Asus is following a radically different approach with its new Asus Zenfone Max Pro. The new ‘disruptive’ online-first phone employs the Snapdragon 636 octa-core chipset, has a massive 5000mAh battery, and runs stock Android.
Clearly, Asus is abandoning tall conventions to straightforwardly give consumers what they want. The competitive price also ensures that the Max Pro will go directly up against the Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 Pro and Redmi Note 5. Is the new Asus phone up for the challenge? Let’s answer that in our detailed Asus Zenfone Max Pro Review!
Editor’s Note: We have used the Asus Zenfone Max Pro 3GB RAM and 32GB storage variant for this review.
Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 Advantages and Disadvantages:
- Great performance
- Good quality display
- Excellent battery backup
- Stock Android 8.1 Oreo
- Dedicated card slot, Dual SIM Dual VoLTE support
- Shoddy camera app
- Nondescript design
Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 Specifications
|Model||Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1|
|Display||5.99-inch (2160×1080 pixels) Full HD+ 18:9 2.5D curved glass display|
|Processor||1.8GHz octa-core Snapdragon 636 14nm Mobile Platform with Adreno 509 GPU|
|Internal Storage||32GB/64GB, expandable to 2TB (Dedicated card slot)|
|Software||Android 8.1 Oreo|
|Primary Camera||13MP+5MP, f/2.0 aperture, with phase detection AF, bokeh mode
16MP +5MP (For the 6GB RAM variant)
|Secondary Camera||8MP with f/2.0 aperture lens
16MP (for the 6GB RAM variant)
|Dimensions and Weight||159 x 76 x 8.61 mm; 180g|
|Battery||5000mAh, 10W charger|
|Others||Dual-sim, 4G Volte, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 5, Face Unlock (coming soon), Fingerprint sensor, 5-magnet speaker, NXP Smart Amp|
|Price||10,999 INR, 12,999 INR, 14,999 INR|
Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 Design and Build
There is nothing particularly flashy about the Zenfone Max Pro design, but the handset still checks all the right boxes. The solidly built phone has plastic and metal construction and houses a massive 5000mAh battery. The big battery adds to heft, but Asus has managed to restrict the weight to 180 grams, which is also, incidentally, same as what its arch nemesis weighs
The Max Pro M1 is a tall phone and the 18:9 display has a fair amount of bezel on all sides. The phone is quite similar to the Redmi Note 5 Pro in terms of its overall feel and appeal.
The design is a weak area of Redmi Note 5 Pro, one that Asus could have exploited more fruitfully, but I guess that job has been assigned to the upcoming Zenfone 5.
- Asus has done a good job of housing a massive 5000mAh battery and still keeping the phone handy. The Max Pro is at par with Redmi Note 5 Pro in terms of look and feel but won’t supersede it.
- The display has a scratch resistant glass, but, for whoever needs to know, it isn’t a Gorilla Glass
- The headphone jack is at the bottom. The USB port is Type-A and is present on the bottom edge as well.
- Asus doesn’t bundle a protective case in the box.
- The fingerprint sensor, power button and volume rocker are all accessible.
Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 Display
Asus is using a good quality 5.99-inch Full HD+ IPS LCD panel on the Zenfone Max Pro M1. The screen has wide viewing angles, high contrast, and optimum sunlight legibility.
The software is near stock Android, but Asus has thankfully retained the color temperature adjustment toggle. So, if you prefer warmer tones, you can use the slider in display settings.
- The display quality is very good for the price, no complaints here.
- You can adjust color temperature from within the display settings.
- The brightness peaks at 450 Nits, and that proved good enough for comfortable outdoor usage.
- You can pinch and zoom-out YouTube content to play it on full screen.
Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 Camera
The Zenfone Max Pro M1 has two cameras on the rear. The sensor on the top is a 5MP depth sensor that aids with portrait mode. The primary 13MP (Omnivision 16880) sensor is the one placed below it. Both cameras have f/2.2 aperture lens.
The hardware is quite reasonable for the price, but the camera software (stock Qualcomm Snapdragon camera) is sloppy and still feels like work in progress. Within the time that we have been using Max Pro, Asus has already rolled out two updates to improve camera and they have indeed worked. Asus has also stated that another camera update will roll out before the phone hits retail shelves.
The images clicked in daylight look very appealing on the phone screen. The phone is slow to focus in low light, but once it does, it can capture reasonable shots.
