Asus Zenfone 3S Max review: Enticing beauty with enough power

Asus is keeping on improving its Zenfone lineup to match the fierce competition. After adding metal and features such as a fingerprint sensor and 4G LTE connectivity to its entire range, the Taiwanese giant has now moved a step ahead. It has adopted the same nomenclature that was pride for Apple and smartly mimicked by Samsung and Xiaomi. And ultimately, the Zenfone 3S Max has emerged as the very first model from that naming strategy.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max review

Zenfone 3S Max

The Asus Zenfone 3S Max is among the few offerings by the company that are first launched in India. It is certainly targeted at customers demanding affordable smartphone experience but crafted with beauty to take on the competition. Is this the one specially made for you? Let’s see.

What’s in the Box

Asus has launched the Zenfone 3S Max in India with a price tag of Rs. 14,999. With this price, the latest Zenfone offers you the fresh Android experience and a better battery life.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max with in-box content

The Zenfone 3S Max comes bundled with a 12V 2.5Amp AC adapter, headset, SIM eject tool, USB data cable and a user manual. Asus has provided enough in-box accessories to please the customers, though you might miss a fast charging technology-enabled power charger.


Asus has already started using metal for building its new smartphones. But the design of the Zenfone 3S Max is quite different from its predecessors. The handset not just have premium, aluminium alloy build with sandblasted matte finish but also a 2.5D contoured glass on the front with subtle edges.

The front of Asus Zenfone 3S Max is identical to some Samsung Galaxy headsets. The first thing that you’d notice the would on a sneak peak is a home button below the display panel. This physical key includes a fingerprint sensor that unlocks the screen in just a second. The smartphone also has an earpiece, secondary camera sensor and a couple of sensors to detect proximity and ambiance light.

On the right, there is a volume rocker and a lock/power button. Both the buttons have gold plating on top that matches the body color of the handset. Further, a SIM card tray is available on the left that can include a microSD card and nanoSIM card.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max with a volume rocker and power/lock key on left

The bottom of the Zenfone 3S Max includes a microUSB port as well as a microUSB port and two grills with a microphone and loudspeaker.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max with microUSB port and loudspeaker grill on bottom

Asus has filled the top area of the smartphone a 3.5mm jack that be the point of your AUX cables and some high-class headsets and speakers.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max with 3.5mm jack on top

On the back, the Zenfone 3S Max shows an iPhone 7-alike rear design with Asus’ branding and a primary camera sensor. The giant battery pack of the smartphone is not a user-replaceable — just as many of its competitors.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max with metal back identical to Apple iPhone 7

The overall design of the Asus Zenfone 3S Max is highly impressive. It has 8.9mm of thickness and weighs 175 grams.

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The Asus Zenfone 3S Max is designed as a superior version of the lately launched Zenfone Max. Being as an upgrade, the new offering comes with some advanced camera capabilities.

Asus has provided a 13-megapixel camera sensor on the rear side of the Zenfone 3S Max that includes an f/2.0 lens and dual-LED flash. An 8-megapixel camera sensor is available on the front to capture selfies and enable video chatting on the smartphone.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max with a 13-megapixel pixel rear camera sensor

To capture still shots and record videos, the Zenfone 3S Max comes preloaded with a proprietary camera app that has features such as HDR, manual, panorama and super resolution. The app is easy-to-use for novices and is similar to the one debuted on the second-generation Zenfone range in 2015.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max with proprietary camera app

We haven’t observed any major issues with the camera performance of the Zenfone 3S Max. Though you might notice some noise in low-light shots, it is still an area in the affordable segment that is yet to improved. The front camera sensor is also decent to capture your beautified and handsome selfies.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max camera samples

Apart from acceptable still shots, the Zenfone 3S Max has sufficient power to record 1080p videos at 30fps frame rate. The rear camera uses the preloaded software to enable electronic image stabilisation while recording videos.

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In Depth

From the last two segments, it has been found that the Asus Zenfone 3S Max has a premium design and decent camera capabilities. But what are its major pros and cons? We’re jotting down here.

The Asus Zenfone 3S Max is the latest in the diminishing range of compact handsets. It features a 5.2-inch IPS display with 1280 x 720 pixels (HD) resolution. This combination makes a pixel density of around 282ppi. The handset has a 2.5D glass protection on the top that is fair enough to give you a premium feel. Moreover, the display panel has splendid color production and high contrast ratio as well as satisfactory sunlight legibility.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max with compact, 5.2-inch display

As a large number of smartphone buyers look for new Android while picking a new option, Asus has provided Android 7.0 Nougat on the Zenfone 3S Max. The Nougat build has many noticeable improvements over Marshmallow and Lollipop versions. Additionally, the smartphone comes with an option to receive future over-the-air (OTA) updates.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max runs on Android Nougat out of the box

The Android Nougat flavour on the Zenfone 3S Max comes with ZenUI 3.0. The custom interface has a large number of personalisation and customisation features to take the Nougat version to new levels. Starting from the lock screen to the available home screens and app drawers, the experience is nowhere similar to stock Android. Also, there is an all-new notification panel.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max with new ZenUI

The interface comes preloaded with various themes and apps such as Mobile Manager and Asus ZenFit. There are also pre-installed services like Facebook, Messenger and Instagram.

Asus has provided a proprietary telephony and messaging on the Zenfone 3S Max. The smartphone supports dual-SIM networks and VoLTE technology. We haven’t noticed any call drop or voice breaking issue throughout our testing.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max with advanced telephony and messaging

We tested the performance of Zenfone 3S Max on some of the popular benchmark apps. The smartphone got 38,986 scores on AnTuTu version 6.2.7, 964 scores on Vellamo 3.2 and 19,486 scores on Quadrant Standard Edition version 2.1.1.

Asus Zenfone 3S Max with manageable benchmark results

The Asus Zenfone 3S Max has a MediaTek MT6750 chipset with eight cores of a Cortex-A53 CPU at 1.5GHz clock speed. The octa-core processor combines with a Mali-T860 GPU and 3GB of RAM. For storing content, there is 32GB of onboard storage. The smartphone has Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS and a microUSB port with USB OTG (on-the-go) support. Besides, there are an accelerometer, magnetometer, proximity sensor and a gyroscope.

Asus has provided a 5,000mAh battery on the Zenfone 3S Max. The giant battery pack lasts for over two days on a single charge. It also gives you the ability to charge other USB-powered devices through reverse charging technology, using a USB OTG cable. However, the smartphone does not have any fast charging technology.

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Asus Zenfone 3S Max


The Asus Zenfone 3S Max is presently one of the best premium-looking affordable smartphones. It has a massive battery pack to fulfill your power requirements and offers you the latest Android experience to rival the competitors.

Turn to the next page to know Asus Zenfone 3S Max specifications.


ModelAsus Zenfone 3S Max (ZC521TL)
Display5.2-inch IPS display
Resolution1280 x 720 pixels
Memory32GB expandable storage
OSAndroid 7.0 Nougat OS
UIZenUI 3.0 UI
Camera13MP AF primary camera with LED flash, 8MP FF secondary camera
VideoYes, 1080p @ up to 30fps
SensorsAccelerometer, Ambient Light sensor, Digital compass, Proximity sensor, Gyroscope
ChipsetOcta-core MediaTek MT6750
CPU1.5GHz Cotrtex-A53
GPUMali T860 GPU
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, A-GPS, Infrared, USB-C port