Asus Zenfone 3S Max Detailed Review
Asus introduced the Asus Zenfone 3 Max on 8th November 2016 and the smartphones key highlight was sleek form factor and a large 4100 mAH Battery capacity.
In less than 3 months Asus has improved the Zenfone 3 Max and is launching a new Zenfone 3S Max in India.
Sometimes we do things a bit early, and this time I guess it is even before an actual launch by Asus, which is going to happen in coming days. But we had the device to play with for a week, so sharing some early heads up on the Asus Zenfone 3S Max.
The notable upgrades make this device entirely different compared to the Asus Zenfone 3 Max. There are a lot of changes ranging from hardware, latest OS, design and battery capacity, compared to the Zenfone 3 Max. They could have called it as Zenfone 4 Max and we would have accepted.
Zenfone 3 Max is a good device, but is the 3S really better – Let’s find out ……
Read Review for the Asus Zenfone 3 Max to get a background of the device and the differences would be clearer.
Asus Zenfone 3s Max is codenamed Asus X00GD and we got some leaks about it a few weeks back, finally, we have a name for it now.
Before we Move Forward let’s have a look at the Specs and What comes inside the Box:
Inside The Box
The device comes with charging cable, adapter, and earphones.
Build and Design
Asus Zenfone 3S Max comes with an aluminum build, there is no glass finish which was there on the Zenfone 3.
The most intriguing thing about the phone is its small form factor. The smartphone comes with a very large battery – 5000 mAH, like the original Zenfone Max.
It has 22% more battery capacity compared to the Asus Zenfone 3 Max. Yet it is one of the sleekest smartphones, I have seen with this much battery capacity.
As I picked up the device it never felt that it can have 5000 mAH battery capacity. It is really thin 8.85 mm in thickness and 175 grams.
The other major design change is, Asus has used the fingerprint scanner at the front, embedded in the Home Button. Zenfone 3 Max had the fingerprint scanner on the back.
The overall build quality is 7.8 on a scale of 10 and that is very good in my opinion. The phone feels premium and with sturdy buttons on the side, antenna lines have been shifted to the top.
The camera placement is also different at the back compared to the Asus Zenfone 3 Max. The camera is smaller in size and there is minor camera bump.
There is Zen circle inspired buttons and the screen to body ratio is 75%.
The Bottom carries a micro-USB port and a speaker grill. I have an Asus Zenfone Max the older version and is more than a year old, the phone is quite sturdy and the build quality and robustness on the Asus device speaks for itself. No repairs or service center visits so far.
Closer Look Zenfone 3s Max
Let’s have a closer look at the Asus Zenfone 3S Max.
Now Let’s get started with the Cool stuff – How this device runs and does it excite us, to work on the new Asus Zenfone 3s Max.
We are using the Reliance JIO 4G sim (well it’s free and no reason not to use it) and our own fiber broadband for testing YouTube and other apps performance.
The Asus Zenfone 3S Max comes with a 5.2 Inch display, similar to the Asus Zenfone 3 Max. The display has 1280*720 Pixels resolution and offers 282 PPi. There is 2.5 D curve glass coating at the top and it adds to the excellent touch experience.
The screen is quite bright and does not have broader black on screen bezels which we observed on Le 1S ECO. It is an HD display, not a Full HD but the display panel quality is good and outdoor legitimacy is also decent. The display has a maximum brightness of 450 nits which is plenty to see the display easily in broad daylight. There is also a built-in Blue Light Filter in the smartphone display.
General Performance Browsing And Apps
General Performance is smooth the 3 GB Ram and the Mediatek 64 Bit 6750 offers good performance. It is not the fastest processor or the smoothest general performance.
But we can say the Android Nougat 7.0 optimization and the Asus Zenfone UI makes things smoother and better. If you open 3-4 tabs on Chrome you may feel bit of slow down but nothing abnormal.
Other Apps like YouTube and Facebook work with ease on the smartphone no lag or issues observed.
UI, Software, and OS
Zen UI has come a long way from the Android Lollipop based version which we tested on the Original Zenfone Max to the Android Nougat 7.0.
One of the highlights of the Asus Zenfone 3S Max is the Android Nougat 7.0 OS which makes the device stand out among many smartphones which come with the Android Marshmallow.
