For Asus" new ZenFone Max Plus, the beauty runs only skin deep.

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ByAdam Ismailpublished 7 April 18

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AgainstDyên ổn screenOutdated AndroidMiddling PerformanceBattery life doesn"t live up to lớn expectationsBelow-average cameras

Dim screen


Outdated Android


Middling Performance


Battery life doesn"t live sầu up to expectations


Below-average cameras


For that, you get 3GB of RAM và 32GB of storage, though the latter can be expanded to lớn 2TB via a microSD card. The device supports only GSM networks, which means you"ll have lớn subscribe to lớn a network lượt thích T-sản phẩm điện thoại, AT&T, Cricket Wireless or MetroPCS to lớn use this phone.

Hãng Asus ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Specs

OSAndroid 7.0 Nougat with ZenUI 4.0
Screen Size (Resolution)6 inches (2160 x 1080) LCD
CPUMediaTek MT6750T
microSD SlotYes
Rear CameraDual 16 MP.. (f/2.0) and 8 MP
Front Camera8 MPhường (f/2.0)
Battery Size4,130 mAh
Battery Life (Hrs:Min)11:25
Water ResistanceNo
Size6.01 x 2.87 x 0.35 inches
Weight5.6 ounces

Design: ZenFone Goes Full-Screen

Asus" ZenFone 4 series was seemingly designed to be as unrecognizable as possible, mixing a grab bag of generic cues found on other, similarly forgettable handsets. The ZenFone Max Plus does very little khổng lồ change that, though there is one key difference.

The ZenFone Max Plus improves upon its predecessors with a 5.7-inch, 18:9 display và much slimmer bezels at the top and bottom. The panel itself sports curved corners and sits much more suitably on the phone"s face, which no longer features a dated rectangular fingerprint sensor/trang chủ button sandwiched between capacitive sầu navigation keys.

These are subtle changes, but they"re welcome. The wider screen means you get more real estate given the size of the chassis, & the narrower bezels put it all within fingers" reach.

The ZenFone Max Plus improves upon its predecessor with a 5.7-inch, 18:9 display and much slimmer bezels at the top and bottom.

Around the back, the differences are harder to spot: There’s a rear-facing fingerprint sensor where there wasn"t one before, centrally-located on the aluminum shell. The dual cameras are bisected by recessed chrome tryên that returns from the ZenFone 4 Max Plus and looks old hat at this point. Alas, this is still a budget điện thoại thông minh that evokes other budget smartphones. Water resistance is again nowhere to lớn be found, though at least the headphone jack remains.

Display: Bigger & (mostly) better

There was nothing at all noteworthy about the 720p, 5.5-inch LCD display in the ZenFone 4 Max, never mind that it felt positively ancient by even last year"s standards. Thankfully, Hãng Asus has seriously upgraded the screen for the ZenFone Max Plus in every dimension. While it"s still an LCD panel, the form size has been bumped up lớn 5.7 inches, it employs a wider aspect ratio, &, best of all, it touts full HD+ resolution.

This was an area that desperately needed addressing from the last go-round, and we"re glad Hãng Asus tended to lớn the issue. However, that"s not to say the new ZenFone"s display is any more remarkable than competing LCD units.

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For one thing, it"s quite dlặng. With a peak brightness of 377 nits, the ZenFone Max Plus is outperformed by not only its predecessor, which achieved 461 nits, but many other handsets as well. Take the $199 Honor 7X, for example, which topped out at 510 nits, or the similarly priced Moto G5 Plus at 591 nits.

Like so many other cameras in this category, the results are generally hit or miss.

In terms of color gamut và reproduction, the ZenFone Max Plus fares a bit better. Our unit reproduced 119.5 percent of the sRGB color space and registered a Delta-E accuracy score of 0.34. (Numbers closer to zero are better.) Those results are par for the course at this price range, but because the ZenFone Max Plus doesn"t give users the option of alternate display profiles, you won"t be able khổng lồ tune the experience to suit your preference.

Camera: Hardly a stunner

Like so many budget phones with flagship-photography aspirations, the ZenFone Max Plus comes fitted with two cameras on the back: a 16-megapx main sensor with f/2.0 aperture và a secondary wide-angle 8-MP shooter that lacks autofocus. Above sầu the display is another 8MP.. lens for selfies.

