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  • Rated 4 stars
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  • Asus Zenfone 3 Max ZC520TL
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  • Last modified: Dec 8, 2019

While Asus stepped up their device range from budget to premium with devices like Zenfone 3 and Zenfone 3 laser, that created a lack of Asus device under 15K price range. Although Zenfone 3 Max is still not a budget device, it rather targets the market of working class, because they’re the people who require full-day battery backup as mandatory consideration. There are two variants of Zenfone 3 Max i.e. ZC520TL (5.2inch sized display) and ZC553KL (5.5inch sized display), and I am reviewing ZC520TL i.e. smaller variant.

Asus Zenfone 3 Max ZC520TL Review (Asus_X008D): Design and Build Quality

With the launch of Zenfone 3 range devices, Asus has completely forgotten the use of the plastic body in their smartphones, and Zenfone 3 Max is also taking forward the legacy of metal unibody smartphone. Zenfone 3 Max features a metal unibody construction with slim silver antenna lines at top and bottom. Edges of the phone are rounded; hence the overall feel of the phone is good and premium.

There’s a 2.5D contoured Gorilla Glass 3 at the front of the device and a bezel ratio of 75% screen to the body.

There’s a 5MP camera on the top along with earpiece and other sensors.

At the back, starting from the top, there’s slim silver antenna line, continued with 13MP primary camera along with LED flash and fingerprint sensor. ASUS logo with speaker grille is at the bottom along with antenna line again.

At the left, there’s a hybrid SIM slot, and

at the right, there are volume rockers and power button.

3.5mm Audio jack is at the top, and

microUSB port is at the bottom (extreme right).

It’s a bit of surprise that Asus didn’t provide this phone with USB type-C as all Zenfone 3 phones have same. Although this is not any issue, as the majority of the smartphone in the market are still on micro-USB standard only, making it easier for the customer to charge their phone and for using it other accessories.

Overall, there’s nothing new in the design of the phone, as we’ve already seen similar design format in other devices, yet Zenfone 3 Max looks like an attractive device because of the color choices. The one I have for review is Titanium Grey in color and looks good and would always prefer above Glacier Silver or Sand Gold. Also, this device is a major improvement in design from Zenfone 2 Max which was a bulky phone because of a 5000mAh battery.

One major change I found in the device is the removal of physical capacitive buttons and adopting buttons on the screen, which is rather a welcome move. On Zenfone 3 Max ZC553KL, you’ll still find those capacitive buttons though rather than on-screen buttons.

Also Read: ASUS Zenfone 3 Max Both Variants Specification

Asus Zenfone 3 Max ZC520TL Review (Asus_X008D): Display

The display on Zenfone 3 is a 5.5inch Full HD IPS display with a resolution of 1920x1080p and delivers a pixel density of 401ppi. Although the resolution is good enough for consuming multimedia content regularly, you might find the contrast ratio on a bit muted side; hence you’ll see a difference in the vibrancy and colors compared with an AMOLED panel.

Maximum brightness level display can achieve 400 in, which is fine for visibility in complete sunlight. Viewing angles on the phone are good with a mild color shift when viewing that from extreme angles. Overall, we do not have any complaints with the display.

Asus Zenfone 3 Max ZC520TL Review (Asus_X008D): Software

Like always, Zenfone 3 Max runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow with ZenUI on top as a custom skin. Since long, ZenUI has not been appreciated much in previous generation devices, but with Zenfone 3 series, Asus has made many changes to improve the user experience. While the pre-installed apps count stays the same, you can uninstall the most and remaining can be disabled if you need to. But it’s not like you’ve to uninstall or disable every 3rd party app, some apps are genuinely very useful which you’ll regularly need on a daily basis.

Other than that, ZenUI’s, there’s one thing which you’re going to like about apps by Asus that they get regular updates if it’s the camera app, or file manager or even if it’s a calculator. Most system apps get regular updates, and OTA’s are also regular from time to time improving the performance of the device and fixing bugs if any. Plus the overall experience with the device is excellent, and there are no lags or crashes even with extreme usage.

