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Asus Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 Review

Asus is at it again — releasing multiple versions of similar looking phones. When we thought the confusion brought by Zenfone 2 was over, we’re wrong. This time around, they have a bigger version of the Zenfone 3 Max or maybe a cheaper version of the Zenfone 3 Laser? Here’s our review of the Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 or more specifically the ZC553KL model.

Design and Construction

The look of the ZF3 Max 5.5 is more akin to the ZF3 Laser rather than its smaller variant. Like most mid-range smartphone of the year, the ZC553KL boast a premium aluminum material choice along with a bit of plastic and glass on the front.


The whole front is occupied by the contoured glass topped with an oleophobic coating as per Asus’ listing. They did not specify if they used Gorilla Glass for protection but it’s safe to think that it’s scratch-resistant. The display stretches 5.5-inches diagonally with the earpiece, front-facing camera, and a couple sensors are placed above it. Like the ZF3 Laser, Asus graced the phone with capacitive keys rather than on-screen buttons. Unfortunately, they don’t light up in the dark.


The body is treated with a common combination of polycarbonate and aluminum. Located on the right-hand side are the physical buttons for volume and power/lock. The buttons are textured with the concentric circle pattern Asus puts on their devices. A little nitpick though is that you can’t simply tell which button is which in the dark since both has the same texture with only their length differentiating them.


The left is where the hybrid card tray is at which you can easily eject using a pin. The device accepts two SIM cards (Micro + Nano) or a microSD card on the second slot. This gives users either the dilemma of not having two networks at once or the opportunity to have more storage space.


The 3.5mm headphone jack is placed on top with the secondary microphone while down at the bottom are the main microphone, micro-USB port, and the loudspeaker.


Flip the phone and you’ll see the flat back panel of the phone. This is the part where the characteristics of the new Laser and Max meets. The main camera module is sandwiched by the dual-tone LED flash and the laser sensor. Situated just below them is the rounded square fingerprint scanner which is the same as the Max 5.2 rather than the rectangular one found on the Laser variant. The ‘ASUS’ branding is nicely printed down at the base.


If you’d noticed, the device is mostly rounded and curved. This makes the phone easier to grip despite its industrial design. Also, the top and bottom portion of the phone, which is nicely separated by chrome linings, is plastic for better reception. No worries as it doesn’t give away the overall quality of the construction and aesthetic.

Display and Multimedia

This new ZF3 Max variant gets an upgrade in the display department. It now has a larger 5.5-inch IPS LCD with a Full HD resolution. Props to Asus for putting in more pixels as they increase the screen to not sacrifice clarity. With that, it’s a sharp screen at 401ppi pixel density and extremely bright even outdoors. Although, we noticed that the panel is not as saturated as we like it to be and there’s no available tweak for it in the settings.


As for the down-firing speaker, well, it’s okay. It does get in the way when playing games but it’s better than having it placed on the back. The quality is good with a good amount of volume and clear output.

OS, Apps, and UI

The handset boots up Android 6.0 Marshmallow and like other ZF3’s it’s skinned with Asus’ latest take on the operating system. The Zen UI 3.0 has more features than stock Android but the problem lies in the pre-loaded applications. There’s just too much bloat out of the box. Good thing you can uninstall these apps. The space available for apps and other personal files is at 22.51GB.


There’s a mixture of Google-made and Asus apps tasked to function on the phone. It’s what Asus did to lessen the dependence on their home-baked apps as we do prefer using Google apps. We do hope they also take action on pre-loading the device with big games like SimCity and Need For Speed: No Limits plus Amazon Kindle, Puffin, and others. Our unit has pre-loaded apps in Mandarin since it’s a unit from Taiwan but these will not be included in the local retail package.



All Zenfone 3’s will receive an update to Android 7.0 Nougat early next year and since the ZC553KL is the latest addition to the group, it should be included in the list.


In the camera department, we have a 16MP rear sensor paired with laser AF and an 8MP front-facing camera. Based on these specs, you’d expect the handset to perform well. It does but not always.


The rear camera performs well when there’s enough light to capture, otherwise, quick snaps comes out blurred even with little movement. It’s good to see stills to come out vibrant and sharp for social media posting. The Laser AF helps a lot in focusing of subjects but the shutter doesn’t want to cooperate. When it comes to selfie, Asus’ custom camera launcher give a number of options to help you take a beautiful self-portrait. Here are some samples that were mostly taken in auto mode.

Video recording is maxed at 1080p with a decent amount of captured details. As with most smartphones, the quality of audio recording are lacking. You get stereo recording though and everything is in .mp4 format.