I snapped a handful of comparison shots with our unit và an Honor 7X — the latter of which costs $199 but also comes with a pair of shooters that enable dramatic portraits with blurred backgrounds.

Starting outside New York"s Penn Station in the misty, early hours of the morning, the ZenFone Max Plus derived robust color from the scene with a slightly warmer trắng balance than the Honor 7X delivered. However, the ZenFone"s HDR mode was finicky and frustrating lớn shoot with; the multiple exposures taken in quiông chồng succession made the ZenFone"s camera very susceptible to blurring. The Honor 7X delivered a sharper and brighter exposure by comparison.

Next, I ventured khổng lồ Bryant Park, where I captured a few images of flowers that again illustrated a clear advantage in favor of Honor"s budget handmix. The shot from the ZenFone is dyên ổn và a bit hazy when you zoom in. The toned-down shades of lavender in the petals are probably more realistic, but then again, Asus" camera failed to convey texture và depth the same way Honor"s could.

To kiểm tra out the ZenFone"s Portrait Mode, I enlisted the help of my colleague Caitlin. Because neither device has a telepholớn lens, the perspectives were very drawn out. That means you"ll have sầu to get extremely close to the subject with both of these phones to take anything that looks remotely like the portraits produced by the iPhone X or Galaxy S9+.

The bokeh effect out of the ZenFone was significantly more pronounced than on the Honor 7X. It was so strong, và blurred so much of the frame aside from Caitlin"s face, that it ended up looking like a pholớn of a miniature Model, or a macro shot with the tilt-shift effect you get when shooting really small objects. Plain & simple, it was excessive sầu compared to lớn the totally serviceable, natural portrait courtesy of the Honor 7X.

A pair of selfies rounds out the comparison. Interestingly, the Honor 7X makes it look like the sun was out when I snapped the photo, with its warmer tones & brighter exposure. I"d go so far as khổng lồ say the ZenFone"s rendition is more realistic và crisper as you zoom in; then again, when it comes to selfies, realism tends lớn take a baông chồng seat khổng lồ whatever makes you look better, & Asus" handset didn"t vì that here.

Performance: Needs a boost

The MediaTek MT6750T system-on-chip inside the ZenFone Max Plus is quite an outdated piece of technology. Released in năm nhâm thìn và manufactured on a 28-nanometer process, it can"t match the power or efficiency of Qualcomm"s newer 14-nm 600-series chipsets or the equivalent Kirin 659 featured in the Honor 7X.

Unfortunately, that puts Asus" phone at a sizeable disadvantage. In benchmarks, the ZenFone Max Plus fared no better or worse than the ZenFone 4 Max và its Snaprồng 430 silicon. The newer ZenFone delivered a Geekbench 4 score of 2,610, meaning it"s virtually the same as the outgoing Mã Sản Phẩm in overall performance.

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Three years ago, such poor performance would have sầu been expected for a $229 phone, but these days, there"s no need to lớn settle.

The trouble with Asus" proposal is that you get so much more from competing products. The ZenFone Max Plus handled casual games lượt thích N.O.V.A Legacy & SimCity BuildIt smoothly enough, but gamers on a budget would be wise to choose either the Honor 7X or Moto lớn G5 Plus instead. Both of those phones cost $30 less than the ZenFone Max Plus, yet scored anywhere from 2,000 lớn 4,300 points higher in 3DMark"s Ice Storm Unlimited graphics gauntlet.

There were fairly comtháng occasions when the ZenFone Max Plus didn"t feel as snappy as it should have, lượt thích when thumbing between tabs in Chrome or even returning to lớn the trang chủ screen from the Settings menu. Sometimes, it"s a matter of choppy animations; other times, the phone sits motionless for a half-second before following through on your commands. Three years ago, this would have been expected for a $229 phone, but these days, there"s no need khổng lồ settle.

Battery: Surprisingly short-changed

Despite widening the screen, Asus shrank the battery inside the ZenFone Max Plus, down from a whopping 5,000 mAh in the ZenFone 4 Max khổng lồ 4,130 mAh. While the downsizing betrays the "Max" br&, this screen is still pretty generously sized in the gr& scheme of things — which makes it all the more confusing why the Max Plus lasted nearly 4 hours less than its predecessor in our testing.

