March 08, 2017

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Asus Zenfone 3S Max (ZC521TL) Review

Latest addition to the Asus Zenfone 3 series is Zenfone 3S Max. We can consider it as a next variant to Zenfone 3 Max. As all the Zenfone Max is focused more on the battery, Zenfone 3S Max comes with a huge 5000 mAh battery. So how does it really perform in the real world? Let’s find it out.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max

Build, Design and Display

The latest addition to the Zenfone 3 series, Zenfone 3S Max sports a 2.5D contoured Glass at the front. The device has 75% screen to body ratio. Device features a 13MP rear camera sensor and at the front, sports an 8MP sensor. Design is impressive. Device doesn’t look cheap from any angle. A cover/case would be a solution to little slippery back. Fingerprint sensor at the bottom side in front is something new for Asus devices which I appreciate. In this device, software navigations are provided instead of three capacitive buttons. Just placing a finger on the fingerprint sensor won’t unlock the device (when locked), we’ve to press the fingerprint/power button after that fingerprint sensor can detect fingerprints. Fingerprint sensor is fast but sometimes fails to identify the fingerprint which results in unlocking the device via pattern/pin. Weight of Zenfone 3S Max is 175 grams.

On the left, there is a hybrid sim card tray; On the right, power and volume rockers are there; On the top, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack; On the bottom, there is a micro USB charging port and a speaker grill (right side to charging port) and two screws on both sides of charging port. On the back, we’ve rear camera with flash on the top left side and Asus logo at little above center point.

On the front, it has a 5.2-inch IPS display with resolution of 1280 x 720. The display looks good and bright enough even in the direct sunlight. Viewing angles are good. Because of a 720p display, battery will definitely last more.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max

Performance, Battery Life

Zenfone 3S Max comes with MediaTek MT6750 1.5 GHz Octa-core processor with Mali-T860 GPU and 3GB of RAM. The smartphone runs on Android 7.0 Nougat on top of ZenUI 3.0. Thus it comes with features like multi-window support, double tapping on recent app button to switch between last and current opened application. Storage available out of the box from 32GB is approximately 23.45 GB. The notifications panel is completely redesigned.  On first slide down from top to bottom, we get 5 quick settings; on second swipe we get brightness slider with auto-brightness toggle, various quick settings, settings and edit button. We can customize on how many and which icons we want in quick settings. I’ve to say, ZenUI is getting better in terms of software experience.

I’ve played Real Racing 3 which ran without any frame drops. Talking about device based upon regular tasks, it can handle it smoothly. Multi-tasking was also quick. The sound from speaker was loud but the quality of one isn’t that good, provided headphones were decent.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max

The 5000 mAh battery performs really well because, I was getting 5 hours and 30 minutes of screen on time even with 2 days of usage with constant 4g on and with 3-4 hours of Wi-Fi hotspot active. To charge the device from 10% to 100%, it took me approximately 4 hours and 20 minutes. Supplied charger was 5 Volt 2 Amp charger.

Camera

The 13 MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture can able to produce good images in natural and bright light conditions. Colors produced in bright light were also good. But in night/low light conditions, pictures lack good detailing. The 8 MP front camera with f/2.0 aperture doesn’t live up to the expectation, it generates images with over sharpening. Even in some natural conditions, it doesn’t produce quality images. Asus should improve their front camera quality. Sample Full HD video recorded from Zenfone 3S Max is here. I've uploaded some sample shots below.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max Sample Shot

Asus Zenfone 3S Max Sample Shot

Asus Zenfone 3S Max Sample Shot

Asus Zenfone 3S Max Sample Shot

Asus Zenfone 3S Max Sample Shot

Asus Zenfone 3S Max Sample Shot (HDR mode enabled)

Final Thoughts on Zenfone 3S Max

Asus Zenfone 3S Max impresses when we talk about its design, battery life and performance: thanks to Android Nougat and ZenUI 3.0. But in the camera department, it could have been better. In case you want a phone with an awesome battery backup and overall good performance (except front camera) then you should go for Zenfone 3S Max.

