ASUS Zenfone 4 Max (ZC554KL) Review

ASUS has finally revealed their new Zenfone 4 lineup and one of the members is the battery-centric ASUS Zenfone 4 Max. Although the main feature is the 5,000mAh battery, it also packs features that make it a good all-rounder, specifically, its dual rear cameras. How much has improved from its predecessors? Let’s find out in our review.

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Design and Construction

The Max has grown quite a lot over the past 2 years which is noticeable in its design. The bulky body has now been replaced by a sleeker and more premium look. If you ask us, the Zenfone 4 Max’s design is closer to the Zenfone 3 Zoom’s but chunkier.

The front houses the 5.5-inch display which is the same screen size used for the original Zenfone Max and Zenfone 3 Max. Placed above it is the earpiece, 8MP camera, and LED flash.

Down below are the unlit capacitive buttons for Back and Recent Apps. Placed right in the middle is the fixed Home button that doubles as the fingerprint scanner.

Found on the left is the card tray which we’re glad to report can accommodate two nano-sized SIM cards and a microSD card. While on the right are the metallic power/lock and volume buttons.

Placed up top are the audio port and secondary microphone. While down below two sets of holes for the loudspeaker and main microphone. Situated right in the middle is a micro-USB port which can be a disadvantage especially to those who prefer the USB Type-C standard.

Flip it on its back and you will see the dual rear camera setup. LED flash, and a pair of glossy strips which segments the top and bottom parts of the device.

On the hand, the Zenfone 4 Max feels solid and reasonably hefty at 181 g. Despite the large 5,000mAh battery, it’s now thinner than the original Zenfone Max at 8.9 mm. It’s just 0.6 mm thicker than the Zenfone 3 Max with a smaller 4,100mAh battery.

The metal unibody is cool to the touch while the curved sides make it easy to grip and use even with one hand. The 2.5D glass also makes the device feel almost seamless when you run your fingers around it.

Display and Multimedia

The Zenfone 3 Max came out with a 5.5-inch display with Full HD resolution. In the case of the Zenfone 4 Max, we were disappointed that the model we have on hand only packs an HD resolution or equal to 267ppi. It’s not that bad though but if you’re used to at least Full HD, this can feel a bit of a downgrade.

Despite the lower resolution, the quality will suffice for daily phone activities like watching videos, viewing photos, or gaming. Viewing angles are okay and bright enough to be used outdoors, however, we noticed that the color is too cool to our liking. We looked at Settings for the ASUS Splendid app but it’s not available. As it turns out, the feature doesn’t support the Zenfone 4 Max.

When it comes to audio, the down-firing speakers are audible and crisp which is good enough for hands-free voice calls and casual listening but since it’s lacking in bass, you might want to use earphones or an external speaker for a better audio experience.

We did try to tweak its audio but for some reason it the Zenfone 4 Max doesn’t feature the AudioWizard settings.

OS, UI, & Apps

Running the software department is Android 7.1.1 Nougat with ZenUI. The design of the UI still remains the same which is good if you like it, but if you prefer something else, you can easily remedy that by downloading your favorite launcher.

Perhaps, the biggest improvement here is the removal of bloatware or apps that users don’t necessarily need. There are no pre-installed games and third-party apps that are normally found in older Zenfone devices. Even the ASUS apps get a massive trimming, although it would have been nice if they retained the ASUS Splendid and AudioWizard features we mentioned earlier.

There’s still the usual Google apps, and basic social media apps like Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram which we don’t mind, which is not a lot. As for storage, it comes with 32GB of storage with 22.59GB left for the user which is not bad. You can further expand it via microSD or USB OTG.


Another big improvement of the Zenfone 4 Max over its predecessors is its camera. It now sports two rear cameras with 13MP (main) + 5MP (wide-angle) sensors powered by PixelMaster 4.0 but without the Laser AF found in the Zenfone 3 Max (ZC553KL). The main camera has a focal length of 26mm with 80-degree viewing angle, EIS, and PDAF, while the other one has a 12mm focal length with a wide-angle 120-degree lens. Although they both have the same resolution, the images produced are of different quality as they have different resolution and sensors.

As expected, the main camera is faster and can produce images with better details and colors, although we noticed it has a reddish hue to it. It’s not much of a performer in not so lit environments, though, such as indoors, as it is susceptible to blur and noise. The wide-angle camera, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired in terms of quality as it’s not as bright as the main shooter while details are smudgy. As for the front camera, it uses an 8MP OV8856 sensor paired with a LED flash. It still leaves a lot to be desired though as it is susceptible to noise and blur.

