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Asus Zenfone 3s Max

Colours:
default
Features:
  • Supports Indian bands
  • VoLTE
  • 32 GB + 2 TB Expandable
  • Dual SIM: Micro + Nano (Hyb...
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • USB OTG Support
  • FM Radio

Highlights from Expert Review

Pros
  • Stylish and compact
  • Very good battery life
  • Runs Nougat out of the box

Specifications

General
Launch DateFebruary 7, 2017 (Official)
BrandAsus
ModelZenfone 3s Max ZC521TL
Operating SystemAndroid v7.0 (Nougat)
Custom UIZen UI
SIM Slot(s)Dual SIM, GSM+GSM
SIM SizeSIM1: Micro
Network4G: Available (supports Indian bands)
Fingerprint Sensoryes
Quick Charging
Design
Height149.5 mm
Width73.7 mm
Thickness8.8 mm
Weight175 grams
Build MaterialCase: Metal
ColoursBlack, Gold
Display
Screen Size5.2 inches (13.21 cm)
Screen ResolutionHD (720 x 1280 pixels)
Pixel Density282 ppi
Display TypeIPS LCD
Touch Screenyes
Screen to Body Ratio (calculated)67.5 %
Performance
ChipsetMediaTek MT6750
ProcessorOcta core (1.5 GHz, Quad core, Cortex A53 + 1 GHz, Quad core, Cortex A53)
Architecture64 bit
GraphicsMali-T860 MP2
RAM3 GB
Storage
Internal Memory32 GB
Expandable Memoryyes
USB OTG Supportyes
Camera
Resolution8 MP Front Camera
SensorCMOS image sensor
Autofocusyes
Physical ApertureF2.2
Optical Image Stabilisation
Flash
Image Resolution4128 x 3096 Pixels
SettingsExposure compensation, ISO control
Shooting ModesContinuos Shooting, High Dynamic Range mode (HDR)
Camera FeaturesFixed Focus
Video Recording1920x1080 @ 30 fps
Battery
Capacity5000 mAh
TypeLi-Polymer
User Replaceable
TalkTimeUp to 28 Hours(3G)
Network & Connectivity
SIM SizeSIM1: Micro, SIM2: Nano (Hybrid)
Network Support4G (supports Indian bands), 3G, 2G
VoLTEyes
SIM 1
SIM 2
Wi-Fiyes
Wi-Fi FeaturesMobile Hotspot
Bluetoothyes
GPSyes
NFC
USB ConnectivitymicroUSB 2.0
Multimedia
FM Radioyes
Loudspeakeryes
Audio Jack3.5 mm
Special Features
Fingerprint Sensoryes
Fingerprint Sensor PositionFront
Other SensorsLight sensor, Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope
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Expert Review

Conclusion:
So, this leaves us with one question, is the new Zenfone 3s Max worth it? The Zenfone 3s Max sure is a winner for Asus for its impeccable battery performance, good build quality and decent performance and the latest operating system, but on the con side, the camera performance and the gaming experience are a letdown. Though we have alternatives in the market, the Asus Zenfone 3s Max stands out as an overall package. When we are in the market looking for a smartphone, my primary requirement would be battery and camera, though the battery performance is impressive, the camera is a letdown. So, if you are a person whose priority is battery, performance, latest OS, then look no further, Zenfone 3s Max is a terrific buy at this price point.
Introduction:

Asus launched the Zenfone 3 series last year in India, and since then the company has been expanding the lineup, and from that lineup came the Zenfone 3 Max series which surely caught the attention with its massive 5000mAh battery on board. Continuing the same pattern, the company has now launched an upgraded variant of the Zenfone 3 Max; the Zenfone 3s Max with latest Android OS and few hardware changes like the front facing Fingerprint sensor and more. Let’s find out if the newly introduced Zenfone 3s Max is as good as the original Zenfone 3 Max. Let’s get started.

The Asus Zenfone 3s Max sports a 5.2-inches HD (1280 x 720 pixels) IPS 2.5D curved display and is powered by the MediaTek MT6750 clocked at 1.5 GHz Octa-Core 64-bit processor with Mali T860 GPU. It packs 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage with a microSD card slot for memory expansion up to 2TB with microSD. It runs on Android 7.0 Nougat with ZenUI 3.0.

