Notebookcheck

Asus ZenFone Max Smartphone Review

Marcus Herbrich (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 06/21/2016

Long, longer, ZenFone Max. Asus launches a smartphone on the market that follows one goal: The ZenFone Max is to achieve ultimate battery life. This begins with the hardware in the form of a strong 5000 mAh battery and ends with energy-saving software solutions. Read in our report whether the mid-range handset by Asus manages to oust the present reference in our battery test.

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For the original German review, see here.

With the ZenFone Max, the Taiwanese company Asus expands its ZenFone lineup by another model focused on long battery life and enduring system readiness. A li-ion battery with a capacity of 5000 mAh in the 5.5-inch LTE smartphone is to ensure that. The handset's high definition resolution panel is also designed for this. A Snapdragon 410 quad-core SoC supported by 2 GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 16 GB of internal storage clocks inside the ZenFone Max.

The ZenFone Max is available in black or white for approximately 250 Euros (~$281) in the manufacturer's online shop - other sellers already offer the handset for a bit less. Many smartphones by various manufacturers range on a similar price level. We opted for ZTE's Blade V7, Acer's Liquid Z630S, Asus' ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL and Samsung's Galaxy A3 (2016) as comparison devices in this test.

Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL (Zenfone Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
2048 MB 
Display
5.5 inch 16:9, 1280 x 720 pixel 267 PPI, capacitive, LCD, IPS, glossy: yes
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
, 10.47 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm jack, Card Reader: micro-SD (max. 64 GB), Brightness Sensor, Sensors: Hall sensor, proximity sensor, accelerometer, compass, A2SD, OTG, Miracast
Networking
802.11 b/g/n (b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0, 2G : GSM 850MHz/900MHz/1800MHz/1900MHz 3G : WCDMA 850MHz(5)/900MHz(8)/1900MHz(2) /2100MHz(1) 4G : FDD-LTE 2100MHz(1)/1900MHz(2)/1800MHz(3)/850MHz(5)/2600MHz(7)/900MHz(8)/800MHz(20), Dual SIM, LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 10.55 x 156 x 77.5 ( = 0.42 x 6.14 x 3.05 in)
Battery
5000 mAh Lithium-Ion, Talk time 2G (according to manufacturer): 37.6 h, Standby 2G (according to manufacturer): 914 h
Operating System
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Camera
Primary Camera: 13 MPix f/2.0 aperture, 0.03 second laser auto focus, dual-color Real Tone Flash LED, ASUS PixelEnhancing Technology, H.264 up to 1080p at 30FPS
Secondary Camera: 5 MPix f/2.0 aperture, ASUS PixelEnhancing Technology
Additional features
Speakers: mono, Keyboard: onscreen, Keyboard Light: yes, OTG adapter, USB cable, modular power supply, ZenUI , 24 Months Warranty, SAR: 0.58 W/Kg (head)SAR: 0.407 W/Kg (body), fanless
Weight
202 g ( = 7.13 oz / 0.45 pounds), Power Supply: 57 g ( = 2.01 oz / 0.13 pounds)
Price
249 Euro

 

Case

A flush-closing glass front protects the ZenFone Max's 5.5-inch screen - it is scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass 4. Following the ZEN design philosophy, the transition between glass panel and plastic part on the smartphone's underside is very palpable and not level. Overall, the 202-gram heavy and almost 11-millimeter tall device is a bit unhandy.

The volume control and power button are well-constructed and hardly wobble. The surface of the removable back cover features a kind of leather look as known from other handsets (e.g. Samsung Galaxy Note 3). The feel is good but still remote from the impression that higher-quality materials, such as glass or metal, convey. The 16 GB internal storage can be extended via a micro-SD card after removing the back cover. However, the battery cannot be replaced.

The back barely dents and the casing's stiffness makes a very good impression. However, it produces creaking noises when holding the handset with a bit of pressure.

Connectivity

The ZenFone Max offers the standard connectivity for this price range. The 16 GB internal eMMC storage is reduced to just below 10.47 GB after initial start. The hybrid slot can be used for expanding the storage via a micro-SD card when the dual-SIM functionality is not needed (max. 64 GB). Apps can also be moved to the external storage via A2SD.

