Asus Zenfone Max Unboxing, Hands-on and First Impressions

The Asus Zenfone Zoom and Zenfone Max are now in the Philippines and are already available for purchase at most Asus-authorized retail stores and kiosks nationwide. And no doubt that these two are the most talked about Android smartphones not just in the local tech scene but also in the international community. I have just posted my hands-on and first impressions article about the Zenfone Zoom and you can check it out here. This time and in this post I will be talking about the battery-centric device called the Zenfone Max.

zenfone max philippines

What's in the box?

The packaging looks very similar to the previous Zenfone devices that I have unboxed, so I was kind of already familiar as to how to open it and how to slide the outer cover off to reveal the inside. And in the box, there is of course the Zenfone Max unit itself that greets me upfront and comes with standard wall charger together with its USB cable.

Additionally, there is also a pair of Zen Ear headphones which produce great sound quality, with extra earbuds. Those are what we can find inside the packaging. Now the unit I got is somehow not a final one or not a retail version but I have already confirmed with Asus that the final retail package also contains a USB OTG cable, which is nice since the Max itself doubles as a powerbank to other devices.

What's in Zenfone Max?

If the Zenfone Zoom is mostly all about the 3X Optical Zoom functionality with HOYA lens on its back camera module, the Zenfone Max, as the name may suggest you, is boasting a high-capacity 5000mAh battery pack sitting on its back that promises you to last for days without recharging. This handset definitely aims to address so many smartphones' main problem that exists even up to this date and time, having not-so-long-lasting-battery life. Until the official announcement of the Zenfone Max back in August of last year, Asus Zenfone series of smartphones' battery was only as big as 3000mAh which is kind of big already for most users in the country but still not satisfyingly enough for many, especially to those who are heavy users or away from power outlets most of the time.

During the local launch in Cebu a couple of weeks ago, Asus was generous enough to give me, together with other fellow bloggers who were at the event, one of the review units for the Max so I can try it out and share my personal experience of this device with you. Thanks Asus Philippines for that. And I have been using the device since then, it is actually now my main phone and I currently and temporarily set aside my original Zenfone 2 in favor of this one, so far I am loving this phone especially the toughness of its battery life.

asus zenfone max

The technical specifications

Now let's talk about the specs the Asus Zenfone Max is offering. This phone does not actually sport mind blowing specs like its Zenfone Zoom companion, but it is not actually a bad thing to realize. If you are familiar with the Zenfone 2 Laser which is another great phone from Asus, the Zenfone Max's specs it almost identical to it with of course the addition of the bigger battery and some aesthetics changes.

Inside the phone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 (MSM8916), a 64-bit four-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz. Alongiside this SoC is 2GB of RAM for a smoother and lagless navigation experience. Storage purposes, this offers 16GB right out of the box which is still expandable through microSD card of up to 64GB(others claim this device can actually hold up to 128GB card).

For connectivity features, there is WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, WiFi Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0 GPS etc. Also, like other Zenfones, the Max supports dual-SIM functionality with up to 4G LTE network compatibility. What about operating system? The Zenfone Max runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop right off the bat.

Asus Zenfone Max offers a refreshing look

Being a Zenfone, there are still some physical factors that make the Max resembles to previous Zenfones on the market, however a few things have been redesigned and relocated which is a nice thing to hear and see. That being said, I think Asus offers a refreshing look on this Zenfone Max, so let's talk more about the phone's physical design and features.

asus zenfone max

First off is the front panel, the Zenfone Max sports a very bright and clear 5.5-inch HD screen with wide viewing angle and IPS technology. This simply means that quality of the display, color reproduction and resolution won't get affected even if you are looking at the screen from an awkward angle. Most of all the front screen panel is very tough, thanks to its Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection. It's super strong that you won't really need a help of a screen protector or tempered glass.

Above the screen is the 5MP camera sitting next to the earpiece, sensor, and notification LED which I find too small to get noticed when blinking. On my Zenfone 2, the notification LED is bigger about twice or thrice the size and most of the time I rely on it for notifications especially when I put my phone on silent mode during work hours.