Performance and Benchmarks

Aside from the screen size and camera, the silicon running the new ZC553KL gets an update too. Asus threw in an octa-core Snapdragon 430 chipset clocked at 1.4GHz with the Adreno 505 as its GPU. This is the same processor used on the ZF3 Laser, however, the local variant of ZC553KL to be released will only have 3GB RAM.


There’s a slight increase in performance on benchmark tests but there’s nothing noticeable in real world performance. It’s still smooth and responsive like before plus switching apps is a breeze given that there’s nothing choking on the ample RAM. The change in chipset mainly benefits those who are more into mobile gaming. The Adreno 505 handles its task better compared to the getting old Mali-T720MP2. Even benchmark tests give it a better score (3DMark Slingshot 3.1: 287 vs 177). NBA 2K17 runs fairly smooth even on high settings while other intensive games can also be set to medium to high.

Here are the benchmark scores:

  • AnTuTu Benchmark — 43056
  • Quadrant Standard — 19163
  • PCMark — 4850 (Work 1.0)
  • Vellamo — 2435 (Chrome), 1211 (Metal), 1792 (Multicore)
  • 3DMark — 287 (SlingShot 3.1), 569 (SlingShot 3.0)

Call Quality and Connectivity

If you plan to have a phone for long calls, the combination of good call quality and big battery of the Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 is ideal. The earpiece has good volume and clarity while the noise-cancelling microphone performs pretty well even in loud environments. What’s concerning though is our observation of weak signal reception when in tight places. Whenever we have multiple phones around, the Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 has the weakest signal.


Radios on the phone are plentiful including LTE, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. No NFC though or IR blaster, just in case you want them around.

Battery Life

Despite the increase in phone size, the larger Zenfone 3 Max still has the same battery capacity at 4100mAh. With the same screen size, its predecessor has a bigger 5000mAh cell inside. It’s indeed disappointing not to get more numbers especially for a phone marketed for such. Without additional juice, the bigger display and increased screen resolution will take a toll on the battery life.


We ran PCMark battery test (Work 1.0) on the phone and we got 15 hours and 27 minutes. It’s definitely an improvement from the smaller variant. The use of Snapdragon chipset also helped in achieving this. Although, it’s more than 4 hours shy from the 2015 model. As with daily use, we can easily get through a full day of use with a little more to spare when going out late at night. You can keep your data connectivity on throughout the day.

There’s no quick charging feature onboard the device but Asus included a fast-charging 5V 2A rated charger. Our test shows a 9% charge in 15mins and 44% in an hour while a full charge will take more than 2 hours.


The Asus Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 (ZC553KL) is yet another quality smartphone from Asus. Although, it’s already above the Php10k mark making it a bit difficult to suggest among budget consumers who prefers long battery life. At Php10,995, it’s a good balance for what you’re getting and this makes it the second cheapest Zenfone 3 member you can purchase.

Asus ZenFone 3 Max (ZC553KL) specs:
5.5-inch Full HD IPS display
2.5D contoured glass
64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core CPU
Adreno 505 GPU
32GB internal storage
up to 128GB via microSD (uses SIM2)
16MP rear camera w/ Laser AF, LED flash
8MP front-facing camera
Dual SIM
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.1, A2DP, EDR
Fingerprint scanner
4100mAh battery with reverse charging
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
151.4 x 76.24 x 8.3mm


  • Premium design and build
  • Better graphics performance
  • Long battery life


  • Same battery capacity as smaller variant
  • Signal reception issues

This article was contributed by Daniel Morial, a film school graduate and technology enthusiast. He's the geeky encyclopedia and salesman among his friends for anything tech.

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40 Responses

  1. Ramadi Doorkicker says:

    Yeeeesss oh yes. dumating din…and better priced than expected. i think mas sulit to vs. laser. amirite? but then, now id like to know what phone matches up to the quality and specs of this zMax3 and priced lower…the 10,995 srp of this Max is already over my budget bt if there is a phone out there who can match this Max3 yet stay lower than 10k, then im gonna be back to square one of confusion and uncertainty.

  2. Aaron says:

    So kailan po ang official release?
    At ano po ang signal issues nya?(ZM3)

  3. Dark_Soda says:

    Look for the review of it sa youtube mas maganda pa camera quality ng zf3 laser dito may camera comparison sila. mas maganda kuha ng sony sensor kay sa pixel master. kaya kung ako sa inyu go for the zf3 laser 1k lang deperensya gorilla glass pa screen nyo.

  4. hmmm says:

    signal reception issues -__-

  5. vijay patel says:

    Asus max 3 in a.gorilla glass?