The micro-USB 2.0 port in the ZenFone Max is used for recharging the handset, data sharing with a computer and it can also be used for connecting peripherals via the OTG (on-the-go) adapter. Furthermore, wireless transmission of displayed content to an external monitor is supported, and it functioned without problems in the test in conjunction with a Sony Android TV.

A highlight of Asus' handset is that the 5000 mAh battery can be used as a kind of power bank for supplying other devices with power via the micro-USB port.

Software

Asus ships the ZenFone Max with the older Android 5.0 Lollipop (2014) version ex-factory. However, a 1.1 GB update to the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow version was installed on the device OTA (over the air) during the tests. Although the system interface has barely changed compared with Android 5.0, the latest software offers typical Android 6.0 features, such as determining application rights in the settings menu.

The manufacturer's own ZenUI makes a strongly modified impression compared with stock Android. Neither the settings menu nor the home screen or app drawer resembles the design interpretation of the operating system by Google. Besides a lot of bloatware, - optionally also third-party apps when checks were missed at initiation - Asus preloads additional software features that are to extend the battery life, such as a RAM optimizer or diverse performance modes for energy-saving among other things.

Communication & GPS

GPS test, indoors
GPS test, outdoors

The dual-SIM smartphone can access mobile Internet with up to two micro-SIM cards. Both slots support the LTE frequency bands used in Germany (1, 3, 20), but only in category 4 (DL/UL: 150/50 Mbit/s). The connection quality and reception were good in a major city.

Bluetooth 4.0 can be used for wireless communication with end devices. Beyond that, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n is on board. The reception quality of the integrated Wi-Fi module is very good. The attenuation of almost -40 dBm was low in the router's direct vicinity (Telekom Speedport, W921V). It increased up to -55 dBm in the neighboring room.

AGPS and GLONASS as well as the Chinese Beidou satellite navigation system are used for mobile localization. Outdoor tracking was performed without much delay and with an accuracy of 10 feet, so approximately 3 meters. A weak signal for tracking the position is possible indoors, but the accuracy is very low. We additionally test the accuracy on a roughly 12-kilometer bike tour and compare the outcomes with Garmin's Edge 500 professional navigation system. In the end, a difference of almost 140 meters separate the mid-range smartphone from the professional system - this difference is less than between the GPS module in HTC's 10 reference device and Garmin's Edge 500. In total, a good rate that should suffice for navigating in a car or on a bike.


GPS Asus ZenFone Max
GPS Asus ZenFone Max
GPS Asus ZenFone Max
GPS Garmin Edge 500
GPS Garmin Edge 500
GPS Garmin Edge 500

Telephone & Call Quality

Call quality is good and the callers are well-intelligible via the earpiece. The ZenFone Max's microphone is, however, only satisfactory. The voice is often transmitted too quietly to the contact.

The phone app is very extensive. The user can search for contacts directly via keyboard or voice input, or look for favorites via sub-menus that takes the user to recent calls and contacts.

Cameras

The 13 MP primary camera on the back of Asus' ZenFone Max has a resolution of 4096x3072 pixels in the 4:3 format. It sports an integrated laser auto-focus that, according to the manufacturer, allows shooting very sharp close-ups. We cannot confirm this based on our test - blurriness characterizes macro-photos despite laser AF (scene 3: room).

High-detail photos are possible with the 13 MP camera module in sufficiently bright light conditions. However, photos darken visibly due to the low dynamic range (scene 1: bridge). The color reproduction makes a cool impression and can look a bit bluish (scene 2: woods). The image sensor captures a lot of light with an aperture of f/2.0 - i.e. the ratio of focal length to diameter. This results in sufficiently illuminated photos even in dark scenarios. However, a visible image noise evolves in low-light conditions (scene 3: room).

The front-facing camera has a resolution of 5 megapixels and an 85 ° wide angle lens as well as an f/2.0 aperture. The image quality is sufficient for selfies, but the photos are often a bit blurred. The ZenFone Max records videos in 1080p at 30 FPS and 720p at 60 FPS.

