We’ve already taken a look at one of the selfie-focused smartphones of ASUS, the ZenFone 4 Selfie. In this review, we’re going to take a look at a smartphone geared towards a long battery life for the people who treat their smartphones like a workhorse. Let’s take a look at the ASUS ZenFone 4 Max.

ASUS ZenFone 4 Max (ZC554KL)

Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 1.4GHz
Screen 5.5-inch 720p IPS, 267ppi, 2.5D glass
RAM 3GB
OS Android 7.1.1 Nougat with ZenUI 4.0
Rear Camera 13MP f/2.0 + 5MP wide-angle f/2.0, EIS, PDAF, LED Flash
Front Camera 8MP f/2.2 with LED Flash
Storage 32GB expandable up to 256GB via microSD slot
Connectivity Dual-SIM, 4G LTE, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, microUSB, GPS, A-GPS, Glonass
Battery 5,000mAh
Others Fingerprint Scanner
Weight 181g
Colors Rose Pink, Deep Sea Black, Sunlight Gold
Price PhP 9,995

Unboxing

The ASUS ZenFone 4 Max doesn’t really contain anything that you haven’t seen before. Together with the smartphone are: a silicone case, a pair of earphones and a couple of extra silicone tips, a microUSB cable, a wall charger, documentation, and a USB OTG cable.

Design and Features

The ASUS ZenFone 4 Max shares the same design philosophy as the ZenFone 4 Selfie. It feels surprisingly like a mid-range smartphone despite its entry-level price. This façade, however, is broken once you delve in deeper. The screen is a 5.5-inch 720p IPS display with 2.5D glass. When viewed upfront, it does display decent images. In certain angles, however, it does have a tendency to tinge the image brown quite a bit. It isn’t as bad as a TN monitor when viewed above or below, but it is noticeable. Brightness, however, is good. It is possible to fully utilize the handset outdoors.

At the top of the display is the handset’s speaker grille, light sensor, the 8MP f/2.2 selfie camera accompanied by its LED flash, and further up is a 3.5mm audio jack.

Meanwhile, the bottom portion of the Max houses the microUSB connector and two speaker grilles.

Unlike the previous ZenFone 3 series, the ZenFone 4 series has integrated the fingerprint scanner on the home button instead of placing it at the rear. Of course, back and menu are still on their usual place at the left and right, respectively.

The right-hand side of the ZenFone 4 Max houses the volume rocker and the power button with the traditional circular design that ASUS has implemented to their smartphones and notebooks. The dual SIM slot and dedicated microSD slot, on the other hand, can be found at the left-hand side of the smartphone.

The rear of the handset is made completely made out of plastic although it feels high-quality plastic. It does offer some grip unlike the Moto E4 Plus. The design is only broken by the antenna bands and the cameras.

Speaking of the cameras, the ZenFone 4 Max has a dual camera setup. The 13MP f/2.0 camera acts as the main camera while the 5MP wide-angle camera is the secondary camera. Supplementing both cameras are EIS, PDAF, and an LED Flash.

The ZenFone 4 Max is thicker than the average smartphone due to its 5,000mAh battery. Despite that, however, ASUS has still made the handset feel more premium than it actually is. Although it is a let down a bit by its disappointing display.

User Interface

The ZenFone 4 Max comes with Android 7.1.1 Nougat with the latest ZenUI 4.0. It is expected for ASUS to rollout an Android 8.0 Oreo update to the ZenFone 4 series in the near future. But as of now, the ZenUI 4.0 is a refreshing change of pace for ASUS.

Compared to the previous iterations of the ZenUI which was packed by tons of bloatware, the ZenUI removes most of the bloatware leaving you with the bare essentials. This is a good thing if you have a habit of downloading your preferred apps. With less bloatware, the ZenFone 4 Max’s home UI feels like butter throughout the whole experience. There’s barely any lag due to less resources consumed.

Entertainment

The 5.5-inch 720p IPS display of the Max does an okay job of recreating colors despite its relatively low resolution. Contrast is also good when viewing dark scenes from movies or TV series. Just keep in mind the viewing angles as it tends to ruin the experience.

As far as the bottom-firing speakers goes, only one of the speaker grilles actually work. Audio quality is mediocre. The bass lacks punch, the highs are a bit tinny, while the mids are lost amidst the rabble. The only redeeming quality of the speakers is its decent presentation of vocals. You might want to use the included in-ear monitors to fully enjoy the audio.

Camera

Options such as Pro, Panorama, Super Resolution, Time Lapse, Beauty, and GIF comes standard with the ZenFone 4 Max. ASUS has also thrown in 9 different filters that can be accessed by swiping up from the camera app in case you want to try a different creative style. Switching from the main 13MP camera to the wide-angle 5MP camera is as easy as pressing a button.

The main 13MP f/2.0 camera offers photos with good color and detail, however, it does have trouble coping up to low lit environments. On the other hand, the 5MP wide-angle f/2.0 camera does let you get more into your shot but its low megapixel count leaves out fine details from your photos.

Both cameras does act differently depending on the scene. If there’s a large contrast on your scene such as bright skies the main camera tends to lower the exposure to compensate for the brightness. The 5MP wide-angle camera tends to do the opposite.

Much like the rear main camera, the 8MP selfie camera takes detailed photos under decent lighting while quality takes a dip under low light conditions.

Performance and Benchmarks

Inside the ASUS ZenFone 4 Max is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC clocked at 1.4GHz with an Adreno 505 GPU. Despite the aging platform, the Snapdragon 430 still has lots to offer especially in this price segment. There’s no noticeable lag under normal usage while games do have a tendency to lag a bit under extreme circumstances.

Running our usual benchmarks, the ASUS ZenFone 4 Max was able to get a score of 3629 in Work 2.0 of PCMark 2.0 while it was able to get 43830 in AnTuTu.

Connectivity

Thanks to the dedicated microSD slot, the ZenFone 4 Max retains its ability to house 2 SIM cards. Call quality was good provided that there’s good signal in your area while Bluetooth and WiFi connections performed up to par with our expectations.

Battery Life

This is where the ASUS ZenFone 4 Max shines. With its massive 5,000mAh battery, the handset was able to last 2 and a half days under medium usage.

Battery life can be further lengthened by using the PowerMaster app. If you have another device that needs charging, the Max can act as a power bank with reverse charging together with its USB OTG cable.

Under benchmarks, the ZenFone 4 Max was able to last a whopping 15 hours and 5 minutes in PCMark 2.0’s Work 2.0 battery benchmark with medium brightness and volume.

Conclusion

Despite its faults, we need to remember that the ZenFone 4 Max only costs PhP 9,995. We can’t really fault manufacturers form pulling out features such as a 1080p screen, decent audio, and an updated SoC from their smartphones.

As for the ZenFone 4 Max, sure it does have a 720p screen and mediocre audio. Its performance, however, is still up to par with other smartphones despite an aging Snapdragon 430 inside. Camera performance is also decent although you need to keep in mind that low-light performance can be a bit of a bummer. But if you plan your shots, you can get decent photos with the 13MP main camera.

The battery life is where the ZenFone 4 Max leaves other smartphones in this price range in the dust. You can’t argue with almost 3 days of usage with the smartphone. Thus, we’ll be giving the ASUS ZenFone 4 Max our Value Smartphone award due to its battery life and overall decent performance. If you’re looking for a workhorse smartphone that needs to stay alive for long periods of time, then the ASUS ZenFone 4 Max is for you.

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