Trade-offs are necessary facets of everyone’s purchase decisions. Having everything that “glitters” may beef up the price of a consumer product. The iPhone 6s and Galaxy S6 may be great products, but I’m utterly dismayed at both phones’ battery life. Imagine if these 2 products have chunkier battery up its sleeve, then we would have probably bought them at a much premium price.

Build

Zenfone Max is a joy to hold. It is an inexpensive piece of hardware but its overall build and design make it look so premium. Its back panel is made of faux leather, and its two-tone look bring out a very masculine look.

ASUS Zenfone Max 4

Unlike the Zenfone 2, the Zenfone Max’s buttons are located on its right side. The icons of switches are etched on its side bezel, and its buttons are made of plastic in chrome color.

ASUS Zenfone Max 11

If there’s one thing that I don’t like about the smartphone is its weight. If you ever got the chance of holding a Zenfone Zoom or even a Zenfone 2, the Zenfone Max is way heavier than both. Why? Well, you already probably guessed it correctly by now – it is because it has a jumbo battery in it. We’ll talk more about its battery later on.

Hardware

While I totally adore its overall build albeit quite convential, I am not a fan of the components that make it tick. It’s powered by a Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410, which isn’t exactly the fastest and the best performing SoC around. Its 1.2Ghz quad-core processor can handle quite a decent number of games and applications, but it just tends to easily get cluttered that eventually affect its performance. Its 2GB RAM can’t help much as well since there are dozens of pre-installed applications running in the background.

ASUS Zenfone Max 1

There were countless times that I had to clear its memory and stop running applications just to make it run like I wanted it too. Things perform really smoothly with more than >900mb memory left. It’s almost  Once its memory gets down to <600mbI have to disclose though that I am a smartphone heavy users. Again, different strokes for different folks. You get the idea.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I should say that this makes me like the phone’s battery life even more. While its processors and memory are doing its best to perform at optimum level (thereby sucking a lot of battery jusice), it’s surprising to note that I’m still able to use the device for more than 2 days at average.

Software

The smartphone runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop, with ZenUI running on top of it. Time and again, we are vocal about how ASUS should minimize the running applications in the background especially on smartphones that don’t have enough memory and fast processing speed.

Waking up the phone takes about a second, which – in our standards – is a little slow but acceptable. The experience though is different when the available memory is below 500mb. There is noticeable lag when browsing through apps using Zen Launcher, so I had to switch to a different launcher that uses less memory.

Zenfone Max suffers the same issue that somehow overshadows its great looking and immersive UI.

Screen

Zenfone Max has a 5.5-inch IPS capacitive touchscreen. I never had any issues with it as it is accurate in displaying colors. Telling you all these with mere words isn’t enough so I prepared a slew of comparison photos for your reference.

ASUS Zenfone Max 6

Camera

I’m very impressed with Zenfone Max’s camera. It can quickly focus on subjects and it can definitely compete with Zenfone 2 Laser, thanks to its ultra fast laser autofocus.

ASUS Zenfone Max 2

Its 13mp rear camera captures photos with overblown but acceptable saturation. For an average mobile photographer that’s into casual selfies and filter-filled landscapes, Zenfone Max’s camera is definitely acceptable.

Just like ASUS’ smartphones, its camera software has a slew of features that may be useful in some cases. Auto, Manual and Low Light are my personal favorites, but I find its other modes quite useful when certain needs arise. Fancy making GIF animations? Zenfone Max’s camera got your covered. Love taking the sunset? You can easily pimp your photo by using panorama mode. All the creative modes you would need to enjoy your photo-taking experience is readily available on the smartphone.

Sound Quality

Zenfone Max’s speakers that’s neatly hidden at the back of the phone give off loud albeit treble-ish sound. Don’t get me wrong. It’s good and loud enough for me to enjoy watching my favorite TV series on Netflix. I also sometimes don’t have to hook up the device to my car audio system because it’s acceptable as it is.

ASUS Zenfone Max 10

Whether you’re listening to music or watching videos via the Zenfone Zoom, there’s chance that you’d like how its speakers fare.

Connectivity

The device is rigged with connectivity options that allow you to maximize its use. Telephony and internet wise, the smartphone can connect to LTE and it doesn’t disappoint in the call quality department.

It also has Bluetooth so you can easily connect accessories to Zenfone Max. The lack of NFC is not exactly an issue, but might soon be as important as Bluetooth when consumers start to look for easier and faster ways to pair up their accessories to their smartphone.

Battery Life

Here’s comes the juicy part of my report since the device is heavily positioned to people who are looking for long battery life. Certainly, the ASUS Zenfone Max wins in this category, and it will definitely stay as one for months to come.

To put you into my perspective, I used the device in 2 distinct usages-study: moderate and heavy. I devoted 2 days on each study, and culled all the information and data I need to give you a comprehensive rundown.

Moderate vs Heavy

At regular use, the device managed to stay up for more than 48 hours before it drops to less than 20% juice. Starting from 100%, significant drops (usually around 5% drop) only happens when I occassionally watch House of Cards via Netflix (lunch time) or when I use Waze (7:30am).

Moderate Use

At heavy usage, the device was up and running until 7:30pm the following day. According to some reviews, their Zenfone Max’s battery was up for more than 3 days, which may also be accurate. Different strokes for different folks. My definition of ‘heavy’ may be different from other reviewers, but you may take note of the fact that this device can stay up for more than 2 days even under heavy usage.

Heavy Use

Verdict

I used the Zenfone Max for over a month. Whether or not you find this report conclusive that it’s worth purchasing, it’s my pleasure to tell you that this deserves a laudable score. It isn’t perfect, however, and I would be a hypocrite if I’d say that it’s the best phone ever. It can barely run multiple running applications and games in the background because of its limited memory and processing resources. But it has something that most consumers would often look for. At PhP8,450, you’re getting a phone with benefits that aren’t normally packaged together – good battery life and camera.

Full Specs of ASUS Zenfone Max
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Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of GadgetPilipinas.net, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.