive leap forward does not land well with ZenFone Max arriving with a terrible 1A/5V charger – it juices up slow, taking about 5 hours to go from 0% to 100%. An external high-speed charger would be a good purchase to partner up with this device.
ZenFone Max does not look like an upgrade of ZenFone 2 Laser. It does not provide anything concrete differences and rehashing the design does not make it stand out in the looks department either. The significant and only improvement is the stellar battery, which coupled with the reused but passable performance makes the phone capable of staying in the market. If you want a power bank with baseline performance of the camera and display – this is a good phone to consider. However, except the battery, Redmi Note 3 beats this phone on all levels, making it a better alternative to choose.