At a grand media event in New Delhi, India, Asus Zenfone 3 Max was launched on 8th November 2016. The Zenfone 3 Max comes in 2 models.
It has a 5.2 inch HD Display model code-named “ZC520TL” priced at Rs. 12,999.
(We will be doing the review for this model. (Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL)).
Also, they have launched a more expensive 5.5 Inch model for Zenfone 3 Max that comes with Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 Processor, available at Rs. 17,999.
Related – Asus has launched the new version of the Zenfone 3 Max – Asus Zenfone 3S Max Review – 5000 mAH Battery Sleek Phone.
In this review we will cover:
- Build and Design
- Display and General Performance
- Battery Life
- Camera Performance
- Major pros and Cons.
We have previously reviewed the Asus Zenfone Max 2016 model that went on sale in June 2016.
Besides, we will compare what has changed since the last Zenfone Max. You can read the Asus Zenfone Max review here.
Let’s 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 a lightweight aluminum back cover unlike the leather finish on the previous Zenfone Max.
The signature concentric circle design is gone. Replaced by a plain look that is modern and classy. It reminds of the dark grey OnePlus 3.
The smartphone doesn’t feel bulky unlike the older generation Zenfone Max. However, it carries a massive 4100 mAH battery capacity. 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. However, the S7 has just 3000 mAH battery capacity compared to 4100 on the new Zenfone 3 Max. It is praiseworthy that Asus has been able to fit a large size battery, in this sleek device.
Overall the build quality and finish on the smartphone is top-notch, and one of the best in its price segment.
Let’s Check Some Close Shots of the Asus Zenfone 3 Max.
There is 2.5 D Curve Glass and Beautiful front design with Asus Logo.
Also, it has an aluminum back cover with speaker grill at the rear side below the Asus Logo.
Further, the Fingerprint scanner is located under 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.
For starters, there is 5.2 inch HD display that offers excellent brightness and color reproduction.
Moreover, the display has sufficient sunlight legibility. However, 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 look acceptable but are not as sharp as on FHD screens. The screen has very thin side bezel – only 2.25 mm.
Also, Asus has 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 substantially. A must-have in modern smartphones.
Next, the phone is powered by the Mediatek 6737T processor that 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 the user, rest of the space is taken by the Asus bloatware and the operating system.
Software and UI
Furthermore, it 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 feels old, and I changed it to the Android stock keyboard as soon as I started using the phone.
Apps like mobile manager are pre-installed in the Zen UI, that I would prefer to have on any smartphone. The mobile manager helps you setup smartphone performance and offer battery saving mode, clean up storage and boost ram.
It also allows changing App permissions and performs several other mobile management tasks. A very useful custom developed App.
Also, there is a Mini movie maker App, allows you to make a mini-movies from images/videos within seconds.
It is a fast tool for sharing great moments on social media without spending too many hours in editing.
Furthermore, our review unit lagged a bit while doing multi-tasking and opening Apps like Chrome and Facebook.
It was not too much but was noticeable when you open 3-4 Apps together. Probably a software update could fix this, or the final retail units could be better. Notably, 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 that is egregiously low even 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 1503 on multi-thread test.
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. Thanks to the HD (1280*720) display there was no lag while gaming.
Moreover, if it 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; it runs without any issues and gameplay is 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 that means either you can use a second sim card or a memory card.
Also, it connects easily to WIFI and 3G / 4G network in my limited testing.
Furthermore, the call quality is also decent, no concerns. I have not been able to test for the VOLTE calls on the JIO sim as there was some issue with my sim card. However, for LTE on Airtel and 3G on Idea Cellular, it worked fine.
Next, I tested the rear 13 Megapixel camera in different scenarios and below are some of the images. Also, check the link for full-sized pictures to get a better understanding.
The Camera App opens fast, and the camera is ready to click images in a blink. The Autofocus is also smooth and quick to focus on the subjects.
Besides, 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 as we saw on the Le 1S, that has 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 areas are overexposed 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 as in the low light situation where it struggles a bit more, even compared to the older Asus Zenfone Max. Contrastingly, there are situations when the camera tends to do much better.
Also, the autofocus 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.
To sum up, the camera is slightly better compared to the last iteration.
There is a single speaker at the back of the smartphone that offers average sound output, and it gets muffled if the smartphone is lying flat. However, there is an exciting feature Asus has added to enhance the sound. You can enable the outdoor mode when you want a higher volume from the speaker.
Also, there is a 3.5 MM headphone jack at the top of the smartphone. The earphones offer decent sound, although nothing exceptional.
Furthermore, it has an Audio Wizard to help you enable different sound presets like vocal, music, movies, etc, to enhance the experience.
The fingerprint Scanner is placed at the back of the device and comes with the ability to unlock quickly.
In my experience, the Fingerprint scanner is good and unlocks the smartphone in 7 out of 10 attempts. Further, it comes with features like clicking images when the camera App is open by tapping once or double tap to open the camera App. Also, you can answer incoming calls by pressing the fingerprint scanner.
The fingerprint scanner is not the fastest 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 a standard process.
Goto > Settings > Fingerprint > Manage Fingerprints > Register your fingerprints. You can add more than 1 fingerprint to make sure it works with ease. Notably, it does not work with wet fingers.
The smartphone has excellent battery life, and in one week of testing, it offers 7 to 8 hours of screen-on time.
I was using either 3G or 4G network. The battery Life is 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. It took almost 3:40 minutes to charge to 100% from drop-dead zero.
Noticiably, 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
The design, form factor and stylish looks win your heart as you start using the Zenfone 3 Max.
Also, the premium metal build is far superior to most of the budget smartphones in this price range. It looks more expensive than it’s price tag.
Furthermore, the battery life is excellent for all-day use without any headaches of carrying a charger.
Lastly, the rear camera is decent, and the Auto-focus is also quick, though it has mediocre performance in low light.
The Zenfone 3 Max’s only major flaw is its underpowered processor and a bit sluggish UI. The weak processor 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 Modern Combat 5 with ease. The most demanding Android Games can be played in medium settings.
Should You Buy it?
There are a lot of options in the market in the Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 15,000 range and Zenfone 3 Max will have a fierce fight in this price segment. Asus has kept price probably due to the better build quality.
But are the consumers willing to pay a 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. I hope this review makes you appropriately understand the device.
Share with me any thoughts in the comments below. Or in case you need some buying advice, I would be glad to help.
Also, Asus has recently launched the Asus Zenfone 3s Max you can read the review for Asus Zenfone 3s Max.