There is a lot of back-end optimizations done by Google on the Android Nougat for performance improvement as well as battery life. Which adds to the user experience on this device.
On the Zen UI, the colors have become more subtle and more acceptable. They are going the minimalist way but are not yet there, not as refined I will say as the stock Android but close.
ZEN UI 3.0
The Keyboard layout and colors are still too sharp to my liking, prefer the stock Android Keyboard. The pull-down settings menu now has more bluish tint compared to the more greenish on the older Zenfone UI.
With Android Nougat and the new Zen UI things looks promising. Though Asus has added some of the useful Apps like the Mobile Manager which allows you to boost your device, set its performance, balance or battery saving mode.
We kept the device on the performance Mode and it impacts and makes transitions and app opening seems a bit faster. We even ran Antutu on both the performance and the Normal mode there was a slight bump in performance.
If you are not concerned with battery, which either way will work all day, a suggestion is to keep it in the performance mode.
There are tons of pre-installed apps like the Mini Movie, Zenfone Care, Zen Talk, Asus Service, Mobile Manager, Weather and the Asus Zenfit.
Asus Zenfit is something new though it is an attempt to measure the steps using the GPS settings, the smartphone doesn’t come with a step counter like an iPhone or Samsung S7.
There is also an option to measure your Heart Rate by keeping your finger at the flashlight at the back of the smartphone.
The good experimental feature, by Asus – in 2017 and 18 the health Apps are going to make way for most budget smartphones, something lot of users are looking forward to.
Benchmark Score – Geek Bench and Antutu
The first thing you do is put it in the performance mode to get a little more out of the smartphone otherwise the normal mode is also good if you want to optimize the battery.
We Ran the Antutu Benchmark – Asus Zenfone 3S Max (Powered By Mediatek 6750 Clocked at 1.5 GHz)
Performance Mode – 40053
Normal Mode – 39367
It is not the fastest processor out there in this mid-range – a Snapdragon 625 or even the Kirin 655 is better and faster processors. The Score is better compared to the Asus Zenfone 3 which comes with MediaTek 6737 processor (scored 30,000). It is comparable to the original Asus Zenfone Max with SD 615 which scored around 40,000. Would have liked a Snapdragon 625 in this device which is a really energy efficient and powerful CPU.
The Mali T860 is a Dual Core GPU and paired with the MTK 6750 clocked at 1.5 GHz offers good gaming performance at the 720P display. It is not a 1080P display and hence the GPU and CPU have to push lesser pixels which help in keeping the frame rates steady.
We played 3 Games – Modern Combat 5, Asphalt 8 Airborne and the Shadow Ninja.
The Shadow Ninja is a basic game with least graphics intensive settings and the smartphone was able to run through it butter smooth.
Modern Combat 5 is a bit more graphics intensive but the Asus Zenfone 3S Max was also able to run it smoothly.
Coming to the Asphalt 8 the game Ran smoothly at the high settings with ease, no surprises here. If it can run these games it can surely run most of the demanding Android games with ease.
With Power comes more responsibility, but with Gaming comes more heat.
The Heat was also manageable on the device. Despite being a metallic phone the Asus Zenfone 3S Max didn’t become uncomfortable to hold after gaming for 20 minutes. That’s a +1.
The Asus Zenfone 3S Max comes with Dual sim support and the second sim slot is a hybrid slot. You can either use a second sim card or the memory card to expand the storage.
The connectivity is good and even the 4G VOLTE calls from JIO work without any hurdles. You can simply insert the JIO sim and 4G Calls work on the device. Additionally, the data connectivity on both 3G and 4G network works without any hassles.
The mobile comes with support for Wi-Fi 802.11ac, hotspot, CAT- 4 (150/50Mbps), Bluetooth v4.0 and a Front-facing fingerprint sensor for security.
Camera Quality Review and Sample Shots Zenfone 3s Max
Front Camera Review Asus Zenfone 3S Max
The front camera is an 8 MP shooter and I liked the way it clicks images with decent colors and faster focus. The selfies can be adjusted with the beautify software at the time of clicking and you can even do it in post-processing with the build in Apps.
The front camera comes with 85-degree field of view and has the Asus Pixel master technology. There is also HDR and low light image modes.