The camera app is very extensive and offers diverse settings, such as white balance, ISO rates and exposure compensation, in manual mode.

Front camera photo

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
click to load images
Test chart
Test chart
Screenshot of ColorChecker colors. Original colors are displayed in the lower half of each patch.
Test chart, detailed view

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Accessories & Warranty

Asus ships the smartphone with a modular power supply, USB cable and an OTG adapter. 5 GB of ASUS WebStorage is also included.

The ZenFone Max comes with a 24-month manufacturer warranty.

Input Devices & Handling

Three capacitive control buttons in typical Asus design are below the screen. They are not illuminated. The manufacturer preloads its virtual Zen UI keyboard.

The capacitive touchscreen is sensitive up into the corners and provides a pleasant gliding quality that allows smooth use. The ZenFone Max responds quickly and accurately to inputs.

Onscreen keyboard, portrait mode
Onscreen keyboard, portrait mode
Onscreen keyboard, landscape mode

Display

Subpixel grid

The 5.5-inch LCD panel has a resolution of 1280x720 pixels and a pixel density of 267 PPI. That is enough for a sufficiently sharp reproduction of displayed content but is comparatively little at a screen diagonal of almost 14 centimeters for a mid-range handset of this price range.

The IPS panel in the ZenFone Max achieves up to 611 cd/m² in our brightness measurement - a very good rate that is, however, only achieved using the ambient light sensor. The brightness decreases to 511 cd/m² on average since the screen's illumination of 84% is relatively heterogeneous. Asus' smartphone achieves a good brightness of 462 cd/m² without the light sensor. We ascertained a maximum of 595 cd/m² in the measurement of equally distributed bright and dark areas (APL50 / with enabled light sensor).

611
cd/m²
558
cd/m²
516
cd/m²
595
cd/m²
586
cd/m²
535
cd/m²
583
cd/m²
578
cd/m²
534
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 611 cd/m² Average: 566.2 cd/m² Minimum: 10.48 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 84 %
Center on Battery: 586 cd/m²
Contrast: 1028:1 (Black: 0.57 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 4.2 | 0.8-29.43 Ø6.3
ΔE Greyscale 6.3 | 0.64-98 Ø6.6
Gamma: 2.39
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
IPS, 1280x720, 5.5
ZTE Blade V7
IPS, 1920x1080, 5.2
Acer Liquid Z630S
IPS, 1280x720, 5.5
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
IPS, 1920x1080, 5.5
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
Super AMOLED, 1280x720, 4.7
HTC 10
Super LCD 5, 2560x1440, 5.2
Screen
-40%
-0%
-6%
26%
16%
Brightness middle
586
409
-30%
350
-40%
392
-33%
386
-34%
445
-24%
Brightness
566
411
-27%
345
-39%
382
-33%
394
-30%
434
-23%
Brightness Distribution
84
96
14%
84
0%
93
11%
88
5%
93
11%
Black Level *
0.57
0.38
33%
0.27
53%
0.41
28%
0.36
37%
Contrast
1028
1076
5%
1296
26%
956
-7%
1236
20%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
4.2
9.4
-124%
4.7
-12%
5.55
-32%
1.11
74%
2.8
33%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
8.4
17.6
-110%
8.5
-1%
3.35
60%
5.8
31%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
6.3
11.6
-84%
5.6
11%
4.7
25%
1.34
79%
3.7
41%
Gamma
2.39 100%
2.25 107%
1.84 130%
2.7 89%
2.12 113%
2.31 104%
CCT
6614 98%
9597 68%
6795 96%
7270 89%
6441 101%
7164 91%

* ... smaller is better

The screen's high brightness leads to a good contrast ratio of 1028:1 but only a middling black value of 0.57 cd/m² (APL50: 0.57 cd/m²) for an IPS panel. The analysis using the CalMAN software and spectrophotometer shows a minor shift from the reference color space. Furthermore, the measured color temperature of 6614 K is close to the ideal rate of 6500 K. The grayscale levels have a light greenish tint in bright areas.

