Over the past year or so, we have seen a lot of phones in the mid-range segment with ‘battery’ being pitched as the USP. For just under Rs 15,000, it is now possible to get a phone, which will last longer than an iPhone 7. Now, Asus is back with another Zenfone 3 with battery as the focus. Zenfone 3s Max, sports a 5000 mAh battery and runs the latest Android Nougat OS.
Phones like Redmi Note 3, now Redmi Note 4, Lenovo Vibe P series, the K6 Power, Gionee’s Marathon phones, have all touted battery as the big differentiating point. Except that given the number of phones in the market with 4000 mAh + batteries, it does get confusing for users. After all, the extra-large battery is no guarantee of great performance. But manufacturers in India are convinced: a bigger battery is the way to get consumer attention.
Zenfone 3s Max is not the only Asus phone we have seen this year with a big battery. The Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 also came with a 4,100 mAh battery. So is the new Asus phone good enough? And what else does it offer, besides the battery that won’t die? Here’s our review.
Specifications: 5.2-inch HD display (720p) | Mediatek 6750 octa-core processor at 1.51Ghz | 3GB RAM+32GB storage (expandable to 2TB via hybrid slot) | 13MP rear camera + 8MP front camera| 5000 mAh battery | Android Nougat 7.0 with ZenUI | Asus Zenfone 3S Max full specs
Price: Rs 14,999
Asus Zenfone 3s Max
Zenfone 3s Max looks like a lot of phones out there in the market with the metal unibody; the slightly curved back, rounded edges on top, and 2.5D glass all over the front. But despite the 5000 mAh battery, the device doesn’t look so bulky, although it is a bit heavy. It has a smaller 5.2-inch display, but at 720p resolution this is not so great.
The gold colour version looks subtle and nice, but then like I have said before there’s nothing new here. It would be unfair to pick on Asus for that; pretty much most of the new phones hitting the market look like a copy of the other.
Asus has gone with a muted antenna band on the top, which is nice to see. There’s a thin gold band at the bottom. The camera is placed on the top left corner on the back of the device with the LED flash next to it, the Asus logo is at the back.
On the front there’s the usual pill-shaped home button, which also includes a fingerprint scanner. The speakers are the bottom of the device, and this one has a dual-hybrid SIM.
So what’s good?
Since this phone is about the battery, let’s start with that. The 5000 mAh battery got around 16 hours plus on the battery test on PC Mark. Asus has put in quite a few optimisations on the battery front. Later on, I disabled some of these on the phone, in order to see just how far I could stretch the device’s battery.
Zenfone 3s Max gave me a screen-on time of around 5 hours, 40 minutes, which is not bad at all. Even with constant YouTube browsing, listening to music, notifications, the phone lasted close to one and a half days, which should be adequate for most users.
Since this phone has my Jio SIM, I used it to watch YouTube videos on loop, and it is still going strong. As I had noted earlier, half an hour of Asphalt 8 gaming, didn’t affect the device either and the levels barely dipped (69 to 63 per cent). However, Asus has not included fast charging in this phone, and even with the charger included in the box, it takes a good 3-3.5 hours to get it to 100 per cent.
Asus Zenfone 3s Max has a MediaTek processor with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. The phone doesn’t score very highly on benchmarks, but I didn’t face any app crashes or lag with this phone. If your daily tasks are browsing the web, Facebook, WhatsApp etc, the phone is capable of handling them. However, heavy duty game does push the device to heat up; I noticed this also happened with a really long YouTube video watching session as well.
Zenfone 3s Max comes with a 13MP rear camera, which has a manual mode. I wouldn’t recommend the latter, but in good light conditions the camera is fast, and the results are good. The details in the images could be sharper, but I didn’t notice any bleeding with colours like reds, pinks.
What’s not good?
Zenfone 3S Max is one of the few phones running Android Nougat out of the box in this price range. But the clunky ZenUI makes it impossible to enjoy any of the features. It is a labyrinth; settings, notifications, etc remain a pain to figure out.
The front camera is not to impressive. Overall, I would say even the rear camera doesn’t live up to the mark in this price category, if you were to pitch it against the competition like Lenovo K6 Power, etc.
The 5.2-inch HD display is also lagging behind in this price range. Redmi Note 4, Lenovo K6 series, etc all sport better full HD displays, which puts the Zenfone 3s Max at a considerable disadvantage.
The display doesn’t work well under sunlight and there are times when it appears warmer (more yellow) from some angles, then turns blue from another. This difference in colour was quite pronounced on the unit I got.
The phone is prone to heating up. This happened after watching music videos via YouTube for around 20 minutes. The top part of the phone saw a considerable spike in temperature.
Asus Zenfone 3s Max lives up to the battery claim, but the overall package is still far from perfect. At Rs 14,999 you are essentially paying to get the extra-large battery in a more compact form factor. However, the market has options like Redmi Note 4 or Lenovo K6 Power, which offer a better overall performance. If it was priced lower, the Zenfone 3s Max would have made more sense.