The Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 became the flag bearer for the Taiwanese manufacturer Asus when it garnered significant success in the Indian market about six months back. The phone became a huge success owing to its impressive specifications, very justified price tag, and a massive battery. More importantly, the phone brought back Asus once again in the top ranks of smartphone makers in India this year. Now to ride the wave of success, even more, Asus launched the ZenFone Max Pro M2, and this phone comes with major improvements and an elevated price tag as well. However, that does not mean that the phone gets left behind its competition. Instead, things are quite the opposite. Read on to know more about how the ZenFone Max Pro M2 fared in my ten days of usage.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review: Display and Design
To recall, the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 came with a metallic back and it looked like any other smartphone available in the market. Judging from the current smartphone design standards, the design of the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 might appear to be a little dated. However, that is certainly not the case with the new ZenFone Max Pro M2. The new phone by Asus comes with a glossy finish and a plastic back. Yes, it's plastic, but Asus has used some different coating on top to make the device appealing. The rear side of the phone comes with a curved back which makes the phone comfortable to hold.
The colour of the phone is unique and fashions a hue tone, which changes shades under direct light. There is a vertical dual rear camera setup and the Asus branding in the middle. There is also a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. However, it is our opinion that the phone can use a back cover since being a glass back it is bound to attract smudges. Additionally, the phone sports a nano-SIM dual SIM tray along with dedicated microSD card slot. On the bottom edge of the phone, we get to see a Micro USB port. It's underwhelming to see Asus using a Micro USB port in 2018, but that's how brands are looking at the mid-range segment except for HMD Global.
There are also some subtle changes in the display when compared with the predecessor, the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1. The new ZenFone Max Pro M2 features a 6.26-inch display with Full HD+ resolution along with a 19:9 aspect ratio. The phone also features a notch on top which houses the front camera, dedicated LED flash, notification LED along with other sensors. Except for the massive chin on the bottom, the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 features an immersive display capturing large screen-to-body ratio. The screen renders sharp text, deep contrasts and excellent viewing angles. The brightness on the phone is also good enough to use it under direct sunlight. The ZenFone Max Pro M2 also extends support for the ambient display which is similar to always-on display. Lastly, the phone also features the latest Corning Gorilla Glass 6 which makes it a very resilient device. It's the first phone under Rs 15,000 to offer Gorilla Glass 6 and second overall device after the OnePlus 6T to ship with the latest technology from Corning.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review: Hardware and Software
On the software front, the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 boots the stock version of Android 8.1 Oreo instead of the Asus’ ZenUI. Except for the three pre-installed apps, Instagram, Facebook and Messenger, the phone does not come with any bloatware. Additionally, it is expected to receive the Android 9 Pie update in January next year. The phone does come with additional features like the ZenMotion gestures which make the display turn on with a double tap and the same for waking up. Although the gestures seem to be buggy and it is sometimes hard to make them work. The same goes for the camera shutter button as well, which tends to give up on the users at times. We also encountered a bug when we opened the gallery to view a picture right after clicking it; this triggers the device to aggressively lower the brightness of the phone for no apparent reason at all which needs to be shot back up. Also, we noticed that the camera app is creating two images of a single picture, of which the reason is unknown at the moment. That being said, these are very small issues and can be fixed with a software update.
Coming to the overall performance of the device, there is nothing to stop us from saying that the phone packs the best given its price range. Under the hood, it packs the Snapdragon 660 SoC and comes in three variants of 3GB RAM + 32GB storage, 4GB RAM + 64GB storage and 6GB RAM + 64GB storage. On fully testing the device, we noticed smooth multitasking and good support for gaming. The fingerprint sensor and face unlock both work fine, although the former is a bit faster. The 5000mAh battery on the phone is yet another highlight of the device. We can expect about 6-7 hours of screen-on time on the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 on intensive usage, and on moderate usage with constant Wi-Fi, you will clock around nine hours of screen-on time. However, there is no fast charging support on the phone, and the bundled charger gets the device from 0 to 100 in three hours- cost cutting comes into the play.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review: Camera and Imaging
The dual rear camera setup of the ZenFone Max Pro M2 features a 12MP primary shooter with f/1.8 aperture alongside a 5MP sensor for assisting in the depth of field shots. The phone extends support for 4K video recording. Also, the rear camera is powered by AI, which offers the scene detection feature. The front selfie snapper on the device is a 13MP unit with f/2.0 aperture. Additionally, we get to see many modes on the camera which include shooting modes, filters and beauty options. However, the only thing which might worry the users is the mediocre UI of the camera app which comes with icons spread over in a disarranged manner.
Coming to the performance of the cameras, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 definitely does not disappoint. The smartphone features some of the best imaging capability which we get to see on a mid-range device, snapping pictures with sharp details and contrast although the colours are slightly oversaturated. However, for an average joe, the phone camera pulls off social media worthy pictures impressively. Do make a note that the primary sensor on the ZenFone Max Pro M2 is the same one of the Xiaomi Mi A2, so it renders images with great detail levels.
The same goes for the portrait mode on the camera which enables the users to click amazing bokeh shots. The feature also does not blur the edges. Speaking about low-light photography, although we get to see some grain, the pictures aren’t that degraded either. On the other hand, the front camera on the phone tends to click not so good images with the skin tones appearing more smoothened even with the beauty mode turned off. Also, the portrait mode was missing from the front camera. However, it is expected to come later along with EIS support. Compared to its predecessor, the cameras are a big step up on the Max Pro M2.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 Review: Verdict
There is no doubt that the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 is a notable update over the predecessor. However, the main thing to note here is that the phone is a solid rival to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro, Realme 2 Pro, and Honor 8X. The pricing of the phone which starts at Rs 12,999 and goes up to Rs 16,999 makes it yet another very competitive offering in this segment.
The software on the smartphone will get better with time and the hardware is already best in the business. So should you buy the ZenFone Max Pro M2? Well, yes. I would choose the Max Pro M2 over the Realme 2 Pro any day given that the ColorOS is a heavier skin and comes with a lot of bloatware. Talking about the Redmi Note 6 Pro, the Max Pro M2 beats it in the hardware department, but in the camera department, Xiaomi' software optimisation wins the battle.
The 3GB+32GB variant of Max Pro M2 is priced at Rs 12,999 followed by the 4GB+64GB version at Rs 14,999, and 6GB+64GB variant at Rs 16,999. The base variant is a go-to option for many, but the other variants clash with the mighty Mi A2 and Redmi Note 6 Pro. Stay tuned for our detailed comparison of the Max Pro M2 with Mi A2 and Redmi Note 6 Pro. If you're a ZenFone Max Pro M1 user looking for an upgrade, then you should definitely consider upgrading to ZenFone Max Pro M2 as it sports superior cameras, powerful processor, better design and display and software optimisation is better too.