  6. Skolnick says:

    Ung zenfone max ko na first model mahina din signal mula ng nahulog.malas ko lng dko n makita resibo sbi pag ipagawa ko 4k bayad tsk ito zenfone max 3 nsa first list ko

  7. Skolnick says:

    Salamat sa review Mr Daniel Morial

  8. Reader says:

    Hay gwapo talaga ni Daniel. Sarap magbasa ng reviews sa YT pag may selfie siya palagi. :)

  9. Crap says:

    Kelan po release nung phone?

  10. Geekph says:

    I got this yesterday, I was leaning toward Zenfone Max or Zenfone Max 3. I was about to pay for the first edition Max for 7995 but the Asus guy suggested the Zenfone Max 3 5.5 for 10,995. It was just released yesterday and Quickline in megamall was the first to have in store. So far so good, the camera need some getting use to. It will ask you to update the system twice to fix bugs and camera performance. So far no issue aside from no screen protector and case to be found. lol

  11. LordVhin says:

    Anu mas maganda zenfone 3 max 5.5 or zenfone 3 laser?

  12. MacbookUser says:

    where i can buy Asus Zenfone 3 Max 5.5 ZC553KL ??? tell me please ???
    near at cavite or laguna zone :)

    • Jeyjey says:

      It is already out in SM cyberzones. I already got mine. I bought it at SM store somewhere in Cavite. Check this site for the availability near you.

    • Azeroque says:

      Nakabili kanaba? I am selling mine. I bought one, unexpectedly someone gave me an iphone. That’s why I am selling my phone.

  13. Cy says:

    Ano po mas maganda zenfone 3 max 5.5 or yun zenfone 3 laser? Tnx po

  14. Reli says:

    hi, may I ask so far kamusta naman yung unit? gusto ko sana kase mag asus ulit kaso im afraid na magaya siya dun sa zf5 ko na nag ka issue sa mouth piece. bigla na lang di na ko naririnig ng natawag sakin pero di ko naman yung na babagsak. as of now kase im confuse between zf3 max 5.5 (3gb ram 32gb rom) and oppo f1s upgrade (4gb ram 64gb rom). any suggestion?

    • [Blank} says:

      Same here, i’m also looking forward for those 2 smart phones hehe, I still need more opinions and suggestions to decide what phone to buy.

  15. be-an says:

    Hi. i just want to ask if you know any solutions regarding the issue on my Asus Zenfone 3 max 5.5. its fingerprint sensor suddenly wont work. i dont know the reason why and i dont know whats happening. please help me.

  16. marcos says:

    binta mo nalang sa akin… magkano?

  17. Annabelle says:

    Hi my zenfone max 5.5 will turn off/ sleep everytime i make a call and answering calls. Help!

    • Mac says:

      May screen protector or tempered glass kaba? Most probably natatakpan ung sensor nya.

  18. Francis Vincent Sinag says:

    1 month pa lang nung mabili lo tong zenfone 3 max 5.5 ko, biglang naghang LCD nya di na magamit dinala ko sa memo express para opagaw, nakuha sa software yung lcd kaso yung finher print scanner need to replace daw, isanng problem pa nya namamatay LCD pag nakacall ka, sa mga bibili magisip muna tayo, nakakainis.

  19. boy says:

    Recently, my phone back button, home and recent key are not working like as usual. When I tap on it, the screen not respond, and when I tried to turning the “show touch” function on, it like I am touching the bottom of the screen, not the button. I already reset my phone with factory settings but nothing changed. Is this hardware problem? I’m planning to send it to customer services tomorrow because I just bought it for two months. My phone is ASUS ZenFone 3 max 5.5 (ZC553KL) using Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

  20. Dondon Sebastian says:

    So far , so good.. I am a heavy gamer and i have nothing issues about the gaming experience. Recommended :)

  21. Daniel P. says:

    Sinoli ko na Asus Zenfone 3 Max 5.5″ sa tindahan at huminigi ng Full refund after 1 day of use. Malaki ang problema sa Signal pag load pa lang sa cell pahirapan na ma-contact ang Smart. Tapos nung pag-uwe galing SM biglang nawala na signal sa bahay namin kahit malakas ang signal sa lugar namin kaya nilipat ko agad ang sim sa Samsung Win at full bar naman ang Signal. Biglang nawawala ang signal ng Max at kailangan restart para matawagan at makatangap ng SMS. Minsan kahit full ang signal di pa rin matawagan kaya sinoli ko na.
    Ang sabi ng binilhan ko wag daw gamitin ang 2G, 3G, 4G at ilagay sa 2G para malakas ang signal na isang kalokohan kaya pinapalitan ko pero yung pinalit ganun din ang problema kaya no choice na ako kunde refund.
    Suggest ko lang sa inyo pag bumili kayo test nyo munang mabute bago bayaran kase malaking tindahan sa SM na binilhan ko pero may problema pa ang bagong unit, Ngayon hinihintay ko pa ang refund kase 1 week daw ang processing kase isoli ang unit sa ASUS nung store.

