When coming to a good budget smartphone, Xiaomi will come in the picture especially their Note-series and no other brand come close.
Today ASUS has raised the bar of the budget smartphone by announcing the new ZenFone Max Pro (M1) for only RM 699 and can even go lower to RM 599 (Flash Sales).
Here’s a comprehensive review of the new ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1)
Let’s begin with the unboxing video and what’s inside the box;
Build & Design
Nothing much to shout out on the design outlook, it comes in a metallic unibody design with matte finishing back. ZenFone Max Pro may not be the thinnest smartphone out there but it’s the thinnest device that holds up 5,000 mAh capacity battery.
The volume rocker and power button are tactile. It also comes with a triple slot tray that can hold up to two nanoSIM plus a microSD card which can go up to 2TB.
The dual-rear camera setup is positioned vertically on the top left alongside with a LED flash. The cameras may may not be flushed but we didn’t encounter any wobbling while using it on a flat table unlike the iPhone X and Redmi Note 5.
The fingerprint scanner is located at the ergonomic location on the back and the Face Unlock feature available out-of-the-box. I did find the fingerprint sensor is a little slow as compared to other budget smartphones that I’ve used this year.
To my surprise, the ZenFone Max Plus able to squeeze in a 5,000 mAh and turned out to be lighter than most other 4,000 mAh battery smartphone in the market.
On the bottom-placed a 3.5mm audio jack, microphone, microUSB and single down firing speaker.
Overall the build and design are pretty solid. The only drawback is fingerprint magnet on the back matte surface.
The display is one of the biggest plus points for the ZenFone Max Pro. It has a minimum chin and top which translated to 77% screen-to-body ratio. The 5.99-inch Full HD+ IPS LCD display is adequately bright and sharp with 403ppi.
Color contrast levels are pretty good, vibrant and not too oversaturated. ASUS also allows us to adjust the white balance as per our preference. Sunlight legibility under maximum brightness was more than enough.
The performance on the ZenFone Max Pro is absolute zephyr thanks to the powerful yet power efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 based on 14nm process. The choice to go with a clean and almost stock Android Operating System also helps to bring smoothness user experience, especially in gaming.
ZenFone Max Pro able to handle most of the modern mobile games titles such as Asphalt 8 and Need For Speed No Limits at maximum graphics settings except the PUBG Mobile that only work smoothly on medium settings. Throughout the gaming test, there are no heating up issues or whatsoever.
We did run some benchmark tests and compared it with Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Plus and honor 9 lite as it has the closest specification and price;
The down-firing single speaker on the ZenFone Max Pro is loud and solid thanks to the strong 5 magnet speaker. The sound tends to gets muffled when I accidentally covered it while using the device horizontally.
ASUS ZenFone Max Pro runs on almost stock Android and received the latest version of Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box. This is the first time ASUS ditched its ZenUI OS and work with the stock Android OS, it gave the advantage to receive the updated Android version and security patches update regularly.
Here’s the thing, the “almost” stock Android OS is unlike the Android One devices. The OS is pretty much vanilla built and removed some useful app like Twin Apps & Boost Master that can be found on ZenUI.
The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro which I’m reviewing now has a dual rear camera setup consists of a 13-megapixel plus a 5-megapixel camera sensor that work as a depth sensor to create a more accurate Bokeh effect. There’s also a higher variant with 16-megapixels plus 5-megapixels rear camera shooter.
As for the selfie camera, you will get an 8-megapixel wide angle with LED flash for better low light photo taking.
The pre-installed Snapdragon Camera app is not up to our liking. The interface is pretty simple and straight-forward. It’s very easy to access to camera modes like depth-of-field, beautification, filters and scene mode (HDR, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Flowers, Sunset, Beach, Night-mode, and Candlelight). The Pro mode was removed and the processes after taking a photo are pretty slow.
Coming to photo quality, shots in daylight are pretty good but when coming to low light there’s a tendency of oversaturating which I believe caused by failed white-balance temperature recognition – Hope that ASUS will be able to resolve these problems with new software update.
The secondary 5-megapixel camera was able to recognize the foreground and the background to create a more accurate portrait Bokeh effect. It even works on objects.
The front camera photo quality is just decent with a bit color saturation and noises.
Below are some sample photos were taken with the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) without any post-processing;
Front camera – Beautify (Left) / Beautify + Depth Effect (Right)
It’s amazing that ASUS able to pack in an enormous 5,000 mAh battery into the ZenFone Max Pro without compromise the thickness and weight. With the 14nm process power efficient Snapdragon 636, it able to last me more than two days and almost 6 hours of screen-on-time.
I did perform battery test with PC Mark Work 2.0 Battery Life, the battery lasted 13 hours and 25 minutes which are pretty good. The bundled 10W brick it able to fully charge 5% ZenFone Max Pro under 3 hours despite it packed with 5,000 mAh battery.
By going through the specification versus price, the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro is the most powerful smartphone for its price. It has a powerful yet power efficient processor and at the same time offers a huge battery that none of the competitors come close. Matter facts, the device has a serious threat to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Plus.
If you want a budget phone for gaming and long-lasting battery life. The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is highly recommended.
The only drawback of this device is the camera software. It would be great if ASUS allows us to sideload the Google Camera app as the camera sensors are not really that bad.
Design – 8/10
Build – 8.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Camera – 7/10
Battery – 9/10
Value – 9.5/10
Overall – 8.5/10
The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) comes in two color options Deepsea Black and Meteor Silver.
• ZenFone Max Pro (M1) 3GB/32GB – RM 699
• ZenFone Max Pro (M1) 4GB/64GB – RM 849
• ZenFone Max Pro (M1) 6GB/64GB – RM 999
Promotion with Lazada Malaysia
• ZenFone Max Pro (M1) 3GB/32GB – RM 599 (Flash Sales 1st, 5th, 12th, 19th & 26th June 2018)
• ZenFone Max Pro (M1) 4GB/64GB – RM 799 (Flash Sales 2nd & 3rd June 2018)
ASUS is also partnering with Garena, every purchase of ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) will receive RM 80 in-game costumes gifts code.