As for in-camera features, it’s limited to Beauty, Super Resolution, Panorama, Auto, Pro, GIF Animation, and Time Lapse. The Beauty Live app from the Zenfone Live makes its way here as well.

When it comes to video recording, the Zenfone 4 Max can shoot at Full HD resolution at 30fps with quality similar to the photos. We noticed that it doesn’t support lens switching while recording. So if you’re shooting with the main camera and want to switch to the wide-angle, you’ll have to stop recording, switch lens then hit record again.

Performance & Benchmarks

Powering the Zenfone 4 Max is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor clocked at 1.4GHz, Adreno 505 GPU, and 3GB RAM. If the specs are familiar that’s because it’s the same configuration found in the ASUS ZenFone 3 Max (ZC553KL). Still, it’s smooth and responsive especially when it comes to ordinary tasks. Gaming is not an issue as well as we were able to play Vainglory and Injustice 2 without any problem. Warming can be felt in the upper corner by the camera but not too much to cause any concern.

Since we’re looking at the same internals as its predecessor, benchmark scores of the two devices are close:

  • AnTuTu – 43,967
  • Geekbench – 659 (Single-Core), 2,412 (Multi-Core), 2,117 (RenderScript)
  • PC Mark – 4,895 (Work 1.0)
  • 3D Mark – 297 (Sling Shot Extreme)
  • Vellamo – 1,586 (Multicore), 1,173 (Metal), 2,394 (Chrome)
  • AndroBench – 271.4 MB/s (Read), 77.94 MB/s (Write)

Connectivity & Call Quality

The Zenfone 4 Max has basic connectivity covered like LTE Cat.4, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, micro-USB OTG, GPS, and a fingerprint scanner that can support 5 fingers with 360-degree recognition.

What we like about it the most is it has triple slots for two nano SIM cards (4G/3G/2G) and a microSD card for up to 256GB. We never had issues with connections as call quality is good and quick to pick up mobile data and GPS signals.

Battery Life

As for its main feature, the Zenfone 4 Max packs a 5,000mAh non-removable battery with support for reverse charging. The capacity seems like an upgrade from the Zenfone 3 Max’s 4,100mAh, but actually, they just returned to the same capacity as the original Zenfone Max. During our time with it, it was able to last us for two days with mostly on WiFi connection with heavy social media and moderate photo-taking, mobile data, and gaming, which is good.

On our video loop test which consists of playing a Full HD clip on loop in Airplane mode with 50% brightness and volume with headset plugged in, we got 16 hours and 30 minutes of playback. It performed better than the Zenfone 3 Max (12 hours and 30 minutes) but significantly less than the Zenfone 3 Zoom (23 hours and 44 minutes) considering they both have 5,000mAh batteries. We can only attribute this to the power-efficiency of the ZF3 Zoom’s Snapdragon 625 over the Snapdragon 430. As for charging, it takes less than 3 hours from 0% to full as it doesn’t have Fast Charging.

Note: PC Mark result is not available as the app crashes halfway through the test.

To further amplify the Zenfone 4 Max’s long battery life, it comes with a PowerMaster feature which is a one-stop-shop of everything related to the battery. From here the user can change battery modes, boost the device’s performance, and check the battery’s health, to name a few. If you want to maximize the Zenfone 4 Max’s power, this is where you go.


The Zenfone 4 Max, is a mix of the old and the new. It has the old Snapdragon 430 CPU, 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, and HD display found in its predecessors, but with a new and more attractive design, dual rear cameras, and larger 5,000mAh battery. With an SRP of Php9,995, the Zenfone 4 Max is designed for users who are looking for a device with features found in more expensive devices but can withstand heavy usage and doesn’t break the bank.

ASUS Zenfone 4 Max (ZC554KL) specs:
5.5-inch HD IPS display, 267ppi
2.5D glass
1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core CPU
Adreno 505 GPU
up to 256GB via microSD card (dedicated slot)
13MP Omnivision 13855 rear main, 1.1 um pixel size, f/2.0, EIS, PDAF, LED Flash
5MP Omnivision 5675 rear wide-angle, 1.12um pixel size, f/2.0
8MP Omnivision 8856 front, 1.12um pixel f/2.2, w/ LED flash
Dual-SIM (nano)
4G LTE Cat.4
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.1
micro-USB 2.0
GPS, A-GPS, Glonass, BDS
Fingerprint scanner
Android 7.1.1 Nougat w/ ZenUI
5,000mAh non-removable battery
Deepsea Black, Sunlight Gold, Rose Pink

What we liked:
* Premium design
* Large battery w/ reverse charging
* Dual rear cameras
* Triple card slot
* Low price

What we didn’t:
* HD display
* Old processor
* Can’t switch between lenses while recording

