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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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