There is no doubt about Asus’ prowess when it comes to releasing efficient and impressive budget smartphones. The Taiwanese manufacturer witnessed a lot of success for its smartphones in 2018. The brand launched devices like the Asus Zenfone 5Z, Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, Zenfone Max M1 and more, but it was mainly in the lower and middle segment where Asus was able to compete head-on with the other Chinese brands like Xiaomi. To take its success further in India, the brand launched the next budget phone in its line-up, the Asus Zenfone Max M2. This phone is the latest budget offering by Asus, and it goes right against the likes of Nokia 5.1 Plus, Redmi 6 Pro, Honor 9N, Realme 2 and Redmi Y2 in the Indian smartphone market. The Zenfone Max M2 comes with a price hike over the Zenfone Max M1. However, it also offers better features like a bigger screen, notch, powerful processor, better display and better cameras also. We decided to put down the review of the Asus Zenfone Max M2, to help you decide whether this phone presents enough value for your buck.
Asus Zenfone Max M2 Review: Design and Display
In terms of design, the Asus Zenfone Max M2 comes with a metallic finish although it is not an all-metal device. Asus has also used the polycarbonate on the rear side. However, having a metallic finish means that the phone has a premium feel and remains smudge free. The curved edges of the phone also mean that it lends a comfortable hold and despite sporting a heavy 4000mAh battery the Zenfone Max M2 feels light in the hands of the user.
On the front side, the Zenfone Max M2 sports a notch and the bezels are not the slimmest that we have seen in this segment, especially the lower edge which can be considered the major contributor for bringing down the screen to body ratio to 80.9%. Even then, the display is big enough to offer an impressive viewing experience. The problem, however, is in the brightness of the display which could have been more especially considering that the phone does not feel to have enough nits under direct sunlight.
Coming to the display, the Zenfone Max M2 sports a 6.3-inch HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 19:9. The phone renders a resolution of 720×1520 pixels and it also has a 2.5D curved glass on top. Asus was the first to bring Corning Gorilla Glass 6 technology to the mid-range segment with the Zenfone Max Pro M2, but that’s not the case with the Zenfone Max M2 as the phone said to sport an older version of Gorilla Glass.
As mentioned, the phone also comes with a notch on top which houses the notification LED, camera sensor along with other sensors as well. The SIM tray is on the left side, while the volume rockers and the power button are on the right side. The bottom edge of the phone gets has the Micro-USB port. The headphone jack has been placed on the top edge of the device, which doesn’t distract you while playing PUBG Mobile.
Asus Zenfone Max M2 Review: Hardware, Software and Performance
Undoubtedly, the Asus Zenfone Max M2 gets a very noteworthy processor upgrade from its predecessor. The phone packs the octa-core Snapdragon 632 SoC which is built on the14nm architecture, and it clocks 1.8GHz and also pairs up with Adreno 506 GPU for graphics. The phone comes in two storage variants, 3GB RAM and 32GB storage and 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, along with support for a dedicated microSD card slot. On the software front, the phone boots Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, but Asus has announced that it will be releasing the Android 9 Pie update for the phone sometime in February 2019. The older Asus phones- Zenfone Max Pro M1 and Zenfone 5Z will receive Android 9 Pie update later this month.
When the phone was tested, the device showed minimal frame drops and lags against resource demanding games like Asphalt 9: Legends, PUBG Mobile and more. However, the games ran smoothly on the lowest graphics settings. Owing to the processor, the phone was also able to function smoothly, multitask well and it did not show any lags.
The phone scored a single-core score of 1239 and multi-core score of 4598 on Geekbench application. These scores were on-par with what the Honor 8C offered in the past. Other features like the fingerprint sensor and Face Unlock were able to unlock the device quickly. The audio quality on the device is also impressive owing to the placement of the speakers. The volume output via the headphone jack was impressive too.
Like the Zenfone Max Pro M1 and Max Pro M2, the Zenfone Max M2 also boots stock version of Android. When Asus released the Max Pro M1, the software experience wasn’t that great, but the company optimised it well on the Max Pro M2. But that’s not the case with Max M2 as the phone feels half-baked. The first issue was with the notch. On testing the phone, we found it surprising that the areas on the side of the notch could not be accessed while in landscape mode, which is rather underwhelming. Also, we noticed some stutters while browsing through the recent apps screen. Like it did with the Max Pro M1, Asus will optimise the phone with software updates.
Asus Zenfone Max M2 Review: Cameras
The camera is yet another thing on the Zenfone Max M2 which gets an upgrade. The phone sports a 13MP rear camera with f/1.8 aperture, Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS), LED flash and it also pairs up with a 2MP secondary camera. The front camera on the device remains the same as on the predecessor, and it is an 8MP camera with f/2.0 aperture.
The primary camera on the rear is able to shoot pictures with detail and sharpness, and the colour reproduction is also very dynamic. The support for EIS helps the device in clicking stable shots with no blur, and the device also supports 4K ultra HD video recording. As for the front camera, the sensor cannot be said to be the best in this segment as it takes time to process the portrait shots. There is also considerable grain and reduced saturation in the images. However, we can expect that Asus will keep pushing the camera updates in the coming FOTA updates. The company has also announced that the front camera will even get EIS support. Recently, the Max M2 picked up a FOTA update which brought various optimisations and bug fixes.
Asus Zenfone Max M2 Review: Battery
The massive battery of 4000mAh is yet another strong front for the Zenfone Max M2 and owing to this large battery it was able to last a full day of usage, and it even managed to retain 20% of charge at the end of the day. The heavy usage involved 2 hours of video streaming, a similar amount of gaming, everyday social media browsing, WhatsApp texting and calling. Also, the phone went up in charge from 0 to 100 in two hours.
Asus Zenfone Max M2 Review: Verdict
The Asus Zenfone Max M2 retails at a price of Rs 9,999 for the 3GB RAM and 32GB storage variant, while the 4GB/64GB version comes with Rs 11,999 price tag. At this price point, the phone goes against many popular devices in the segment like Xiaomi Redmi Y2, Honor 9N, Nokia 5.1 Plus and the Redmi 6. However, the device also makes a strong case for itself with the massive battery and reliable performance. Although the display and camera are not the best in the category, still they aren’t something which will overshadow the success of the Asus Zenfone Max M2, and we are pretty sure that currently, the Zenfone Max M2 is one of the best choices of a budget smartphone out there.
Chakri is a go-to guy for your next smartphone recommendation. Back in his engineering days, he used to play with smartphones by installing custom ROMs and that passion got him into the tech industry. He still goes nuts about a smartphone knocking his door for review. Currently managing everything at Telecom Talk, Chakri is trying to master PUBG Mobile in his free time.