In the camera department, the Zenfone 3s packs a 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-tone LED Flash, PDAF, f/2.0 aperture and an 8-megapixel front camera with f/2.2 aperture, 85-degree wide viewing angle lens for selfies and video calls. It also rocks a Fingerprint sensor for extra security. Connectivity features include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS. A 5000mAh built-in battery is on board.

Design & Display:

Asus seems to have Taken a cue from its predecessor, the Zenfone 3 Max as the new Zenfone 3s Max adopts some of the design languages which sure seems premium and elegant in the budget. The curved Metal edges running around the corners makes the device comfortable to hold in hands and also for one-handed usage, however, the glossy back panel feels slippery if you’re lazy while using it. The biggest advantage of the Zenfone 3s Max is that it isn’t heavy despite packing a massive battery unit. As we said above, the Fingerprint sensor embedded into the home button up front, unlike the earlier ZF 3 Max which had the sensor to the back down below the rear camera module.

Moving along, the 5-megapixel selfie shooter, the usual set of sensors like the ambient light, proximity sensors and the primary earpiece along with Asus branding are placed up front above the screen. Down below the display, you just have the home button which also dubs as the Fingerprint sensor. The capacitive buttons are now placed on the screen thus taking up some part of the display section. To the right, you have the Volume rockers, Power on/off buttons which are tactile and offer the good amount of feedback when pressed. On the left side, you just have the SIM card tray which can either take two SIM’s or single SIM and a microSD card.

Flipping the device to the rear side, you find the 13-megapixel rear camera along with a secondary mic for noise cancellation, and a Dual LED flash with Asus branding down below. The microUSB port and the speaker grills are present on the bottom. Up top, you just the 3.5mm audio jack. The 5.2-inches 2.5D curved display makes it comfortable for single-handed usage, and the curved metal edges won’t hurt your hands even after using the device for a long time. Overall for a 5.2-inch device, Asus made sure it did everything right, and it sure did impress us with the design and built.

The display on the Zenfone 3s Max is simply one of the best aspects of the device; the display panel is smooth, it is vivid and produces good colors with no over saturation while firing up the brightness levels to the maximum. The 5.2-inch HD (1280 X 720) IPS display sure is an excellent performer for media consumption, for gaming and also to view the images clicked with the device camera. Though Asus didn’t mention anything about the display protection, the screen seems strong enough to withhold sudden falls once or twice. The Zenfone 3s Max comes with auto brightness sensor, but the sensor seems to be having a problem to adjust under broad daylight, so we had no option to fire up the brightness levels to the maximum to access the display under direct sunlight. The viewing angles are also terrific as we never had issues with color distortion even while viewing at extreme angles. The 720p HD screen in the real world is very much optimal for a 5.2-inch handset, and yet again we are impressed.

Performance:

The Asus Zenfone 3s Max is powered by the age old tied and tested MediaTek MT6750 chipset that is clocked at 1.5GHz coupled with Mali-T860 GPU. It packs 3GB RAM along with 32GB internal storage. Though Asus has been bragging about the battery life, that doesn’t really take a tow on the device’s overall performance. Yes, we would have loved to see a Qualcomm chipset, the MT6737 is still a capable chipset to pull off day-to-day casual tasks like taking calls, multimedia experience, playing casual games, social media updates and more with ease. As we mentioned in the software section, we barely noticed any U.I lags nor lags while casual multitasking which is a good thing for casual users, but the problem starts once you put too much pressure on the device. Apps open and close really quick and also the animations never seem struggling. The device also comes with a Fingerprint sensor that is embedded into the home button. The Fingerprint sensor is not an active sensor, so in order to unlock the device, you need to press the home button or the power button and then place your finger to unlock the device. The Fingerprint sensor is fast enough in identifying the finger, and you can even answer incoming phone calls using the Fingerprint sensor.

