ASUS Zenfone MAX First Impressions!

Returning from a 3 day camp at Pulau Ubin, I was presently surprised to find a package from ASUS at my doorstep. Inside, the Zenfone MAX, an intriguing phone with a monstrous 5000mAh battery. After charging the phone to 100% and starting it up in the morning, I’ve finally got the phone set up just the way I like it. Here are my first impressions of the ASUS Zenfone MAX.

ASUS ZenFone Max (ZC550KL) 

64-bit, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 410 running at 1.2GHz

Operating system 
ASUS ZenUI with Android 5.0 (Lollipop) 

5.5-inch with 1280 x 720 (HD) IPS LCD with Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4

Rear: 13MP, f/2.0-aperture with laser auto-focus and dual-color Real Tone LED 
Front: 5MP, f/2.0-aperture, 85-degree wide-angle lens 
PixelMaster features include Low Light mode,
Backlight (Super HDR) mode, 
Beautification mode, Professional (manual-settings) mode  
Memory and 
Micro SD card slot (up to 64GB supported) 
802.11b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Category 4 LTE and Bluetooth® 4.0  
3.5mm audio jack, Dual micro-SIM 
5000mAh non-removable lithium-polymer 
Black, White 
(H x W x D) 
156 x 77.2 x 10.5~5.2mm 

Zenfone logo

The first thing which I noticed about the Zenfone MAX when picking it up is its weight. At 202g, the MAX weighs significantly heavier than other phones of comparable size: the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (164g) and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (157g). There is good reason for this added weight though; while most flagship devices typically house 3000mAh batteries, the MAX’s battery capacity is 67% larger. ASUS promises 38 days of standby time and up to 32.5hours of websurfing: certainly an impressive feat. The weight also gives the device an extremely sturdy and solid feel in the hand, which some people would tend to prefer.

The second thing which I noticed was the faux leather back on the “Osmium Black” version of the phone which I got. I really do enjoy the feel and look of the rear cover. This, complemented by the sturdy buttons along the golden rim of the device, make the MAX look and feel more premium than its $249 price tag might suggest.

Zenfone MAX front

I have previously used a Zenfone 5, and I can see that despite the new design on the back, ASUS’ design language remains largely unchanged from the front, with rather large bezels and the iconic reflective patterned chin which is present on all of ASUS’ lineup of phones and even laptops. Next to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, which has a display of the same size, the Zenfone is noticeably larger, making me wonder if ASUS could have done more to reduce the footprint of the device.

Speaking of the display, the MAX’s 5.5 inch 720p display was a concern for me at first – 267ppi isn’t exactly an impressive number – but after using it I found the display to be decently crisp and very bright even in direct sunlight, so no qualms from me there. As an added bonus, ASUS has included Corning Gorilla Glass 4 on the front panel, which offers twice the drop damage resistance than Gorilla Glass 3. This is certainly a luxury feature for a budget device.

Zenfone Max camera

Moving on to the camera. The Zenfone comes with a 13MP PixelMaster camera, with laser autofocus. The latter promises 0.03s autofocus speeds, which is truly impressive for a budget device, while the f/2.0 aperture also seems promising for providing good low light performance. I’ll be testing the camera more in-depth in my full review which will be out in a couple of weeks’ time.

The last and perhaps most touted feature of the Zenfone MAX is its ability to act as a portable charger to other phones and devices via the use of an USB OTG and micro USB cable. ASUS has even included a USB OTG cable just for this very purpose. Yup, the MAX is so confident of its battery endurance that it even decided to give other phones some extra juice. Of course, you can use the USB OTG cable to transfer documents and photos from an external storage device to the MAX as well. I will be testing both of these features in the full review.

Zenfone v Redmi Note

And that’s my first impressions of the Zenfone MAX. Generally, I have positive impressions of the device. The camera, build quality and battery are all promising. ASUS had even managed to throw in some premium touches such as laser autofocus and Gorilla Glass 4 into the mix. The battery, in particular, is an issue that I have been having with my iPhone for quite some time now, and I’d love to see the battery performance on the Zenfone for a change. The Snapdragon 410 processor is my main concern for the device, as it is much weaker compared to the Snapdragon 650 found on the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. This is something which I will take note of in my full review of course, as well as how the phone stacks up to its main rival, the Redmi Note 3. At $50 less than the Redmi though, the MAX is looking to put up a fight. And I’m excited to see where ASUS stands in its latest take at the budget smartphone market. Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “ASUS Zenfone MAX First Impressions!

  1. The spec you shown “5000mAh non-removable lithium-polymer”, yet in the paragraph you mentioned “ASUS did give the MAX a removable battery though, which isn’t something that is present on the Xiaomi.” So the battery is removable or not?

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