Ever since the first ASUS ZenFone launched in India, I’ve used and reviewed several ZenFones. I’ve always found these smartphones as swift and reliable devices with some excellent features. Recently, I got the chance to check out the latest ZenFone Max Pro (M1). Here’s what I feel about it as a user.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro (M1) Review
Stable and Swift Performance:
ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) has Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 636 Mobile Platform with 14nm, 64-bit quad-core processor. It is complemented by Qualcomm® Adreno™ 509 GPU. The device I got for review was a 3GB RAM / 32GB ROM version. It is powered by 5000mAh battery. (See all major specifications at the end). ZenFone Max Pro (M1) comes with pure Android Oreo out of the box and has fingerprint sensor and Face Lock feature for security.
As I said, I’ve used and tried several ZenFones over the years. I’ve never faced any performance issue with them. I can say the same with ZenFone Max Pro (M1). I tried several games on it and usual apps like Facebook, WhatsApp etc. The device performed well. Only once did the Camera app hung, when I quickly rotated the device from portrait to landscape and back to portrait. My review device had 3GB RAM. But I found it faster than ZenFone 2 that has 4GB RAM. Of course, it cannot race with devices like OnePlus 6 that are built for speed. But a combination of a good processor, better memory management and absence of any additional skin over Android makes ZenFone Max Pro (M1) a swift device, at a much cheaper price. Also, being a Max device, it has 5000 mAh battery. With a medium level of use, the battery lasted me two days.
ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is the first ZenFone that comes with pure Android experience. All previous ZenFones had ZenUI skin. Maybe the ZenUI was just not ready for an Android O device. Or more likely, user feedback made ASUS drop their ZenUI from this device. I know many users prefer pure Android. But honestly speaking, I find pure Android experience very boring. And I really missed the ZenUI while using Max Pro (M1).
I am one of those who don’t just look at the hardware specifications. I want my smartphone to give me something extra and unique in terms of features too. And up till now, ZenFones never disappointed. I always found ZenUI very intuitive. It offers several customization options like themes, scroll effects etc. but in a way that does not waste time. I love its features like Smart Folders and its various widgets. But now, in ZenFone Max Pro (M1), all that is gone. Even ASUS apps like Quick Memo, Mobile Manager are gone. It does not even have a native Gallery app. You have to use the Google Photos. I missed all these apps and features. Although Google Photos gives auto backup of photos, I missed the auto brightness and easier UI of ASUS Gallery app.
Overall, although the pure Android experience makes the device faster and promises quicker software updates, it has also made the device boring. While ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is a capable device, its Zen magic is gone and the ZenFone has lost its uniqueness. The one good thing is that it still has Gesture and Motion commands. These are now nestled away in the System category settings.
ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) has Dual Rear Camera System. In the 3GB/4GB RAM variants, the Main camera is 13MP with f/2.2 aperture. The secondary rear camera is 5 MP and helps in the bokeh effect. The front camera is 8MP with f/2.2 aperture and soft flash. Considering what the competitors are offering, these are quite average camera specifications.
The pictures I shot did not lack in brightness. The outdoor daylight shots looked excellent. The colours seemed a little washed out in some indoor photos. The night and low light shots were good. However, if you click on maximum zoom, there’s much noise.
Overall, considering the price, the camera performed satisfactorily and delivered some very nice shots.
Excellent Audio Experience:
Superior audio experience is one of the highlights of Max Pro (M1). It is equipped with five-magnet speaker and an NXP smart amplifier. The sound delivered by this device is loud and clear and sounds very pleasant and refined. Unlike other similarly priced smartphones, music on this phone actually sounds good, not just loud.
In addition, every ZenFone Max Pro (M1) comes with MaxBox. It is light-weight, foldable and portable amplifier. You can easily carry it in your purse or pocket. When the phone stands in its slot, the sound output increases by 2X. I loved this little accessory and actually tried to find if it is available separately so I can buy it.
Max Pro (M1) has FM radio with Recording.