The portrait mode falters in tricky situations but does a good job otherwise. As is the case with portrait mode on all affordable phones, the actual shot is much better than what you see in live previews.
The 8MP selfie camera (f/2.0 aperture) has slight shutter lag, so you will have to hold the phone steady.
Overall, we could manage decent images from the camera but the results are inconsistent. Having said that, Asus has a good track record of actively pushing updates, and it shouldn’t be hard to fix these software issues moving forward. Also, the 6GB RAM variant that will come in later will have an upgraded camera.
- The camera performance is decent, but it isn’t very consistent.
- The portrait mode works well but can falter in tricky situations
- The camera app is still work in progress. Asus assures that the fix will roll out very soon.
- The selfie camera is average at best.
Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 Performance and Software
The performance is where Max Pro M1 shines. The handset is powered by Snapdragon 636 octa-core processor paired, which is also the best SoC you could hope for at this price. It comes in two variants with 3GB/ 4GB RAM and 32GB/ 64GB storage. Both variants have a separate microSD card slot.
We have been using the 3GB RAM variant, and all high-end games run smooth. We did encounter some app crashes, but after the latest update, the day-to-day performance feels immaculate too. RAM management isn’t aggressive, and all software components function as they should.
The Zenfone Max Pro is DRM L1 certified and if you are tech-savvy, you can make it stream HD content from streaming services like Netflix.
Asus is using near stock Android 8.1 Oreo software. This isn’t pure Android since the Max Pro comes with several pre-installed apps (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Go2Pay) and Asus has added a few extra options like Zenmotion gestures (double tap to wake, off-screen gestures, etc.).
You can zoom out 16:9 or 4:3 content on YouTube to make it fit the entire display (to eliminate black strips on either side).
- The Zenfone Max Pro 11 is powered by Snapdragon 636 and is an excellent performer.
- Asus’ approach to retain stock Android essence while building minor features on top of it is something we like. This is similar to what one plus does with Oxygen OS, and we are excited to see this ROM mature over time.
- There are some pre-installed apps but no duplicate apps.
- The fingerprint sensor isn’t as fast as it should be. The Face Unlock will be added soon via OTA update.
- We didn’t face any issue with call quality in our area. The handset supports 4G VoLTE on both slots. ViLTE or Video calling using jio is not supported on Zenfone Max Pro.
Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 Battery and Audio
Since this is a Max series phone, you get the hallmark 5000mAh battery and the back up is excellent. The phone can easily last for one and a half day or more on a full charge.
Fast charging isn’t supported but the bundled charger can charge the phone from 10 to 100 percent in little more than two hours.
The speakers at the bottom are powered by NXP Amp. The mono speaker positioned on the bottom edge The audio output quality via speakers and via headphones is average.
Asus bundles a small cardboard accessory in the box, the “MaxBox” that can further amplify the times (1.7 times). This is an innovative marketing approach. Besides fulfilling its purposes as audio Amplifier, the MaxBox also serves as a phone stand.
- Zenfone Max Pro M1 Battery backup is excellent. The 10W charger can charge the handset in around 2 hours.
- Audio output is loud, though there is some distortion at maximum volume. Audio output via headphones is average.
- The MaxBox bundled is a nice little accessory (amplifier and phone stand) to have.
Asus Zenfone Max Pro Review – Should you buy it?
The Redmi Note 5 Pro has had a mostly unchallenged run thus far. Asus has the muscle to contend its dominance and the Zenfone Max Pro is indeed the required masala recipe for online success.
The Zenfone Max Pro looks a little hushed-up but it’s a good phone overall and there is a lot to look forward to. The phone runs stock Android software, is an excellent performer, has excellent battery backup and is aggressively priced. The camera performance isn’t the best in its class but is workable.
If you are restricted by a budget of 11K, the 3GB RAM variant of Zenfone Max Pro should serve you better than the Redmi Note 5 or Honor 9 Lite.
With the pro variant, it’s a close fight. The Redmi Note 5 Pro has an edge when it comes to the camera, but the Zenfone Max Pro has the advantage of stock Android, dedicated card slot, a bigger battery, and of being cheaper.
Asus Zenfone Max Pro Price and Availability
- The 3GB RAM and 4GB RAM variant with 32GB and 64GB storage respectively will be available for 10,999 INR and Rs. 12,999 INR starting from May 3. You can buy them exclusively on Flipkart.
- The 6GB RAM variant with upgraded cameras will be available at an unspecified date later.