From the moment Asus announced its ZenFone 3 lineup in India way back in August, I was worried. Asus appeared to be charging a premium for decidedly mid-range specs and it was with that fear at the back of my mind that I approached the new ZenFone 3 Max.
This phone is the successor to 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 smartphone 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 and 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 and the larger one the ZenFone 3 Max 5.5.
The ZenFone 3 Max we received for review is the 5.5-inch model.
So what has Asus done to justify that 80 percent bump in price over the original? More importantly, has the company done enough?
Build and Design: 7/10
Asus ZenFone 3 Max
There’s nothing much to say about the design. All smartphones look largely the same these days and 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 to allow for wireless connectivity.
The buttons on the front face are capacitive, but are not backlit, making them a little difficult to 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 and it serves as a notification LED.
Asus ZenFone 3 Max ports
The rear features the camera and fingerprint sensor, both of which are aligned to the centre-line at the back. A dual-LED flash and 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 to metal on the sides.
That said, the build quality is leagues better than the cheap, plasticky feel of the original ZenFone Max.
Asus ZenFone 3 Max back
The dimensions are also great. The phone is just 8.3mm thick and 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 to the iPhone 7 Plus’ 65 percent.
The phone feels nice to hold, if a touch too slippery and it’s way more pocketable than many phones with the same screen size. The buttons are also nice and 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.
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