Review Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) – Camera Gaming UX
Review Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) – Camera Gaming UX – At a grand media event in New Delhi, Asus Zenfone 3 Max was launched in India on 8th November 2016. The Zenfone 3 Max comes in 2 models. There is a 5.2 inch HD Display model code named “ZC520TL” priced at Rs. 12,999. It comes with Mediatek 6737T processor and 3 GB RAM. We will be doing the review for this model. (Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL).
Asus has also launched a more expensive 5.5 Inch model which comes with Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 Processor, priced at Rs. 17,999.
In this Review of Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) we will cover – Built and Design , Display and General Performance , Gaming , Battery Life and Camera Performance and major pros and cons.
We have previously reviewed the Asus Zenfone Max 2016 model which was launched in June 2016. We will also compare what has changed since the last Zenfone Max in this review. You can read the Asus Zenfone Max review here. Asus Zenfone Max was also launched in 2 models back then.
- Asus Zenfone Max 16 GB / 2 GB RAM variant – Price Rs. 9,999
- Asus Zenfone Max 32 GB /3 GB RAM variant – Price Rs. 12,999
Lets Get Started with the Build Quality and Design.
Review Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL)
Build And Design
Asus Zenfone 3 Max is not the same smartphone or a minor upgrade compared to the last generation Zenfone Max. It has come a long way. The new Zenfone 3 Max comes with a metallic build with lightweight Aluminum back cover unlike the leather finish on the previous Zenfone Max.
The concentric circle design is gone which has been a signature style for Asus Devices (even found on laptops). The plain look is classy and reminds of the dark grey OnePlus 3.
The smartphone doesn’t feel bulky, though it carries a large 4100 mAH battery capacity. This is one of the most notable design change for the new Zenfone 3 Max. The thickness is just 8.6 mm and it weighs 148 grams.
In comparison to my daily driver Samsung Galaxy S7 it is 4 grams lighter and 0.7 mm more in thickness. Samsung S7 has just 3000 mAH battery capacity compared to 4100 on the new Zenfone 3 Max. It is praise worthy that Asus has been able to use a large size battery, in this sleek device.
Overall the built quality and finish on the smartphone is top notch and one of the best in it’s price segment.
Lets Check Some Close Shots for the Asus Zenfone 3 Max.
The 2.5 D Curve Glass and Beautiful front design with Asus Logo.
Metallic Aluminum Back Cover with Speaker Grill at the rear Side below the Asus Logo. Finger print Scanner is placed below the rear camera. On the Side there is Sim and Micro-sd Card Tray.
Asus has still kept the concentric design on the power and the volume rocker button.
Review Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) – There is 5.2 inch HD display which offers good levels of brightness and color reproduction. The display has good sunlight legitimacy. Though the display has an HD resolution with 1280*720 pixels and 282 PPi. If you are used to FHD or a Quad HD screen for daily use you will notice the low resolution. The text and images looks good but are not as sharp as on most FHD screens. The screen has very thin bezel – only 2.25 mm.
Asus has also added a 2.5 D glass on top of the screen and it perfectly merges in the metal frame. The 2.5 D curve glass enhances the looks of the device greatly. A must have in modern smartphones.
The smartphone is powered by the Mediatek 6737T processor which is a 64 Bit Quad Core SOC clocked at 1.25 GHz. There is 32 Gb of storage out of which around 24 GB is available for user, rest of the space is occupied by the Asus bloatware and the operating system.
Software and UI
The smartphone runs on the Android Marshmallow 6.0 and there is Zen UI. The Zen UI has got improved over the course of last 6 months when we experienced it on the older Zenfone Max. It looks less cluttered and more thoughtfully designed.
I am not a huge fan of their green, blue and grey color scheme as I prefer the stock Android on the Nexus devices or even the Touch wiz. The keyboard on the Zen UI does have an odd feel to it and I changed it to the Android stock keyboard as soon as I started using the smartphone.
There are some good Apps pre-installed in the Zen UI, which I would prefer to have in any smartphone, like the in-built mobile manager. The mobile manager helps you set up smartphone performance and offer battery saving mode, clean up and RAM Boost. It also allows to change App permissions and do a lot more of smartphone management. A really useful App.
There is also a Mini movie maker App which allows you to make a mini movies from images / videos with-in seconds. It is a fast tool for sharing those great moments on social media without spending too many hours in editing.
The smartphone we got had some bit of lag while doing multi-tasking and opening Apps like Chrome and Facebook. It was not too much but definitely noticeable when you open 3-4 Apps together. A likely software update and final retail units could have better performance. The Zenfone 3 Max processor – MT-6737 is not much to write home about.
Let’s check some of the Benchmark scores and Gaming performance for CPU and GPU.
Antutu Benchmark Score – The Mediatek 6737T managed to get a 30,000 score on the Antutu benchmark which is egregiously low even when compared to the older Asus Zenfone Max powered by the Snapdragon 615. (scored – 40,000).
Geek Benchmark Score – The Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) scored only 570 on single thread performance and scored 1503 on mutli-thread performance. The older Zenfone Max scored 700 on single thread performance and 3017 on the multi thread performance.
Gaming Asphalt 8 and Modern Combat 5
We Played Asphalt 8 and Modern Combat 5 on the Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) and to my surprise both the games were easily playable on the smartphone. Thanks to the HD (1280*720) display there was no lag while gaming. If the smartphone would have had a 1080P display there would have been more pixels to push for the GPU and performance would have suffered. I also tested the Modern Combat 5 without any issues and game play was smooth.
