7.5
Score

Pros

  • Pure Android
  • Impressive Performance
  • Long Lasting Battery
  • Loud Speakers
  • Ridiculously Affordable

Cons

  • Underwhelming Camera
  • Slow Fingerprint Sensor

Now, the whole smartphone segment is getting competitive than ever. Thanks to companies like Xiaomi who broke the norm in making affordable yet powerful smartphone for it’s price tag. As the trend is increasing over time, one of the interesting segment is the Mid-tier smartphones. Ever since, the Zenfone 5 which we reviewed a while back – we were genuinely surprised in what it could do. With, there’s another smartphone in the market that broke the internet (in a way), being the affordable Snapdragon 636 smartphone in the market – that is the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1.

We were supposed to release this long due review a while back, but we forgot and, we just wanted to see how the phone lasts – Here’s our review on the Zenfone Max Pro M1.

Design & Build Quality

1/6

In terms of design, it probably has the generic Zenfone Max designs we have seen previously with the Zenfone Max Plus and the Zenfone 4 Max Pro. It has a curved back shell that has this sandblasted texture to it. What makes this look a bit to the polished side is the design on the back. The cut out has a lot more curve to it giving it that seamless look – which stands out in a way. We received the Blue color – it has more of a royal blue finish that isn’t striking but nice to look at. There’s another color, it’s the silver and it looks pretty. As it’s a Zenfone, there should be a small detail that gives the Zen, right? If you look closely at the lock button, the phone has the signature Zen design to it. Small details matter.

On to the build quality, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 is constructed with a glass on the front and a metal shell on the back. It feels nice in the hand and honestly, I did not expect it to have a solid build like this. The weight of the phone is evenly balanced, making it lot less prone to toppling off your hands. On the front, it is covered in glass but not Corning Gorilla Glass. You could get a protector on your way out if you don’t want your screen to obtain any sort of scratch. Good thing Asus has included a Silicon Case that saves you the trouble to find a case to protect. That’s a nice touch.

Specification and Benchmark

The variant that we received has the following – The phone is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 with 4GB RAM under the hood. As for the storage, it has 64GB which can be expanded with their dedicated SD Card slot – a sweet touch. As for the GPU counterpart, it has an Adreno 509 equipped under the hood. They do have other configurations – an entry level that comes with 3GB RAM 32 GB Storage and a max-ed out variant – with 6GB RAM 64GB Storage.

Below, you can look at the benchmark scores of this device. Do take note that Benchmark scores does not add up to day-to-day usage as it can vary accordingly.

1/3

Display

On the front, the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 has a 6-inch Full HD+ display which comes in an 18:9 aspect ratio. As for the pixel density, the display has 404 pixels per inch and an 85% coverage of the NTSC Color gamut. The Max Pro’s display is calibrated to a warmer tone instead of neutral – as it runs pure android, you won’t be able to calibrate to your liking.

If you look at the Max Pro M1’s display on its own, it has a beautiful display and it is definitely one of the best displays we have seen on a mid-tier phone. The viewing angle is good. The phone has the capability to hit a maximum brightness of 450nits. Using it under broad day light wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be and it’s just great. Watching videos on the display or even watching shows on Netflix or iflix, is nice. The blacks are not washed off but pleasing to the eyes and since it’s an IPS Display – the color pops. You won’t have any regrets with the display because it’s surprisingly good.

It may not be AMOLED or OLED but hey, I am completely okay with picking a phone with a good display like this.

Performance

The key selling point of the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 is its performance. Asus has emphasized repeatedly because this phone offers the best in class performance from the rest in this segment. So, what we did was – we installed some good games on this thing. Tekken, PUBG and Arena of Valor. Here’s how the experience was.

This smartphone sure is a powerhouse on its own. Jumping between applications on the 4GB variant is good and the memory handles well. Using lighter applications like the social networks and other video/music streaming apps, it worked just fine. Tekken took 2-3 minutes to load – but after that the game was completely playable and had no issues handling the animations and sorts. The other game that we played was Arena of Valor. It took about a minute to set things up and the next instant, I was playing the game – with no issues. It’s fascinating to see that the phone can handle almost every single game – better than the Snapdragon 660 powered phone. Very impressive.

Battery & Charging

The second thing Asus emphasized about the phone is the fact that it has a huge 5000 mAh battery that can last for more than 2 days. Jamming a huge battery and making sure the battery is thin – it takes a lot of space and a smarter design is required. They did it with this. During my time testing it, I did use it for a fair bit. After 18 hours of active time and with a Screen on time of 4 hours 15 minutes, the phone still had 36% battery left. Under light usage – after 15 hours of active time and with just 1 hour 52 minutes, the phone still had about 66% battery.

