Asus is a name which people associate with respect and quality but still, the Taiwanese brand has not seen shining days in India in Mobile space. Asus started off back in 2014 with some really kickass budget competitors but just couldn’t keep up with the ever on-rise expectations of an Indian consumer, especially when the likes of Xiaomi are doing consistently great in the budget arena.
Asus is ready to play ball in the budget segment again and this time It's their hardball named Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1
So, some good parts of 2018 are past us and there is still a lot left, Asus is ready to play ball in the budget segment again and this time It's their hardball named Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, Asus is not good with names but besides that everything about this phone is scintillating enough to catch our eyes. Launched in the under 10k range, can this device be the redemption Asus’ Zenfone series was looking for? Or Its still time for Asus to get there? Let’s find out In this review of the budget titan Asus Zenfone Max Pro.
Here’s what you get inside the box:
2. Charger (5V, 2Amps)
3. USB charging cable
4. Sim ejector pin
5. Max Box (to amplify sound)
We at SuggestPhone, rate a smartphone in 5 categories and if you’ve been here for some time, you know how simple and essential these categories are for any smartphone. So, we’ll turn to those pillars that make a smartphone elated or not so much. Let’s start with Design and Build.
Design & Build
So upfront, the smartphone is not that different from the lot in design and we are not complaining here. Its a decent looking smartphone, not totally gorgeous but not at all bad either. The Aluminium frame with a little matte feel at the metal backplate makes the device not slip from hands, which is good, as metal phones tend to slip out. Zenfone Max Pro has the same curved edges with curved glass on the front. Asus calls the glass great but failed to drop the magic word - ‘Gorilla Glass’ so It's not.
The smartphone is around 8.6mm thick with a good 180 grams of weight, definitely, the smartphone is on the heavy side of the spectrum.
The 18:9 display at the front goes side to side with some bezels up top and bottom. The top one houses the speaker grill and the front camera with some other sensors. The rear camera is at the top corner and Its a vertical dual-camera organization you know, because It is 2018 and suddenly since iPhone X did It, vertically stacked sensors are the new cool, get it?
The display doesn’t get super bright and sunlight readability is kind of hit or miss.
The camera is not very much protruded, Its hardly noticeable so the smartphone doesn’t rock on a flat surface. The circular fingerprint sensor is placed at the center with Asus branding following it.
The display as no surprise is an 18:9 IPS LCD Panel with a resolution of 1080 x 2160 pixels (~402 PPI). The display is bright, vibrant with good levels of saturation, not too much like Samsung but It is not dull either. The colors are sharp. The viewing angles are quite good as well since Its an IPS display. The display doesn’t get super bright and sunlight readability is kind of hit or miss.
So the design is totally 2018 and It doesn’t have anything new to notice but the device is solidly built and you feel it when you hold this one. It doesn’t feel anything like a budget champion and Its far from premium as well, so It's a decent design, we’d say to end this section.
Processor and Performance
Say the word performance and Asus Zenfone Max Pro is on the money. The device is packed with the best in line, Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC with CPU featuring octa-Core Kryo 260 cores warming up at 1.8Ghz. (If you want to know more about Snapdragon 636 and Kryo cores, check out this article to see how It pits against the best!) Adreno 509 onboard serves as GPU and Its an increment over Adreno 508 with not a lot of staggering improvements but It still is great for casual gaming and takes charge of high-end games as well.
The performance is snappy thanks to 3GB of RAM on the high-end model we tested with. The smartphone was far from stutters or crashes and It handled multiple apps quite gracefully as well, with no hiccups while switching between apps and games.
The Snapdragon 636 steals the show here with Asus Zenfone 5 breezing away with 114096 on AnTuTu and 1330, 4755 on GeekBench single core and multi-core tests.
It does get a bit warm after some heavy usage but that’s almost normal with every other metal body smartphone. If you are waiting for numbers, we have em as well. The Snapdragon 636 steals the show here with Asus Zenfone 5 breezing away with 114096 on AnTuTu and 1330, 4755 on GeekBench single core and multi-core tests, respectively. There’s not much competition in performance for Zenfone Max Pro except It's arch-rival - Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro.
We’ll just start with: We admire the software on Asus Zenfone Max Pro, credits to Asus for ditching Its traditional ZenUI to go with Stock Android. Asus Zenfone Max Pro runs on Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box. Asus says It did some market research to find out that customers love stock Android and we can’t agree more. This move also strengthens Asus’ word on giving the Android Updates on time upto Android Q. Who doesn’t want to be the first to get Android updates?