CalMAN Colorspace (target color space: sRGB), vivid mode
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps (target color space: sRGB), vivid mode
CalMAN ColorChecker (target color space: sRGB), vivid mode
CalMAN Grayscale (target color space: sRGB), vivid mode
CalMAN Colorspace (target color space: sRGB), blue light mode
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps (target color space: sRGB), blue light mode
CalMAN ColorChecker (target color space: sRGB), blue light mode
CalMAN Grayscale (target color space: sRGB), blue light mode
CalMAN Colorspace (target color space: sRGB), balance mode
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps (target color space: sRGB), balance mode
CalMAN ColorChecker (target color space: sRGB), balance mode
CalMAN Grayscale (target color space: sRGB), balance mode

The bright LCD screen allows recognizing content outdoors even in very bright sunlight. Reflections are largely outshone in direct sunlight. The viewing-angle stability of the liquid crystal display is good thanks to IPS technology, and the colors remain stable and high-contrast from a flat viewing angle. Annoying backlight bleeding was not discovered in our review sample.

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
33 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 12 ms rise
↘ 21 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 85 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (26 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
55 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 28 ms rise
↘ 27 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 90 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (41.6 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 54 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 10727 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 588200) Hz was measured.

Performance

Asus relies on Qualcomm's 64 bit capable Snapdragon 410 from 2013. Up to 2 GB of working memory supports it. The former mid-range SoC clocks at 1.2 GHz.

The Snapdragon 410 allows smooth navigating on the home screen in routine use. However, visible stutters and lags became apparent when opening apps which load the processor. Browsing via the preloaded Chrome browser functioned well, but longer waiting times were the rule here as well (e.g. before content was loaded). The benchmarks show a rather below-average performance compared with the capacities of the comparison devices from the same price range - the opponents outperform the ZenFone Max particularly in graphics-driven tests.

The determined read and write speeds of the integrated storage are not very high with 130.6 MB/s and 31.1 MB/s. The access times of the micro-SD card slot in the ZenFone Max that we tested with our Toshiba Exceria Pro M401 reference card (max. 95 MB per second read and max. 80 MB per second write) are also only average.

