Asus Zenfone 3 Max range is primarily aimed more towards battery life, at the same time a reliable all-round performance featuring solid specs at a competitive price point. Asus recently introduced two new models in its Max series, both of them called Zenfone Max 3.

We’ll be checking out the cheaper version of the two, which goes by the model name ZenFone 3 Max (ZC520TL). The smartphone looks like unlike any other phone from the Zenfone 3 series. The device is currently available on Flipkart for Rs. 12,999, which puts it in direct competition with the likes of the Coolpad Note 5 and the Redmi Note 3, both of which are top-notch budget Android smartphones. We’ll try to find out whether the Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) has what it takes to make it a good buying option.

Design

It fits nicely in hand with its subtle rounded edges, while the metal body gives it a premium look and feel. The volume rockers and power buttons are ergonomically placed on the right side. The fingerprint scanner on the back is easily accessible. The phone doesn’t feel as bulky compared to other 5-inch devices, and I liked the phone’s overall look and feel. It’s not as flashy as other high-end variants of the Zenfone 3 series, yet its subtle, minimalist looks help elevate its overall appeal.

Display

The Asus Zenfone 3 Max gets a 5.2-inch HD display with a 720p pixel resolution. For the price, we’d have liked a Full HD screen, but it’s still pretty vibrant with good colour reproduction and decent viewing angles. However, brightness levels don’t seem enough for bright outdoor conditions. But overall, the phone’s 720p display should work fine for most users.

Hardware and Performance

Under the hood, the Zenfone 3 Max packs a MediaTek MTK6737 quad-core processor bundled with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in storage. The overall performance across the board is quite impressive. Apps open quickly and neither were there any lags during multi-tasking. The phone can even run high-end titles such as Asphalt 8 without a twitch thanks to 3GB of RAM on board. In our synthetic benchmark tests, the phone scored 33595 in Antutu, while in Geekbench 4 the phone managed to pull-off single and multi-core scores of 565 and 1750.

The fingerprint scanner on the back is also quite accurate and responsive, and quickly unlocks the device. That said, it’s still not the fastest I’ve come across in this price range.

Regarding connectivity, the phone features a dual-SIM hybrid slot, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, and 4G LTE and a microUSB port. The call quality was good for both incoming as well as outgoing calls. Besides, the phone also latches onto Wi-Fi rather quickly. Even the signal reception was rather good.

One of the USPs of the phone is its 4130mAh battery which just doesn’t seem to die. It can easily survive two days of usage for regular users. While heavy users can easily get around 5-6 hours on-screen time with Zenfone Max 3, and still be left with enough juice to carry on through the day. That said, the phone doesn’t get quick charging support which is quite a bummer. It takes around 4 hours to charge the device fully.

Asus Zenfone 3 Max 4130mAh battery can easily survive two days of usage for regular users.

Android and UI

The Asus Zenfone 3 Max runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out-of-the-box with the company’s custom ZenUI interface on top. As far as performance goes, the UI is quite snappy and responsive. There were no lags or hiccups while navigating around the phone’s screen. That said, it’s a heavily skinned version of stock Android which takes time getting used to. There are tons of apps which make the home screen look really cluttered, along with some unnecessary changes to Android’s stock interface which seem rather flimsy.

Camera

The phone gets a 13MP primary camera which shoots really fast and produces clear pictures with plenty of details to gawk at. Images shot in bright light look pretty sharp and vibrant. Low-light photography isn’t that great, but it still manages to produce decent shots considering the phone’s price tag. The 5MP camera on the front can also take decent selfies, but not impressive as images do exhibit a lot of noise and sharpness is too low. That said, it can record 1080p videos which surprisingly turned out to be impressive.

Pros:

Great design and build quality
Solid overall performance
Fantastic battery life
Primary camera takes punchy outdoor shots

Cons:

Limited to 720p display
Mediocre selfie cam
No support for fast charging

Wrap Up

Overall, the Zenfone 3 Max is a pretty reliable performer in every area. Despite being a budget offering, it’s the probably the most ergonomically designed Zenfone 3 model sporting slick looks thanks to the use of metal. The performance is smooth whether you’re doing basic routine tasks or playing high-end games. Besides, its primary 13MP camera can take some punchy and vibrant shots in good lighting conditions. And not to forget the impressive performance of its 4130 mAh battery.

That said, it’s still a budget phone and has a few shortcomings. For instance, it only gets a 720p resolution, the processor on board isn’t the fastest and even the phone’s 5MP is just about Ok. If you’re looking for similarly priced alternatives, the CoolPad Note 5 is a much better option, featuring more powerful innards along with a Full HD screen.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Build and Design
8
Display
6
Performance
7.5
Features
7
OS
6
Camera
6.5
Value for Money
6.5
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