ASUS Zenfone 3 Max 5.5-inch ZC553KL Unboxing, Initial Review: ZF3 Laser Replacement?

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After reviewing the 5.2-inch Zenfone 3 Max, we were given a heads up by readers that a 5.5-inch version of the phone was coming with far superior specs and a bigger 5.5-inch display. The 5.5-inch ZF3 Max is a little curious though, because it basically has the same specs, styling and laser AF system as the ZF3 Laser, with a bigger battery.

So we were curious to see if that phone would materialize in our country, since the Taiwanese company doesn’t always release all of their phones in the Philippines. Well, it’s arrived, and with it, questions about where this particular phone slots in the company’s lineup.

ASUS Zenfone 3 Max ZC553KL specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor
  • Adreno 505
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 5.5-inch full HD IPS display, 2.5D glass, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 32GB of expandable storage
  • 16-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, laser AF
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Fingerprint scanner
  • Android Marshmallow 6.0, ZenUI 3.0
  • 4100mAh battery

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Packaging and contents

Before we start talking about the phone, let’s take a look at the box and the stuff that comes with it. The 5.5-inch ZF3 Max comes in the same white box that its brothers came with.

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Once you slide off the carton sleeve, you’ll see the phone inside, along with the USB charger, cable, USB OTG cable, headphones, additional silicone tips and the phone’s documentation.

ZF3 Max 5.5 on the left, ZF3 Laser on the right

Initial Impressions: looks and feels like the Zenfone 3 Laser

Anybody intimately familiar with the 5.2-inch ZF3 Max and ZF3 Laser know just how similar those two phones look. But despite their similarities, you could tell them apart if you knew what you were looking for. That’s not the case with the 5.5-inch ZF3 Max. Looking at the two phones at the front, you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart. They have the same screen size, design and navigation keys.

ZF3 Max 5.5 on the left, ZF3 Laser on the right
ZF3 Max 5.5 on the left, ZF3 Laser on the right

Flip the phones over, and you can see slight differences in their design. Both phones have laser-assisted autofocus systems for their cameras, though the 5.5-inch ZF3 Max looks to have a better camera sensor on paper – 16-megapixels versus the 13-megapixels on the Laser. The laser AF system aren’t in the same place – on the ZF3 Laser it’s on the left side, while on the ZF3 Max it’s on the right. The camera module on the ZF3 Laser is slightly protruding too, while the one on the ZF3 Max is flat. The shape of the fingerprint scanner is also quite different – it’s rectangular for the ZF3 Laser and square on the ZF3 Max.

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The corners and sides of the two phones are also slightly different in shape – the ZF3 Max is slighty chunkier, while the ZF3 Laser is more tapered. The speaker grille placement is the same though.

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The phone feels good in the hands, and its ergonomics is top notch despite the slight differences. It feels as well built as its brothers, with no apparent creaks or gaps anywhere on the phone.

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The 5.5-inch display is now full HD up from the regular HD resolution of the smaller version, which is obviously noticeably sharper. The panel is still nice and vivid, with great viewing angles all around.

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The new ZF3 Max sports similar hardware to the ZF3 Laser. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor with an Adreno 505 GPU. The big difference is RAM – the 5.5-inch ZF3 Max has 1GB less compared to the Laser. Storage is the same though – both 32GB, and are both expandable.

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Just like its smaller brother, the 5.5-inch ZF3 Max has a 4100mAh battery inside of it. That, combined with the power-efficient Snapdragon 430 processor, virtually guarantees battery endurance of more than a day. We’ll have to keep using the phone to see just how far it’ll go on a single charge, but we’re pretty optimistic.

The only thing missing now is price – there’s no pricing for the 5.5-inch ZF3 Max in the Philippines yet unfortunately, but if India pricing is anything to go by, it’ll probably retail close to the SRP of the Zenfone 3 Laser. That’s why we think that ASUS may discontinue the ZF3 Laser, since their prices are so close to each other anyway. The 5.5 ZF3 Max having an almost identical feature set with the ZF3 Laser means that the two phones will cannibalize each other in the market if they’re both available.

13 comments

  1. Avatar

    There’s one thing that still has to be addressed with the new ZF3Max: The camera. Since the ZF3 Laser packs a Sony IMX214 sensor, shouldn’t the Laser *STILL* be superior in terms of camera performance? Or perhaps you guys can confirm if the new ZF3Max is also using the same sensor, or just Asus’ own Pixelmaster?

  2. Avatar

    ba’t ba kasi di nalang yung laser ang ginawa nilang max nung una pa, pwede naman sana asus zenfone 3 laser max, LOL!

  3. Avatar

    hybrid sim tray or dedicated microsd slot with separate dual sim slot?

  4. Avatar

    ang magandang review niyan dpat comparison nalang since almost same specs sila same brand, wla naman ibang masasabi pa dun. yung camera, battery perf, multitasking??..

    pero para sakin mas ok yung walang camera bump, generous pa sa otg cable

  5. Avatar

    nakakabad3p naman yan luging lugi na Zenfone 3 Laser ko jan 16mp camera lol… tpos malaki pa battery parang sulit talaga yan 🙁

  6. Avatar

    ….wla gorilla glass protection….tsk…tsk…

  7. Avatar

    kelan kaya to maging available? sana soon…

  8. Avatar

    Does the Zf3 max 5.5 has a Corning Gorilla Glass Protection?

  9. Avatar

    Available na po ang ZenFone 3 Max 5.5. Bumili ako kanina worth PHP 10,995 sa store ng ASUS sa SM North EDSA Annex. Sila pa lang ang merong stock nagtanong ako sa ibang store wala pa raw silang stock nito.

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