ASUS Zenfone 4 Max Review: Redefining the Budget Smartphone

A 5000mAh battery and a dual cam system for less than PhP10,000

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The Zenfone 4 Max is the newest variant of ASUS’ longevity driven smartphone. Boasting an octa-core processor, a 5000mAh battery, and now, a dual camera system, this device promises to once again redefine what a budget smartphone is.

ASUS Zenfone 4 Max Specs:

  • 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 Octa-Core Processor
  • 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage expandable via microSD card (up to 256GB)
  • 5.5-inch HD IPS Display, 2.5D Glass
  • Dual 13MP + 5MP Rear Cameras, f/2.0, 120° Wide Angle, EIS
  • 8MP Front Camera, f/2.2, Softlight LED
  • Fingerprint Sensor
  • ZenUI 3.0 on top of Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • 5000mAh battery

Package Contents

The Zenfone 4 Max now comes with a clear case. Oh, and it’s also nice to have an OTG cable.

Design and Build Quality

It seems that ASUS has done its homework in terms of design, as the Zenfone 4 Max does sport a more premium look and feel compared to its predecessor.

This is all thanks to a 2.5D curved glass that somehow adds visual flair, a smooth matte finish at the back.

The dual cam system at the back reminds me of the Zenfone 3 Zoom.

What’s also amazing about this phone is that they were able to fit in such a huge battery while still maintaining a slim form factor.

The Zenfone 4 Max uses a triple slot tray!
Gone is the fingerprint sensor at the back, as it’s now embedded into the Home button.

The Zenfone 4 Max retains the 5.5-inch HD display, which is quite odd considering that the previous 5.5-inch variant had a Full HD display.

Regardless, it looks unimpressive, thanks to a color temperature that leans on the cooler side. Colors aren’t as rich, and vibrancy isn’t as great.

Performance

If you can forego the underwhelming display, the overall performance of the device is more than adequate for day to day activities. Perhaps its to maintain good battery life, but 1GB more of RAM would be a welcome addition.

While this is all good, we have to take note that the Snapdragon 430 has been around for some time, and may get left behind when other manufacturers begin to launch devices in this category that use newer processors such as the Snapdragon 435 and later.

We also tested NBA 2K17, which is very popular for its good looking graphics and exciting gameplay. While the phone handles this game at the highest settings without any major issues, you’ll have to play with the settings for a more optimal experience.

Camera

Apart from the design, another notable update to the Zenfone 4 Max is in its camera, now composed of 13MP + 5MP sensors, with the latter sporting a 120° wide angle lens ideal for taking photos of big groups of people, or scenery shots.

As far as sample photos are concerned. Color accuracy is on point, but there are instances wherein sharpness and detail can use some improvement.

Shot in wide-angle mode.
Shot in normal mode.

Wide angle shots aren’t really up to par in terms of quality, as colors seem over saturated, with a noticeable drop in clarity and detail.

Selfies are more or less a hit and miss. You’ll sometimes notice a hint of blurriness, even when the front camera is properly and completely focused.

Software

The Zenfone 4 Max runs on ZenUI 3.0 on top of Android Nougat 7.1.1, with all the familiar features and options. Memory consumption seems decent, with 33% average usage, and 1.9GB free for other apps.

The BeautyLive app comes pre-installed, letting you apply beautification effects in the even when you’re in the middle of a livestream. The ASUS PowerMaster App, that offers various maintenance options for your device, is also present.

The camera app offers a number of modes, including PRO mode for those who prefer to control each element of a shot. Unfortunately, the full 13MP setting can only be used for 4:3 shots, while 16:9 shots are limited to only 8MP.

ASUS has stated that the device will be updated to ZenUI 4.0, which promises to be lighter on resources, and comes with less bloatware. An update to Android O will also be avaialble some time in 2018.

Battery

After performing a test using a video playing on loop at 50% brightness and 80% volume, the Zenfone 4 Max’s 5000mAh battery managed to churn out an amazing 14 hours of up time. That means you can use it all day, and it’ll probably have enough juice to last you at least half of the next day.

Charging the device from zero to full takes around 3 hours. Not bad for such a big battery and with no fast charging. It can also be used as a powerbank to charge other devices. A really nifty feature to have.

Verdict

The ASUS Zenfone 4 Max does offer a lot of improvements over its predecessor: A brilliant and premium design, decent performance (though the processor is a bit dated), improved software, exceptional battery life, and of course, an attractive price tag of PhP9,995.

There are a few things that could’ve been or could be improved, such as the display which lacks the signature liveliness, and the camera which could use some work in clarity and sharpness.

If you can live with its shortcomings and longevity is your main priority for buying a new phone, the ASUS Zenfone 4 Max should definitely be on your list.

The Good

  • Attractive Price Tag
  • Great Battery Life
  • Beautiful Design
  • Decent Gaming Performance
  • Triple Slot Tray
  • Can be used as a powerbank
  • Fast Fingerprint Recognition

The Not So Good

  • Underwhelming display
  • Unrefined camera performance
  • Outdated Processor
  • Quality of Wide Angle Shots

 

 

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