Thanks to Asus India for sending me a review unit of Asus Zenfone 3S Max.
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March 07, 2017

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ASUS Celebrates Women’s Day with an Exciting Surprise

India, March 07, 2017: With Women’s Day right around the corner, ASUS, the Taiwanese leader in mobile technology, today announced a special surprise to celebrate the women of the country. Female customers will be given a Lolliflash worth Rs.899, the perfect photography accessory for a smartphone, absolutely free with every purchase of a Zenfone 3 Max series Smartphone – Zenfone 3 Max 5.2, Zenfone 3s Max or Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 (ZC520TL, ZC521TL,  ZC553KL respectively) between 6th and 12th March 2017 or till stocks last, whichever is earlier.

ASUS Celebrates Women's Day
One of the most unique accessories from the ASUS product portfolio, Lolliflash is a lollipop shaped dual-tone LED torch that improves the quality of low-light photos and videos taken on a smartphone or tablet. Available in 5 cool colors- White, Blue, Black, Red & Yellow, the Lolliflash acts as a separate ‘fill-in’ light, delivering true to life visuals. Weighing only 8 grams, it is extremely portable with a built-in battery that lasts up to three hours. Lolliflash has different color filters – White, Blue and Red, three brightness level settings and Anti-Red-Eye to further enhance the photography experience.

The Zenfone 3 Max series - Zenfone 3 Max 5.2, Zenfone 3s Max and Zenfone 3 Max 5.5, combine elegant aesthetics with powerful performance. Zenfone 3 Max series smartphones are packed with leading features and functionalities such as premium sleek metal body, 4100 mAh / 5000 mAh battery that lasts up to 3 days and with reverse charging capability, extremely responsive fingerprint sensor that registers up to five separate fingerprints, and accurately detects fingerprints regardless of the orientation of the finger and VoLTE support.

Zenfone 3 Max is available in all leading outlets and e-commerce portals across India at:
  • Zenfone 3 Max ZC553KL (5.5 inch, 16MP/8MP) – INR 16,999
  • Zenfone 3s Max ZC521TL (5.2 inch, 13MP/8MP) – INR 14,999
  • Zenfone 3 Max ZC520TL (5.2 inch, 13MP/8MP) – INR 12,999
Zenfone 3 Max 5.2/5.5 are available in 3 colours: Titanium Grey, Sand Gold and Glacier Silver
Zenfone 3s Max is available in 2 colours: Black and Gold

For more details, please visit the microsite: http://www.asus.in/womensdayoffer/

Disclaimer by Asus India

This is only valid for the purchase of a Zenfone 3 Max from ASUS Authorized Partners between 6th and 12th March 2017 or till stocks last, whichever is earlier. Customers are required to register the product purchase details, upload a copy of the invoice and enter the contact details on www.asus.in/womensdayoffer latest by 25th March 2017. The Lolliflash will be dispatched to the customer’s registered address by 1st April 2017 and delivered within 10 working days from the date of dispatch. This is open to Indian residents in India only. Non-resident Indians/ non-citizen Indians not residing in India are not eligible.
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February 26, 2017

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Google Pixel XL Review - A Purest Android Experience

Google launched Pixel and Pixel XL in October 2016. While almost Nexus lineup is dead now, in case you’re interested to get Pure Android experience, Pixel and Pixel XL does provide that. Does Google Pixel XL stand out from the group of Smartphones with its features? Let’s find it out. I’m writing this review after using Google Pixel XL for more than 15 days. I was using 32GB variant of Pixel XL, which is sold in India at Rs. 67,000.

Google Pixel XL
Things those are included inside the box:
  • Pixel XL Smartphone
  • USB-C to USB-C cable
  • Fast Charger
  • USB-C to USB cable
  • Sim Ejector Pin
  • USB-C to OTG adapter
  • Headphones with Rubber Earbuds
  • Safety and Warranty Information
  • Quick Start Guide, Google Assistant Card, Google Social promo card

Google Pixel XL

Build & Design

In comparison with the Nexus lineup, this time Google has not made it that much unique instead went for generic design. The device sports aluminum and glass construction. There is a Google (G) logo at the back side which is used to be Nexus logo in previous devices. There is a 12.3MP camera on the rear side while 8MP on the front side (More on that in camera section). I don’t know why Google hasn’t used that bottom space in the front side exact below the screen. Or maybe that space was reserved for fingerprint sensor before the design got finalized. And yes, I would love to find Fingerprint scanner on the front side. Doesn’t mean that I don’t like the one provided with Pixel XL; it is fast and accurate.