AndroBench 3-5
Sequential Write 256KB SDCard (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
18.93 MB/s ∼22%
ZTE Blade V7
20.89 MB/s ∼24% +10%
HTC 10
65.44 MB/s ∼75% +246%
Sequential Read 256KB SDCard (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
38.43 MB/s ∼40%
ZTE Blade V7
43.67 MB/s ∼45% +14%
HTC 10
83.3 MB/s ∼86% +117%
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
3.6 MB/s ∼2%
ZTE Blade V7
7.58 MB/s ∼5% +111%
Acer Liquid Z630S
5.82 MB/s ∼4% +62%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
5.63 MB/s ∼3% +56%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
10.27 MB/s ∼6% +185%
HTC 10
15.89 MB/s ∼10% +341%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
9.1 MB/s ∼5%
ZTE Blade V7
28.07 MB/s ∼16% +208%
Acer Liquid Z630S
28.43 MB/s ∼16% +212%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
10.13 MB/s ∼6% +11%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
21.92 MB/s ∼13% +141%
HTC 10
29.92 MB/s ∼17% +229%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
31.1 MB/s ∼14%
ZTE Blade V7
39.45 MB/s ∼18% +27%
Acer Liquid Z630S
67.7 MB/s ∼31% +118%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
103.82 MB/s ∼48% +234%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
27.27 MB/s ∼13% -12%
HTC 10
115.56 MB/s ∼53% +272%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
130.6 MB/s ∼16%
ZTE Blade V7
196.76 MB/s ∼24% +51%
Acer Liquid Z630S
249.01 MB/s ∼30% +91%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
131 MB/s ∼16% 0%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
168.79 MB/s ∼20% +29%
HTC 10
275.09 MB/s ∼33% +111%
AnTuTu v6 - Total Score (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
26169 Points ∼11%
ZTE Blade V7
37070 Points ∼16% +42%
Acer Liquid Z630S
35585 Points ∼15% +36%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
35964 Points ∼16% +37%
HTC 10
131866 Points ∼57% +404%
Geekbench 3
64 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
1471 Points ∼4%
ZTE Blade V7
2669 Points ∼7% +81%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
2720 Points ∼7% +85%
HTC 10
5117 Points ∼14% +248%
64 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
478 Points ∼10%
ZTE Blade V7
614 Points ∼12% +28%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
680 Points ∼14% +42%
HTC 10
2376 Points ∼48% +397%
3DMark
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Physics (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
719 Points ∼20%
ZTE Blade V7
944 Points ∼26% +31%
Acer Liquid Z630S
1113 Points ∼31% +55%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
952 Points ∼26% +32%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
916 Points ∼25% +27%
HTC 10
1512 Points ∼42% +110%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
42 Points ∼1%
ZTE Blade V7
245 Points ∼3% +483%
Acer Liquid Z630S
229 Points ∼3% +445%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
124 Points ∼2% +195%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
235 Points ∼3% +460%
HTC 10
4581 Points ∼56% +10807%
2560x1440 Sling Shot OpenGL ES 3.0 (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
53 Points ∼1%
ZTE Blade V7
293 Points ∼5% +453%
Acer Liquid Z630S
278 Points ∼4% +425%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
154 Points ∼2% +191%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
281 Points ∼4% +430%
HTC 10
3157 Points ∼49% +5857%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
9043 Points ∼11%
ZTE Blade V7
10430 Points ∼13% +15%
Acer Liquid Z630S
10508 Points ∼13% +16%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
7484 Points ∼9% -17%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
11653 Points ∼15% +29%
HTC 10
20344 Points ∼26% +125%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
3767 Points ∼1%
ZTE Blade V7
6170 Points ∼1% +64%
Acer Liquid Z630S
6250 Points ∼1% +66%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
8099 Points ∼2% +115%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
6522 Points ∼1% +73%
HTC 10
30061 Points ∼6% +698%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
4328 Points ∼2%
ZTE Blade V7
6786 Points ∼3% +57%
Acer Liquid Z630S
6868 Points ∼3% +59%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
7954 Points ∼4% +84%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
7229 Points ∼3% +67%
HTC 10
27176 Points ∼13% +528%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
5.2 fps ∼0%
ZTE Blade V7
12 fps ∼1% +131%
Acer Liquid Z630S
12 fps ∼1% +131%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
14 fps ∼1% +169%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
12 fps ∼1% +131%
HTC 10
73 fps ∼4% +1304%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
ZTE Blade V7
12 fps ∼3%
Acer Liquid Z630S
21 fps ∼5%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
14 fps ∼3%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
20 fps ∼4%
HTC 10
43 fps ∼9%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
3.8 fps ∼1%
ZTE Blade V7
4.5 fps ∼1% +18%
Acer Liquid Z630S
4.2 fps ∼1% +11%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
5.6 fps ∼1% +47%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
4.1 fps ∼1% +8%
HTC 10
39 fps ∼7% +926%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
1.8 fps ∼0%
ZTE Blade V7
4.5 fps ∼1% +150%
Acer Liquid Z630S
9 fps ∼2% +400%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
5.5 fps ∼2% +206%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
8.4 fps ∼2% +367%
HTC 10
24 fps ∼7% +1233%
PCMark for Android - Work performance score (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
3691 Points ∼36%
ZTE Blade V7
3947 Points ∼38% +7%
Acer Liquid Z630S
3814 Points ∼37% +3%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
3244 Points ∼32% -12%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
4051 Points ∼39% +10%
HTC 10
5809 Points ∼57% +57%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
544 Points ∼32%
ZTE Blade V7
10 Points ∼1% -98%
Acer Liquid Z630S
627 Points ∼37% +15%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
664 Points ∼39% +22%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
756 Points ∼45% +39%
HTC 10
928 Points ∼55% +71%
Graphics (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
317 Points ∼3%
ZTE Blade V7
430 Points ∼5% +36%
Acer Liquid Z630S
416 Points ∼4% +31%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
757 Points ∼8% +139%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
415 Points ∼4% +31%
HTC 10
5009 Points ∼54% +1480%
Memory (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
797 Points ∼18%
ZTE Blade V7
790 Points ∼18% -1%
Acer Liquid Z630S
540 Points ∼12% -32%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
967 Points ∼22% +21%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
443 Points ∼10% -44%
HTC 10
1772 Points ∼40% +122%
System (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
1088 Points ∼11%
ZTE Blade V7
1188 Points ∼12% +9%
Acer Liquid Z630S
1614 Points ∼16% +48%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
1456 Points ∼14% +34%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
1380 Points ∼13% +27%
HTC 10
2806 Points ∼27% +158%
Overall (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
622 Points ∼14%
ZTE Blade V7
249 Points ∼6% -60%
Acer Liquid Z630S
691 Points ∼16% +11%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
917 Points ∼21% +47%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
662 Points ∼15% +6%
HTC 10
2193 Points ∼51% +253%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
13524.7 ms * ∼23%
ZTE Blade V7
13761.1 ms * ∼23% -2%
Acer Liquid Z630S
12876 ms * ∼22% +5%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
14594.2 ms * ∼25% -8%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
11796.2 ms * ∼20% +13%
HTC 10
3146.3 ms * ∼5% +77%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
2685 Points ∼5%
ZTE Blade V7
2689 Points ∼5% 0%
Acer Liquid Z630S
2855 Points ∼6% +6%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
3146 Points ∼6% +17%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
3566 Points ∼7% +33%
HTC 10
8905 Points ∼18% +232%
JetStream 1.1 - 1.1 Total Score (sort by value)
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
17.533 Points ∼5%
ZTE Blade V7
18.19 Points ∼5% +4%
Acer Liquid Z630S
19.028 Points ∼6% +9%
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
18.937 Points ∼6% +8%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
22.1 Points ∼7% +26%
HTC 10
52.1 Points ∼16% +197%

