Asus Zenfone Max review: Tanking up

Tanking up

GSMArena team, 30 May, 2016.

Very good 5.5-inch IPS panel with 720p resolution

The Asus Zenfone Max has a 5.5-inch 720p display. If you're at all familiar with Asus's naming convention, you could have extracted that info from the model name ZC550KL - the 55 in 550 means 5.5 inches, while the zero stands for HD resolution. FullHD resolution would have been 551, but there aren't Max versions with such, only Zenfone 2's and the Zenfone Selfie.

Anyway, the numbers make up for a pixel density of 267ppi, and you can tell pixels are larger than recent trends by looking at our microscope shot. It also reveals a standard RGB pixel arrangement with equal numbers of the three base color subpixels.

Asus Zenfone Max ZC550KL review

The screen is covered in Gorilla Glass 4 for scratch and shatter resistance.

In terms of maximum brightness, the smartphone does a great job. Its output is dependent on which one of the Battery saver modes is selected, and the maximum available brightness setting is higher in Performance mode, than say, in Normal.

That said, the Auto toggle will produce an equal result in bright sunlight regardless of power mode, also brighter than what you could achieve manually. It can go even brighter than the Moto X Play, which was already an excellent performer.

The screen's contrast remains unaffected by screen modes, and at a very good level around 1100:1. While that's no match for the Moto X Play, which can go as high 1520:1 thanks to its deep blacks, the Max's display outperforms most of the competition in this respect.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Asus Zenfone Max normal power plan 0.40 433 1093
Asus Zenfone Max performance power plan 0.49 538 1091
Asus Zenfone Max auto brightness on both plans 0.61 668 1093
Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML 0.44 390 879
Asus Zenfone Selfie 0.36 333 928
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek) 0.42 403 953
Lenovo Vibe K4 Note 0.47 442 940
Samsung Galaxy J7 0 358
Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor 0 500
Motorola Moto X Play 0.41 620 1520
Huawei Honor 5X 0.44 473 1073
Meizu m3 note 0.52 425 816

Color reproduction is one area Asus gives you plenty of control. Tinkering with the sliders in the Splendid app lets you adjust color temperature, hue and saturation and also gives you the option to filter out the blue tones light, if you consider it to be an issue in the hours prior to bedtime.

Alternatively, you can leave it in the default Balanced mode, where you get a pretty good color reproduction with an average deltaE of 4.2, not properly calibrated, but also more accurate than the flagship LG G5's 5.6, for instance. Even the maximum deviation is 6.8, which is quite constrained given that we often see numbers above 10.

The standard DeltaE 2000 deviation is used to describe the accuracy of the screen's color rendering. We test the screen with a set of over 100 different color and grayscale patterns to determine the accuracy of the color reproduction.
Even when a phone's screen color reproduction is off, you would still have a hard time noticing a color cast without a reference as the human eye is quite quick to adjust and normalize colors.
Also, the display colors are a matter of personal taste and perception so consider this test data only if you are concerned about presenting color-critical content on the mobile screen.
Any deviation in DeltaE 2000 of above 10 is considered a visible error in color reproduction on the display. A DeltaE 2000 deviation between 4 and 10 is considered okay or acceptable color performance. A DeltaE 2000 deviation below 4 is considered good, but professional color calibration requires a deviation between 1 and 2.

Things aren't so great in bright outdoor light, where the Zenfone Max struggles, despite the high maximum brightness - quite possibly due to the reflective screen. Even so, it's markedly better than the Zenfone Selfie and on par with the Zenfone 2 ZE551ML.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Microsoft Lumia 950XL
    3.837
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Asus Zenfone 2 ZE551ML
    2.149
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Asus Zenfone Max
    2.068
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

Connectivity

The Zenfone Max is a Dual SIM device with the full range of 2G/3G/4G bands supported on both cards. LTE is Cat.4 with theoretical speeds of up to 150Mbps down and 50Mbps up.

There is Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, single-band, no Wi-Fi ac but, on a positive note, there's Wi-Fi Direct and hotspot support.

Bluetooth is in its 4.0 version, there's a GPS receiver with added GLONASS and Beidou support.

An FM radio receiver is provided too, but the Max lacks NFC.

The microUSB port comes with USB host support for attaching your choice of peripherals. You can also use the Max to charge other devices with the bundled USB OTG adapter. There's a standard 3.5mm jack too.

There's also a dedicated microSD card slot for storage expansion, which takes cards of up to 64GB.

Asus Zenfone Max battery life

The Zenfone Max's claim to fame is the battery, a 5,000mAh lithium polymer unit, sealed inside. It's one of the largest cells available in a phablet from a major brand, with most offerings hovering around the 4,000mAh mark. Coupled with the modest Snapdragon 410 chipset, it's a recipe for excellent endurance.

Indeed, that's what the Zenfone Max delivers. Some 20+ hours of web browsing, close to 16 hours of video playback and almost 28 hours of voice calls are all great numbers. That adds up to an endurance rating of 121 hours in our proprietary test - meaning second spot in our all-time chart. The leader is the Gionee Marathon M5, which has a 6,020 milliamp-hour battery and pretty similar specs.

Asus Zenfone Max

The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Reader comments

  • sonia singh

I brought this fon may2016 to till .2020 sep. this is an amazing phone ..its very nice all functions good working.. but it is slip from my hand thats why a little bit screen are not working

  • Previous user

I have used this phone since January 2016, it's almost 5 years old now. It was quite a good experience. Towards the latter half of 2019 it lost some sensitivity in the touch screen and in early 2020 almost 70% of the screen was no longer sensiti...

  • Test

Good strong phone I brought 2016 still using it. basic phone for general use you can't expect much like modern phone. Due to technology advancement it will not support the latest app I mean it work but very slow we lost our coolness. phone software s...