All the Android Oreo features are here in all their glory, be It notification dots, split-screen multitasking and a lot more. The software is not pure stock Android as we found some minor tweaks and additions here and there. Since Its Asus and they’ve shipped a slice of Stock Android.
In all, we like the software experience on Asus Zenfone Max Pro. It is not the purist’s idea of stock Android but It's a welcome step. You’ll Like It. It is clutter free, responsive and feels so Android. It is not Android One, so we are a little skeptical of the next updates coming to this smartphone but Asus says that they’ll back you up until Android Q.
The talk about cameras is now fiercer than ever. It is not only contained in the flagship space anymore, flames have well reached the budget space and that’s why you see more focus on camera systems in budget devices nowadays. Asus is not new to the party with a vertically stacked dual camera setup, It looks quite similar to the one Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro.
The custom camera app by Asus isn’t up to the mark and could use some UI refinements.
The rear setup packs a dual 13 MP (f/2.2, 1.12µm) + 5 MP (f/2.4, 1.12µm) sensors with LED flash. The custom camera app by Asus isn’t up to the mark and could use some UI refinements. The app is quite minimal with all the controls such as Portrait, HDR etc. There is no PRO mode but you won’t miss it that much because all the essential settings are in there somewhere, laid out quite not the way we would have liked.
Coming to camera performance, for long budget smartphones have taken cameras casually but this is changing and Asus Zenfone Max Pro doesn’t compromise on camera quality. The shots we took were impressive, daylight performance of this shooter is good but not better than Redmi Note 5 Pro.
On zooming, the devil lies in the details or we should say the absence of them. The dynamic range isn’t right up there, and HDR isn’t that great either. We’ll bring out a detailed comparison of both of these nemesis cameras soon.
Talking about low-light images, the quality is again a notch above what we’ve come to expect from budget devices and Its decent performer if not the best. There’s ample noise and details get a bit fuzzy as well. Thanks to the second camera sensor, Zenfone Max Pro is all fit with portrait tricks and we found them to work quite nicely but the processing takes a second more, maybe, It just felt longer than It should. The sensor is also capable of 4K Video recording but there’s no proper stabilization hence the video is full of shivers and jerks. The video performance is kind of okay-ish, the lack of dynamic range is quite exemplified here.
Here are a few shots were taken on Asus Zenfone Max Pro:
Without bokeh effect:
With bokeh effect:
As you can see, the edge detection in portrait mode is good but face is a bit darker compared to normal mode.
A couple of more shots without portrait mode and with portrait mode:
Here also, you can see that edge detection was good and the image looks nice overall.
On the front, we have a standard 8MP sensor, (f/2.2, 1.0µm) which shoots decent selfies in outdoor conditions. Low light selfies still aren’t a thing with this camera but yeah, It is like most front cameras in the range. Redmi Note 5 Pro is far better if you compare selfie performance. Here's a snapshot:
In a nutshell, the camera on the Asus Zenfone Max Pro is right there in the budget titans as we’d expect but It definitely is upping Its game, which is nice to see. If you are thinking of It as just another janky, lanky budget camera, not so proud of Its presence, the Zenfone Max Pro will surely make you reconsider that.
The Asus Zenfone Max Pro comes with Face unlock. If you don't get it out of the box, just update the software and you should get it. In our tests, the face unlock worked well. It was quick and accurate most of the time. If you don't like Face unlock then there is a fingerprint sensor on the back.
So, we had an outpour of requests asking the golden question: How does this camera fair with the one on Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro. And we are listening. So here we go. Just to get beyond the specs: Note 5 Pro features a dual: 12 MP (f/2.2, 1.25µm) + 5 MP (f/2.0, 1.12µm) sensors with dual-LED flash, on paper It is quite similar to the Zenfone Max Pro and that turns out to be true out there as well. The cameras a quite contemporary, similar and average as we’d expect from a budget smartphone but It is more than just your average poor budget camera, the game is really on the next level now, with dual camera and better image processing paving the way for better camera performance even on not so flagship devices. The cameras have been given some boost here, enough to rekindle our faith in budget smartphone cameras. So, both Xiaomi and Asus have been marketing the cameras on these smartphones with some effort. The details are good, color reproduction is on point as well.
The white balance is a struggling cause. We find the images from Note 5 Pro carrying more detail than Asus’s offering. It is not that big of a difference but knows that It is there. Outdoor lighting conditions show the best of both the cameras and both phones perform well. Under low light conditions, the performance of Redmi Note 5 Pro is much better than Zenfone Max Pro.