Legend

 
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916, Qualcomm Adreno 306, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
ZTE Blade V7 Mediatek MT6753, ARM Mali-T720 MP4, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Acer Liquid Z630S Mediatek MT6753, ARM Mali-T720 MP4, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 MSM8939, Qualcomm Adreno 405, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 Samsung Exynos 7578, ARM Mali-T720 MP2, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
HTC 10 Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 MSM8996, Qualcomm Adreno 530, 32 GB eMMC Flash

* ... smaller is better

Games

Qualcomm's Adreno 306 GPU is not the strongest graphics unit in the mobile sector, but up-to-date games like Modern Combat 5 or Need for Speed No Limits are rendered smoothly to the largest extent.

Need for Speed No Limits
Modern Combat 5

Emissions

Temperature

The temperature development of Asus' smartphone is absolutely uncritical. With surface temperatures of up to 34.1 °C in the stress test (Stability Test >1 h), the handset barely produces noteworthy waste heat that would be noticed unfavorably in routine use. The same is true for the idle temperature development - the ZenFone Max remains agreeably cool with a maximum of 32 °C.

Casing's waste heat, front
Casing's waste heat, rear
Max. Load
 34.9 °C34.6 °C34.9 °C 
 35.3 °C35.3 °C34.3 °C 
 35 °C34.7 °C33.7 °C 
Maximum: 35.3 °C
Average: 34.7 °C
32.6 °C33 °C34.9 °C
33.2 °C33.6 °C35.4 °C
31.9 °C33.7 °C35.7 °C
Maximum: 35.7 °C
Average: 33.8 °C
Power Supply (max.)  32.8 °C | Room Temperature 21.9 °C | Voltcraft IR-260
The maximum temp on the upper side is 35.3 °C, compared to the average of 35.9 °C ranging from 21.1 °C to 71 °C for class Smartphone.

Speaker

Asus' ZenFone Max has a rear-sided mono speaker that delivers a satisfactory sound for its size. Basses are barely audible, and mids and trebles become fairly linear at about 1 kHz. The sound makes a slightly tinny impression at the maximum volume of 85 dB(A).