Update (8/29/17) 2:26PM: The review originally mentioned that the Zenfone 4 Max has dual 13MP sensors. With clarification from ASUS PH, we have updated it with new info about its camera specs.
13MP Omnivision 13855 rear main, 1.12um pixel size, f/2.0, EIS, PDAF, LED Flash
5MP Omnivision 5675 rear wide-angle, 1.12um pixel size, f/2.0
8MP Omnivision 8856 front, 1.12um pixel f/2.2, w/ LED flash

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45 Responses

  1. Avatar for Boslog Boslog says:

    I tried using the sandisk 32g sd card but it only detect as portable storage so i cant transfer my game apps to it and there is no option to format as internal storage

  2. Avatar for Bien Bien says:

    Does zenfone 4 max have gyro sensor?

  3. Avatar for Dirk Dirk says:

    Audiowizard is under Settings \ Sounds & Vibration \ AudioWizard

  4. Avatar for YoniPYokA YoniPYokA says:

    Do not buy this product its not worth it – bought last sept2017 only then after two months the back and recent button cant function anymore, then by dec2017 the after part of screen totally cant not function (as per technician LCD Problem)

  5. Avatar for hmmm hmmm says:

    Smooth kaya asphalt 8 neto? In terms of online gaming with it. Planning to buy one just hesitant if asphalt 8 loads quickly because it’s the problem ive been facing with my current phone. Regardless if i cant set it up to high(im fine with medium graphic settings) as long as the game isnt laggy specially now that asphalt often updates the game with new cars and maps. I just cant purchase online since im avoiding argue with my wife, so this and the y7 prime are the only on my list since im on a tight budget. Anyone? Thnks in advance!

    • Avatar for Vaughn Chua Vaughn Chua says:

      It will cause stutters but it is playable in low settings.

    • Avatar for hmmm hmmm says:

      Im okay with low settings as long as multiplayer is stable. It’s so frustating playing mp in asphalt 8 with my phone, whenever i spawn, im already 7-8 seconds delayed from the opponents, so hard to catch even 3rd place and that always lead me to losing a lot of points. Thank you sir! God bless!

  6. Avatar for Just Asking Just Asking says:

    can it be used on gaming??

  7. Avatar for Joshua Gacoscosim Joshua Gacoscosim says:

    Make an comparison between Doogee BL5000 to Asus Zenfone 4 Max.

  8. Avatar for matty matty says:

    Hi Jam, i encountered this problem when i bought asus zenfone 5 2 years ago. i had to replace my unit 4x. its so hassle. the 5th replacement that they gave to me suffers the same issue. i got tired of going back and forth to the service center. i was planning to buy this because of the 5kMAH Batt but it looks like it has the same issue. now im thinking to go for vivo or oppo. ASUS please fix this a

  9. Avatar for JC JC says:

    Audio Wizard is still included in the ZenFone 4 Max. You can find it in Settings>Sound & Vibration. They just took it out as an app and turned it into a setting.

  10. Avatar for Jeff Anthony S. Enad Jeff Anthony S. Enad says:

    This smartphone is not the regular MAX or without pro/plus, this is more like Zenfone Max Plus/Pro with the same model number of ZC554KL. It is a bit misleading with just Max in the name.

  11. Avatar for Juan Juan says:

    Hi. I just want to ask if the second microphone of ZenFone 4 max is working .. Because when i have a call and i speak in the 2nd microphone of this phone they didn’t hear me well .. They say its like im in a cave or in a rest room .. The main mmicrophone is okay .. But my problem is the 2nd microphone.. Is that really not working ?

    • Avatar for mikibabs mikibabs says:

      The 2nd microphone is for noise cancellation so that the audio during voice calls will be clearer.

  12. Avatar for richard lim richard lim says:

    Oh one more thing, It’s frustrating that this model doesn’t have the double tap feature where you can lock your phone by double tapping your screen.

    • Avatar for Juan Juan says:

      Hi. Goodmorning.. May i ask you something .. Is your second microphone working? If you have a call and you speak them in the 2nd microphone of your phone.. Are they hear you ? O not.. Because in my phone when i use it.. They cant hear me well .. The main microphone is okay . But the second is not.. So i ask you if your is okay or working .. Please reply.. Thanks

  13. Avatar for richard lim richard lim says:

    Here’s my feedback. Battery life for me is superb. Camera? I think my old zenfone 2 laser’s camera is much better than my current zenfone 4 max’s camera. Performance wise, I think this one is better. I can switch to one app to another without any delays or anything. The only thing I dont like is the speaker. It is so damn weak! Even I max it out, I can barely hear the sound. Overall, I would give 4 out 5 for zenfone 4 max.

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