Software

Google Pixel XL runs on Android 7.1 (Nougat), comes with Pixel launcher and with AI-based Google Assistant. Android 7.1 is an update after 7.0 which include some significant features like “App shortcuts” on long press on App icon in home screen. The Pure Android experience you get while using this device is really beyond words, I mean this is the smoothest Android device I’ve ever used. Google Assistant, Google’s new AI-based voice assistant that offers some great features; was also conversational most of the time while it needs to be improved in many aspects. Actually when I feel boring, I start talking to Assistant and don’t know when 10 - 15 minutes passed, it’s so funny sometimes. It is a much-smarter version of Google Now. Talking about it more, you can joke with it and you can even ask it to sing a song for you. For those who have their agenda ready, the daily briefing feature allows you to digest the schedule for the day by just saying Good Morning. It’s very useful feature.

Hardware

Google Pixel XL is equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 (MSM8996pro) processor and Adreno 530 GPU. Comes with 4GB of ram, 32GB/128GB of internal storage (I’m reviewing 32GB variant). Storage we get out of the box in 32GB variant is approximately 23.29GB. Pixel XL weighs 168g (Feels little heavy). It is powered by 3,450 mAh battery. The rear camera is 12.3MP (Sony Exmor IMX378 sensor, f/2.0 aperture), front camera is 8MP (Sony Exmor IMX179 sensor, f/2.4 aperture). Can able to record up to 4K video from rear camera while up to 1080p from front camera. Fingerprint sensor is located at the back, which is pretty fast and accurate most of the time. Pixel XL does come with 4G, VoLTE support, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.2, NFC and a reversible USB Type-C connector.  And yes, 3.5mm audio jack is there in Google Pixel XL. A nice gesture Pixel XL supports is swiping-down on fingerprint sensor will quickly pull down notification panel. Google offers unlimited backups for photos and videos taken with Pixel. This would be a solution if you opt for 32GB variant (and if you've good internet connection).

Google Pixel XL

Display

Google Pixel XL sports 5.5” AMOLED panel with resolution of 2560 x 1440. Pixel density is 534 pixels per inch. The main difference between Pixel and Pixel XL is of display, Pixel sports 5.0“ AMOLED panel with resolution of 1920 x 1080 at 441ppi. Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection is provided in both Pixel and Pixel XL. Brightness of the screen is bright enough to use in outdoor conditions, even gets lower as expected in the night conditions. I’ve set black wallpaper on the device, the screen was very vibrant and good looking and it’s also a win for battery too, because in AMOLED panel, setting black wallpaper can increase the battery backup.

Camera

Google claims the Pixel XL has the highest DxOMark rating for any smartphone with a score of 89. Honestly saying, the Pixel XL camera definitely seems to live up to Google’s claims. The images captured from Pixel XL do have good detailing, necessary sharpness and well dynamic range. One thing I noticed is that images do not look unnatural. Even in low light conditions, Images produced are well detailed and natural looking. In some cases the lens flair pops-up in the screen, even while recording videos; changing the shooting angle would be the only solution to this problem. Or Google should address it as soon as possible. Pressing on the shutter button will quickly capture the image. Even in HDR+ mode, processing is fast and accurate.

I’ve recorded slow-motion and 4K video from Pixel XL. In the 4K video, I’ve turned on the stabilization, which in result turned out to be great. Even many reviewers appreciate the stabilization feature in Pixel. Below, I’ve uploaded some sample shots captured from Google Pixel XL.

Captured from Google Pixel XL

Captured from Google Pixel XL

Captured from Google Pixel XL

Captured from Google Pixel XL

Captured from Google Pixel XL

Performance, Battery Life

In the performance department, multitasking was a breeze. I was able to do daily to heavy tasks flawlessly. 4GB of Ram with Snapdragon 821 is totally boosting the performance at par. I’ve tried opening more than 20 apps at a time, moving back and forth between those apps were smooth and nice thing is that none of the apps were reloaded/refreshed. Multi-window feature is supported by some apps while some doesn't support it. I’ve not found any issues with multi-window either.

