Asus has been never compromising with design at any cost after the release of the Zenfone 3 since they wanted to pack in their greatest hardware into a sexy package and I even mentioned that in the Zenfone 3 review too. And now, the younger sibling to the Zenfone 3 is here with a bigger battery but lower specs and no compromise on design and is to be called the Zenfone 3 Max. Asus launched them in two variants right into the market – the 5.2 inches variant and the 5.5 inches variant. And today, we’re here with the 5.2 inches variant which is a budget-friendly device. Is it the best phone under 15000, let’s check out our review on Zenfone 3 Max.

DESIGN

In terms of design, I am very impressed with the design here right of the  bat. The curved design and the metal back make it feel premium and perfectly fit into the hands. Just like the Zenfone 3, Asus has not compromised with the design even though it comes with a bigger battery here.

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To the right of the phone, we get the volume rockers and power button and the left side of the device there comes the SIM tray. We don’t get capacitive buttons here since they’re on-screen navigation keys now. On the front, we get the Asus logo at the bottom and the earpiece and 8 MP front-camera on the top. Coming to the back, we have the 13 MP rear camera with LED flash and under that comes the fingerprint sensor whereas to the bottom, we get the speaker grill with Asus logo right above it. On the top of the phone, we get our standard 3.5mm audio jack whereas on the bottom, we get a USB port. It doesn’t feel heavy nor bulky, it just looks crazy beautiful. As far now, I’m loving the design very much. The phone feels solid and great. The 2.5D curved glass on the display and the metal making a curve to the sides makeover an almost seamless edge. The 2.5D curved glass on the display and the metal making a curve to the sides makeover an almost seamless edge. Don’t mind but I actually think that the 5.2 inches variant is much better than the 5.5 inches one in terms of design since the 5.5 inches variant is having almost the same old design.

It doesn’t feel heavy nor bulky, it just looks crazy beautiful. As far now, I’m loving the design very much. The phone feels solid and great. The 2.5D curved glass on the display and the metal making a curve to the sides makeover an almost seamless edge. The 2.5D curved glass on the display and the metal making a curve to the sides makeover an almost seamless edge. Don’t mind but I actually think that the 5.2 inches variant is much better than the 5.5 inches one in terms of design since the 5.5 inches variant is having almost the same old design. Overall in terms of design, I am very much impressed.

DISPLAY

We get a 5.2-inch HD (720 x 1280) IPS display here with 2.5D curved glass protection and it definitely looks great. I didn’t felt like it to be a 720p display. When I got the device without knowing the complete specs, I thought it was a 1080p display, I mean it’s that great. The display is nice and crispy but I have a small problem with that. I get a light yellowish tint on the display. I don’t know if it is only the fault of our unit but it feels different to look at.

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The 5.2 inches display on paper might look very small but in the real world, I would say it is a perfect size to hold in hands. I’ve big hands so I didn’t have any problems while reaching the corners of the display. Overall, the display is crispy and I like it as well.

SOFTWARE

As I reviewed already on the Zenfone 3, the phone runs on the same Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 and on the top of it there is the Zen UI skin. Unlike the other Chinese UIs, the ZenUI is relatively light when you compare it to some of the Chinese counterparts, and offers a lot of customization options as well. It comes with an app drawer too which I didn’t expect at all. One of the big issues with the UI though is the sheer number of preloaded Asus apps on the smartphone.

To give you an idea, when we started the smartphone for the first time, the Play Store had to update almost 20-30 apps. The company has separate apps for most of the functions, including a dialer, clock, camera and contact list to name a few. And that being said, it gives the phone a better efficiency over that. There are also few tweaks out there like the One Handed mode, Glove mode and much more done to the Lollipop. The Zen UI works very smooth as hell and I don’t have any complaints over here. Great work Asus! But please do try to remove that bloatware if you can. Sorry to say but, it annoys a lot. One notable thing I mostly liked about the Zen UI is the illustrations that show up at the setup screen.

PERFORMANCE

Under the hood, we get a quad-core Mediatek MT6737M processor clocked at 1.25 GHZ coupled with Mali-T720MP2 GPU and 3 GB RAM for the 32 GB storage variant and 2 GB RAM for 16 GB storage variant and the storage is expandable also via microSD up to 256 GB. The combination is good enough to ensure a smooth performance even with multiple apps running in the background. I did get some lag while working with some heavy games like Assassin’s Creed: Identity, Asphalt 8, N.O.V.A 3, Dead Trigger 2, Pokemon Go, etc. Our unit is a 32 GB variant and out of 32 GB, we are able to use 24.02 GB that’s all because of the bloatware that comes pre-installed with Zen UI. Anyways, take a look at the benchmark scores of this device on Antutu and Geekbench 4.

CAMERA

This phone sports a 13 MP rear camera with f/2.2 aperture and LED flash. The pictures taken with it looks dull and the colors are washed out as well. They do look great but very low saturation brings up dull images. Also, the focusing speed is very slow and sometimes, it doesn’t even properly focus. And that means I am very disappointed about the camera here. I don’t know what happens sometimes, it turns up with good pictures. Taking the camera to the night time, we get the night mode option which boosts up the ISO and which technically results into a noisy image.

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On the other side, we get a 5 MP front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture. And if I have to say one word about it, then I would say it is  one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Even on bright lighting the selfies turn out to be very dull but they have got this so called beauty mode which works great sometimes and most of the times it doesn’t.

You can look at the camera samples provided from the phone for you right below this.

Rear Camera

Front Camera

Last words, I’m very disappointed with the camera here Asus. I expected it to be having a great camera but I’m very disappointed completely here.

BATTERY

And here comes the part where this phone has to outshine. The Zenfone 3 Max comes with a 4,130 mAh non-removable Li-Po battery and it actually delivers a good amount of battery life but it isn’t better than the one I saw on the Redmi 3S and 3S Prime.

I ran for around 22 hours approximately in my day-to-day usage. For a power user like me, we got 14 hours almost. I made some calls as well as used apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Twitter, and streamed music while running other everyday tasks and also used the camera occasionally. All went perfectly without much drain except for one game – Pokemon Go, obviously, it would be. While recording 4K videos and playing hardcore games, we noticed a considerable amount of heat around the back too. But, it actually misses out quick charge feature here since it might not fit into the budget of the phone. The battery life overall was good enough to last me a day with casual usage.

VERDICT

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At the price of Rs. 12,999 it is one of the great devices like Le 2, Redmi Note 3, Vivo V3 and it can’t outstand from those. I still feel like, it could have been a better device. But I would recommend if you want a long lasting battery but don’t want to compromise then just grab it right now. But if you have the performance at your priority, then you should look for LeEco Le 2, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 or the Vivo V3.

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