Thursday, May 24, 2018
MobileTechPinoy

ASUS Zenfone 4 Max Lite Review: A Budget Battery Powerhouse

There’s a nice selection of smartphones with large batteries these days that can satisfy almost any budget, but it can be difficult to find anything under Php10k that doesn’t make too many compromises. While our local budget brands have their own offerings in this price range, the ASUS Zenfone 4 Max Lite is one you might consider if you prefer something from a more internationally recognized brand. Not only does it have a large battery without the bulk, but it’s also priced competitively at Php7,999. Is it worth picking up? Find out in my full review.

ASUS Zenfone 4 Max Lite Specs

  • 5.2″ HD IPS display
    • 720×1280 resolution
    • 282ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 SoC
    • 1.4GHz quad core Cortex-A53 processor
    • Adreno 308 GPU
  • Android 7.0 Nougat with ZenUI 4.0
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
    • expandable via microSD (up to 256GB)
  • 13+5mp rear-facing camera
    • Autofocus
    • LED flash
  • 8mp front camera
    • Soft LED flash
  • Up to 4G/LTE
  • Dual SIM (Micro + Nano)
  • WiFi b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Micro USB 2.0
  • Fingerprint sensor (home button)
  • 4,100mAh battery
  • Price: Php7,995

What’s in the Box?


The Zenfone 4 Max Lite is undoubtedly an entry to mid-range device and comes in a box that reflects it. It comes with your standard smartphone accessories, plus a few nice extras.

  • Handset
  • In-ear headset with in-line mic
  • Replacement earbud tips
  • USB OTG cable
  • Micro USB to USB charging and file transfer cable
  • Wall charger
  • SIM ejector tool
  • Manual
  • Warranty card
  • Clear gel case

Build Quality and Design

Despite its large battery, the Zenfone 4 Max Lite isn’t a chunky smartphone. There’s some heft to it, but there isn’t anything about its appearance that would give its high battery capacity away. It has 2.5D curved glass that flows into chamfered edges around the display. Its curved sides follow the iPhone-esque design trend that began with the iPhone 6, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it makes the phone easier to hold not to mention slide it into your slim fit jeans pocket.

The back of the phone is also curved towards the edges, further enhancing handling and ease of use. The dual camera’s bump may be chamfered around the edges, but it’s still reminiscent of another iPhone design cue, namely the iPhone 7 Plus.

Display

The Zenfone 4 Max Lite features a 5.2 inch display with 720×1280 HD resolution and a pixel density of 282ppi. It’s decent about what you’d expect from an entry level smartphone, although contrast and vividness could have been better.

Software and UI

The handset runs Nougat 7.1.1 out of the box with the Taiwanese company’s own ZenUI 4.0 on top. ZenUI comes with a lot of helpful customizations that both casual and power users will appreciate.

For example, the Smart Group feature that categorizes different apps into folders has always been a favorite of mine.

You could also forgo the installation of a 3rd party launcher since ZenUI 4.0 already lets you change homescreen transition animations, icons, and even themes.

However, all of this comes at a cost. ZenUI 4.0 is one of the more bloated custom UIs out there. Thankfully, none of them come off as ads, but no doubt a lot of these features will go unused.

Benchmarks and Performance

The Zenfone 4 Max Lite is driven by a modest but capable Snapdragon 425 SoC with a 1.4GHz quad core processor and Adreno 308 GPU. Power users won’t be impressed by the meager 2GB RAM and 16GB of storage, but it should be enough for most casual users who tend to use their phones for communication and social media than for gaming and multi-tasking. It performed adequately enough in synthetic benchmarks though and should be able to handle most apps from the Play Store that aren’t Triple A games.

Connectivity

The Zenfone 4 Max Lite is packed with a basic suite of connectivity options, including support for up to 4G networks, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth and GPS. Surprisingly, there isn’t an FM radio or to a lesser extent NFC, but most people should be able to live without those.

As for wired connectivity, those hoping for a USB Type-C connector will be disappointed, but at least they can still benefit from Qualcomm’s fast charging technology.