Asus Zenfone 3 Max ZC520TL Review (Asus_X008D): Camera

With a 13 MP camera at the rear, and 8 MP at the front, it’s hard to turn down this device buying decision. These specs not only sounds above-average, rather than camera also good for the cost. Asus lately with Zenfone 3 launch, has improved their camera a lot, especially there is a lot of improvements while clicking indoor pictures. Zenfone 3 has an excellent camera in clicking indoor images, and Zenfone Max is no less in that league.

The camera app offers lots of settings, tweaks, and preferences to choose from. It also provides HDR, time-lapse & panorama but not Slo-motion. Images clicked by the device are good enough sharp when taken in good daylight conditions. Indoor images upon Zooming were a bit grainy but is not a deal-breaker.

The camera is quick on focusing objects, thanks for laser and phase detection autofocus, ensuring that you won’t get a blurry image at any point in time. However, since the display is an HD display, viewing the pictures on the phone might not give you that details the image deserved.

Video recording performance and video output are satisfactory. If you’re an occasional photographer or used to take most shots in good daylight, you won’t face any issue using Zenfone 3 Max on a regular basis. If you used to click lots of selfies, the front camera is just fine. I mean you can’t expect much from a 5MP camera at this cost. It would perform fine.

Asus Zenfone 3 Max ZC520TL Review (Asus_X008D): Performance

Being powered by the very popular i.e. Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC, the phone offers a decent balance between performance and energy efficiency. Although the device has to compete with likes of Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, which comes with Snapdragon 650 processor, then high battery efficiency and optimized OS won’t make your phone slow at any point.

While reviewing, I installed many apps on the phone, and the phone performed fine without any issue. While comparing with any flagship device, you’ll easily find the difference of speed, but it’s not bothersome. I kept the phone on 4G or WiFi most of the time, and stayed connected to networks all the time, and never faced any issue or such. Even playing graphic intensive games was a breeze, thanks to the properly optimized OS. Maybe 3GB RAM helps a lot in multitasking with apps, as you can take phone calls, check social media, web browsing with multiple apps going on, and everything the device handled it with ease.

While playing games, the device does get a bit heated, but not to at any uncomfortable level. Overall the performance of the device is good and is on-par with most devices under the Rs 12,000 mark. I do hope that Asus may drop the pricing of the device in someday future.

Asus Zenfone 3 Max ZC520TL Review (Asus_X008D): Battery

While the battery is one of the main USP of the device, yet Zenfone 3 Max has a battery of 4100 mAh, not 5000 mAh like of Zenfone 2 Max. With such decision, they have reduced the device weight and thickness a lot than former, which is in a way a good decision to take. Zenfone 3 max is a good choice for the people who don’t want to charge the phone often and stays out on the field most of the time. Also this time the charger included in the box is a 2amp charger, hence the complete charging time from 0 to 100 is around 1.5 to 2 hours.

Also, the size in battery size reduction doesn’t have any significant impact on the battery life. Maybe you can thank Marshmallow for that. It’s easier to get a battery life of 2 days on the device with a single full charge. Even with heavy usage, the battery could last 1.5 days, and you’ll hardly find any battery percentage drop while playing heavy games like Asphalt, NFS, etc.

Asus mobile manager app also offers software based power-saving modes which help in extending the battery life of the device for extra few hours if your device is low on battery power. Such modes can disable most battery consuming features for you and leaves the Phone, SMS and alarm functions active and gives you an extra 10 hours standby with just 10% of left battery.

Final Verdict

Asus Zenfone 3 is an excellent device, priced a bit higher for the specs it offers, but offers a striking balance between power-efficiency, performance and hardware quality. It’s a decent looking smartphone, is well built and offers fine specs for its price. While the pricing of Rs 12,999 is a bit on higher side, but then Asus offers good after sales service than Chinese competitors.

An optimist to the core, I always see the glass half full. I like to take life as it comes and not to become too serious on the harsher aspects of it. Apart from this, I am an Engineer, a Blogger & a Researcher....

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