Asus Zenfone series line-up has multiple phones with similar names and continuing this trend, they launched the – Asus Zenfone 3S Max in India at a price tag of Rs. 14,999. The Asus Zenfone 3S Max is an incremental update over Asus Zenfone 3 Max ZC520TL and the smartphone falls between the 5.2-inch Zenfone 3 Max & Rs. 5.5-inch Zenfone 3 Max. The Asus Zenfone 3S Max comes with a better processor, minor design refinements, Android Nougat OS, and 5000mAh battery while the Asus Zenfone 3 Max comes with Android Marshmallow OS, 4000mAh battery. The smartphone will compete with Lenovo P2 which also features 5,000mAh battery and prices start from Rs. 16,999 while there is also Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 features 4,1000mAh battery & the top end variant cost Rs. 12,999. At a price tag of Rs. 14,999, the Asus Zenfone 3S Max is worth for the upgrade or not? Let’s find out.
The Asus Zenfone 3S Max comes with lots of changes and looks more refined, premium when compared to the Asus Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL). On the front, there is a 5.2-inch HD IPS display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 and 2.5D curved glass on top. Above the display, you get sensors, selfie camera module, and earpiece while below the display you find fingerprint sensor embedded into the physical home button and there are no capacitive navigation buttons & the buttons are moved on screen. The fingerprint sensor is bit slow but it is accurate most of the time. All these changes are a welcome move but a lot of space is wasted beside the home button. At the top, there is a 3.5mm audio jack, the micro-USB port, speaker grille at the bottom, the hybrid dual-SIM card tray on left while the volume rocker & power button placed on the right side. Above all, it is 8.9mm thick after packing massive 5,000mAh battery. It feels bit heavy, weighs 175 grams which can be ignored. All-in-all I was impressed by the design and build quality of the Asus Zenfone 3S Max. Apart from a smartphone, you also get 2A charger, a USB cable, simple headset with rubber ear tips in three different sizes inside the box.
The Asus Zenfone 3S Max comes with 5.2-inch HD display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels and when compared with another smartphone, it is on the downside at such a price tag. At 720p, the screen handles colors pretty well and the sunlight legibility is good too. The viewing angles are good and somehow I find that there is a lack of sharpness while playing high-end games. The smartphone comes with a blue light filter which means less stress on eyes.
The Asus Zenfone 3S Max is powered by Octa-Core MediaTek MT6750 processor, out of which four cores running at up to 1.5GHz while other four cores running at up to 1.0GHz. The chipset supports VoLTE, fast charging and it is paired with Mali-T860 MP2 GPU. The chipset is paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB inbuilt memory. The inbuilt memory can be expanded further up to 2TB via microSD card. Although, it’s a hybrid slot which means you either use one micro SIM card and one microSD card, or one nano-SIM and one micro-SIM. The phone becomes warmer while playing videos or games for a long time and while charging it. When it comes to usage, there are no such issues.
On the multimedia side, the smartphone is decent and the audio output of the speaker is quite loud. The smartphone is able to play full HD videos without any issues.
The Asus Zenfone 3S Max features 13-megapixel rear camera with aperture f/2.0, dual-tone LED flash and 8-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.0 for selfies & video-calling. The camera app comes with a ton of features including modes & filters and the super resolution combines multiple images to create an image of higher resolution. Under bright outdoor conditions the 13-megapixel rear camera captures decent photos and in the absence of light, you will find the lack of details & noise is there. Indoor shots go for a toss and low-light photos take a hit, most of them looks just bearable. The selfie camera performs well outdoors under bright lighting conditions, but the quality is not up to the mark.
Asus Zenfone 3S Max is the first budget smartphone that runs on Android 7.0 Nougat operating system (latest version of Android) with Asus ZenUI 3.0 on top of it. The smartphone comes with all the Android 7.0 Nougat features like improved doze mode, split screen multitasking, improved data saver and more. On the top, there is Asus ZenUI 3.0, so the interface is similar to what you’ve seen on other Asus phones.
As many of you already know, Asus ZenUI comes with too many bloatware and the same story goes with Zenfone 3S Max too. Although, Asus has decreased the number of preinstalled apps and still you can’t deny that Zen UI is bloated with too many apps. Some of the bloatware apps are ZenTalk, ZenFone Care, ZenCircle, WebStorage, QuickMemo, MiniMovie, Go2Pay, Do It Later.
The main highlight of the Zenfone 3S Max is that it packs 5,000mAh battery and Asus claims that it offers 28-hours of talk time on 3G, up to 25 hours of web browsing over Wi-Fi. Talking about myself, I’ve managed to get two full days without charging and my usage includes phone calls, social networking, multiple email accounts in sync, gaming and listening to music in the background. Overall, under the manager app, there are four modes – performance, normal, power saving and super saving. Just to mention you, there is no support for fast charging and it takes nearly 4 to 4.5 hours to charge the smartphone from 0-to-100 percent.
The Asus Zenfone 3S Max also supports reverse charging and you can use the Zenfone 3S Max as a powerbank to charge other devices using an OTG adapter.
Like earlier Zenfone Max-series smartphone, the Asus Zenfone 3S Max also delivers longer battery life. The smartphone runs on latest version of Android, has decent performance, features a premium design and has a good display. Overall, the Asus Zenfone 3S Max is a decent smartphone. Considering the price tag, the other better options are Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Lenovo Z2 Plus, ZTE Blade A2 Plus.