  22. francis says:

    Gamit ko ngayun Asus zenfone max 5.5
    Second hand na to pero wala pa ko masyado problema may time long na pag Nasa loob ako bg kweba or sa kwarto ako naka kumot medyu bumababa signal pero dipako na kakaranas ng 1bar na signal 2bar pataas oo pero di naman nag cha chappy ayus parin battery 4-6hrs on wifi and 4-5hrs sa data same at hard or online gaming , sa performance naman ayus na, ayus nakaranas long ako ng lag nang na full memory ko young internal memory finger print scanner is functioning perfectly well flash is bright and sensors is in great condition and I still recommend this phone to everyone mostly for gamers at mga geeks yung May mga problema sa samre device nila baka factory defect, sensor na naharangan ng temperd glass, over use, over heat, virus, rooting or known / unknown miss use or handle

  23. francis says:

    Gamit ko ngayun Asus zenfone 3 max 5.5
    Second hand na to pero wala pa ko masyado problema may time long na pag Nasa loob ako bg kweba or sa kwarto ako naka kumot medyu bumababa signal pero dipako na kakaranas ng 1bar na signal 2bar pataas oo pero di naman nag cha chappy ayus parin battery 4-6hrs on wifi and 4-5hrs sa data same at hard or online gaming , sa performance naman ayus na, ayus nakaranas long ako ng lag nang na full memory ko young internal memory finger print scanner is functioning perfectly well flash is bright and sensors is in great condition and I still recommend this phone to everyone mostly for gamers at mga geeks yung May mga problema sa samre device nila baka factory defect, sensor na naharangan ng temperd glass, over use, over heat, virus, rooting or known / unknown miss use or handle

  24. Al magking says:

    Gamit ko zenphone max 3 5.5 ang prblema is mabilis mag drain ang battery khit nka standby mode cia laki nga bawas ng batt..mag online games ako 3hrs lng charge na nmn ako..bkit kaya?help me pls..

  25. Main_Man says:

    Been using my zenfone 3 max 5.5 for 2 months no issues. Battery life is ok lasts 6 hours of heavy gaming. Yung Zenfone 3 naman ng GF ko nahulog sa toilet pero still working. Wala ko complain sa asus, kahit yung zenfone 2 64gb ko is still alive and working. I bought both phones sa memoexpress ok naman

    • JN says:

      yes 2 months.. use walang issue..

      5th month, i had my first issue, nawala yung 4G its not working. I had to use other phone if I’m going out. I reported kay ASUS who is also adding more burden by adding more time to waste.

      Buti pa yung mga users or other technical na users ng ASUS they are giving better solutions to the issues.

      Then after 2 months na fix yung 4G… suddenly via an update ata yun… then yung Home, Back and Multitask window buttons hindi gumagana.. So i have to use the one hand operation ng phone para magamit ko. It’s wasting my time. 2 months ulit siguro hintayin ko..

      Best thing to do with this Phone, ditch it.

    • francis says:

      yow guys lagpas 5 months na asus ko may mga bilang na biglang nag sho shotdown yung akin pag sobra multitask ko pero other than dun okay na okay parin yung sakin kahit 2nd hand ko na ito nung nabili ….

  26. PunkPopLover says:

    Huh? Wala naman akong issues sa signal, battery life, camera, and display. All good lahat. Hmmm…. Ahhnyare sa unit niyo?

  27. zc553kl says:

    pano yung images stabilizer nya wala daw kwenta yun

  28. Kei Dy says:

    I agree. May issue talaga ang signal. Pareho kami ng phone ng sister ko. parehong pawala wala signal ng phone namin.

  29. Ton says:

    Is any anyone here still has the marshmallow version? Any issues?
    Do we always have to update it to nougat? Im trying to avoid getting issues by not updating the android version..

  30. Chichi says:

    Hi, I just want to ask, normal ba talaga na may grains effect (not sure with the term) iyong photo pag sa front cam kinuha? Para s’yang pixelated e. Pero iyong main cam okay naman. Para tuloy edited pag nagse-selfie. Thank you!

    • Vaughn Chua says:

      Nasa camera na po talaga ng smartphone yun kung magiging grainy ang result nung image quality :)

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