If the camera is important for you, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro gets the better of Asus Zenfone Max Pro.
The portrait tricks are available with both the smartphones and Asus lacks a big deal here as It still appears to be in Beta, while the Note 5 Pro’s portrait arsenal has become quite better since Its original days, again what Zenfone needs is a software update and the things could be level.
In total, Redmi Note 5 Pro does sum up to be better than Zenfone Max Pro in camera performance, in our testing. So, If the camera is important for you, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro gets the better of Asus Zenfone Max Pro.
Battery, Charging & More
So the Asus Zenfone Max Pro has a sterling 5000mAh battery and the things have never been so good. Even with a massive battery, Asus has done well to keep the weight of the phone manageable.
The battery is no doubt gigantic and lasts up to 3 days on light usage and 2 days on heavy use which is truly amazing.
And yeah, people are no more into getting super slim phones but they do mighty appreciate the extra juice their smartphones have. The battery is no doubt gigantic and lasts up to 3 days on light usage and 2 days on heavy use which is truly amazing. In our tests, the battery performed really well and phone lasted for 2 days with heavy usage which involved installation of around 50 apps, 2 hours of gaming, 1 hour of camera use, 3 hours of videos, 5 hours of music playback, 1 hour of calling, 4-5 hours of social networking etc. The screen on time was around 11.5 hours which is excellent.
The smartphone is fast charging capable which is pretty much a must have a battery this large, though we are sad to see no fast charger in the box, come on Asus!
Also, we were dumbfounded by the presence of MicroUSB 2.0 instead of USB-C. With the charger that comes along with the phone, It took nearly 3 hours to charge the fully charge the smartphone.
Something else, which gives major points to Asus Zenfone Max Pro is that It not only keeps the headphone jack but does one better with NXP amplifier, so the sound via earphones is delightfully powerful. There is a single firing speaker with circular cut out grill at the bottom of the smartphone, which is capable of getting quite loud but the sound showed observable distortions at peak volumes which isn’t the best feeling.
Pricing & Availability
This is where It all boils down to. Asus Zenfone Max Pro does it fine in almost all areas where we expect a budget device to do. It does slightly exceed our expectations in some as well, In all Its a decent smartphone with some good, complete features, totally on the money. A budget device is called a budget device because the pricing weighs in a lot.
Since Xiaomi is getting some pretty amazing and feature-packed devices in the hands of people across India at dirt cheap prices, If Asus wants to make space, It has to hit where It hurts most - value for money and quite frankly Its a solid blow to Xiaomi. If Asus can keep pulling this off for some time, they can be a force to reckoned with. Asus Zenfone Max Pro is priced ₹ 10,999 for 3GB and 32GB of onboard storage and the higher version comes with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of ROM with a price tag of ₹ 12,999. Here's the link if you want to buy one:
Pros Cons and Ratings:
+ Good Build
+ Beautiful Display
+ Powerful Chipset
+ Stock Android
+ Lag Free Performance
+ No Heating
+ Massive 5000 mAh Battery
+ Great Audio
+ Decent Rear Cameras
+ Dedicated MicroSD Slot
- Below Average Front Camera
- No Quick Charging
- No Type-C Port
- Weird Camera Interface
- No Case/Cover Provided
Back Camera: 8/10
Front Camera: 6/10
Call Quality: 9/10
Face Unlock and Fingerprint: 9/10
Sound from Speakers: 8/10
Sound from Earphones: 9/10
Overall Rating: 8/10
SuggestPhone’s Verdict: Home Run By Asus
After quite a long time, we’ve seen a budget smartphone from Asus that packs a punch and is real value for money. Asus Zenfone Max Pro is an impressive performer with an amazing software experience embodied in a good looking build with some pretty amazing features, which just keep adding on to the value of smartphone.
After using It for a while, we feel that Zenfone Max Pro can be a real pain for Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 Pro, because It has almost an identical spec-sheet with some neat additions that just make the scales tip in Its favor, or does It? As always, we’ll let you be the judge of that.
SuggestPhone feels that Asus has done a great job with Zenfone Max Pro, especially with the pricing, hitting the ball back in Xiaomi’s own court where It prides Itself for being value for money. We just feel that a couple of software issues can be refined with OTA updates but It is not close to being a deal breaker though.
Asus has found a true-blue budget champion and we hope to see more in the future, giving customers with more options and better value for money. We love the somewhat stock Android experience but we would love Asus to go full blown Android One because why not? Until then, Zenfone Max Pro is no less than a champion in the budget space.
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