ASUS ZenFone 4 Max Lite Review: Reliable, Long-lasting, and Affordable


If you have been reading or following this blog in the last few days, you most likely already know that I have written a couple of articles about this new big battery-equipped smartphone from ASUS called the ZenFone 4 Max Lite. There's the first unboxing and early impressions, some sample photos taken using the phone's dual rear and single front facing cameras, as well as the five things I like about the device, and the latest being compared to its bigger brother Zenfone 4 Max to see what the differences are.

Today, I am going to share my ASUS ZenFone 4 Max Lite review.

Design and Build

Boxing and overall design of the ZenFone 4 Max Lite borrowed a lot from its siblings in the ZenFone 4 lineup especially from its direct predecessors, the ZenFone 4 Max and ZenFone Max Plus. When you place all these tree side by side face down, you will be hard pressed to differentiate which is which. The placement of the dual rear camera, LED flash, antenna bands, and the ASUS logo branding are all located on the same spot, except for the Max Pro's fingerprint sensor which is on the back due to the phone's 18:9 aspect ratio display. Even the volume rocker, and power/lock keys are all found on the right side of the devices.


The unit I got is in Deepsea Black variant. Black or anything in black is my most favorite color when it comes to smartphones. Sometimes in blue as well, but that will greatly depend on how it is done on the phone's surface. Huawei did it greatly with the Nova 2i and the P10 series. That being said, I liked the ZenFone 4 Max Lite even more in this color option. The only downside in this color is you can clearly see when it's getting a lot of fingerprints and smudges all around it. But that's fine, I can absolutely live with that, a cleaning cloth or the included free clear protective casing can do the job just right for scenarios like this.


The ZenFone 4 Max Lite only sports 5.2-inch display, so if you have been using smartphones with at least 5.5-inch screen, you will most likely notice the difference immediately. Although ASUS slapped this handset with 2.5D curved glass on the front panel, which I find really nice and beautiful all the time most especially when light reflects off of those edges, I think the only thing that makes the phone's front face not-so-attractive is the hard-to-ignore thick upper and lower bezels. I got used to them as I use the phone more often anyway, but taking it out of the box and switching it on, that's the very first thing I noticed.

So what are located in those bezels, you may ask? Up there are the 8MP shooter, Softlight LED flash for additional lighting when taking selfies or doing video calls in lowlight environment, the earpiece, and some sensors.

Down below are the Back and Recent Apps capacitive buttons while in between them is the physical home button that also houses the fingerprint scanner. The same with the home buttons in the ZenFone 4 lineup, this one here also does not press down. A simple tap will bring you, with almost no delay, back to the home screen. A long press will launch the Google Assistant. The fingerprint functionality though is not the fastest I have used so far, I could notice a delay of almost a full second everytime I unlock it with my prints.


Further at the bottom is where the two five-hole speaker grilles, mic, and the microUSB port are found. And yes, thankfully, there is still the 3.5mm audioport, but it is situated at the top left part of the handset. Along with that jack port is a pair of white in-ear earphones included in the packaging.

In terms of dimensions and build, the ZenFone 4 Max Lite is compact and very easy to use with one hand. Its profile size is as thick (or thin) as the usual smartphones around despite housing a massive 4100mAh battery. In numbers, the dimensions translates to 5.93inch x 2.89inch x 0.34inc. It weights a total of 156 grams.

Furthermore, ASUS also did a good job in putting all the components together for with this device. In addition to the beautiful all-glass front panel, the rest of the phones' outside material is made of plastic as opposed to the Zen 4 Max's all-metal casing. But surprisingly, the metallic finish does not really feel plastic at all. At first I even thought it was aluminum. It is not slippery to hold, in fact the rounded corners provide better grip to the hand apart from adding beautiful aesthetics to the phone. The noticeable heft, also adds to the equation. It is not that heavy though, at least for me, it didn't bother me much even while watching movies or TV series on this phone via Netflix for a longer period of time. One thing to take note though about the screen is, it does not come pre-installed with any screen protector. We don't even know what kind of glass protection this one has, it's not even stated on ASUS Philippines' website. So if you are worried about the front panel getting scratches, you better buy screen protector or tempered glass as soon as possible.

