ASUS ZenFone 4 Max hands on and initial impressions

The ZenFone 4 Max is one of the five handsets that ASUS Philippines has just officially launched in the country through an event that was held yesterday at SMX Convention Center in Pasay city. The event was graced by media personnel, bloggers, ASUS Philippines and Taiwan executives, and some lucky ZenFans from all over the country who were flown in by the company to be part of the grand launch. Thankfully ASUS PH also unveiled official pricing for all these ZenFone 4 devices, and the "Battery King" - ZenFone 4 Max - got the most interests from fans and enthusiasts simply because of couple of things - massive battery, dual rear camera, all metal casing, and price tag of just Php9,995.

Fortunately, ASUS Philippines also held a livestreaming party yesterday in Davao City and invited local bloggers and ZenFans to get together, celebrate, and experience these ZenFone 4 units first hand at the venue. So I took the opportunity to try them all and see what these latest ZenFone 4 smartphones got in store for us.

And of course one of the first variants I had my hands on was this ZenFone 4 Max.

One of the first things I noticed on this device is its striking similarity with the more high end ZenFone 3 Zoom in terms of design, most especially on the back side.

As you can see in the above image, the back panel is where you can find the dual camera set up. ASUS has gone full dual cameras with this year's lineup, all units have dual camera configurations on the back except for the Zen 4 Selfie and Zen 4 Selfie Pro which are situated on the front panel.

With the ZenFone 4 Max, users get a 13MP primary shooter on the back equipped with f/2.0 aperture lens, electronic image stabilization, phase detection autofocus (PDAF) system, and LED flash. Then there is a 5MP secondary back camera, this one has a 120-degree wide angle view to allow photos to get more background details and for a better group selfie photos. Great Depth of Field effect through software implementation is also one of the best benefits of having this secondary rear camera working together with the other. And for selfie purposes, there is an 8MP front facing camera with its own f/2.2 lens and a dedicated Spotlight LED flash located on the upper right corner to help you achieve that perfect selfies.

More on the front panel, the ZenFone 4 Max sports a standard 5.5-inch HD IPS display graced with 2.5D curved glass panel. Then down under the screen are the usual Back and Recent Apps capacitive buttons, and instead of a capacitive Home key, a physical Home button is now placed in there which also houses the Fingerprint Scanner functionality. It is also important to note that this button cannot be pressed down like many of mid-range and flagship devices from other brands. A simple tap will bring you straight to the home page.

Down further at the bottom are the speaker grille, mic, and a microUSB port. ASUS has not granted the Max series of USB Type-C port yet. In fact, only the ZenFone 4 and ZenFone 4 Pro only support this type of connectivity. Up top is where you can find the 3.5mm audio jack port and another mic.

On the sides are some of the most essential buttons and features we need on a smartphone. And I am happy to report that while this ZenFone 4 Max supports dual SIM functionality (4G LTE), it also has a dedicated microSD card slot, yes it got a three-slot SIM tray. And it can hold up to 256GB of memory card on top of the default 32GB storage. On the right side are none other than the concentric-textured Volume Rocker and the Power/Lock keys located just where I want them to be.

Those are pretty much what you can spot outside the ZenFone 4 Max. So far it still got those important features, hopefully ASUS will never do away the 3.5mm jack at least in the near future.

Now let me talk about the main feature, in addition to the dual rear camera, of the this latest Max iteration which is its massive battery. Back with ZenFone 3 Max series last year, many fans were a bit disappointed to know that it only had 4100mAh battery which is significantly smaller than the original Max from the ZenFone 2 series at 5000mAh. This time around, ASUS has brought back the same huge 5000mAh battery pack with the ZenFone 4 Max.

This huge of a battery promises up to 46 days on 4G standby mode, 40 hours 3G talktime, 22 hours video playback, and 26 hours of web browsing via WiFi according to ASUS. And most of all, it can still double as a powerbank to other devices, thanks to its Reverse Charging technology that is now 2x faster. The reverse charging feature is used through a use of USB OTG dongle which is part of the packaging.

Software wise, this handset runs on the most updated Android 7.1.1 Nougat version with the latest ZenUI 4.0 on top. Also, ASUS announced that an Android O update will be rolled out in the future for all ZenFone 4 and ZenFone 3 devices.

Final thoughts

I think this ZenFone 4 Max is going to the most popular variant among this year's series of ZenFone smartphones especially knowing that is priced below Php10K. ASUS managed to give the latest Max lineup yet another look compared to the original Max and ZenFone 3 Max of yesteryears, though it is completely not a brand new design as I mentioned it resembles the ZenFone 3 Zoom, it is still refreshing to the eyes especially if you place all the Max devices side by side.

And while it is the same large 5000mAh battery from the first ZenFone Max, the ZenFone 4 Max is surprisingly thinner than the original installment and lighter I would say. That slimmer profile and the rounded edges of this smartphone make it more comfortable to hold either with one or both hands. Its metal build provides even sturdier feel to it.

ASUS ZenFone 4 Max specs:
  • 5.5-inch HD IPS Display
  • 1280 x 720 resolution
  • 2.5D curved glass
  • 1.4GHz octa-core Snapdragon 430 processor
  • Adreno 505 GPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB internal storage
  • Supports microSD card up to 256GB
  • 13MP + 5MP dual rear camera with f/2.0 aperture lens
  • 8MP front camera with f/2.2 aperture lens and Spotlight LED flash
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat with ZenUI 4.0
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, GLONASS
  • USB OTG Support
  • Dual SIM (non hybrid)
  • 4G LTE
  • Fingerprint Scanner
  • Reverse Charge Tech
  • 5000mAh battery
  • Php9,995
The ASUS ZenFone 4 Max is now available for purchase nationwide for only Php9,995. Visit any ASUS concept stores, kiosks, and authorized retailers. You can even buy one from ASUS Philippines' official store on Lazada here.

In the box, aside from the usual power brick, earphones, and USB to microUSB cable, it also comes with free clear jelly case and a USB OTG dongle worth Php1,500.

In case you missed it, you may also check out my ASUS ZenFone 4 Selfie hands on and initial impressions here.



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DUGOMPINOY: ASUS ZenFone 4 Max hands on and initial impressions
ASUS ZenFone 4 Max hands on and initial impressions
Finally the ASUS ZenFone 4 series arrives in the Philippines. Here is my quick hands on review and initial impressions of the ZenFone 4 Max. Read here.
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