Coming to the battery life, was able to get 1.5 days of battery backup with screen on time of 5:30 hours with 50 - 55% on 4G and 50 - 45% on Wi-Fi. In case you keep Pixel XL on full day in 4G and approximately 2 hours of Wi-Fi hotspot, it’ll last you up to 16 hours from 100% charged. For normal users, this device can surely last for 2 days without charging. Supplied charger has taken 2 hours and 5 minutes to full charge from 11% to 100%. Charging seems little slower but battery backup definitely overcomes it.

Pricing

Google Pixel 32GB variant is sold in India at Rs. 57,000 and 128GB variant at Rs. 66,000.
Google Pixel XL 32GB variant (review is of this variant) is sold in India at Rs. 67,000 and 128GB variant at Rs. 76,000 which seems not available in any shopping sites. (On the date of writing this article)

Pros
  • Smooth and pure Android experience.
  • Awesome display.
  • Great Camera.
  • Call quality, network reception was good.
  • Google Assistant is awesome.
  • Battery Life is great.
  • Speaker performance is above average.
Cons
  • Little boring design.
  • Overpriced
  • No wireless charging, No Dual-Sim
  • No notification light while charging, though there is a notification light in the device.

Conclusion

After looking at all the aspects of Pixel XL, All I can say is that more I was using the Pixel, more I was loving it. For me: Camera, Performance and Battery are my main requirement in a Smartphone; these are definitely satisfied by Google Pixel XL. In case you don’t have any budget issues, Pixel XL definitely worth’s buying. Even buying the Pixel would give you the same kind of experience because the difference between Pixel and Pixel XL is of display, battery and screen size. If you like smaller phone, Pixel would be a better choice for you.

Thanks to Google India for sending me a review unit of Google Pixel XL.
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February 22, 2017

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Asus Zenfone 3 Laser Review

Asus has introduced many Smartphones under Zenfone 3 series. Actually my first Asus smartphone was Zenfone 2 Laser, and today I’ve the Zenfone 3 Laser to review in this article.

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser

Build and Design

Zenfone 3 Laser sports 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass display with an all aluminum body which has made device feel premium. You’ll immediately realize it when you hold the device. We’ve reviewed the Zenfone 3 Max a while ago, the Zenfone 3 Laser comes with same design & build quality. Weight of Zenfone 3 laser is 150g which feels really light in-hand.

The display panel at front is big 5.5" display. Below the display, there are back, home and recent apps keys which are not backlit. On the lower side, there is a speaker, charging port (which isn’t USB-C) and microphone. On the top, yes, there is 3.5mm headphone jack, and on the right, you’ll find the power and volume keys. On the left, there is a hybrid sim card tray, which supports dual-sim 4G connectivity. On the back side, it features rear camera with dual-tone LED flash and laser auto-focus, with fingerprint sensor and the Asus logo on the bottom side. The display looks sharp and color quality is also good. The display is bright enough for viewing in direct sunlight.

Performance, Battery Life

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser sports 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor with clock speed of 1.4GHz and an Adreno 505 GPU. It has 4GB of RAM and has a 32GB of internal storage which can be expanded up to 128GB via microSD card. Storage available out of the box from 32GB is 23.53GB.

The device supports one micro-SIM and other nano-sim (or microSD card). Both the sim can support 3G and 4G connectivity. The device runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow on top of Asus’ ZenUI 3.0. Asus has improved the ZenUI a lot since the inception of it, there are some notable features introduced in ZenUI 3.0 like Real-time animated weather and clock widgets & Mobile Manager which Asus define as one-stop tuning shop to keep your Zenfone running at maximum speed.

The Zenfone 3 Laser performs well while running regular tasks. There were no hiccups while multitasking/browsing. Games can also able to run smoothly without any kind of issues. Device did get little warm after long gaming and while recording 1080p videos, but it wasn’t that much uncomfortable at all. The fingerprint sensor does its job greatly. But sometimes it doesn’t work; you’ve to unlock it via pin/pattern you’ve set. The sound from speaker and headphones was decent. The 3000 mAh battery performs well as it always had at-least 15 percentages left at the end of day. The Zenfone 3 Laser doesn’t support fast-charging, it took me approximately 3 hours to charge fully via provided charger.

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser

Camera

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser has 13 MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture and dual-LED flash. It can record up to 1080p video. There are lot of capture modes to choose from to enhance the shots. The main feature of this particular device is that it has laser autofocus which helps to focus on a specific object in about 0.03s as claimed by Asus. We clicked some sample images with Zenfone 3 Laser, few of them you can see below.