Pink Noise speaker test

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption of the ZenFone Max is on a similar level as the 5.5-inch comparison devices (Acer Liquid Z630S, Asus ZenFone Selfie). The measured minimum and maximum idle consumption rates vary strongly by comparison. The standby energy requirement of 0.36 watts is also above average.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.04 / 0.36 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 1.15 / 2.09 / 2.17 Watt
Load midlight 5.38 / 6.08 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Gossen Metrahit Energy
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
5000 mAh
ZTE Blade V7
2540 mAh
Acer Liquid Z630S
4000 mAh
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
3000 mAh
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
2300 mAh
HTC 10
3000 mAh
Power Consumption
34%
-11%
4%
35%
-3%
Idle Minimum *
1.15
0.73
37%
1.82
-58%
1.2
-4%
0.96
17%
0.68
41%
Idle Average *
2.09
0.92
56%
2.35
-12%
1.9
9%
1.39
33%
1.49
29%
Idle Maximum *
2.17
0.93
57%
2.6
-20%
2
8%
1.45
33%
1.91
12%
Load Average *
5.38
4.47
17%
3.69
31%
3.6
33%
2.65
51%
7.4
-38%
Load Maximum *
6.08
5.96
2%
5.98
2%
7.8
-28%
3.51
42%
9.71
-60%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Runtime

The li-ion battery with a capacity of 5000 mAh in conjunction with the low-performance processor and 720p screen achieves an impressive battery life of 15 hours and 59 minutes. Even 21 minutes more would be possible without the software update to Android 6.0 in our Wi-Fi test (16 h 20 min) before the handset shuts down. Nevertheless, almost 4 hours still separate the ZenFone Max from our Allview P8 Energy reference device.

Asus' smartphone needs just under 5 hours for fully recharging its battery with the included 5.2-watt power supply (1A, 5, 2V). Quick Charge technology would have been appreciated here.

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
15h 59min
Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL
5000 mAh
ZTE Blade V7
2540 mAh
Acer Liquid Z630S
4000 mAh
Asus ZenFone Selfie ZD551KL
3000 mAh
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
2300 mAh
HTC 10
3000 mAh
Allview P8 Energy
 mAh
Battery Runtime
WiFi v1.3
959
519
-46%
681
-29%
516
-46%
628
-35%
413
-57%
1197
25%

Pros

+ low temperature
+ very long battery life
+ dual-SIM
+ bright, high-contrast screen

Cons

- 720p resolution
- weight
- GPU & CPU performance
- slow flash memory

Verdict

In review: Asus ZenFone Max. Review sample courtesy of Asus Germany.

The ZenFone Max does not really provide a great performance bundle of CPU, GPU and memory access times in view of the price. In return, the mid-range handset scores with its very long battery life and up-to-date Android. But the latter would be expected from a 250-Euro (~$281) smartphone at market launch, anyway.

The 720p resolution, IPS panel also convinces with high brightness, strong contrast ratio and almost absent temperature development. However, the resolution could have been higher in a mid-range device with a screen diagonal of 5.5-inches.

Asus lives up to the promise it makes with the ZenFone Max: Mobile independence thanks to long runtimes. However, the buyer will have to accept entry-level hardware at a mid-range price. Whether the high-capacity battery can compensate for that is a personal matter.

Users who do not need quite as long battery runtimes as the ZenFone Max offers will find the recently tested ZTE's Blade V7 a good alternative. The all-rounder offers better connectivity and higher-quality looks.

Asus ZenFone Max ZC550KL - 06/15/2016 v5.1
Marcus Herbrich

Chassis
82%
Keyboard
69 / 75 → 92%
Pointing Device
93%
Connectivity
47 / 60 → 78%
Weight
88%
Battery
99%
Display
84%
Games Performance
7 / 63 → 11%
Application Performance
30 / 70 → 43%
Temperature
91%
Noise
100%
Audio
63 / 91 → 69%
Camera
72%
Average
71%
83%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Asus ZenFone Max Smartphone Review
Marcus Herbrich, 2016-06-21 (Update: 2018-05-15)