Asus launched two variants of its aggressively priced Zenfone Max Pro M1 (with 3GB RAM and 4GB RAM) to counter the Redmi Note 5 and Redmi Note 5 Pro, respectively. Now, the promised third 6GB RAM option has also hit retail shelves (First sale held on July 26).
What’s interesting about the new 6GB RAM/64GB storage variant is its camera hardware. The new phone has improved camera sensors on both front and rear, and Asus has had plenty of time to fix everything that was wrong with the imaging software of the 3GB and 4GB RAM models that launched in late April.
So, has the camera performance improved on the 6GB RAM variant of Zenfone Max Pro M1? Let’s discuss.
Note: Apart from the camera, it’s mostly the same phone as the Zenfone Max Pro M1 we reviewed a couple of months back. Just proceed to our original Zenfone Max Pro M1 review to know our opinion on other aspects of this stock Android phone.
- The 13MP + 5MP rear camera has been upgraded to 16MP (f/2.0) + 5MP (f/2.4). Asus is using an improved primary rear sensor.
- The selfie camera sensor has been upgraded from 8MP to 16MP. The lens on the front camera has f/2.0 aperture.
- Both the front and rear cameras have LED flash.
Zenfone Max Pro M1 Camera App
Just as last time, Asus is using the stock Qualcomm Camera App on the Zenfone Max Pro M1. The camera app is still minimalistic and looks shoddily designed.
However, right of the bat, it’s quite clear that Asus has optimized the app for the better. It doesn’t feel as hushed-up as it used to. We didn’t encounter any unexpected app crashes or stuttering in our time with the device. The interface isn’t as feature rich or fancy as say, the pixel master app in the Zen UI, but it’s a bit more tolerable compared to the last time.
The shots clicked outdoors have reasonably wide dynamic range. The image above was shot after a monsoon downpour on a cloudy day. As you can see, the shot is evenly exposed and there are ample details when we Zoom in (these samples are resized, though). The colors of the sky and the foliage have been accurately captured.
One of the biggest improvements in the 6GB RAM variant is its ability to lock focus (in proper lighting, that is). The 3GB RAM variant that we tested earlier was a bit sluggish in this regard. It didn’t take much effort to shoot the Hibiscus flower above.
The shot might feel a little underexposed, but it was a cloudy day when the image was captured. As you can probably notice, details are pretty good (the filament and anther are clearly visible) and color tones feel natural. We are quite satisfied with the white balance as well. Here’s another one:
The natural depth of field effect is nicely captured in close-ups.
The Zenfone Max Pro M1 still doesn’t have auto HDR. You will have to manually switch to the HDR mode from the settings. But considering the HDR mode performance, you won’t be doing this very often.
The HDR mode is harsh. With HDR On, you can gather more details in shadow region but the bright regions get unnaturally overexposed.
Portrait mode (Rear and Front camera)
Another area where the new Zenfone Max Pro M1 model shows significant progress is with Portraits or ‘Depth-effect’ as it’s called in the app (don’t confuse it with the portrait mode in the side strip). You can adjust the aperture and control the extent of background blur.
Outdoors, portrait shots turned out reasonably good. There is still room for improvement, though. In low light and indoors, quality deteriorates slightly.
We are still quite happy with the portrait mode for the rear camera.
The portrait mode for selfies mostly works fine in proper lighting. Indoors, lots of noise creeps in and the overall quality is nothing to write home about.
The selfie camera on the Zenfone Max Pro has drastically improved, thanks to the new improved sensor. The camera can lock focus easily, noise is mostly kept in check and skin tones are close to natural. The backdrop tends to get overexposed, so avoid bright backgrounds and you will be just fine. Beautify mode has been turned off for the above samples.
Indoors, the camera quality deteriorates rather steeply. The images have plenty of noise and, at times, the camera struggles to lock focus. It’s very difficult to photograph subjects that aren’t absolutely still indoors.
In extreme low light, the images are mostly unusable.
Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 6GB RAM Variant Camera Review: Is it better than Redmi Note 5 Pro?
The camera on the Zenfone Max 6GB RAM variant is a definite improvement over what we experienced on the 3GB RAM/4GB RAM variants a while back. Asus has been pushing camera updates on the earlier model too. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the other model with us and thus could compare them side by side.
In outdoor light and for selfies, the Zenfone Max Pro m1 is now close to Redmi Note 5 Pro. In low light, Redmi Note 5 Pro is still a lot better. Overall, the Redmi Note 5 Pro clearly has the upper hand.
To sum up our findings:
- The camera app still feels primitive, but it’s now better optimized.
- The dynamic range and colors captured in proper lighting are pretty good.
- The HDR mode failed to impress. Processing takes time too.
- Portrait mode shots turned out very well. The rear camera can discern subject edges accurately more often than not.
- The camera can lock focus easily in good lighting. In low light, shutter lag and excessive noise often creep in.
- Lowlight performance isn’t up to the mark. Shots clicked indoors and during night time are more often than not unusable.
- The Selfie camera shows tremendous improvement. The selfie portraits are inconsistent, though.