Flipping the Asus Zenfone Max over we'll find a not so familiar situation here. No more volume rocker on the matte-finish white back cover, just the 13MP PixelMaster main camera, Real-Tone LED flash and Laser Autofocus. I really like it this way. I also find the back of the phone a bit less curved compare to original Zenfone 2, and I guess that's because of the battery inside it.

asus zenfone max

asus zenfone zoom

Talking more about the camera, the Zenfone Max is also pre-loaded with a suite of photo-releated featurs like the Manual mode, Beautification, Low Light, Super Resolution and many other modes that are always ready to assist you depending on your need to provide the best photo possible.

Laser Autofocus is one of the nicest things about this device, it simply allows the camera to focus on a subject in only 0.03 seconds of time. To me that is so fast and it ensures me that I won't miss any moment passing by without being captured, a very helpful feature indeed. Even a moving object is captured with so much less blur to almost nothing.

Now even though this smartphone does not sport a dedicated physical camera button like the Zenfone Zoom, Asus implemented functionality in this phone that enables users to launch the camera even if the handset is asleep.

Going back to the now-less-crowded back face, you might be wondering where the volume rocker is now located. See the image below to know the answer.

asus zenfone max

Yes, they are now on the right side of the Max sitting on a champagne gold-colored trim that runs around the edges of the phone. The shorter key right below the rocker is the power/lock key which also just got transferred here. And like I have said above, this is one of the new things I like about this device. Why? I don't know about you but for me, I like these buttons here as it is a lot easier for me to control the volume and to lock and wake my phone.

Additionally, the volume rocker can launch the camera even if the phone is locked by simply double clicking it. This double-clicking feature is useless to me when the keys are located at the back, not to mention that the same keys can also be used to capture the photos if and when I don't feel like using the on-screen key, which again if situated at the back is no use to me at all.

asus max

At the top is the 3.5mm audio jack port, alone and lonely. Then at the back down below is the same Zenfone branding with speaker grills below it. And at the bottom section of the device are the microUSB port and microphone. This microUSB port is where users can also charge other devices through with the help of a USB OTG cable, which I mentioned above comes with the packaging.

Watch the video below to get an overview of what's in store for Asus Zenfone Max users.

As you can see in the short video clip above, the Zenfone Max's main offering is the huge 5000mAh battery pack inside it, which again doubles as a powerbank. And this battery has a lot of promises and also does not come with some drawbacks.

zenfone max battery

The image above shows Mr Eason De Guzman, PR Head from Asus discussing the capabilities of the phone's large battery. They claim it to last up to 38 days on standby mode, 37.5 hours of talktime over 3G, 32.5 hours of web browsing via WiFi connectivity and about 22 hours of video playback.

Like what I said above, I have been using the Zenfone Max since I got it over a week ago and to be honest I have not tried testing those claims yet (I hope I will be able to), but I can personally and confidently say that the Zenfone Max is capable of lasting at least more than 24 hours of use.

On my first charge, the 100% battery life took more than three days before it died on me. Now you may say of course that will depend on my lifestyle, and that is right. This duration includes the following, all-day data and all-night WiFi connected, mostly on Facebook during online time which happened every at least 30 minutes, when at home I downloaded and watched a 50-minute video clip in 720p, also checked a couple a few YouTube music videos, nope I didn't play any games since I don't play games on mobile.

With the style of smartphone use, this Asus Zenfone Max on average lasts me two and a half days before recharging.

asus zenfone max

Now what's the catch? Having a smartphone with battery this big entails a heavier and a bulkier device. Right off the bat the Max weights 202 grams and as thick as 10.55mm. And if there is one thing I don't like about this phone, that would be it. But hey, it's actually not a problem with me and I can definitely live with it than having a lighter and thinner device than can barely last a day. And oh, one more thing, the Max takes about 5 hours to fully charge from 0% - 100%.

The Asus Zenfone Max is now available for a price tag of just Php8,495 at any Asus-authorized retailers and kiosks nationwide.

Watch out for my full review. : )

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