Asus Zenfone Max M1 Review: Dragged down by bad software and camera?

Asus Zenfone Max M1 is quite affordable and looks good on paper, but how does that translate to real life performance? Is it worth it? Let's find out.

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Asus Zenfone Max M1 has a fingerprint sensor on the back.

Asus Zenfone Max M1 is supposed to be a really affordable sub Rs. 10,000 smartphone that offers great performance for the value. However, ambition is not enough to build a great smartphone.

The Zenfone Max M1 comes with great specifications on paper, but as we know from the past, specifications aren’t the only deciding factor in deciding if a phone is good enough or not. Let’s find out if the Asus Zenfone Max M1 is worth your money or not?

Asus Zenfone Max M1 official commercial video.

Asus Zenfone Max M1 Review

The Asus Zenfone Max M1 comes with a 1.40 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 coupled with an Adreno 505 GPU and 3GB of RAM. It sports a 5.5-inch (720 x 1440 pixels) LCD display. For optics, it features a 13-megapixel sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and an LED flash on the back. For selfies, it packs an 8-megapixel sensor. All of this is backed by a 4,000mAh battery.

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Asus Zenfone Max M1 is quite compact and easy to hold in one hand.

The device sports a plastic back panel that feels quite cheap. It runs Google’s Android 8.0 Oreo with Asus’s ZenUI skin on top. The phone sports dual SIM card slots, a dedicated microSD card slot, 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro-USB port for charging and data syncing. Additionally, there is a fingerprint sensor on the back. At this price point, the fingerprint sensor is a good thing to have, more on that later.

Asus Zenfone Max M1 Review: Design

There is nothing that might interest you in the design of the Asus Zenfone Max M1. The back is made out of plastic, which in our golden coloured review unit looked very cheap. The in-hand feel of the plastic is not that good. However, it is a good thing that the company didn’t try to hide the fact that it is plastic by adding a shiny layer of reflective paint on top of the body.

Asus Zenfone Max M1 sports a small screen, compared to many recently launched devices.

The device sports a 5.5-inch LCD display with an aspect ratio of 18:9. Unlike the trend of 2018, there is no notch on the display. However, the display is stretched a bit to reduce bezels. The speaker grille, 8-megapixel front camera, and the sensor array are all placed on the top bezel. Due to Asus deciding to skip the Notch on this one, it gives the device symmetry with the bezels at both the top and bottom, which looks nice.

The plastic back of the Asus Zenfone Max M1 looks quite dull.

On the back, the device sports a single camera setup and an LED flash aligned in a vertical orientation on the top left corner. It bears the Asus branding in the centre just below the fingerprint sensor.

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Left, Right, Top, Bottom in that order.

On the right edge, you can see a power button with the volume rockers. The left edge holds the SIM card tray with dual SIM card slots and a dedicated micro-SD card slot. The top edge houses a headphone jack and the bottom edge features a micro-USB port along with loudspeakers and the primary microphone. The microphone array is designed to look like speakers so as to offer symmetry to the device, which needless to say looks good.

Overall the design of the smartphone feels pretty simplistic. With symmetry all around and no fancy design to attract attention, the Asus Zenfone Max M1 is not an eye turner. However, it still manages to provide a simplistic look which many people like.

Asus Zenfone Max M1 Review: Software

Asus Zenfone Lite L1 runs Google’s Android 8.0 Oreo with the company’s own ZenUI skin on top. ZenUI is a skin that Asus adds to almost all of its devices giving them a unique look and feel. It offers a heavily customised Android experience with its own icon pack and some bloatware apps like Facebook, Atok and BR Apps. These might be useful for some people but not for all. However, a plus point is that some of these apps can be uninstalled, whereas, others can easily be disabled from the app drawer itself.

Zenfone Lite L1 Software
Asus’s ZenUI is not one of the best skins available for Android out there.

Overall ZenUI has evolved a lot from the older Zenfone days, but it still has a lot of small things, which you might feel are needed or you might hate it, depending on your personal preferences.

Also Read: OnePlus, Nokia, Xiaomi: List of smartphones receiving Google’s Android Pie update

Asus Zenfone Max M1 Review: Performance

Performance is a major area of concern on any device, the same goes for Asus Zenfone Max M1. It is powered by a 1.40 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor coupled with an Adreno 505 GPU and 3GB of RAM.

We ran our usual Antutu 7 and Geekbench 4 benchmarks. The Zenfone Max M1 scored 57,991 in the AnTuTu 7 benchmark and 67 in Geekbench 4 single core sore and 2,484 in Geekbecnh 4 multi core cpu test. The smartphone doesn’t exhibit any lag during normal usage, like sending text messages, making a few calls or light browsing.

Also Read: Asus Zenfone Max M2 Review: Best budget smartphone yet?

While playing light games such as Temple Run and Crossy Chicken, the phone shows a bit of lag here and there. Heavy games like Asphalt 9 Legends and PUBG Mobile are almost next to impossible to play.

Asus Zenfone Max M1 Review: Display

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The Display of the Zenfone Max M1 is okay.

Asus Zenfone Max M1 sports a 5.5-inch LCD display with a resolution of 1440×720 pixels. The display is able to get bright and dim enough to help anyone get through their day. However, legibility under direct sunlight is not that great.

Also Read: Asus ZenBook Pro UX580 Review: The hottest ultrabook?

Asus Zenfone Max M1 Review: Camera

Asus Zenfone Max M1 features a 13-megapixel rear camera sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and an 8-megapixel sensor for selfies on the front. Both the camera sensors are good on paper. Although, not everything depends on the camera lenses as we have seen in the past.

Images that were taken with the rear camera come out okay. The colours are little brighter than natural and the contrast is a little off. The focus is bad, but the detail retention is really good.

Asus, Zenfone Max M1, Camera Samples

The front camera is a totally different story. The photos taken come out a little too dark and the white balance is very bad and the colours generally are a little dull.

Overall the camera of the Asus Zenfone Max M1 is a let down. If you want a good camera smartphone, the Zenfone Lite L1 is a better option.

Also Read: Asus VivoBook S14 (S430U) Review: MacBook Air got some competition

Asus Zenfone Max M1 Review: Battery

Asus Zenfone Lite L1 is backed by a 4,000mAh battery, which lasts for a little less than 2 days with light usage on a single charge. On normal usage, the battery survives for around 30-32 hours before giving in.

Also Read: Top 5 Oppo K1 alternatives: Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2, Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro and more

Charging time with the included charger is around two and a half hours, which is not bad. According to us, you might want to charge this smartphone in the night before going to bed so that it doesn’t die on you during the next day’s work hours.

Asus Zenfone Max M1 Review: Verdict

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Overall, the Zenfone Max M1 is not the greatest phone you can buy for the price.

Asus Zenfone Max M1 is available at Rs. 7,499 as of the time of writing this review. For the price and performance it offers, the Zenfone Max M1 is not a great smartphone.

The camera is not that good, the performance is not up to the mark and ZenUI doesn’t do any good either. The only thing going for it is battery life.

There are other options by companies like Xiaomi offering more value for money in this price range. I would suggest you go for smartphone, like the Xiaomi Redmi 6 or the Zenfone Lite L1 instead of getting the Asus Zenfone Max M1.


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