Though I also would like to mention, since having and using this device for a few days now without any protection not even the free clear case on, I still don't see any scratches on it and I hope not see any in the near future.


Display

As I have previously mentioned, the ZenFone 4 Max Lite has a quite smaller 5.2-inch IPS display with only high definition (1280 x 720p) resolution across the panel and 10 points multi-touch. The touch panel is very responsive most of the time since having the phone as my daily driver, very rarely that I encountered any delay or non-responsiveness.

As for the quality of the display itself, it is very good for almost all viewing scenarios as well as color reproduction is on point, even though the display is a bit washed out. Maybe that is only because I have been using my other device that has a much bigger screen, much higher resolution, and much brighter display. And speaking of brightness, it is great. I was able to use the phone even under direct sunlight with the brightness in full without any issue. It's also good when used in dim o almost no-light environment, the brightness is so adjustable to suit the situation. The overall viewing experience with the ZenFone 4 Max Lite is great for a device with sub-8K price point.

Software

On the software side of things, this handset runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat with ZenUI. It appears there is now less pre-installed apps that come with this version of operating system, though there are still some that you won't probably be using at all, they can still either be uninstalled or disabled at will.


Two of my favorite ASUS software are available with the ZenFone 4 Max Lite right out of the box. Those are the Mobile Manager that gives me access to multiple functions allowing me to help manage the phone's performance such as optimizing some features and cleaning unwanted memory and cache files away, and the other being the Game Genie. Game Genie allows me to do a couple of things while playing my favorite games like livestreaming on Facebook and Twitch or simply record them then upload later on. You can do livestream and record your game while you do voiceover with a little rounded window on the corner where your face is shown (using the front camera). For all mobile gamers who like to record how they rock a certain game or do a quick tutorial and share them on social media, this Game Genie is the perfect companion for you.

Overall experience on the user interface, animation, and transition all work perfectly fine and smoothly. I encountered some hiccups and slight delays but those are very minor and rare ones and did not bother me at all. And if and when I feel like the software is getting slower, I can just fire up the Mobile Manager do one or two taps or close apps in the background to optimize the performance. Even though the smartphone is equipped with only 2GB RAM and a decent 1.4GHz octa-core Snapdragon 425 processor, the Android 7.1.1 with the ZenUI is still well-optimized for this handset.

For gaming, even if I really don't play games that much. I tried some graphics and power-heavy ones like Dead Trigger 2, Asphalt 8, and N.O.V.A. Legacy. And I was surprised to learn that these games all ran smoothly in their default settings. The phone did not even get hot while switching and playing between these games for longer period of time, though slight warming of the back panel was noticed at most times.

And in case you wonder how the ASUS ZenFone 4 Max Lite performed on Antutu Benchmark, it registered a score of 43,498. See screenshot below.



Battery and Charging

As the latest member of the ZenFone Max lineup, also known as the Battery King series, this particular model is packed with a massive 4100mAh battery with fast charging. ASUS claims this phone to last up to 37 days on standby mode, 31 hours talktime, and up to 21 hours of web browsing.

Based on my experience so far, the Zen4 Max Lite is able to deliver the job. With my not so heavy way of using the smartphone, it has been able to last me up two full days on a single charge. I don't play games that much on a mobile phone. My smartphone activities is dominated by accessing social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram) and reading blogs and websites I follow almost every every 15 minutes for the whole day while away from home and I am always connected to 4G LTE network. The rest are uploading a photo or two and watching a few short clips (mostly trailers or those random viral videos).

And when it comes to charging the phone, from zero percent to fully charged, it is only taking me over two-and-a-half up to almost three hours in some occasions. That of course will depend if I am using the phone or not while being charged. To me, this is a huge improvement already and ASUS should be proud for having this fast charge system on this smartphone of this price. To give you a quick comparison on how impressed I am about this, I used to own the original ZenFone Max (from the ZenFone 2 generation) and it had a mammoth 5000mAh battery inside it. To fully charge this beast, it would take me five hours. That is about 1 hour per 1000mAh of charging time, and that's the part I didn't like about that phone. So up to three hours of charging for a 4100mAh battery and up to two days (on average) life span, that's just terrific.