The Asphalt 8 had frame drops in highly animated graphical scenes, so we turned the graphics to medium settings from the default high for a smooth gaming experience. Most of the Android Games are playable on the new Mediatek 6737 processor and the ARM Mali-T720 MP2.
Review Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) – UX Camera Gaming
The Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) has dual sim support and it comes with a hybrid sim tray which means either you can use a second sim card or a memory card. The smartphone connect easily to WIFI and 3G / 4G network in my limited testing.
The call quality was also decent no concerns there. I have not been able to test for the VOLTE calls on the JIO sim as there was some issue with my sim card. Though for LTE on Airtel and 3G on Idea Cellular it worked fine.
We tested the rear 13 Mega pixel camera in different scenarios and below are some of the images. Also check the link for full sized images to get a better understanding.
The Camera App opens fast and the camera is also ready to click images in a blink. The Auto focus is also smooth and quick to focus on the object. The low light performance is just passable even if you switch to the low light mode on the camera.
The good thing about this camera is most images clicked were okay, the problem with most budget devices is that they fail to get right exposure or focus, like we saw on the Le 1S, which had a terrible camera.
Here are some of the images clicked using the Zenfone 3 Max. (Check Full Size Images here)
Close Shot Quite Clear Image with details – shot in artificial room light
Very Detailed Close Shot from Asus Zenfone 3 Max.
Below Are Night Shot Images, some out of focus lights. Noise/grain is visible.
Broad Daylight Shot some of the image parts are over exposed and some are under-exposed.
The Below image is one of the best images I was able to shoot with a good Bokeh Effect using rear camera on Asus Zenfone 3 Max.
Shot indoor with Flash.
Shot indoor without Flash – Image with Flash have more natural Colors.
Below Images Are Shot on the Older Zenfone MAX
Below Image is shot on the Older Asus Zenfone Max Without Flash in same light conditions – Read review and check more images here
Overall camera performance is good. There are some instances like in the low light situation where it struggles a bit more, even compared to the older Asus Zenfone Max. While there are other situations camera tends to do much better. The Auto focus speed on this camera is better than the last generation.
The Bokeh effect and ability to capture moving objects like animals and kids is improved. Overall the camera is slightly better compared to the last iteration.
There is a single speaker at the back of the smartphone which offers average sound output and it gets dampened if the smartphone is lying flat. Though there is an interesting feature Asus has added to enhance sound. You can enable an outdoor mode when you want a higher volume from speaker.
There is a 3.5 MM headphone jack at the top of the smartphone. The earphones offer decent sound though nothing exceptional. There is also an Audio Wizard which can help you enable different sound presets like vocal, music , movies etc to enhance experience.
Fingerprint Scanner is placed at the back of the device and comes with ability to unlock quickly. In my experience the Fingerprint scanner is good and unlocks the smartphone in 7 out of 10 attempts. It also comes with features like clicking images when the camera App is open by tapping once or double tap to open the camera App. You can also answer incoming calls with the fingerprint scanner.
Finger print scanner is not fastest in speed but is neither a slouch. The fingerprint scanner is touch type and you don’t need to press it to get the device unlocked. Only placing the finger on it does the job.
Setting Fingerprint scanner on the Zenfone 3 Max is standard process Goto > Settings > Fingerprint > Manage Fingerprints > Register your fingerprints. You can add more than 1 fingerprint to make sure it works with ease. It does not work with wet fingers.
Review Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) – The smartphone has great battery life and in one week of testing, in real life usage, it offers 7 to 8 hours of screen on time. I was using either 3G or 4G network. Battery Life was almost 30% more compared to my daily driver Samsung S7. Unfortunately the battery takes a very long time to charge, there is no quick charge support on this smartphone. It took almost 3:40 minutes to charge to 100% from drop dead zero.
The Zenfone 3 Max comes with reverse charging support and it can charge your second smartphone or smartwatch if needed.
Concluding Thoughts – Review Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) – Camera Gaming UX
Major Pros – The design, form factor and stylish looks wins your heart as you start using the Zenfone 3 Max. The premium metal build is no comparison to most of the budget smartphones in this price range. The smartphone looks more expensive than it’s price tag. The battery life is great on the Zenfone Max 3, with all day usage without any headaches of carrying a charger. The rear camera is decent and the Auto-focus is also quick, though it has mediocre performance in low light.
Major Cons – The Zenfone 3 Max only major flaw is it’s under powered processor and a bit sluggish UI. Weak processor though helps to increase the battery life, but at the same time we would have liked a more powerful Soc. Surprisingly, it was able to run Asphalt 8 and and Modern Combat 5 with ease. The most demanding Android Games can be played on medium settings.
Should You Buy it ? – There are lot of options in the market in the Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 15,000 range and Zenfone 3 Max will get a tough fight in this price segment. The Price is a bit high owing to the much better build quality. Are the consumers willing to pay higher price for a better build quality ? Or they want sheer performance, it is up to them to decide. The smartphone does good in some of the areas and lack in others. Hope the review makes you understand the device in the appropriate way.
Share with me any thoughts in the comments below or in case you need some buying advice, would be glad to help.
Thanks for reading the Article – Review Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) – Camera Gaming UX.