Camera

As is typical of other entry-level dual camera offerings, the Zenfone 4 Max Lite comes equipped with a 13+5mp setup on the back. The 13mp camera functions as the main shooter, while the 5mp can function as a wide angle shooter as well as capture depth information for those bokeh shots in Portrait mode. Check out the samples below.

 

Normal vs Portrait Mode

Front Camera Portrait Mode

Interestingly enough, Portrait mode also works with the 8mp front camera even if it isn’t paired with a secondary depth-sensing camera. The effect is pretty good too and doesn’t require you to hold still for too long or do some extra maneuvering.

Normal vs Widescreen Mode

Another cool feature is widescreen mode that’s enabled by the secondary 5mp camera. It has a wider field of view that would work well with group shots and landscapes. Unfortunately, it’s not as good in low light as the main camera, as evidenced by the compensatory ISO artifacting in the widescreen shot above.

13mp Main Shooter

The main 13mp shooter is decent but not exceptional. You’ll get great-looking shots in adequate lighting, but it tends to struggle in overbright or under-lit shots. Above is a shot in the heat of near-noon, yet it comes across as being a little under-exposed. There’s a good amount of detail though, which can be observed in the grass.

Video

If you’re interested in using the Zenfone 4 Max Lite to capture home or amateur videos, it’s certainly capable enough. It can shoot in either HD (1280×720) or Full HD (1920×1080) resolution. However, there’s no stabilization to speak of, as evidenced by this slightly shaky video sample I took.

Gaming

The Zenfone 4 Max Lite packs some pretty modest specs, so you can hardly expect it to perform well as a handheld gaming console. Before playing any games, I ran it against my favorite gaming benchmark, GFXBench. It only managed 6fps on the Manhattan test, which uses the ES 3.0/GL 4.1 capabilities of the device. Of course, most of today’s games compare better with the T-Rex test, which is based on ES 2.0/GL 3.0. Here the Zenfone 4 Max Lite scored 13fps.

GFXBench Gaming

 

While the gaming benchmarks were hardly promising, I did the rounds on a couple of favorite games, namely Iron Blade and Unkilled. Both were still playable and you can check the video capture I made using the phone’s own Game Genie software.

Multimedia

Unlike gaming, you don’t need quite as powerful hardware to enjoy your multimedia library. Again, its contrast could be better, but the 5.2 inch HD screen is adequate enough to enjoy extended viewing sessions whether you’re watching your favorite Netflix series or vlog on YouTube. Its 16GB of internal storage might be limited, but you can easily expand that with a microSD card.

One thing you can’t easily remedy though is its weak loudspeaker. While it does have an outdoor mode, it becomes increasingly distorted the louder it gets. You’d either need to use it with a portable speaker or a good headset for decent audio.

Battery Life

A 4,100mAh battery is hardly the largest capacity you can get on a smartphone, but it’s certainly nothing to scoff at. And while there are other smartphones out there with large battery capacities, there’s no doubt the ASUS Zenfone 4 Max Lite has been optimized for long battery life as well.

Based on PCMark’s synthetic battery test, it can last for 13 hours and 45 minutes of straight web browsing, video playback, text editing, and photo editing. GFXBench’s benchmark on the T-Rex test on the other hand estimates more than 9 hours of gaming.

So Should You Buy the ASUS Zenfone 4 Max Lite?

The ASUS Zenfone 4 Max Lite is packed with decent specs, interesting and thought-out software to help customize and improve the user experience, and of course battery life that can last for days. Sure, there are some more affordable options out there with large batteries, especially if you expand your search to our local brands. Of course, more people would surely trust their money with the ASUS brand, wouldn’t they? Actually, if your budget tops out at Php10k, the question is why shouldn’t you?

About The Author

Back when I started MobileTechPinoy in 2012, phablets weren't a thing yet. I enjoyed the stares I got from iPhone owners whenever I whipped out my Samsung Galaxy Note at the time. I'm much more budget-conscious these days though and am perfectly fine with using phones from any of our locally brands.