And oh, before I end this section. Let me also inform you that this phone, just like the previous ZenFone Max devices, is also equipped with a unique feature called Reverse Charging. Yes, this also doubles as a powerbank to other battery-operated devices. To see how this works or how to use this feature, please refer to the illustration image above. The packaging comes with a free USB OTG dongle for us to immediately enjoy this Reverse Charging technology if and when needed.


Camera

And while its main selling feature is the battery which is pegged at 4100mAh, it is still being marketed as one of those ZenFone devices that offers great photography experience, just like the other ZenFone 4 iterations, you can clearly see that on the box's side where it bears the "We Heart Photo" tagline.

The ZenFone 4 Max Lite is equipped with two cameras on the back. The primary one has 13MP with f/2.0 aperture, 80° field of view angle, phase detection autofocus with speed up to 0.03sec, and LED flash. Its secondary rear camera is offered with 5MP with 120° wide-angle lens, perfect for wide angle and groupie shots.

You can see sample camera shots I took using this phone in this earlier post of mine.

The rear cameras are accompanied by different modes. These include Auto (with lowlight and HDR features), Beauty, Super Resolution, GIF Animation, Panorama, Time Laps (with power saving), nine different in-camera filters, and of course the Pro mode. The 8MP front camera, on the other hand, is packed with Beauty, Auto (with HDR features) Selfie Panorama, and GIF Animation.

The Beauty mode in this one, is not only able to help you enhance your skin tone but also enables you to adjust your eyes or cheek sizes to achieve one's perfect selfie photos. Now apart from this Beauty mode in the front and rear cameras, there is also another app that ASUS created and pre-installed in this device, the Selfie Master. What it does is, it allows you to apply beautification (in different levels) before capturing your selfie photos, you can also do this with video recording or while doing a livestream, in-app, to Facebook, YouTube or Instagram.


Both cameras are capable of producing decent photos. You have to keep your hands more still to avoid shakey videos and photos as unlike the original ZenFone 4 Max, this Lite version does not have electronic image stabilization feature. Images are even more clear and sharp when captured with good amount of light around. Lowlight images and also good but tend to be noticeable with noise.

One thing I noticed with the unit I got though, the screen does not show how good the photos are before they are captured. I mean they are in poor condition when looking at the screen or phone's display when you are trying to capture an image, and at first I thought the photos or videos themselves would be like that, good thing I was wrong. So what happens, I think, after a photo is captured, it is being processed and refined in the background to produce the best possible versions of the photos, and once done, what I now see in the gallery are the actual photo qualities ready to be shared.

Final Thoughts

The ASUS ZenFone 4 Max Lite offers value for money with all of its features, most especially in the battery department. It allows you to continue do what you love doing without the worry of running out of battery while in the middle of whatever that is. Be it content creation for bloggers and influencers, closing that deal over a phone call, researching ideas, data, and information for your presentation, or simply documenting your vacation in photo or video format, the ZenFone 4 Max Lite is a device you can count on for a very affordable price.

My overall experience with the ZenFone 4 Max Lite has been great knowing that it bears a price tag of just Php7,995. This is definitely one of the best handsets you can buy around at that price that both offers functionality, reliability and long-lasting battery life for a price that won't hurt your pocket.


ASUS ZenFone 4 Max Lite specs:
  • 5.2-inch HD IPS Display
  • 1280 x 720 resolution
  • 2.5D Curved Glass
  • 1.4GHz octa-core Snapdragon 425 processor
  • Adreno 308 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • Supports microSD card up to 256GB
  • 13MP + 5MP dual rear camera with f/2.0 aperture, 120° wide-angle lens, PDAF, and LED flash
  • 8MP front camera with Softlight LED flash
  • Android 7.1 Nougat with ZenUI 4.0 
  • WiFi,Bluetooth, GPS, GLONASS
  • FM Radio not available
  • 4G LTE
  • Dual-SIM (non-hybrid)
  • Fingerprint Scanner
  • USB OTG Support
  • Reverse Charging Technology
  • 4100mAh battery
  • Php7,995

The ZenFone 4 Max Lite is now available nationwide. Just visit any ASUS concept stores or authorized retailers near you to get one.

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