Full View Display, but average in style:
Max Pro (M1) is a big screen device. It has 15.2 cms (5.99) Full View FHD+ display with 18:9 aspect ratio. The Full View design means it has very narrow bezel. It does not have the currently trending Notch display design. I consider that a good thing. The phone has an all-metal body with front 2.5D-curved glass. It measures 159 x 76 x 8.46mm and weighs 180g. The fingerprint sensor is at the back.
Overall, the phone has a very clean and uncluttered appearance. It has slim profile and is comfortable to hold in hand. But honestly speaking, I found the appearance of ZenFone Max Pro (M1) boring. I would any day prefer the stylish appearance of ZenFone 3. It seems think, with this device, ASUS was going for simplicity. I like simplicity. But I found Max Pro (M1) a bit too simple.
Excellent Fingerprint & Face Unlock:
ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) has a Fingerprint unlock and Face Unlock. I was very impressed with the speed of both features. Both methods work well and almost instantly. Face Unlock feature gives problems in several devices. But in the few days that I tried Max Pro (M1), Face Unlock worked flawlessly. 5 stars to Max Pro (M1) for the speed and efficiency of both these screen unlock methods.
ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) – A capable smartphone with pure Android Oreo and excellent audio experience.
ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is a mid-range device priced between Rs. 10,999 – Rs. 14,999. At this price, it delivers efficient performance and has enough power, speed and storage to handle all games and apps. I am happy with its performance and loved its audio experience and Fingerprint and Face Unlock speed. The camera works well and delivers nice shots, but adds a lot of noise when zoomed up. Many users will be happy that this smartphone has pure Android experience and comes with the assurance of upto 2 Android version upgrades. Till now, ZenFones have struggled with Android upgrades. But because Max Pro (M1) has pure Android, upgrades should no longer be a problem. However, I did miss the ZenUI experience and the various excellent ASUS apps. Without them, this ZenFone didn’t feel like a ZenFone at all. It has lost its unique identity and its user interface is now just as various Chinese smartphones available in the market. I found it very boring. I really hope ASUS won’t give up on ZenUI and various ASUS apps forever for future ZenFones.
ASUS the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) Specifications:
- OS: AndroidTM Oreo TM 8.1 (pure Android with assurance of two Android system updates)
- Display: 15.2 cms (5.99) Full View FHD+ (2160 x 1080) IPS display with 18:9 aspect ratio | 450nits brightness | 1500:1 contract ratio | 85% NTSC | 5-point capacitive touch panel
- CPU: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 636 Mobile Platform with 14nm, 64-bit quad-core processor
- (Snapdragon™ 636 performance is 1.54x better than Snapdragon™ 625)
- GPU: Qualcomm® Adreno™ 509 GPU
- Memory: 3GB / 4GB / 6 GB LPDDR4X RAM
- Storage: 32GB / 64GB storage
- Camera: Dual Camera System
- Main camera: 13MP f/2.2 aperture with secondary camera for bokeh effect
- Front camera: 8MP f/2.2 aperture
- *The 6GB RAM version has 16MP + 5MP rear camera & 16 MP front camera
- LTE: LTE-Cat 7
- FM Radio: Yes, with recording.
- Security features: Rear fingerprint security sensor with 5-finger, 360° recognition, 0.3s unlock | Face Unlock for added convenience and security
- SIM card and SD slot: Triple slots with dual SIM, dual 4G + 4G standby
- Slot 1: Nano SIM (2G / 3G / 4G) | Slot 2: Nano SIM (2G / 3G / 4G)
- Slot 3: MicroSD card (up to 2TB)
- Battery: 5000mAh battery
- Audio: Five-magnet speaker and NXP Smart amplifier to lower distortion and enhance higher volume
- Accessory: MaxBox for louder sound
- Design: All-metal body with front 2.5D-curved glass
- Dimensions | Weight: 159 x 76 x 8.46mm | 180g
- Colors: Deepsea Black, Gray
- Price: Between 10,999 to 14,999 depending up RAM/ROM
- Availability: Flipkart