Battery has been the worst problem smartphones have never managed to develop. It’s been several years but we’ve never gone past a 3,000mAh industry average. The phones that pack at least 4,000mAh of battery capacity push other important features out, like processing power and storage. ASUS’s latest battery powerhouse aims to escape the rut and be a capable smartphone at the same time.

Premium looks for half the price. Among all the members in the ASUS ZenFone 3 line, the Max has the cleanest design. It doesn’t have a lot of the ASUS DNA flowing through its aesthetic, but it feels more premium than its other counterparts. This comes complete with a chrome band that encircles it across. It sports an aluminum body and a no-frills layout. All its buttons are where they should be. My only quip with its design is its non-backlit buttons. It’s a tiny niggle that can be easily ignored but it may give ASUS newbies a tough time acclimating.

Don’t drop it. The Max also suffers from a lack of protective Gorilla Glass. On the other hand, it does come with oleophobic coating which makes it much more resistant to oils, like messy fingerprints. You’ve got a phone that looks fresh all throughout its lifespan; just keep it safe from any sharp objects.

Not the best under the hood. For a phone of its price, the ASUS ZenFone 3 Max curiously carries a subpar processor—Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 clocking in at 1.4GHz. While it can handle graphics-intensive tasks quite well because of the Adreno 505 chip, the Max staggers once you stack up the deck. Sniper 3D played well, but after some time with multiple apps running, the phone noticeably slowed down. Thankfully, it also has 32GB of internal storage which can be expanded by up to 256GB.

Sample shot.

Capable fingers. The Max is one of the more affordable smartphones with an excellent fingerprint sensor. It operates even if the screen is turned off. It detects fingers faster or just as fast as flagship phones.

Great camera performance. Much like the curious addition of a lower-end processor, the Max has a surprising addition in its hardware—a 16-megapixel rear camera. With laser focus, contrast detection, and phase detection, the camera is extremely capable. Testing it out in outdoor and lowlight situation produced great results. Even its 8-megapixel front-facing camera performed well.

Drowning in bloat. Like other ASUS phones, the Marshmallow-powered Max comes with a tad bit too much bloatware—unneeded and duplicate apps. The casual user shouldn’t have a problem with this but the app choice is too much for my tastes.

Power to last for days. The Max’s main hustle is its 4,100mAh battery. It’s a big difference from last year’s model which packed in 5,000mAh. Still, this above-average battery life can get you through a day with a lot to spare. Even with tough tasks in hand, the Max can handle a day’s worth of regular usage. Rationed just right, you can probably last two days on just one charge. Here’s the kicker: with its big battery, it can be used as a power bank for other devices. At full charge, it has 1,000mAh of spare juice for other phones. At 3,000mAh, the Max still as enough charge for one day.

Low budget, high performance. At P10,995, the Zenfone 3 Max is one of the most affordable members of the ASUS ZenFone 3 family. Even without the processing power, the Max can adequately function as a daily driver for long bouts on the road with little access to power sources.

VERDICT
The ASUS ZenFone 3 Max is a curious phone. It doesn’t have the firepower of its stronger compadres, but it has quite the endurance. It may not appeal as much to hardcore smartphone fans, but it has a good look for the on-the-go crowd.

Specifications
Display 5.5” IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen (1,920 x 1,080 resolution)
SIM Dual nano-SIM
Operating System Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow 
Processor 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM8937 Snapdragon 430 octa-core
GPU Adreno 505
Memory 3GB RAM
Storage 32GB internal (expandable up to 256GB via microSD)
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 4.1, A2DP, LE, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, FM radio, microUSB 2.0, USB OTG
Battery 4,100mAh
Dimensions & Weight 151.4 x 76.2 x 8.3mm, 175g
Price P10,995
Test: ASUS ZenFone 3 Max
Form Factor9.5
Build Quality8.3
Ease of Use8.5
Performance8.3
Value for Money9
8.7Overall Score