Do you worry about your phone battery running out of charge all the time? You might not have to do that with the Asus Zenfone 3S Max. The newly launched Asus phone carries a humongous 5,000 mAh battery and that is probably the best thing about it. Asus has priced the phone at a hefty ₹14,999.
Asus has a knack for releasing smartphones in the same series with minor upgrades and, honestly, it can get a little confusing. The company launched the Zenfone 3 Max in July last year, which reached the Indian shores in November. Now, 3 months later, we have another iteration of the same device in our hands.
If you are expecting this device to be a great performer, don't buy it. Get a Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, or a Moto G4 (you can wait for Moto G5 as well) or even one of the Oppo or Vivo phones. Besides the great battery, the Zenfone 3S Max is good for voice calls, emails, and WhatsApp or Facebook messages with Internet access.
On the day that I used the phone, I watched a lot of videos and played many games. I got more than 8 hours of screen time, with the Zenfone 3S Max lasting the charge the whole day. For moderate usage, this phone will last two days. The company supplies a 2A charger with the phone, so it does take over two hours to charge the phone.
While the phone's design in not really innovative or different from the run of the mill budget smartphones, it is a bit chunky because of the battery. That however is not a hindrance in holding the phone and its metal surface has a nice feel. The only design modification that Asus has made in the Zenfone 3S Max, as compared to the preceding Zenfone 3 Max, is to shift the camera to the corner on the rear side.
The newer model also uses an upgraded MediaTek 64 bit processor, yet it is not as powerful as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 used in the Redmi Note 4. It handles multitasking between a few apps well, though even non-graphics intensive games can heat the device up. However the 3 GB RAM supports light gaming and tasks well.
The 13 MP camera on the rear is not really praiseworthy. You will get decent shots in daylight but do not expect it to perform well in low light. There is an 8 MP sensor at the front and it takes good selfies. And, if you are not happy with the results, there is a beautify feature that will enhance your face and make you look good.
The software on Zenfone 3S Max is Android Nougat 7.0 which I'd say is a good step, but the problem is that the Nougat is hardly visible after the heavy coating of Asus's custom ZenUI. Last year, Asus was on the right path with its phone software, reducing bloatware and cleaning things up. But the latest device is a step back, with too many unnecessary notifications and apps.
The competition for Zenfone 3S Max is intense, but its has a large battery and that could be the deciding factor for many Indian consumers. One thing that would help Asus is making the phone available offline and gaining an advantage over online competitors.