Hands-on: ASUS ZenFone Max and ZenFone Laser

ASUS's ZenFone line is expanding — there's the standard ZenFone 2 and the 3x optical zoom ZenFone Zoom — but there's also the ZenFone Max and the ZenFone Laser. Each offers their own take on the smartphone experience, focusing on improving in one specific area over the ZenFone 2.

ASUS ZenFone Max

Let's start with the ZenFone Max. The "Max" in this case refers to the battery, which is an especially capacious 5000mAh. Announced back in August, the phone also sports a 13MP PixelMaster camera and laser autofocus. The entire package is surprisingly thin for how much battery is crammed inside. It's noticeably heftier than a standard smartphone, but also still lighter and thinner than we'd expect from this size battery. And certainly far lighter than adding on a battery pack with a USB cable or a battery case. From the front you wouldn't even know the difference — it looks like a standard ZenFone 2, and that's not a bad thing.

ASUS ZenFone Laser

Also first announced back at Computex, the ZenFone Laser is closer to the ZenFone 2 in size and weight, adding in a laser autofocus module for "lightning fast" focusing in the darkness and daylight. ASUS claims focusing speeds of as fast as 0.2 seconds for the 13MP camera, roughly matching the focusing speed that we've come to expect from the LG G4. This comes in a body that's 10.5mm thick with a 5-inch 720p display and a 3000mAh battery.

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Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm (the old one), and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

  • In a world of phones that sacrifice battery performance to shave a few millimetres of thickness, the Max is a refreshing phone. 5000mAh is outrageous. I reckon the phone could last two days or more. Posted from the LG G4 "Spigen + Anime" Edition. It says "Pointy end of the S Pen goes into the slot first. NOT the other way around".
  • Exactly. Nowadays 3300mAh should be the minimum for most Androids 5.2" and under, while 5.5 & up minimum should be 4000. The phones will still be acceptably thin. I believe the majority of people would appreciate it more than having a razor thin device they can barely hold, that can't last more than 4-5 hours. These screens are demanding so just makes since. Posted via GS6 Active - aka GS6 M.E. (Manly Edition) dat battery tho
  • Not really! It's about customization, not increasing numbers. Posted.
  • THat is not true if the number is about the battery size. That number can always be bigger and we are no where near the law of diminishing returns.
  • Seriously now? More variants? Posted.
  • While I love the big battery with 720p screen combination, it is not max in another key area. 16gb is below the min storage I find acceptable.
  • Why can't they just make it 32 with expandable storage and this awesome battery? Along with the 4gb RAM and this would be a beast. I know it's in them to do it but they don't want us to have all our toys for some reason. Posted via the Android Central App
  • All of there devises are so fragmented. They keep releasing so many phones and it seems that each one has a specific great feature. Would love to see one without all of the features added and call it an Super Zenfone 2. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Love the big battery - just wish Asus would quit with the silly unlit capacitive buttons and just go with on-screen buttons. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Silly ulit--yes
    Onscreen - - no Check out the new Nexus! https://youtu.be/u3uFOavLo_w, not a Rick roll
  • While the max looks great, a 5" 720p screen with laser auto focus and a good size battery might be the sweet spot for this thing. Good battery life and a solid camera. I still contend 720p on the right screen type especially at 5" is more than satisfactory and it will save a lot of power. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The design of this phone isn't exactly wooing me. It looks like something that came out in 2011. Love the big Battery in the Max, but that's about it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • With a Snapdragon 410? Seriously, why can't they make a version of the Zenphone 2 with a battery that size? This is a winner for those looking for a cheapo phone, but not good enough for today's midrange and high-end. Those folks are still looking for an option with a capacious battery, which would sell... if someone would make it. Posted via the Android Central App