The Asus Zenfone 3s Max is the latest entry to the big battery smartphones. Zenfone 3s Max is the new addition to the Zenfone series after Zenfone 3 Max which was launched early this year. The smartphone is priced at Rs. 14,999 and competes with the likes of Redmi Note 4, Honor 6X and Coolpad Cool 1.

The highlight of Zenfone 3s Max is its huge 5000mAh battery packed inside a surprisingly compact chassis. It comes with Android 7.0 Nougat, which can also be considered as a selling point of this device. Looking at what it has to offer, does it justify the amount it is priced for?

Let’s find out!

DESIGN

As we all know, Asus has been playing around with the design of its Zenfones ever since the Zenfone 3 line up has been in works. The design on Zenfone 3s Max is has to be praised for its compactness, as compressing a 5000mAh battery inside such a small form factor is not easy.

For a change, the front of the Zenfone 3s Max does not have capacitive navigation keys and has on-screen navigation buttons instead. The fingerprint sensor is integrated in the Home button, placed below the display. The back has an aluminium case with evenly coloured plastic chin with a thin chrome line striking through. Unlike the bottom, the top of the back has plastic on top edge, which looks like a smart design element.

The camera placement is unusual this time, as it is baked on the top left corner alongside a dual-tone LED flash. Also the loudspeaker grill has been shifted to the bottom. For the first time, there is no sign of Asus’ trademark concentric circle pattern anywhere except on the power button.

With a huge 5000mAh battery inside and a screen size of just 5.2 inches, the company has done a good job in keeping the phone considerably thin and handy. It measures 73.7 mm x 149.5 mm x 8.9 mm and weighs 169gms. Overall, the Zenfone 3s Max has a decent looking design, with nothing flashy at all. There are few new elements in the design, which are not seen in any of the previous Zenfones.

DISPLAY

The Zenfone 3s Max comes with a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with HD (1280 x 720p) resolution, and the pixel density is 282 PPI. The display is sharp with rich colors and the 450 nits brightness is very good, offering great sunlight visibility. The viewing angles too are quite excellent. The contrast ratio though is just average, and even on higher brightness levels, the colors are not as vibrant as I would’ve liked. On paper, the display seems to offer an average point of the device; at least when even the low end phones are offering full HD display.

It is, however, disappointing that the ZenFone 3s max sports only an HD display when other phones in the same – and even lower – price range feature a Full HD display. It’s good that the device packs in a smaller display, so this does not become a showstopper for a lot of people. Of course, it looks a poor sight on the specifications sheet.

PERFORMANCE/HARDWARE

Powered by 64-bit MediaTek MT6750 processor clocked at 1.5GHz paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory, further expandable by up to 2TB via a microSD card slot. The dual SIM smartphones features a hybrid slot, so you can either use the second SIM or the microSD card, but not both. The ZenFone 3s Max chugs along nicely while multitasking offering a smooth Android experience. However, the chipset isn’t powerful enough as the ones powering some of the competitors. In 2017, it is quite dissapointing that ASUS didn’t go for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, a terrific SoC for mid-range smartphones. Clearly, the device is geared towards casual smartphone users – and that is where it excels.

I was not really impressed with the performance on this phone as it stutters in many areas. Apps like contacts, Facebook, Instagram took longer than usual in many cases. Multitasking is handled decently with 3GB of RAM but the performance is limited because of the disappointing single-core performance on MediaTek chipset.

With a 720p resolution display, the GPU performance is somehow balanced and the graphic performance becomes decent. Games like Asphalt 8 and Modern Combat 5 can be played on this phone but occasional lags and frame drops can be expected after prolonged usage.

Looking at the price, the performance is not as impressive as it should be. When you have phones like Redmi Note 4 lined up in competition, Asus should have done slightly better than this. Frankly speaking, if use your smartphone to the fullest, then you might face issues with this smartphone after a period of time.

