In August 2016 Asus had launched the ZenFone 3 series smartphones and the ZenFone 3 Max was a part of that. ZenFone is the brand name for all the smartphones from the Asus’ stable and the word ‘Max’ denotes the huge or ‘MAXimum’ battery capacity of the Max series phones.
The ZenFone Max 3 comes in two variants – a 5.2 inch device with MediaTek processor and a 5.5 inch device with Qualcomm processor. We reviewed the latter one.
The first ZenFone Max phone was launched in May 2016 and the phone was priced at Rs 9,999. The Max 3 is priced at Rs 17,999 for the 5.5 inch variant.
So, let’s see what are the differences between these two devices, if any, and try to justify the price difference. And then you can take a call if the new phone does add any value to that price difference.
First and foremost, do keep in mind that the price difference is almost the double for the ZenFone 3 Max.
Look & Feel
Both the ZenFone Max devices were of 5.5 inch in size. But the ZenFone 3 Max comes with a metallic body compared to the plastic body of its earlier version. The ZenFone 3 Max looks way better with its sleek built and well crafted design. You can put the design among the premium smartphones, though the finishing could have been much better. The plastic and metal part of the outer body, it seems, are not in conversation with each other though they are not fighting either. The ZonFone 3 Max comes with IPS display which covered with a 2.5D curved glass as compared to Gorilla glass 4 in the ZenFone Max.
The buttons are well placed and well built which give you proper feedback. In the original Max there were times when pressing the physical buttons like power or volume do not give right feedback that keep you guessing if you have really clicked it or not. The buttons on the front of the phone could have been back-lit to help users use in darkness. This is one feature Asus has been consistently avoiding for reasons unknown. I’m sure it can not be because of cost.
The ZenFone 3 Max adds a finger print sensor at the back, just below the camera. Overall, from a design point of view, the ZenFone 3 Max looks and feels much better than the ZenFone Max.
The ZenFone 3 Max comes with Qualcomm octa core 1.4 GHz processor with Snapdragon 430 chipset. Yes, you read it right. Compare this with 1.2 GHz processor with Snapdragon 615 chipset in the ZenFone Max, the older phone. I could not figure out why the Taiwanese firm did this. The Max 3 comes with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage space compared to 2 GB RAM and 32 GB ROM in the Max. Both the devices can be expanded upto 128 GB using microSD cards. So, in terms of processing power I put the ZenFone 3 Max at a lower pedestral than its earlier version. And, its not just basis the face value of the specifications, the phone behaved exactly the same as per its brain when we tested it. Poor.
One of the biggest selling points in todays’ smartphones is the camera. The ZenFone 3 Max comes with 16 MP rear camera and 8 MP front camera, with features like PDAF, low-light, HDR, laser assisted autofcus etc. These features are becoming standard day by day with all the smartphones incorporating them. However the camera of the ZenFone 3 Max did not impress as per its specs. To start with, the autofocus does not behave the way the company portrays it to be – in 0.03 second. The previous model – ZenFone Max – performed comparatively better with its 13 MP camera. When zoomed, the photographs taken with the older phone looked better than the new one!
The Best Part
The best part of the ZenFone 3 Max is its battery power. At 4100 mAh, the phone lasted more than 32 hours with regular use that includes hundreds of calls, browsing for hours and multimedia play out. Besides, the battery of this phone can be used to charge other smartphones as well, just like a power bank. Mind it, the first Max contained a 5000 mAh battery.
Now Tell Me
Why would I spend double the money for a new smartphone that performs almost the same, at times less, than an older model? What is common between the phones? Both are 5.5 inch devices, have same storage space, run on same OS version of the Android. While the ZenFone 3 Max has a bigger camera, in megapixel terms, it has low capacity battery. While the former has 3 GB RAM, the ZenFone Max has a better processor. Asus, this time, certainly made the user confused. And as the rule goes, when in doubt, consult your wallet.