ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) review
ASUS goes full throttle this year as they continuously launch their new devices with the ROG Phone leading the charge. One particularly awaited phone, however, is the launch of the newest addition to the Max lineup, the ZenFone Max Pro. Will it redeem the series? Let’s find out in our full review!
Before we begin, check out our unboxing and hands-on video for the ZenFone Max Pro below.
Design and Construction
The Max Pro looks premium and sleek thanks to its less bezel design and black-colored front panel. From the get-go, the phone looks tall due to its 5.5-inch body that houses a 6-inch display. Out of all the ZenFone Max series, this definitely is the best in terms of design and looks.
The ZenFone Max Pro has an interesting phone structure. The chassis is made of metal but the sides are made of plastic which is weird. The device feels a bit heavy but, considering that it carries a 5,000mAh battery, it’s not that bulky compared to other devices with large battery capacities. The first thing that popped into our minds when we held it was — it’s solidly built.
We also didn’t have problems with gripping and putting it in our pockets. That’s not the best feeling though, as finally, we didn’t have to clean the front and back often thanks to its good finish. Thanks, ASUS for making the ZenFone Max Pro fingerprint and smudge resistant.
Let’s take a quick look at the sides of the Max Pro. Along with the 6-inch display, the front panel also houses the 5MP front camera, call speaker, LED notification light, and LED flash while the back panel contains the 13MP + 5MP rear cameras with the LED flash while just below them is the fingerprint scanner.
The ZenFone Max Pro has a pretty standard setup with a lone noise-canceling microphone located at the top while the bottom contains the 3.5mm audio port, main microphone, micro USB port, and the loudspeaker.
The sides of the ZenFone Max Pro contains the same standard components. The left houses the dual-SIM card slots and a dedicated microSD card slot that can accommodate up to 2TB external storage while on the right are the volume rocker and power button which are clicky and have good tactile feedback.
Display and Multimedia
The Max Pro sports a 6-inch FHD 18:9 IPS display which is a great leap compared to its other siblings that only has 720p. Direct sunlight won’t pose any problems during operation as brightness is good enough. We enjoyed watching videos with this phone compared to other Max variants because of the higher quality display.
Audio-wise, the Max Pro is loud enough thanks to its 5 Magnet speakers with NXP Smart Amp. The highs and mids are great but, like most phones, lows are quite disappointing.
The ZenFone Max Pro has an unusual camera user interface that can be attributed to its Pure Android UI, more on that later. There are presets consisting of Auto, HDR, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Flowers, Backlight, Candlelight, Sunset, Night, Beach, and Snow. We also have Filter, Depth Effect, Beautify, and general settings. Unfortunately, there is no Pro Mode but users can manually adjust the ISO, exposure, and white balance in the settings.
The 13MP main + 5MP secondary rear shooters have good color accuracy and maintain its quality even after zooming, but only to a certain extent. Low-light shots are usable for social media posts although noise and grain are already noticeable.
Unlike the rear, the 8MP front camera shooter has subpar performance. The camera has a hard time focusing on subjects, especially under direct light sources. For low-light shots, quality gets worse, as images become too muddy and noisy. We also had problems with the face unlock feature which we’ll discuss later.
The ZenFone Max Pro can record videos at up to 4K 30fps UHD/DCI in mp4 file format. We advise users to use a tripod or any phone stands when shooting since there is no stabilization found in the device. Check out our sample video below.
OS, UI, and Apps
Here’s where the juicy part begins. If you are used to seeing ZenUI on ASUS’ devices, then you’d be surprised with the ZenFone Max Pro as it runs on Pure, almost stock, Android, which is based on Android 8.1 Oreo. To give you an idea, Stock Android is where the user interface modifications are solely handled by Google whereas Pure Android is almost stock but UI modifications can still be made by the smartphone company.
The UI is smooth, clean, and simplistic which is a plus for us. We are glad that ASUS made this move as it removes unnecessary bloatware that often plagues smartphones. With that said, the only pre-installed applications are the standard Google apps and the additional ASUS apps that includes FM Radio, Sound Recorder, and Calculator.
