Asus has already launched various smartphones in the Indian market focussing on the budget as well as the premium segment. All of their Zenfone devices savoured moderate success largely due to laid-back pricing and disappointing specifications.
With Zenfone Max Pro M1, Asus is trying to make a comeback in the budget smartphone market. This smartphone doesn’t have any unique feature that will set it apart from other budget devices. But, it’s enough to challenge Xiaomi’s offerings and take the “budget” throne.
Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 comes in two storage variants – 3GB RAM with 32GB internal storage and 4GB RAM with 64GB onboard storage. The device is available exclusively via Flipkart in two different colours – Grey and Black (the one on which we got our hands on).
We’ve been using this device for over 2 weeks and now we’re bringing you our full comprehensive review. Is Zenfone Max Pro M1 a game changer for the brand? Find out here.
Build & Design
Asus this time went with the different design approach as compared to the previous Zenfone 4 family – it is more on the conservative side. The smartphone at first seems dull and boring but with regular usage that is not going to be a big issue. Weighing around 180g, the device is a little hefty but feels sturdy and robust.
The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 is built with an aluminium mid-frame and a metal alloy back. The design of the device is simple and modern although the back doesn’t really prevent the fingerprint smudges.
The unit which we’re using is the black one which actually looks bluer in the proper lighting conditions. The device doesn’t seem to feature an infamous notch but has thick bezels at top and bottom. In addition, there are no physical or capacitive keys since the smartphone made use of an onscreen button which I personally don’t like most of the times. Moving on to the rear part, there is a vertically aligned dual rear camera which is located at the back at the top left corner. As for the fingerprint scanner, it is circular shaped and is positioned right in the middle as well. The LED flash is then found underneath the dual cameras followed by the Asus logo.
The usual volume rocker and power buttons are on the right side which offers good feedback. The sim card tray is present at the top left corner supporting dual nano SIM and a microSD card. The bottom of the device houses a speaker grill, USB 2.0 port, a microphone and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 features a 5.99-inches IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1080 x 2160 pixels and an aspect ratio of 18:9. We tried watching movies on this smartphone and we found it enjoyable thanks to the large screen. The display was also able to produce vibrant images that don’t change colours on viewing from different angles.
When we tried to take sample shots outside, we didn’t have any problems viewing the screen. Its brightness was easily adjustable thanks to the adaptive brightness. Overall, we don’t have any complaint about the display. The colours and saturation strike a balance that is neither an overbearing nor lacking.
In regards to the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 camera setup, it sports a dual rear camera setup with the 13MP and a 5MP camera sensor having phase detection autofocus and an LED flash. It also arrives with an 8-MP selfie snapper at the front.
In the 6GB RAM variant, there is a 16-MP camera sensor at the front instead of 8MP as seen in the regular variant. At the back, there is again a dual camera setup but with 16MP and 5MP sensors.
The main challenge for a budget smartphone with the decent specification is to give a decent camera setup which most of the brand breaks to provide. The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 is no exception here.
The rear camera works pretty well under the daylight condition but the same cannot be said for low light. The colours seem pretty accurate and remain close to real life in most of the shots. Although, there were some parts in the photo that has some blurry edges. Other than that, some parts were also over-exposed. Coming to the portrait mode, there were many times when we struggle to get a good portrait shot. With the rear camera, you can shoot 4k videos which is a nice addition.
Speaking of the front camera, it produces good selfies after the recent software update but still doesn’t manages to impress us. One of the main competitors for Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 has to be the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro. The rear camera of Zenfone is comparable to Redmi Note 5 but when it comes to selfies, the succeeding takes the lead.
Asus might fix the above-listed issues soon in their upcoming software updates. Overall, in the camera department, the smartphone does lag behind a bit but for some, that would not be a deal breaker.
Camera Samples: Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1
Software and Performance
One of the main problems with Zenfone devices was their software but that changes now. Previous Zenfone devices run on the brand’s very own custom ZUI which was most of their users shunned a lot. This time the brand decided to go with the near stock Android experience which turns out to be in their favour.
It is worth noting that the software still doesn’t come under the Android One programme meaning Asus is going to provide future updates, not Google itself.
The Zenfone Max Pro M1 runs on the latest version of Android i.e Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box. This time, Asus is planning to concentrate more on software updates than before. You’re going to get the Android version updates up to Android Q on this device.
Now jumping to the performance, Zenfone Max Pro M1 comes with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 chipset coupled with Adreno 509. As far as the storage is a concern, you can expand it up to 2 TB via microSD card. We played heavy gaming titles like Asphalt 8 and PubG on this device. Surprisingly, the smartphone manages to give us an incredible experience. There was no noticeable lag and the graphics were amazing. Although, the device still gets hot with intense gaming – that’s the case with most of the budget smartphones.
In terms of software and performance, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 takes the lead in the budget segment category. As per the benchmark scores, the smartphone is ahead thanks to the stock Android. For security purposes, you’ll get a fingerprint sensor as well as FaceID. Both of them works fine.
Here comes the biggest selling point of this smartphone – It’s battery backup. Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 comes with a massive 5,000 mAh battery which can last you for 2 days if you’re a moderate user. For me, the smartphone lasted for 2 days and I was still left with some juice. That’s amazing for a budget device like this.
I used this device as my primary driver which includes all the social apps like Telegram, WhatsApp, Instagram and others, moderate video and gaming consumption. The smartphone was connected with the WiFi almost all the time with location set to on. Coming to the charging time, the device will take somewhat 1 hour and 50 minutes to charge completely which is also impressive. So, kudos to Asus for doing such a great job with the battery.
Verdict – Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1
We’re back to the foremost question now – Is Zenfone Max Pro M1 is a game changer for the brand? The smartphone comes with great specifications and stock software with an amazing pricing. The device clearly competes with the likes of Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro. Asus manages to steal the game with their massive battery, near stock Android experience, and performance. The only category where you can pick flaws has got to be the cameras which the brand can fix with software updates.
With Zenfone Max Pro M1, Asus is back in the budget smartphone game. This device is, no doubt, a game changer for the brand. And with so many good stuff, it’s hard not to recommend this phone to anyone. If you’re seriously looking for Redmi Note 5 Pro alternative, then your search ends with Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1.
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Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1
Asus manages to steal the game with their massive battery, near stock Android experience, and performance. The only category where you can pick flaws has got to be the cameras which the brand can fix with software updates.
- Good looks and construction quality
- Vibrant screen
- Great performance
- Decent cameras
- Excellent value for money
- Relatively disappointing battery life
- Awkward camera app interface