Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1Rs. 12999
Design and Build8.5/10
Value for Money8.5/10
- Good quality display
- Excellent battery backup
- Stock Android 8.1 Oreo
- Dedicated card slot, Dual SIM Dual VoLTE support
- Shoddy camera app
- Nondescript design
Today we are going to review the new Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 smartphone. It is available in three RAM and storage variants and the one that we have is the 64GB variant which is priced at 12,999 rupees. Now the Zenfone Max Pro M1 is basically a Redmi Note 5 Pro running on Stock Android. There’s nothing wrong with using MIUI, but there’s a certain simplicity and comfort in using stock Android UI. cheaper than the Redmi Note 5 Pro and will be available more easily than the Redmi Note 5 Pro. But the question then remains, did Asus finally crack the formula to make a reliable mid-range phone? Let’s find out.
Starting with the design, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 is yet another iteration of the same design philosophy. The display takes up most of the real estate up front while at the back the dual camera module is vertically aligned at the top left corner. The fingerprint sensor is conveniently placed in the centre where the finger can easily reach it. Asus has polished the rear plate to give a soft matte finish that does tend to get dirty when used with sweaty hands but isn’t a fingerprint magnet.
There’s also no need to make a choice between a second SIM card and a microSD card as the phone houses dedicated slots for all three. Overall we can say that the design is not very innovative but it does come across as well-built and functional.
Like most other mid-rangers, this smartphone also has a 6-inch FHD+ IPS LCD panel, housed in a 5.5-inch body. While the idea isn’t as innovative as before, the usefulness remains. There’s less scrolling while browsing the web, while gaming on the widescreen allows for easier controls. Split-screen on the display is particularly useful as the screen gets divided into two equal halves. For bedtime use, Asus offers a blue-light filter as well as a slider to adjust the colour temperature. It’s still no match for an AMOLED panel, though in terms of contrast ratios, the colour is more vibrant than it’s closest competitor — The Redmi Note 5 Pro.
Talking about the performance, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 is powered by the Snapdragon 636 chipset, the one introduced by Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 Pro in the mid-range segment which effectively blew the competition away. The 14nm chipset builds on top of the popular and reliable Snapdragon 625, offering a 50 percent jump in performance over its predecessor. But more than the hardware underneath, the reason the Zenfone Max Pro M1 is such a good performer is that of stock Android. The phone runs on stock Android 8.1 with the February security patch. The lightweight Android, as designed by Google is known to offer minimum interference to performance with a clean and simple user interface.
The Zenfone Max Pro M1 comes with a dual rear camera setup – a 13MP primary sensor and a 5MP depth-sensing unit. The camera specs are mostly the same as the Redmi Note 5 Pro, which is our best-ranking mid-range phone currently, but the results are not the same. Photos from the Zenfone Max Pro M1 are average, to say the least. That wow factor is missing. Highlights get clipped often and details in the textures isn’t as prominent as the best in the market. It’s still better than most other mid-rangers, but if you’re looking for the absolute best, it’s best to try your luck in getting the Note 5 Pro. Any mid-range phones will take decent daytime shots with ample light pouring into the frame. So does the Zenfone Max Pro M1. You will get well-lit photos which are bright and vibrant. The colour temperature does tend towards the warmer side, but they look aesthetically pleasing regardless a match for the Redmi Note 5 Pro of the camera.
There’s an ugly glare from the incandescent source of light when taking photos indoors, while close-up shots are somewhat well-lit but aren’t as sharp. Close-up shots, taken in daylight will result in well-detailed, sharp macro shots. In the photo below, the details in the flower are well-preserved while the colour of the flower came out a little more saturated, yet not as much as the Redmi Note 5 Pro. The camera on the Zenfone Max Pro M1 isn’t conducive to use in low-light. There’s considerable noise in the photos. The shadows are practically blackened and whatever area is lit is mired in grains.
In terms of bokeh shots, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 tries to match up with phones likes MiA1 and Redmi Note 5 Pro, but doesn’t quite make it. The Zenfone Max Pro M1 sports an 8-megapixel shooter with F/2.0 aperture combined with a soft LED flash. The selfies actually come out well-detailed with the right amount exposure and minimal beauty effects. It can also take portrait selfies and unlike other selfie-centric phones like the Oppo F7, the background isn’t overexposed to make the portrait stand out.
One of the highlights of the Zenfone Max Pro M1 is the 5,000mAh battery. PCMark’s 2.0 Battery test ran for 10 hours 39 minutes which easily converts to over a day of use. One of the main reason to recommend the phone is for the long battery life. Asus also bundles a fast charger with the device that can charge the phone to its full capacity in around 2 hours 30 minutes.
So overall the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 can take on the best in the market with ease. Like most Asus phones, the spec-sheet is maxed out with the best mid-range hardware. That includes latest stock Android and a 5,000mAh battery, two features which solve the biggest pain points people tend to have when making a purchase at that price range. The phone even manages to take on the formidable Redmi Note 5 Pro, save for the imaging prowess, but the pros easily outweigh the cons. In all, it’s always good to have a choice of clean stock UI without compromising on the performance.