Asus has tried again and again to penetrate the Indian electronics markets with its budget notebooks, laptops, wearables and most importantly Smartphones. Unfortunately, the brand has always struggled to gain loyalty of India consumers. The only time Asus was able to beat the competition was around 2014 when the company launched the low-cost Smartphone war with its ZenFone series.
Since then the company has tried several strategies to lure customers with high-end ZenFone 3 Series, selfie-focused ZenFone 4 series and other products like the ZenFone AR and ZenFone Live. But, the new Chinese competitors have since then taken a large chunk of the Indian budget segment and Asus has not seen the same success.
But the Chinese manufacturer is back again with budget Smartphone to target the sub-15000 segment alongside Xiaomi and Lenovo. The all-new ZenFone Max Pro M1 is Asus’s desperate attempt to reclaim the Indian money-minded consumer share. Interestingly the sub-15000 segment in India is ruled by Xiaomi currently with its signature Redmi Note 5 series. Let’s get cozy with the ZenFone Max Pro M1 to understand what elements this Asus Smartphone has got under the hood and if it has the features that can make it a Xiaomi killer.
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Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 Design
With a decent design, ZenFone Max Pro M1 is available in Grey and Midnight Black colour variants. The body has a solid built with non-slippery back and rounded-edged glass on the front. Although Asus claims that they have used high-quality durable glass in this phone, there is no branding on the glass neither does it mention reinforced.
The frame of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 is entirely aluminium with no sharp edges and the camera module is also in line with the body surface, you will notice camera barely protrudes on the back. What we didn’t like is the all-metal back panel on Max Pro M1 that gets pretty badly smudged with fingerprints. Compared to its counterparts like Redmi Note 5 Pro, ZenFone Max Pro M1 is a bit thicker at 8.61mm and is also heavier. You will feel the extra weight when you are typing with both the thumbs at the keyboard level. The size is larger than expected and people with smaller hands may find it hard to reach all parts of the screen. Max Pro M1 has fingerprint on the back.
The power button and volume keys are on the right side of the frame and you will have no difficulty in reaching them. You might be disappointed to find the Micro USB port on the bottom instead of Type-C which is getting the norm nowadays. Good for us, the ZenFone Max Pro M1 retains the 3.5mm audio jack which is located alongside the speaker panel at the bottom. On the left side of the frame, we have the SIM tray that has cutouts for two Nano-SIMs and one for a microSD card.
Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 Display
This Asus Smartphone comes with a 5.99inch Full HD+ LCD display offering excellent 18:9 aspect ratio. Thankfully, Zenfone Max Pro M1 display has no notch which is a significant plus. Asus claims that the Max Pro M1 display has a contrast ratio of 1500:1 and maximum brightness of 450 nits. Furthermore, 85% reproduction of the NTSC colour gamut offers the same contrast ratio.
All these features make Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1’s display the first-rate attribute. It performs well under bright sunlight, the viewing angles are great comparable even better than some of the Smartphones in this segment. Now even though the display has 1500:1 contrast ratio and 1080×2160 resolution it is no match for an AMOLED display.
In terms of design, Asus has adopted the 18:9 form factor that gives Max Pro M1 a modern look. There is an oleophobic coating on the display to ward off greasy fingerprint smudges. The display has rounded corners with bezels at the top and bottom.
Now the caution to be aware of is there’s no Gorilla Glass protection for the display which means even a minor drop can shatter the display. Also, it can get scratched pretty easily so you have to get the screen protector as soon as you buy the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 Performance
Just like Redmi Note 5 Pro, the ZenFone Max Pro M1 is powered by the latest Snapdragon 636 processor which is designed for premium mid-range Smartphones by Qualcomm. Asus is using the same processor in its high-end flagship phone the ZenFone 5 that was launched in 2018. Driven by the Snapdragon 636 processor this Asus ZenFone performed fairly in the review tests.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 had no problem performing. Even the 3GB variant ran all apps smoothly while the Android UI was snappy. You can watch videos and take pictures for hours-on-hours, all thanks to its 5000mAh battery. For gaming, the Max Pro M1 is a decent Smartphone although it gets heated after some time. Asus is definitely trying to target the young gamers and ride on the online gaming wave popularized by multi-player games like PubG in India.
On Benchmark scores, the Snapdragon 636 processor powered Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 performed well for its price range achieving 114,096 points on AnTuTu, 1,330 and 4,755 points on Geekbench’s single- and multi-core tests respectively and getting a score of 1,440 on 3DMark Slingshot.
The fingerprint scanner of Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 ran into some hiccups initially and users reported failed recognition a number of times but Asus was quick to fix the issue in the OTA update and now there are no more fingerprint recognition issues. For storage, you get 3GB/4GB RAM options both accompanied with 32GB and 64GB internal storage respectively. What’s impressive is that you can extend the memory of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 via microSD up to 2TB, which is a feature not available in any Smartphone in under-15000 segment. For connectivity, you get 4G capability along with VoLTE support. This is a dual SIM Smartphone but you can use 4G only with one SIM at a time and another one will be limited to 3G. As a drawback, even with the Snapdragon 636, the ZenFone Max Pro M1 supports single-band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n when the processor can support faster Wi-Fi 802.11ac. But, Asus does offer an upgrade to Bluetooth, in this Smartphone we get Bluetooth 5 with aptX audio.
