The Zenfone 3s Max is the first smartphone from Asus to hit the Indian market this year. What is a little odd is the naming they have chosen for this product. We had seen rumors of this exact phone labeled as the Zenfone 4 a few weeks back. And here it is, labeled the 3s Max just months after the launch of the Asus Zenfone 3 Max(Review). The Max series has always been about battery life. The 3s Max bumps the battery figure up from 4100mAh to 5000mAh along with quite a few changes along the way. We got our hands on the device and this is our first impression of the device.
Asus chose to stick with a metal body construction for this phone. The design is quite different, unlike any other Asus phone on sale. The biggest change is the placement of the fingerprint scanner, it has moved to the front of the device where it sits just below the display. The size of the phone is just right and it sports a 5.2 inch HD display with 2.5D glass on top. What is surprising is that despite the big battery the phone feels well weighted. The volume rockers and the power button are placed on the right while the left only bears the SIM tray. The speakers are positioned at the bottom of the device along with a MicroUSB port while the 3.5mm headphone jack sits on the top.
Moving to the back, there is a 13-megapixel camera with PDAF (Phase Detection Autofocus) along with the dual tone LED flash. The offset position of the camera is quite different when compared to other recently launched Asus phones. The camera has a low f 2.0 aperture and is capable of 1080p video recording. I did click a few snaps but the results were strictly average. It also needs a steady hand when the shutter button is pressed. The selfie camera is an 8-megapixel sensor that clicks good photos. One other thing we noticed is that the beautification mode for the selfie cam is on by default.
The internals are quite different on this smartphone. While Asus majorly stuck to Snapdragon processors for the past phones, this one is powered by Mediatek. The 3s Max sports a MT6750 octa-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz and has 3GB of RAM. In terms of storage, it gets 32GB of internal storage and a Hybrid SIM slot which can be used to expand storage further. I must say that there are phones with way more powerful processor and Asus could’ve picked one of them. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 for example, packs in a Snapdragon 625 chipset and has a plethora of RAM and storage combinations to choose from. The one thing that the Xiaomi loses out on is the battery.
The 3s Max packs in a 5000mAh battery and is capable of going through a lot of tasks before running out. It held quite well while I kept binge watching videos on YouTube and I didn’t really have to run for a charger at the end of it. Since the battery capacity is the strongest point of the Max, I’ll cover it in detail in the full review. The phone is also capable of reverse-charging which allows it to act like a powerbank. There are also quite a few battery modes built into the software to choose from based on how you use your phone.
Talking of software, the 3s Max runs on Android 7.0 Nougat with ZenUI on top of it. Being a Nexus user, I found the ZenUI to be close to stock and quite good to use. There are quite a few useful additions to the software that make it more user-friendly Max also sports on-screen touch buttons instead of the capacitive ones under the display. The fingerprint scanner also doubles up as the home button and provides a quick way of jumping back to the home screen.
With the launch and the pricing still not revealed, it is hard to assess if the Zenfone 3s Max is a good buy. What I can say, however, is that the phone already has a lot of competition to deal with. We are expecting the phone to priced under Rs 14,000 that puts it against the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, the Honor 6X, and the recently discounted Lenovo Z2 Plus.