1/2

Coming from a flagship phone that has a mediocre battery life, using the Zenfone Max Pro was a complete bliss. I didn’t have to worry about carrying a battery pack with me at all and at the end of the day, going out for dinner with my friends and all – I still have nothing to worry about. The battery alone deserves a huge A+ rating. Asus seems to get this part right and others should learn from it.

Camera

Front Facing Camera

The front facing camera is an 8MP Sensor with an 85 degrees field of view. It also has a Soft light LED Flash too. It takes decent selfies and even groupies look nice under bright light -there’s nothing to complain about.

Rear Facing Camera

The Zenfone Max Pro houses a dual camera setup in a whole where the secondary sensor is a depth sensor instead of a wide angle like their Zenfone 5 or the Max Plus M1. The primary sensor on the other hand is a 13MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.0 and has a PDAF along with it.

Below is a shot where it was taken using the Zenfone Max Pro with and Without HDR enabled. The one on the left (Non-HDR shot), has a much punchier color to it. Looking at the car, the reds are saturated, and the sky looks alright. The shed is overexposed but still the details can be seen. The greens on the plant looks pretty good as well – it’s a decent shot. On the right, the picture has a bit of faded look to it and now the shed-up top looks normal, but the rest of the areas like the number plate and the plant looks hazy. It has a very flat color.

1/15

Other that – the pictures come out is decent-ish when you launch and shoot. But if you were to take your time and tinker a bit, the pictures from the camera can impress you. Under low light, it requires serious improvements. First, the hazy look to any HDR and low light shot needs fixing. They could have just gone with Google’s very own camera app, which would have been better in terms of features and capturing image. But the Zenfone Max Pro comes with Snapdragon Camera app, which Asus claimed that it’s cleaner and easier to maneuver around. Personally, I think there are other camera app that does better job.

If there’s one area the phone is underwhelming, it’s the camera counterpart. It’s not the worst bear it in mind, but it doesn’t wow you either. I personally am not a huge fan of the depth sensor setup as it’s more of a gimmick and I would much prefer something like a Wide Angle or a Telephoto, which would be functional.

Speakers

The Zenfone Max Pro has a 5-magnet loudspeaker with PMIC internal NXP smart amplifier and dual microphones.

At 50% volume, the quality of the sound and the song is simply great and there’s nothing to complain about it. The moment you crank it up to 100%, the clarity does off a bit but instead becomes the loudest speaker on a smartphone. Honestly, I am happy with the speakers. I am very glad it isn’t tinny or underwhelming in anyway.

If you are on the move and you just want to make sure your speakers are loud enough to hear – you don’t have to worry about it with this phone.

Face Unlock & Fingerprint Sensor

The device sports a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone. It is ideally placed. There is a bit of hiccup when it comes to the fingerprint sensor as it takes few seconds to unlock the phone. It works but it’s just slow initially. But after an update, the phone had the fingerprint issue fixed and it was a lot less slow.

The Zenfone Max Pro – uses its camera as a method to scan the face and unlock the device. If you are in an environment where the lighting is good, you should be fine. But if it isn’t, you won’t be able to unlock the phone properly. This is usually the case with all the smartphones out there.

UI & OS

 

Possibly one of the best things about the Asus Zenfone Max Pro – it’s Pure Android. Yes, you heard that right. After a long time, Asus has finally jumped into the pure android space with their Zenfone. This means – it does not have any bloatware’s and their custom UI on top. It’s snappy, clean and quick. And as it’s a Pure Android, you don’t get any fancy features like using twin apps and sorts – which people would find it useful – especially if you have dual SIM but there are other ways. If you are all in for the cleanest and snappiest performance, the Zenfone Max Pro will satisfy your needs.

Conclusion

That’s our review of the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1. For the price tag that the phone is being offered for, it’s completely a no brainer. I really don’t know how they made a smartphone that powers the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 this affordable. Yes, it does have some hiccups which can be fixed with an update. It’s a power house, there’s even a variant that has 6GB RAM that costs RM999 and honestly, I don’t know what else you’d need. If you want a great camera, this might not offer that.

This does compete head on with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, which is another smartphone that runs Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 and has a similar setup going on. But for the price tag, the Zenfone Max Pro M1, this is a clear winner. You could pick up their 3GB variant for just RM 699.

If you still have doubts in picking up between these two, stay tuned – as we will be releasing our review on the Redmi Note 5 soon. 😊

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