Moving along, we tested out a variety of games like Asphalt 8, Nova 3, Need for Speed Run and some casual games. Now we never really expected an excellent gaming performance, and just as we expected, all the high-end titles started lagging and dropping frames when they are played on highest graphic settings, but were playable with medium to low end graphic settings. Casual games like Subway Surfers, Temple Run 2, Riptide GP2 ran just fine. Overall, though the Zenfone 3s Max is a smartphone which has its focus in the battery department, it doesn’t really disappoint with performance either.

Cameras:

The Zenfone 3s Max comes with the same 13-megapixel rear camera with dual-LED flash, f/2.0 aperture, and an 8-megapixel shooter up front. The camera performance is the same as seen on the original Zenfone 3 Max. The daylight and shots that are captured in god lighting conditions are decent enough with good colors and close to natural results, but once you shift to low-light or artificial lighting situations, the images are out right washed out with too much noise and grains in them. However, the LED flash comes in handy at times, but the pictures look unreal. The low-light mode or the owl mode is present, but the results are not that exciting. But then again, the camera performance of any budget smartphone in this price range fails and are all the same.

Coming to the front 5-megapixel shooter, the selfies clicked are decent and have good details but not a satisfactory front camera if you are a selfie freak. Overall, the camera performance isn’t something you should really be looking forward in the Zenfone 3s Max.

Battery:

The battery segment, the device packs a whopping 5000mAh battery on board. Though packing a massive battery, the Zenfone 3s Max doesn’t feel at that heavy nor thick while using as you quickly get used it. Moving along to the battery performance, with our kind of usage that normally involves casual gaming for a couple of hours, push notifications from apps and social media applications, mobile data turned on and a bunch of calls for more than an hour or so, we were able to get two days of battery life with just single charge. Another good thing about the handset is that the overnight battery drain was very minimal thus leaving us with enough battery to pass it on to the next day as well. It would have been nice if the device had some sorts of fast charging support as it takes around 3-4 hours to charge completely up to 100%.

If you are a heavy user who watches a lot of videos/movies, plays a lot of games, mobile data and Bluetooth turned on the all-the-time, you might want to charge the device once again at the end of the day to comfortably start off the next day with fully charged battery. So, to wrap it up, the battery performance is simply terrific and can be easily termed as one of the best in the budget.

Audio & Video:

The Asus Zenfone 3s Max comes with a 3.5mm audio jack and also comes with music wizard app that lets you change the audio profiles to your liking. The sound output via the headphones is quite good with decent bass output and depth in sound clearness. The output via the loudspeakers too is quite loud and can get loud enough for a single person to listen to music or watch videos.

On the other hand, in the video department, we tried playing various formats and we never really had any issues like freezing or heating, except for the fact that the device has problems playing 1080p videos even via third party apps and even when we tried, we noticed audio/video going out of sync and slight heating near the camera module.

Software & Ui:

The Zenfone 3s Max runs on Android 7.0 Nougat with the new improved Zen U.I 3.0 overlaid on top making it the first ever Asus smartphone to run on Android  nougat out of the box. The Android 7.0 Nougat combined with the new Zen U.I makes the user interface butter smoother and also a delight to look. Zen U.I is very clean, and it’s almost very close to stock Android experience yet still offering decent customization options like changing the icon packs, changing fonts and font sizes. The Zen U.I comes with a theme store where you can download various themes and apply them to give a makeover to the user interface. The Theme store also includes wallpapers and lock screens as well from where you download and apply them.

The unread notifications count feature displays the number of notification a particular app has, neat little functionality that comes in handy. Just like previous Zenfone smartphones, the Zenfone 3s Max comes with the kid’s mode which restricts the content and apps on the device that your kids see when enabled and an easy mode for elders with basic smartphone functions. Though the handset sports just 5.2-inches, it comes with one-handed mode and motion/touch gestures. Out of the 3GB RAM, around 1.6GB is free for users to run apps and do multitasking. For the most part, we never noticed any lags or stutters while multitasking or running apps. The software U.I transitions are smooth and slick, however, the handset tends to slow down a bit once you start multitasking heavily and run too many games in the background. Except for the slight lag while multitasking, the device never run into any issues be it software or the user experience.

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