The single speaker present at the bottom is loud enough but as you increase the volume the music distortion becomes evident. You get Max Box as an accessory with the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1, which is nothing more than a cardboard structure which is touted to amplify the sound of the speaker but we found it to be more of a marketing gimmick. The Max Box is cleverly designed that folds into a stand channelling the sound of the speaker towards you offering slight amplification. However, you cannot use it while watching videos in landscape mode.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 Software
One of the biggest improvements we see in the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 is the Stock Android 8.1. The manufacturer has finally ditched the ZenUI and in-built apps which is important for Max Pro M1 to perform without a lag. But a few bloatware still finds its way to the Max Pro M1 such as Facebook, Messenger and Go2Pay-none of which can be uninstalled. According to Asus, the action to remove ZenUI and other customizations were taken in response to market research. Although, you will receive the update for your ZenFone Max Pro M1 all the way till Android Q which is a big bonus in this segment.
As far as UI is concerned, the ZenFone Max Pro M1 offers all the Android Oreo inbuilt features like notification dots, split-screen multitasking and shortcuts on app icons. However, if you have used any other Asus Smartphone with the ZenUI then you will miss simple nuances like auto brightness toggle in quick shortcut panel, waking up the phone screen with a double tap. Asus is promising some advanced features for the ZenFone Max Pro M1 like facial recognition which is not available as of now but is intended to be implemented with future updates.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 Camera
Usually, when OEMs introduce a low-cost phone, the compromise on camera quality is one way they save the money. Let’s see if Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 has done the same.
Asus has provided Max Pro M1 with dual camera setup on the back which is a 13MP sensor accompanied by a 5MP depth sensor. On the front, we have an 8MP camera which is provided with its own flash. When using ZenFone Max Pro M1’s camera you will note that the camera app is not well designed and options are laid at random, making the app little confusing to use. A simple function as turning the flash on and off takes three taps. You will not be able to know which mode you are in unless you open the menu to check. Same is with video recording, you will have to tap three times to reach video mode and start recording. Asus should have worked on making the camera app better, but you can always use other camera apps for a better experience.
With the ZenFone Max Pro M1 rear camera, you can record 4K videos in two resolutions 4K DCI and 4K UHD. There is no effort made to make users aware of what difference does these modes have. With 4K DCI mode you can record videos at 4096×2160 resolution while 4K UHD allows 3840×2160 resolution. Then there is QVGA and CIF video recording capabilities, which is honestly a waste of time as no one record videos at 320×240 or 352×240 resolution anymore. Let’s hope Asus will overhaul the entire camera setup in future.
Speaking of performance, the ZenFone Max Pro M1 camera takes vibrant and rich images in the daylight. Closeup shots fare well while distant shots lack clarity, but it should not be a concern at this price range. When you use the depth mode you get smooth gradients between the foreground and background. During the night, you will have to work extra hard to manage focus while taking pictures and images get little fuzzy.
The front camera of the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 is an advantage and most users will appreciate the selfie quality it offers. Having a flash in front is an added value but the absence of soft illumination is troubling as it fires harsh light to your face.
Here are some images captured with Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1:
Image Credit: NDTV Gadgets
Camera is not the best feature of the ZenFone Max Pro M1, but Asus promises continuous improvement with regular updates so, you can give it a chance.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 Battery
Remember when we told you that the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 is thicker and heavier than most other devices in the same segment? It is because of its humongous 5000mAh battery. Now it makes sense why Asus picked the ‘Max’ for Pro M1 as the Chinese manufacturer has done before with some of its phones that had big batteries.
The battery is claimed to run for 25 hours on continuous video playback by Asus, but in real life you can expect, the 5000mAh Max Pro M1 battery for last little over 14 hours. As compared to Redmi Note 5 Pro, the battery life is not that impressive given the fact that Note 5 Pro offers better backup with a smaller battery. You can expect the battery life to improve as Asus starts upgrading the firmware. There is no explicit advertising of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 supporting Qualcomm Quick Charge. In the box, you get standard 10 Watt charger that takes up to 3 hours to fully charge the phone.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 Price
The Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 is available in two storage variants of -3GB RAM+32GB Internal Storage and 4GB RAM/6GB RAM+64 GB Internal Storage. In terms of pricing, Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 clearly beats Xiaomi as both these Smartphones are available under Rs 13,000 mark. You can get the 3GB RAM variant of Max Pro M1 for Rs 7,999 while the 4GB model will cost you Rs 9,999 (Rs 11,999 for 6GB RAM). Online shopping sites are offering 3 colour models of Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1-Black, Blue and Grey.
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Asus has already garnered a lot of attention for the pricing of the ZenFone Max Pro M1. Targeting Xiaomi Smartphones, Asus has provided ZenFone Max Pro M1 with some extra features like a bigger battery, front flash and 18:9 display ratio. Additionally, Asus is promising firmware updates and software upgrade up to Android Q.
All these features make the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 a worthwhile buy in the under-15000 segment.