Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 In-Depth Review: Budget smartphone king?

Is the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 the best mid-range smartphone?

Zenfone Max Pro M1
Is the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 the best mid-range smartphone?

Asus recently unveiled a new smartphone in their Zenfone Max series. The Zenfone Max series is focused towards providing great battery backup and decent performance on a budget. The all-new Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 comes packed with a 5,000mAh battery. Will it be able to live up to our expectations? Here’s our full review of the ZenFone Max Pro M1

Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1

The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC coupled with 3GB or 4GB of RAM. It sports a 5.99-inch FullHD+ IPS LCD display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. For the optics, it features a dual-camera setup at the back consisting of a 13-megapixel and a 5-megapixel sensor with f/2.2 and f/2.4 aperture respectively. For the Selfies, there is an 8-megapixel selfie snapper with a selfie flash. All of this is backed up by a massive 5,000mAh Battery.

Zenfone Max Pro M1
Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 is an impressive smartphone that shatters its competition on and off the paper.

The smartphone sports a metal and glass construction with plastic caps at top and bottom for the antenna. This gives the smartphone a premium look. It runs on a nearly-stock Android 8.1.0 Oreo. What differs the ZenFone Max Pro M1 from other Asus devices is the absence of the ZenUI skin. It also features a Fingerprint sensor, a dual-sim card slot, micro-USB port and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Design

Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 sports an almost similar design to the smartphones in this segment but slightly improved. The device sports an 18:9 aspect ratio display which increases the screen size by reducing the bezels and keeping the dimension of the phone the same.

Zenfone Max Pro M1
The ZenFone Max Pro M1 sports a 5.99-inch display up front

The front of the device houses a 5.99-inch (1080×2160 pixels) IPS LCD display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. The smartphone has a rear mounted fingerprint sensor and on-screen buttons so the bottom is void of anything. Above the screen, there is an earpiece. On the right of the earpiece are the sensors and on the left, there is the 8-megapixel front camera.

Zenfone Max Pro M1
There is a vertical dual-camera setup at the back

The smartphone sports a metal back. There is a plastic strip at top and bottom and sides of the phone for antenna purposes. The rear camera sensors lie vertically on the top left of the smartphone. The led flash is just below the camera sensor. The rear-mounted fingerprint sensor is in the top centre of the smartphone. There is an Asus branding just below the fingerprint sensor. On the bottom centre, there are the labels regarding production. However, the branding and the labels are so subtle that they aren’t visible that much. It really gives the back a clean look.

The right of the smartphone sports a volume rocker and a power button. The hybrid dual sim card tray is on the left of the smartphone. The bottom of the phone features a micro-USB slot for charging and data-sync in the centre along with speakers on the right and headphone jack on the left. There is a secondary microphone situated on the top of the device.

The ZenFone Max Pro M1 comes with something called as a Max box. It is nothing special but a piece of cardboard designed to increase the smartphone sound. It can also act like a smartphone stand. There is nothing so special about it but its good to see that smartphone manufacturers like Asus are taking initiatives like this.

Software

Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 runs on nearly stock Android 8.1.0 Oreo out of the box. It is not exactly like the interface found on the Google Pixel or Xiaomi Mi A1 as Asus has made a few modifications here and there. However, the interface is snappy and apps load in a gist.

Zenfone Max Pro M1 Software
The software is almost stock which gives this smartphone an edge.

The software performance of the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 is great. The software runs lag-free with nothing to complain in regards to the performance. Also, it’s an Android phone so if you don’t like the way it looks, you can always change it with third-party launchers and more. The smartphone, unfortunately, comes with bloatware including Facebook, Messenger and Instagram that cannot be uninstalled.

Performance

The performance is a major area of concern in any device. Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 focuses towards delivering a great battery backup. However, the smartphone performs good enough for its price point. With its specifications, it already matches the expected performance mark. The Zenfone Max Pro M1 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC paired with Adreno 509 GPU. Our review unit has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. There is also a 4GB+64GB variant on sale.

