When you think of affordable smartphones available in India, which is the first brand that pops into your head? Of-Course Xiaomi, Right? Being it Redmi 5A or Redmi Note 5 Pro, every smartphone from Xiaomi make its way towards success.
Asus tries to interrupt the market with it’s Zenfone Max Pro M1. The Max Pro M1 with its killer pricing, stock android type OS, simple yet unique design tries to compete with the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Well it does compete with the Note 5 Pro but upto a certain extent. To fulfill that gap, Asus come up with a 6GB variant of the Zenfone Max Pro M1. The higher variant is priced at Rs. 14,999 and provides better image quality and better performance. But will it able to compete with the Redmi Note 5 Pro? Are the upgrades actually worth the extra money? Let’s find out:
Before we move further, let’s get the ZenFone Max Pro M1’s specifications out of the way. The device is pretty much identical to the 3/4GB variants of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 which were released a couple of months back, except in the camera and the RAM department. Here are the complete specifications of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 (6GB):
|Dimensions||159 x 76 x 8.5 mm|
|Display||5.99-inch FHD+ IPS LCD (1080 x 2160 pixels)|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC|
|Primary Camera||16MP f/2.0 + 5MP f/2.4|
|Secondary Camera||16MP f/2.0|
|Operating System||Android 8.1 Oreo|
What’s In the Box
- Obviously, Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1
- TPU Case
- SIM ejector tool
- Travel Charger
- USB Type-A to micro USB cable
- Max-box amplifier
- Basic Paperwork
Design and Build Quality
Asus has made no design change in top-of-the-line ZenFone Max Pro M1. It has the same chunky feel, same boring type design and the same massive battery. The back is quite boring and a fingerprint magnet. It gets dirty pretty easily and it’s definitely not pleasing the eye.
The device has a great in-hand feel, fingerprint sensor is placed quite appropriately, and it does has the same micro USB port for charging and data syncing as before. Power button are Volume Rockers are placed on the right edge of the device and are tactile. However, the only problem which i faced with the volume rockers was during selfies, they’re good but not as clicky as they meant to be! And due to this reason most of our selfies came out to be blur.
Coming to the display, the ZenFone Max Pro M1 features the same 2.5D curved, 5.99-inch FHD+ IPS LCD display with a screen resolution of 1080 x 2160 pixels. Much like the previous model, the display has great color reproduction, good contrast but it looks only decent in direct sunlight. The nits level are 450, interestingly though, the panel looks a bit dull in direct sunlight. Anyway, visibility and the colors pop-out even more when using the device indoors.
Sadly, the M1 does not come with Gorilla Glass protection on the top. I am always fear of losing this device and thank god it didn’t slip, again thanks to the nice round edges. In case you’re buying this device, we strongly recommend investing in a decent screen protector in order to keep the display free from any scratches.
The ZenFone Max Pro M1 comes with stock Android 8.1 Oreo which definitely works in its favor when compared to the Redmi Note 5 Pro. The device feels quite snappy from the get go and I have to give a thumbs-up to Asus for including the stock android. Apart from stock android apps, the device comes with a couple of Asus apps preinstalled, including a calculator app, a sound recorder app, and an FM radio app, along with Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. These apps don’t exactly fall under the bloatware category as most of the users tend to install these apps on their devices as soon as they get them out of the box.
Asus also add some cool gestures, like double tap to wake, letter gestures to open apps, and more. These gestures often come in handy and will allow you to quickly wake up the device or fire up an application directly from the lock screen. Asus has also included the Face Unlock feature on the device, however, it isn’t as fast as other competing devices, i would say it’s decent!
Gaming performance on the M1 is just great! With PUBG Mobile picking up medium graphics settings as the default option, we played the same on the highest settings. PUBG runs like butter on the M1 and we were totally impressed. We played heavy games like PUBG, Asphalt 8, Asphalt 9 Legends, Need for Speed, Shadow Fight 3 and World Cricket 2. All runs great on the device and we didn’t face any type of frame drops and laginess.
Multitasking is a breeze, i mean, I was able to load even more apps on the device in the background and the device didn’t stutter even once. In the performance department, the upgraded ZenFone Max Pro M1 surely offers the best bang for your buck!
The 6GB ZenFone Max Pro M1 comes with a 16MP + 5MP dual camera setup on the back, as opposed to the 13MP + 5MP setup on the 3GB and 4GB variants. At front, ZenFone Max Pro M1 now features a 16MP selfie camera, a major improvement over the 8MP selfie camera on the low RAM models. But are the cameras improved? Well, the cameras on the upgraded ZenFone Max Pro M1 is definitely better than the older variants. Images are sharper, brighter and even the colors look a bit more vibrant. Here are a couple of images we captured with the new Max Pro M1 in daylight:
Low light performance is also improved as compared to the previous iteration. The upgraded cameras are able to capture a bit more detail, but bokeh is still an issue. Quite frankly, portrait shots captured by the Max Pro M1 are a bit hit and miss. At times the camera sensor was able to accurately detect the edge of the subject and give the background a very professional looking blur, while sometimes the camera struggled with edge detection and blurred out parts of the subject. Just take a look at the images for yourself:
However, I was quite impressed with the amount of light captured by the device in low-light and Artificial light. For the price, the camera definitely works wonders in low-light, even beating the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro in low-light situations. Let’s take a look at some images captured in low-light:
Coming to the front camera, the 16MP selfie shooter on the upgraded ZenFone Max Pro M1 looks like a major step up over the 8MP shooter on the previous gen. In our review we do like the front facing camera of the ZenFone Max Pro M1. Details are good and colours are even better! Here are a few samples we captured using the front facing camera:
I would like to highlight two major issues which i faced while using the camera on the ZenFone Max Pro M1. Firstly, the camera app sometimes doesn’t work when opening it from the lock screen and displays a ‘Camera Module Not Detected’. Secondly, the shutter speed on the ZenFone Max Pro M1 was slow. It took a lot of time to process the images and in cases where I moved the device before the processing was completed, the images came out completely blurred and out of focus. Hope Asus will fix these problems with software updates in the near future as they really hamper the overall camera performance of the device.
In terms of Connectivity, the device remains identical to the previous RAM variants. It still has triple slot SIM tray with two dedicated SIM slots and a dedicated microSD card slot for expansion. The phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack for audio output, a micro USB port for charging and data syncing, and it supports the latest 802.11b/g/n WiFi, LTE and HSPA networks. The device has latest Bluetooth 5.0 which is a great addition at this price.
Last but not the least, Battery! The battery performance of this device is just flawless. I have no words to tell you about the battery performance of this device, it is just unbeatable. In my usage, the device easily lasted just over two days in regular use and even when I pushed the device, it ended the day with a decent 25 percent battery left. In my full day of extensive use, I got an impressive screen on time of over 7 hours during which I play YouTube videos on the device for over 5 hours at max brightness.
The device comes with a standard 5V/2A charger, that takes 2 Hours and 40 Minutes to charge the humongous 5,000 mAh battery.
Some Pros & Cons.
- Near stock Android experience
- 5,000 mAh battery
- Good connectivity options
- Great performance
- Cameras too slow
- Portrait mode is inconsistent
- No Gorilla Glass protection
Should i buy one?
But the most important question- Is it a worthy contender to the Redmi Note 5 Pro? Well, it is a kind of mix bag. At some angles Redmi Note 5 Pro is better but at others Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 is best. Stay Tuned for our full comparison.
If battery life is your first and the foremost priority then go for the Max Pro M1. It has great performance, decent cameras and stock android type user interface. And if you want an all-rounder then Redmi Note 5 is waiting for you.