SOUND

Audio quality was nothing extra ordinary on Zenfone 3s Max. Sound through the headphones comes out be good but the loudspeaker feels sharp in some cases. It has fairly loud output but when it comes to sharp sounds, it does not handle them that well.

FINGERPRINT EFFECTIVENESS

The fingerprint sensor worked well. The fingerprint scanner can be used to answer incoming calls, launch the camera app, or take a picture. It is fast and accurate in 8 out of 10 cases, only misses when you try to unlock it with odd angles. The fingerprint works only when you wake the screen up, so you need to press the home button and then the fingerprint sensor gets activated.

SOFTWARE

Zenfone 3s Max is the first Asus smartphone to come with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. On top of Android Nougat, it has a layer of Asus ZenUI 3.0 on top.

The addition of Nougat has brought some new software features to this phone. These features include the multi-window mode for multitasking on a single screen, reply to incoming messages from notification panel, change the DPI setting to adjust the size of UI elements, double tap the multi-tasking key to switch between recent apps and more.

As we all know ZenUI is a highly customisable launcher that allows you to adjust almost everything from themes, fonts, animation effects, icon packs and a lot more. There is also a big chunk of bloatware apps pre-installed on the phone. These apps take up a lot of space on the smartphone and many of them are added unnecessarily in the pack.

Asus also packs some extra features that may come handy to some of you. It comes with an Easy mode for a simple interface for those who are not used to smartphones and Kids mode to keep your kids restricted to limited apps. There are some touch gestures like double tap to wake up, draw C on lock screen to launch camera, flip phone to silent call and some more similar gestures.

CAMERA

The Zenfone 3s Max features a 13 MP rear camera with phase detection autofocus and dual LED flash. It supports video recording 1080p and 30fps. On the front it comes with a 8 MP camera with f/2.0 aperture.

The image quality from rear camera is good in well lit situations, with good colours, contrast and dynamic range. In some cases the Asus camera app overworks and blurs out the details on the picture to reduce noise. I was satisfied with the rear camera in good lighting but when it comes to low light, you have to be extra steady to get a clear shot. The night mode on the camera UI works well but the frame becomes laggy.

Front camera performance is not as good as it should be on a 15K phone. The selfies did not look natural and the camera software tries a little too much to fix your photos.

Video quality is supported up to 1080p, the focus and details are fine but stabilisation is an issue.

BATTERY

Throwing some light on the main selling point of the phone, its battery performance. As already expected, the phone as amazing battery life and can last up to 2 days. The on-screen time came out to be more than 10 hours in our case when the device was constantly connected to a Wi-Fi.

A 720p display extends the already extensive battery life for at least an hour more than a 1080p display. It also supports reverse charging, which allows it to charge other devices using an OTG cable.

Sadly, the Zenfone 3s Max does not supports fast charging, and with such a massive battery on boards, it gets frustrating to charge your phone for hours. The bundled 10W charger takes around 3 hours 45 minutes to charge the device from 0-100%.

AVAILIBILITY AND PRICE

Priced at Rs. 14,999, the Black and Sand Gold colour variants of the smartphone are available via both offline and online e-portals.

Asus Zenfone 3s Max Best Price

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VERDICT
VERDICT The Asus Zenfone 3s Max is a battery-centric smartphone, and it does last long. Asus has been working on their phones but keeping with the competitive pricing is the only problem right now. The sub 15K segment of smartphone is flooded with choices, keeping up with such strong competition is not going to be easy for Zenfone 3s Max. It lacks in overall performance and the display is also very basic for a phone of this range. However, at Rs. 14,999, the compromises make little sense. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 offers just an hour or lesser battery life and gives you a better camera and performance. If you can afford to spend more, the Lenovo P2 offers almost 40% more battery life than this smartphone.
CAMERA8
DISPLAY7.3
SOFTWARE7.6
BATTERY LIFE8
PERFORMANCE7
DESIGN7.1
PROS
Good battery life
Strong camera performance
Android 7.0 Nougat
Well built
CONS
Way too much software bloat
Average overall performance
7.5