Asus Zenfone 3S Max Review: Consider it for its longer battery backup

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Asus has now launched the variant of Asus Zenfone 3 Max and this variant is dubbed as Asus Zenfone 3s Max. The new variant features the larger battery. I have been using this phone for more than a week now and here is my review of Asus Zenfone 3S Max.

The phone is priced at Rs. 14999

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Asus Zenfone 3S Max Review

Design

Unlike other Zenfone phones, this phone breaks the traditional design pattern and looks different. The most notable change is the presence of the physical home button below the display. This button also features the fingerprint sensor.

The right edge has the volume rocker and power button. These buttons are at easy to reach position and respond well. The left edge has the SIM card slot. At the top side, it has 3.5 mm audio port and the base side of the phone has micro USB port and speaker grill.

At the back side, it has the rear camera and Dual color LED flash at the top left corner.

The good thing is that the smartphone packs 5000 mAh battery but the weight is just 175 grams. This is the gold color variant but the phone will also be available in Black color.

With curved edges, the phone offers nice grip. Although there is nothing special in the design, it is still unique among all other Zenfone 3 phones.

Display

Zenfone 3S max comes with 5.2-inch HD display based on 2.5D curved glass. The phone’s display is bright and offers good color reproduction. It also offers excellent outdoor visibility. The viewing angles are large as well. With HD display, the phone saves lots of battery juice to give you larger battery performance. You will hardly notice that you are using less resolution display.

Surprisingly, this phone lacks the screen color mode option and Daydream option available in other Zenfone 3 series phone. This is the most notable change in the display area in latest Zen UI based on Android 7.0.

Zenfone 3S Max

Lack of any display protection is a disadvantage and it easily attracts the scratches.

Software

This is the first Asus phone with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. This phone runs on ZenUI 3.0 with many bloatware that you can disable. So be ready to see the updates of more than 20 apps soon after connecting the phone to WiFi for the first time. This is the only thing I hate about the UI.  I hoped that Asus will reduce the number of pre-installed apps, but it is still the same.

Zen UI 3.0 saw many notable changes in options and experience. The UI offers light and smooth experience most of the times, but the experience was not as good as I felt in other Asus phones. This time I faced issues with Camera app and switching between apps was also not as smooth.

You have plenty of options to customize the look and feel. The phone comes with themes, wallpapers, and effects. You get Zen services. There is an app drawer to access the installed apps. You can sort the apps and create the folder of apps to manage according to your personal choice.

You also get multi-window feature in this Zen UI that allows you to run two compatible apps one below the other simultaneously.

Performance

The phone comes with 1.5GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6750 processor with 3GB RAM to offer smooth performance and good multitasking. It also has Mali-T860 GPU to handle graphics requirement. The performance of the phone is good and smooth. The only issue I faced was with the UI.

The benchmark scores of the phone are also not very high. It scored around 40,000 on Antutu and On Geekbench the scores were 577 and around 2500 on single and multicore.

The gaming experience is awesome. I enjoyed Asphalt 8, Dead Trigger 2, Modern Combat likes games on the phone without any major lag or frame drops. There is not any heating issue as well. The lack of good GPU results in the average quality of graphics while gaming. If you are comfortable with the less sharp graphics, the device can be a good choice for mobile gamers.

The phone comes with 32 GB internal storage that is expandable. You get Hybrid slots to expand the storage. The storage is expandable up to 2TB. You also get free 50GB Google Drive storage for 2 years.

Camera

The phone comes with 13 megapixels rear camera with f/2.0 aperture and dual LED flash. It also has an 8 megapixels front camera with 85-degree wide angle lens.

The camera app is similar with so many useful camera modes. You also have pro mode and camera effects. This time, the camera is not smooth. I faced a major issue with the camera app. Most of the times, It was blank with a black screen and I had to restart the phone to get the camera app back to work.

While the camera seems good on paper, its performance is just fine and there could be improvements. I captured lots of shots in different conditions. The color reproduction is fine, but it captures very low detail and less sharp images. It can record 1080p video and it is also average. While the experience was good but is not something that 13 megapixels camera can do.

See the camera samples.

The low light performance is good and the low-light mode works fine. While images captured contain noticeable noise, it still captures well considering the light around.

The front camera is also average. While the performance was good, it could capture better details. You also get beauty mode to beautify your face to get better selfies. HDR Pro mode is also available for selfie camera.

Fingerprint and multimedia experience

It has the front facing fingerprint sensor located on the physical home button. This fingerprint sensor quickly unlocks the phone. The detection ratio was also fine. It can also detect your finger regardless of the direction you place the finger, but I found considerable miss rate with odd angles.

This phone offers good multimedia experience with the loudspeaker located at the base side. With good display and loud sound, you will enjoy watching videos and playing games on this phone. It in-call sound is also loud and clear. As the phone has large battery, you can enjoy movies and videos for longer time.

Zenfone 3S Max

Connectivity and battery

It offers 4G, 3G Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and micro USB and GPS connectivity options. This a dual SIM phone with the Hybrid slot. The network selection is fine and I didn’t face any issue with any SIM slot.

This phone is packed with 5000 mAh battery and this is the only thing that actually impressed me. I tested the device during travel with always mobile data on. While I was not using the phone for gaming, I was always connected with my social media accounts and using the camera to capture photos around. The phone gave me around 36 hours of usage and it was pretty awesome. Even if you are the power user, you will still get more than a day usage without anything special. One can easily achieve the screen-on-time of up to 10 hours with moderate usage.

This phone offers various battery save models. I tested the device with Normal mode. In case you want to get better battery life, you can use the power saving or super power saving mode to increase the battery backup. You even have an option to automatic switch to battery-saving mode at certain battery percentage or time.

Like other Max series phones, this phone also comes with reverse charging capability. So, you can use this phone as the power bank to charge other phones.

The only downside is the lack of fast charging. So, it takes longer time in charging this huge 5000 mAh battery.

Final Words

Asus tried giving a cheaper option of its battery phone Zenfone 3 Max in the form of Zenfone 3S Max. So, you have to compromise with few things, especially in the camera department. The camera performance is average that looks good with 13 MP & 8MP setup. The UI is also not optimized properly and I see the scope of improvements in this. In terms of performance, the device is fine and handles most of the heavy games and apps. I still have no idea of the actual price of the phone. If the phone will be priced aggressively, it can attract customers. I hope the price of the phone should be around Rs. 9,000 – Rs. 12,000. If it is priced higher than this, this phone will fall in my non-recommeded list of phones.

This phone is priced at Rs. 14999 that is more than my expectation but the phone is also available via offline retailers. Considering that, the phone has to priced little higher to keep margins for those vendors.

If you need a good phone with awesome battery backup, this phone is for you. If you are also looking for good camera and performance, this phone is not comparable with Redmi Note 4, Cool 1 or Honor 6X. But this phone comes with large battery with reverse charging capability as a thing to attract consumers.


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The Review

Asus Zenfone 3S Max

7.6 Score

"Zenfone 3S Max offers good performance and longer battery life but disappoints in the camera department. Buy only if you need a phone with excellent battery and camera is not your priority."

The Good

  • Display
  • Good performance
  • Longer battery backup

The Bad

  • Average Camera

Breakdown

  • Design 70%
  • Display 75%
  • Performance 65%
  • Camera 65%
  • Gaming 70%
  • Battery 85%
Deepanker Verma
Author Deepanker Verma

Deepanker Verma is a well-known technology blogger and gadget reviewer based in India.

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