That"s right: The newest ZenFone called it quits after 11 hours & 25 minutes of maranhỏ nhắn website streaming on T-Mobile LTE. For perspective sầu, the ZenFone 4 Max delivered 15 hours & 19 minutes of battery life.

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The Galaxy S9 has only a 3,000-mAh battery, & that phone achieved 11 hours on the dot. Testing the Max Plus again didn"t help things, as it mustered only 10 hours & 17 minutes the second time around.

Aside from the physical kích cỡ of the battery, two factors could explain the Max Plus" surprising performance. First và foremost is the MediaTek chipphối, which is older và not as renowned for its efficiency as Qualcomm"s 400-series silicon. Additionally, it"s critical to lớn rethành viên that the new ZenFone also has a bigger, higher-resolution screen than the previous ZenFone 4 Max, which is obviously going to put more of a strain on the battery.

Disappointing longevity aside, Asus has baked a lot of functionality inkhổng lồ the ZenFone Max Plus" battery. There"s a reverse-charging mode, as well as the ability to prolong the health of the paông xã with a setting in the included Power Master app.

The Double Battery Lifespan feature is designed to prevent the battery from degrading as quickly, at the expense of less usage time per charge. It"s difficult to judge the long-term effectiveness of this system in our short time with the phone, but given this device"s relatively underwhelming battery life khổng lồ begin with, it"s something I would think twice about before turning on.

Software: Nougat on a brand-new phone

Although Hãng Asus has made good on its promise to lớn deliver Android 8.0 Oreo khổng lồ select ZenFone 4 models, the ZenFone Max Plus strangely launches with version 7.0 Nougat. This isn"t a clean rendition of Google"s OS either; it"s filtered through Asus" ZenUI interface.

That"s going to lớn disappoint some Android purists. Not only does ZenUI look very different from the stoông chồng experience, but it doesn"t add a great khuyến mãi of value either.

Sure, you get Asus" sản phẩm điện thoại Manager ứng dụng, which provides a one-stop cửa hàng khổng lồ various device-maintenance controls, lượt thích the aforementioned battery-saving modes and a system scan that can help identify ways to lớn improve sầu device performance. But many Android phones these days come with similar features, & if they weren"t there, you wouldn"t be any worse for wear.

The new ZenFone"s interface is cluttered, too. ZenUI commits that cardinal sin of so many manufacturer skins, putting forth an overwhelming number of quichồng toggles in the notification shade for things that either don"t belong there (lượt thích multiwindow mode) or that you probably won"t use very often (lượt thích sharing location reports over gmail và SMS).

Hãng Asus made its budget phone much prettier but diminished its greachạy thử asmix.

To make matters worse, settings often aren"t stowed away where you"d expect khổng lồ find them. I overturned seemingly every roông xã to lớn try & find a way to turn on some form of quick-launch gesture for the camera, only to locate it in a sub-menu titled Hãng Asus Customized Settings — whatever that means.

Bottom Line

As similar as many phones look & feel these days, there"s typically one unique you can point khổng lồ that a handmix does particularly well, that differentiates it from its competitors. Unfortunately, I"m struggling to lớn find it in the ZenFone Max Plus.

Hãng Asus made its long-lasting budget proposition much prettier, but destroyed the phone"s greakiểm tra asmix. The ZenFone 4 Max was remarkable for its battery life, but with that diminished, there"s no other reason to consider the Max Plus.

Yes, the screen is larger và the bezels are smaller, but everyone"s doing that nowadays. The camera hasn"t been appreciably improved, & the performance has actually taken a step baông xã in a few respects. The software is still outdated and both functionally và aesthetically inferior to stoông xã Android. Yet, despite all these faults, this phone is more expensive than the mã sản phẩm it was designed lớn iterate upon.

For my money, I"d rather buy the $199 Honor 7X và the recently discounted Molớn G5 Plus. You could even tăng cấp khổng lồ the Mokhổng lồ G5S Plus, which adds dual cameras, for just $đôi mươi more than the lachạy thử ZenFone.

That makes the choice pretty clear. The ZenFone Max Plus is the right phone for literally no one.