Below Images Clicked Using the Front Camera
Overall the Front selfie camera is improved compared to the Asus Zenfone 3 Max which comes with a 5 MP front selfie camera.
However, there is no dedicated flash for clicking selfies or screen flash.
Rear Camera (Asus Zenfone 3S Max Review)
The rear camera seems to be same as the Asus Zenfone 3 max and as I said in that review it is a pretty decent camera.
Furthermore, the camera comes with 13 MP, f/2.0 aperture lens and has 5P largan lens. There is a Dual LED flash to click low light images.
In the test we have done, we pushed the camera mostly in the low light and the artificial light conditions. Also tested the Low light mode which actually makes the pixels larger and absorbs more light.
The low light mode on the Asus camera works to reduce the number of pixels but individual pixel size is increased to absorb more light.
Let’s Check some of the photos clicked using the Rear camera on the Asus Zenfone 3S Max.
Clicked in Low Light Mode.
Images clicked on Auto Focus Mode
Below Image is clicked In Artificial Indoor Light
It comes with an average sound output. There is a mono speaker at the bottom of the device that is sufficiently loud. Moreover, fit for listening to movies dialogues or even songs.
The smartphone comes with Asus Audio Wizard and allows you to choose presets based on your needs.
Also, there is an outdoor mode that increases the speaker volume if required. Further, it comes with standard in-canal earphones. A nice touch most manufacturers have stopped providing the earpiece.
RAM and Storage
The Asus Zenfone 3S Max comes with 32 GB of internal storage, expandable upto 2 TB using a micro-sd card. There is 3 GB of RAM out of which mostly 1200 MB is free about 40%.
The internal usable storage available for users is 23.65 GB. Rest is used by pre-installed Apps and OS.
This is one of the first Asus Devices I am using which comes with a Front Home Button with a fingerprint scanner. The fingerprint scanner is fast and works 8 out of 10 times.
That’s the one solid reason to but the Asus Zenfone 3s Max. The 5000 mAH battery makes it a desirable smartphone for those who just want to charge it once and then forget about it.
My biggest gripe with my Samsung S7 is the battery life, whatever next flagship I am going to buy Camera and battery life is going to be the most important features.
It runs all day and even at the end of the day, you may have 30% or more battery capacity. In fact, you can get about 6-8 hours of screen time. Also, there is reverse charging support that means you can charge another phone with it.
However, the biggest let down is the lack of fast charging feature. It takes close to 3 hours to charge from 0 to 100%, that is a long time.
Concluding Thoughts – Asus Zenfone 3S Max Review
Asus has made many subtle improvements to the Asus Zenfone 3S Max in comparison to the Zenfone Max or the Zenfone Max 3. I have used and reviewed all 3 devices, but the 3S Max definitely it better than both the devices.
Let us check out some of the major Pros and cons for the Asus Zenfone 3S Max.
Major Pros – Asus Zenfone 3S Max
- 5000 mAH Battery Capacity – Insane battery life.
- Android Nougat 7.0 – Much Better and refined user experience.
- Design and Build – Robust Build Quality & Premium Metallic Design
- 5 D curve Glass and very bright display.
- Good general Performance.
- Decent Front and Rear Camera Performance.
- Sleek In-spite of very large battery
Major Cons – Asus Zenfone 3S Max
- Better Processor would have made it perfect.
- Asus can remove some of the less frequently used Apps.
- Fast Charging support.
- Don’t like the Asus Keypad – too cluttered.
Should You Buy it?
That’s always a tough question to answer and I think you are the best judge of what you want in a smartphone. But is this a good device – Answer is yes. It ticks many right boxes.
The price (Rs. 14,999) is not very high considering the Pros but there are several compelling options in the market like Lenovo Z2 Plus, Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Huawei Honor 6X and the recently launched Oppo A57. Which are superior in one or the other way.
Asus has become a more premium brand after they launched the Zenfone 3 series last year and have shrugged the image of a cost-conscious brand. Though they have also worked on the build quality of devices which is much superior to original Zenfone.
You want latest OS – Android Nougat, Great battery life and a decent camera smartphone with great looks – the Zenfone 3s Max is a good choice. Else there are plenty of good devices as I have mentioned above, in this price range, you can explore.