Out of the initial 32GB internal storage, 24.82GB is open for use, which is already plenty for storing files.
Performance and Benchmarks
We can say that the other ZenFone Max smartphones are no match for the ZenFone Max Pro when it comes to overall performance. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, Adreno 509 GPU and 3GB RAM. Basic navigations and task executions are smooth while multitasking and file transfers are quick and easy.
Here are the benchmark scores that we got.
|3D Mark||-928 (SSE – OpenGL ES 3.1)
-756 (SSE – Vulkan)
|Geekbench 4.2||-1,339 (Single-Core)
|PC Mark||-6,421 (Work 1.0)
-6,064 (Work 2.0)
|AndroBench||-244.93 MB/s (Sequential Read)
-122.76 MB/s (Sequential Write)
The face unlock feature is basically a “hit or miss” especially on low-light conditions. One example is when I tried using it after registering my face in the same place and lighting, it didn’t work but moving to an environment with brighter lighting did.
Playing games such as PUBG Mobile, Rules of Survival, and Mobile Legends didn’t cause lags or stutters. If it does occur, the main cause would be internet connection. Playing games or using the camera causes the device to warm up but it doesn’t reach to a point where it becomes uncomfortable in our hands.
Connectivity and Call Quality
Usual connectivity such as Dual-SIM, LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, and GPS are all present in the ZenFone Max Pro. The phone also supports SIM 2 4G connectivity which is a plus for us. The device has a Gyroscope which is good for applications that use AR technology. Google Maps, Waze, and Grab (Sorry Uber but, you’re gone now.) works fine as the phone provides accurate positioning and coordinates with its GPS.
Call quality is loud and crisp while we didn’t experience any signal interruptions as long as we were in a serviceable area.
The ZenFone Max Pro comes with a massive 5,000mAh battery with flash charge technology which is not as fast as Qualcomm’s proprietary Quick Charge. In our video loop test (playing a 1080p MP4 video with 50% brightness and sound with headphones), it lasted for 20 hours and 16 minutes which is an impressive feat. This proves that the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) lives up to its #BatteryKing branding.
Note: PC Mark Battery test crashes during testing.
ASUS said that they used Flash Charge tech to avoid potential risks to the rather large battery if Quick Charge were to be used. Charging from 20% to 80% only took us 1 hour and 53 minutes which is good, considering the monstrous 5,000mAh capacity.
The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is a great smartphone, thanks to its vibrant display with good color reproduction, powerful CPU and GPU, Pure Android experience, and large battery capacity with impressive batt life. It certainly redeemed the series by providing one of the best price-to-performance ratios in its segment. With a tag of Php9,995, the Max Pro M1 is a definite steal.
The phone is now up for pre-orders at Lazada and will be available for purchase on June 25, 2018.
ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) specifications:
|Specification||ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1|
|Display||6-inch FHD+ IPS display @ 2160 x 1080px, 424ppi|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 1.8GHz octa-core processor|
|MicroSD||dedicated, expandable up to 2TB|
|Rear Camera||13MP + 5MP PDAF rear camera, LED flash|
|Front Camera||8MP front camera, LED flash|
|WiFi||Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n|
|GPS||GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS|
|Audio||5 Magnet speaker with NXP smart amp|
|OS||Pure Android (Android 8.1 Oreo)|
|Battery||5,000mAh battery with flash charge|
|Dimensions||159 x 76 x 8.61 mm|
|Colors||Meteor Silver, Deepsea Black|
What we liked:
- Premium design
- Solidly built
- Not a smudge and fingerprint magnet
- Good display quality
- Impressive CPU and GPU performance
- Decent rear camera quality
- Pure Android experience
- Already Android 8.1 Oreo
- Good specs-to-price ratio
- Large battery capacity
- Long battery life
- Flash Charge technology
What we didn’t:
- Subpar front camera quality
- Hit or miss with face unlock feature