comscore Asus Zenfone 3s Max (ZC521TL): Hands-on and first impressions
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Asus Zenfone 3s Max (ZC521TL): Hands-on and first impressions

The Zenfone 3s Max features an improved chipset and a slightly larger 5,000mAh battery. Here are our first impressions.

asus zenfone 3s max front

Barely three months after launching the Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) and Zenfone 3 Max (ZC553KL) in India, Asus has now introduced a slightly powerful smartphone in the Zenfone Max-series. Called Zenfone 3s Max (ZC521TL), it is an incremental upgrade to the Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL), and brings slightly better specs sheet to the table. There are minor changes in the design too. With the Zenfone Max-series, Asus has focused on offering smartphones with outstanding battery life. Now, while the Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) was fuelled by a 4,100mAh battery, Asus has equipped the new Zenfone 3s Max with an even larger 5,000mAh battery. Ahead of the formal launch, I had a chance to spend some time with the smartphone and here s what I think about it. Also Read - Flipkart Big Bachat Dhamaal sale: Best smartphone deals on iPhone 12 Mini, ROG Phone 3 and more

Asus Zenfone 3s Max Design

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The Zenfone 3s Max features a metal unibody design. On the front, you have the earpiece, selfie camera and ambient light sensor sitting above the display, and a fingerprint sensor embedded inside the home button below the display. Asus has done away with the capacitive navigation buttons, and they are now onscreen. The previous Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) model had the fingerprint sensor placed on the back, and featured capacitive navigation buttons below the display. Also Read - Android 12 update: From Samsung, OnePlus, Oppo, to Asus, list of eligible devices

asus zenfone 3s max ports

The edges are rounded and the smartphone s compact form factor makes it easier to hold the phone in one hand. On the left edge, you have a hybrid SIM card slot that accepts one micro SIM card, and one nano-SIM card, or one microSIM and one microSD card. The power button and volume rocker is placed on the right, 3.5mm headphone jack on the top and micro-USB port at the bottom. ALSO READ: Asus ZenFone 3 Max (ZC553KL) Review

Asus Zenfone 3s Max Hardware Performance

Talking about specifications, the Zenfone 3s Max features a 5.2-inch HD (720p) display, with 2.5D curved glass on top. However, it is quite disappointing to see an HD display when competitors in the same or lower price range feature a full-HD display. At the heart of the smartphone is MediaTek s 64-bit MT6750 octa-core SoC clocked at 1.5GHz paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage. In comparison, the Zenfone 3 Max (ZC520TL) featured a MediaTek MT6735 quad-core SoC clocked at 1.1GHz. The chipset still isn t powerful enough as the competitors, and I can t figure out why Asus didn t go for Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, which is one of the best mid-range chipsets today. ALSO READ: Asus Zenfone 3 ZE520KL, ZE552KL receive Android 7.0 Nougat update

asus zenfone 3s max rear camera

For shutterbugs, there s a 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash. The camera supports video recording up to 1080p (30fps). We clicked some photos to see test the camera, and it s an average performer. Even the photos shot in day light looked sub-par, macros looked decent but they weren t the sharpest and lacked details. Colors looked marginally better. For selfies, there s an 8-megapixel selfie camera, which does a good job outdoors, but quality drops indoors. I ll be putting the camera through its paces when I review the smartphone.

Coming to the USP, the 5,000mAh battery Asus claims is good enough to offer backup of two days or more on single charge. During my brief usage, I watched a couple of The Big Bang Theory episodes for a total of 40 minutes and played some games such as Subway Surfers and Asphalt 8: Airborne for total of 30 minutes, and unlike smartphones the battery on the Zenfone 3s Max just dropped by 16 percent. The phone also supports reverse charging, meaning you can use it as a power bank to charge other smartphones. I ll thoroughly be testing the battery from full charge to discharge cycle over the next few days, so stay tuned for the detailed review.

asus zenfone 3s max selfie camera

Asus Zenfone 3s Max Software

On the software front, the smartphone runs Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. A layer of Asus s Zen UI as over the top customization is also present, but it looks much neat and cleaner than the previous iterations. Asus also seems to have gotten rid of some bloatware, but not completely. For a couple of days I found the UI to be a bit buggy, but then Asus pushed a small 30MB update with bug fixes and performance improvements, and now it feels a little better.

Asus Zenfone 3s Max Competition

As of now, Asus hasn t revealed its pricing, but the smartphone is expected to be priced under Rs 16,000. In that price range, the Zenfone 3s Max will directly compete with the Lenovo P2, which is priced at Rs 16,999 and also comes with a 5,000mAh battery. There is also Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is powered by a 4,100mAh and the top end variant with 4GB RAM + 64GB is priced at Rs 12,999. ALSO READ: Lenovo P2 Review

For those who can compromise on the battery bit, there is also Lenovo Z2 Plus with prices starting at Rs 14,999 and is powered by Snapdragon 820 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 32GBstorage and a 3,500mAh battery. ALSO READ: Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Review

To sum up, the Zenfone 3s Max is another battery focused smartphone from the company. However, with competitors such as Redmi Note 4 and Lenovo P2 also offering good battery backup along with better specifications on paper, it remains to be seen if it has any extra tricks up its sleeve. Stay tuned for BGR India s detailed review of the Zenfone 3s Max, and we will let you know if it s worth spending your money.

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  • Published Date: January 30, 2017 12:00 PM IST


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