 Zenfone Max Pro M1 AnTuTu and Geekbench
AnTuTu v7(Left) and Geekbench 4(Right)

We ran our usual AnTuTu benchmarks and the GeekBench benchmark to evaluate the performance of the phone. The AnTuTu 7 yielded a score of 111845 while GeekBench gave it a solid single core score of 1302 and multi-core score of 4451. The performance numbers of the device are higher compared to its competition.

The phone exhibits no lag while long usage duration and the internals remains cool even at heavy gaming. In light gaming such as Temple Run and Hill Climb Racing, the phone runs smoothly and cool. The situation is different with heavy games like PUBG. While the phone doesn’t lag it heats a bit.

Display

The smartphone has an average 5.99-inch display with 18:9 aspect ratio. A 5.99-inch display would seem like a large display, however, that’s average by 2018 standards. Also, it’s an 18:9 aspect ratio display, so it doesn’t feel so huge in hand. It also has a rounded display making it look and feel better. The display gets not so quite low and highly bright. The colours are average but considering the price tag, it is good enough. The sunlight readability is great. Coupled with the 18:9 aspect ratio display, the browsing and consuming content on this smartphone is a delight.

Camera

The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 features a dual rear camera setup. The setup consists of a 13-megapixel rear camera f/2.2 aperture with a 5-megapixel f/2.4 aperture sensor. For the selfies, it packs an 8-megapixel front camera with LED flash. The camera sensors are good on paper, how the secondary rear camera could have a bigger sensor. However, not all depends on the sensor so let’s see.

The indoor shots by the device are impressive and the colours feel quite good. Also, the focus on the indoor shots and the stabilization of the camera is good. The outdoor images from the smartphone are really good and colours are satisfying. The details and the exposure is also good. However, there is no bokeh effect, at least one that is noticeable despite the dual camera setup.

Zenfone Max Pro M1 Camera Samples
Outdoor

The 8-megapixel front-facing camera with LED flash has the same story. The photos from the front camera are same as the back camera except for the little unnatural colours. Rest the camera quality is the same as the back.

The camera quality of the smartphone quite impressive. The true camera buffs might like this smartphone. Also, the company has to post an update to improve the low-light performance and overall camera improvements which our unit didn’t get at the time of writing the review. So expect the camera performance to improve.

Battery

Packing a 5,000mAh battery, the expectations are quite high. Also, its a device of the Zenfone Max series, so expectations are even higher. The device charges adequately fast with the included 2amp charger. It took the smartphone to completely charge from 0-100 around 2 hours 30 mins. The smartphone lasts almost two days with average usage which is excellent.

 Zenfone Max Pro M1 Battery and PC Mark
The PC Mark shows a lot less time than real usage due to the display not getting as lower than other phones.

We ran the PC Mark’s Work 2.0 Battery Life test which subjects the phone to extreme usage and finds out the battery life in that condition. The device yielded a result of 15 hours and 8 minutes. Which is lower considered the competition, however, the smartphone lasts longer than those smartphones. This is due to the screen not being able to get lower than other competing phones. Personally, I don’t think this should affect daily performance.

Conclusion

Zenfone Max Pro M1
The Zenfone Max Pro M1 is truly the budget king we have been looking for.

The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 comes with a starting price tag of Rs 10,999 for the 3GB RAM and 32GB storage variant. However, the upgraded 4GB RAM model with 64GB storage costs Rs 12,999. Considering the price tag, the smartphone is a great deal. Better than any we have seen. The smartphone is amazing compared to its competition. The smartphone also packs Face Unlock, however, at the time of writing this review, the update was not live it. In simple words, the smartphone is the best one you can buy at this range.

Edit: The smartphone got an update after this review was written. The update enabled the Face Unlock on the smartphone. In our testing, we found that the face unlock on the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 isn’t as good as the competition. It doesn’t recognize the face half of the time and when it does it takes longer than phones like the Redmi Note 5. However, the smartphone was already impressive in our testing, so this shouldn’t change anything. You can continue to use the Fingerprint sensor which is quite fast and responsive.

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