38 days of standby time and the ability to power another smartphone — the monster battery of the Asus Zenfone Max hasn’t been a secret for a while now.
The Taiwanese company itself teased the phone several times last year, first at a press event in India in August, and then later at the IFA Consumer tech show in Berlin last September.
We saw it again at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas last January, shortly before it began rolling out around the globe, and finally, last week it arrived at the GadgetMatch lab.
Like all the other Zenfones, the Zenfone Max ships in the familiar matte white rectangular pull-out box with the name and phone printed on the cover. Highlighted on the right side are the specs unique to the phone.
Removing the cover reveals the phone wrapped in a protective plastic seal. Underneath you pull up a door-like carton cover to see the User Guide and Warranty Card pamphlets.
Tucked in their mini compartments are a standard micro USB cable, a 5V 1A USB wall adapter, earphones and extra buds.
Unique to the Zenfone Max package is an OTG cable (micro USB to USB) that converts the phone into a powerbank when you connect it to another phone using any standard micro USB cable.
Look and Feel
Up front, the Zenfone Max is identical to every other Zenfone variant – the earpiece, ASUS logo, and front-facing 5MP camera up top, capacitive buttons and signature concentric circle design at the bottom.
Flip the phone over and you’ll notice subtle changes in its design language. The Zenfone Max has a less pronounced curved back, making the phone feel thinner than the Zenfone 2, Selfie, and Laser, albeit still considerably hefty.
When it was previewed, the phone had a removable back plate with a rubbery matte finish, but thankfully Asus opted for a textured leather-like back that not only makes the phone less slippery, but also improves its overall aesthetic. Completing the look is the light gold plastic band that frames the sides of the phone.
The micro SD card and dual micro SIM card slots are tucked underneath the rugged cover, as well as the non-removable 5,000 mAh battery.
Also on the back of the phone are the 13MP PixelMaster camera flanked by a dual tone LED flash, and sensor for the laser autofocus. Below the Zenfone branding are the speaker grilles.
The only physical buttons on the device are its volume rocker and the power button on the right hand side of the device. The headphone jack is located on top of the device, while the micro USB port and microphone are on its bottom.
Out of the box, the Zenfone Max runs Android 5.0.2 skinned with Zen UI, ASUS’ implementation of Android. It’s not our favorite implementation of Android, but its not that bad either. We like all the customization options, but also think the phone could do away with the bloatware.
Overall the Zenfone Max feels more premium than the other Zenfones like the Selfie and Laser, and at P8,495 in the Philippines and Rs. 9699 in India (approx $185) not only do you get a good-looking phone but also a powerbank to charge your less powerful phone if need be, all for under $200.
[irp posts=”11934″ name=”ASUS ZenFone 3 Max’s new update boosts battery life”]
God of War Ragnarok Early Impressions
Familiar and new at the same time
Sony PlayStation has graciously provided GadgetMatch with a review code of God of War Ragnarok. This article, however, isn’t a review yet. This is only our early impressions after spending roughly around 10 hours with the game.
So, no, there will be no spoilers whatsoever here. In fact, there’s a lot we’re not allowed to discuss – for good reason. But here’s what we can tell you:
Playing the first game is encouraged…
Playing the initial installment (God of War 2018) is encouraged but not required. There’s a brief story recap option on the menu and it covers the more important plot points. There’s also several recap videos on YouTube that serve this purpose.
But PlayStation has made the 2018 game available in so many different ways that, if you can get your hands on it, we suggest you do so first before diving into Ragnarok. You still have three (3) weekends to do so as of writing.
It’s not overwhelming
That said, if you’d rather jump into this game right off the bat, that should be fine too. The game does a good job of easing you into all the weapons, skills, and whatnots that you’ll encounter.
The first game ended with Kratos having more than one weapon. Ragnarok throws you into action but staggers the weapons available in a way that makes sense for the story.
New traversal and puzzle-solving
A lot of the early platform puzzles feel the same but there are a few additional moves that help keep things interesting. Specifically, these involve the Blades of Chaos.
Some of it has been shown in the trailers. Kratos can use the Blades to Hook and Grapple himself towards higher areas. The Blades can also be used to yank off certain obstacles.
Combat is fun and challenging
Easily one of the best things about the new God of War is its combat. Ragnarok retains everything you know and love about combat. But it keeps things interesting by mixing in a new blocking mechanic as well as introducing new enemy types early on.
You will feel the weight of every axe swing, every blade cut, and every weapon clash. Fighting as Kratos feels as good as ever and is easily one of the most satisfying battle experiences in any video game ever made.
The story is engaging
Perhaps even more so than the first game, Ragnarok, even in its early hours, will have you hooked on the narrative. The story picks-up three years after the events of the first game, with Atreus looking to find out more about himself. Atreus’ curiosity and how Kratos reacts to it is at the heart of everything that will transpire.
The presentation is stunning
God of War Ragnarok is still a one-shot like the first game. That means no loading screens whatsoever. And it looks as visually stunning as it ever did. If you can, do yourself a favor and play this on a 4K TV with support for at least 60fps.
The visual presentation is jaw-dropping. Everything from the environments, the animations, the character models, and how they interact and show emotion during key moments.
The dialogue is also top-notch. It gets cheeky and on the nose at times, humorously referencing events from the first game.
Lastly, the music and overall sound is divine. Nothing ever feels out of place. And each scene is enhanced and elevated by the absolute masterpiece that is the score in this game.
Should you pre-order?
We’re only 10 hours in and we’re absolutely elated with how things are going so far. As early as now, we can say with absolute certainty that this is easily one of the best games you will play in your lifetime. Stop dilly-dallying and pre-order it now.
Google Pixel 7, 7 Pro, and Pixel Watch First Look
Finally after many months of teasers
But surprisingly, they offer more than what was announced.
Wanna know more about ’em?
Take a look at our First Look of the Google Pixel 7, 7 Pro, and the Pixel Watch!
First 24 Hours with the iPhone 14 Pro Max
Battery & Camera Champ?
Aside from the usual one day usage, it’s also a great time to see the streets of New York, at least virtually.
With the new cameras of the iPhone 14 Pro Max (including a 48MP sensor),
is it suffice to say it’s worth upgrading to this year’s iPhone?
Here’s Michael Josh’s first 24 hours with the new iPhone 14 Pro Max for you to find out more.
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