The Zenfone Max comes in the same type of box as all of the current generation of Zenfones, including the Zenfone 2 and the Zenfone Selfie. Inside, you'll find the basics: an AC adapter and a USB to microUSB cable, but also a USB OTG cable.
Our unit came without headphones, so if a wired headset is important to you, you might check out whether one is available in your region or else, you would have to factor in the price of a headset.
The premise behind the USB OTG cable is that you can use the Zenfone Max as a power bank and charge other devices. However, it will take you a while to fill up the Max itself - considering the sheer capacity of the 5,000mAh power unit, Asus could've done better than a 5.2V/1A charger.
The Asus Zenfone Max measures 156 x 77.5 x 10.6mm, which is more or less the same as the Zenfone Selfie, and a few millimeters taller than the regular 5.5-inch Zenfone 2 (the ZE551ML being one example of those). It's also a little wider, but you're unlikely to notice any of these differences.
What you inevitably will notice though is the heft of the Zenfone Max. At 202g, the increased weight is more than tangible. However, that's also a compromise that by definition goes with the high-capacity battery, and if the Max has made it to your short list, you should already be okay with it.
Immediately recognizable as a member of the Zenfone 2 family, the Zenfone Max won't be easy to tell apart from its siblings, just by looking at its front. Large bezels all around, capacitive keys below the display, and a chin with a brushed metal finish with concentric circle pattern - all of them have it.
Take a look at it from any other angle however, and you'll start to spot the differences. For one, the Zenfone Max has what appears to be a frame all around. Painted in gold, it serves as an accent to nicely complement the prevalent black color of our review unit.
The frame also houses a power button and volume rocker on the right. So, what happened to the back mounted volume rocker on other Zenfones, the more observant among you might ask. Well's that's another aspect where the Max designers took a different path, a more orthodox one.
There's nothing special about the port placement - a 3.5mm jack on top, microUSB on the bottom. A tiny pinhole next to it is for the primary microphone.
The texture of the rear is what you won't find on other Zenfones either - the faux leather effect works very nicely with the soft-touch plastic.
Other than that, you have a familiar arrangement of a centrally-mounted camera, flanked by a dual-LED flash and a cutout for the laser-assisted focus.
As with all other members of the family, the Zenfone Max features a removable back cover. Underneath it you'll find the large capacity battery, but you won't be able to swap it. Without tools that is.
On the Zenfone 2 the battery is sealed, but its component arrangement is such that the SIM slots are on top of the battery to better utilize the curvature of the back. Then the Zenfone Selfie has a lithium polymer battery you can easily pop out, and looking at the flat power pack of the Max, we can't help but wonder 'why not?'. We won't dwell on it that much though, 5,000mAh is 5,000mAh.
The Zenfone Max is undeniably a large device and quite heavy too. However, the curvature of the back, along with the soft grippy texture make for comfortable and secure handling.