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser Sample Shot

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser Sample Shot

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser Sample Shot

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser Sample Shot


In my opinion, camera performs well in day-light but in some low light conditions, it struggles to capture details. Talking about video, can able to record good looking videos and stabilization is also good. Here’s a sample video recorded from Zenfone 3 Laser.

There’s an 8-megapixel front camera with f/2.0 aperture. Images from front camera looks great and it manages to capture colors properly. But again in low light, front camera is also struggling to capture details; here Asus needs to improve it.


Final Thoughts on Asus Zenfone 3 Laser

Asus Zenfone 3 Laser performs well and has a great camera. The design does give a premium feel, but it seems little overpriced to me. There are some devices in the market which offers better processor than one comes with Zenfone 3 Laser, as near same price point. It doesn’t mean that I’m not recommending this device, but It would be better if Asus priced it little lower.

Thanks to Asus India for sending me a review unit of Zenfone 3 Laser.
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January 26, 2017

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Offer: Google Pixel gets Rs. 10,000 Discount on Flipkart

In India, Google Pixel and Pixel XL is available to be purchased from late 2016. The pricing of these devices are on the higher side than expected and may be because of the low sales, this offer is announced.

Google Pixel

Google Pixel gets Rs. 10,000 discount on Flipkart

Under this offer, buyer will be able to get Rs. 10,000 flat discount on buying Google Pixel via any Credit/Debit cards from Flipkart. Google Pixel 32GB variant is sold at Rs. 57,000 and 128GB variant is sold at Rs. 66,000; which will be Rs. 47,000 and Rs. 56,000 respectively after this offer applied. This offer is valid till 31st January, 2017 (23:59 hrs). Apart from this offer, there are also some other offers in case buyer is purchasing the device from Flipkart. Sadly, Rs. 10,000 discount is not available on Google Pixel XL (First Impressions).

In case you don't know about the Google Pixel, it sports an aluminum uni-body and also features glass at the back. It is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor equipped with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and fingerprint sensor on the back. It comes with 12.3 MP rear camera and 8 MP front camera. Display provided in Google Pixel is 5" FHD Amoled panel with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection. Pixel comes out of the box with Android 7.1 Nougat, supports data-syncing and charging through USB-C port and also comes with 3.5mm audio jack.


Let me know in the comments if you're interested to buy 32GB or 128GB variant of Google Pixel at Rs. 10,000 off.
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January 23, 2017

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First Impressions: Google Pixel XL (after 48 hours)

I've to say this, more I'm using the Pixel, more I'm loving it. Actually the Google Pixel XL is available to purchase in India from late 2016 but review unit just arrived few days back. I'm writing this article after using Google Pixel XL for more than 48 hours.

Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL is equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 (MSM8996pro) processor and Adreno 530 GPU. Comes with 4GB of ram, 32/128GB of internal storage. (I got 32GB variant) Pixel XL weighs 168g. As obvious, comes with latest Android 7.1 "Nougat". Display in Pixel XL is 5.5", QHD AMOLED panel (2560x1440) with pixel density of 534ppi. Pixel XL is powered by 3,450 mAh battery. The rear camera is 12.3MP (Sony Exmor IMX378 sensor, f/2.0 aperture), front camera is 8MP (Sony Exmor IMX179 sensor, f/2.4 aperture). Can able to record up-to 4K video from rear camera while up-to 1080p from front camera. Fingerprint sensor is located at the back, which is pretty fast in my opinion.

After reading the specifications, you might guessed that it would not lag at all or at-least able to provide smooth experience. Actually the device is really smooth. As also stated by some other reviewers, the device is much smoother in case compared to previous generation Nexus devices. I've done a little experiment in Pixel XL yesterday, I've opened more than 15 different apps, I can able to move back and forth between apps and the thing is that all the apps were in the memory, means none of them has reloaded/refreshed. This time, Google has optimized it fully and provided best stock experience of Android till date.

Battery life was also impressive, I was able to get more than 5 hours of screen-on-time with 4g data enabled and 2-3 hours of WiFi hotspot active. Audio coming from the speaker is also loud than I expected. Will talk more about everything in the full review, but as I've stated at first, more I'm using the Pixel, more I'm loving it.

Stay connected with us, will publish full review soon, Thanks :)

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