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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.

Camera

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.

Benchmark ToolScore
AnTuTu v7115,003
3D Mark-928 (SSE – OpenGL ES 3.1)
-756 (SSE – Vulkan)
Geekbench 4.2-1,339 (Single-Core)
-4,889 (Multi-Core)
-4,534(RenderScript)
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.

Battery Life

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.

Conclusion

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:

SpecificationASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1
Display6-inch FHD+ IPS display @ 2160 x 1080px, 424ppi
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 636 1.8GHz octa-core processor
GPUAdreno 509
RAM
3GB
Storage32GB
MicroSDdedicated, expandable up to 2TB
Rear Camera13MP + 5MP PDAF rear camera, LED flash
Front Camera8MP front camera, LED flash
SIMDual-nano SIM
LTE4G LTE
WiFiWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth4.2
GPSGPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
Audio5 Magnet speaker with NXP smart amp
PortmicroUSB 2.0
OSPure Android (Android 8.1 Oreo)
Battery5,000mAh battery with flash charge
Dimensions159 x 76 x 8.61 mm
Weight180g
ColorsMeteor Silver, Deepsea Black
PricePhp9,995

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



Vaughn is your go-to person when it comes to comparing gadgets especially smartphones. He's also a gamer by heart and the "Hackerman" of the team.

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36 Responses

  1. Adolf says:

    Will this be available on malls on June 25?

  2. melai says:

    Is the model being sold in the Philippines the one with LTE bands 28 and 41?

  3. John says:

    Asus now your talking. That is the Asus that were known for. This is how you beat the competition. Affordable price for the monster quality phone.

  4. Prince says:

    How fast is the finger print scanner? In india the review was it took a second or 2 to unlock the phone with fingerprint is it true? Let me know because that will be a big no for me… Thanks

  5. Ez says:

    No 5ghz wifi. Slow fingerprint scanner would be definite cons.

  6. Hiram Sam says:

    Overpriced for the Philippines. I bought my Max Pro (M1) 64 gb version online for only Php 10,000.

  7. Ar-jae says:

    Will this be available on malls on June 25? Thanks in advance :)

  8. Ar-jae says:

    Will the price change after the pre-order period? Or is this still available after the pre-order dates?

    • Carl Lamiel says:

      Phone will be available after pre-order date since it will be sold to the general public at the same SRP. Only the additional items differ — you don’t get them if you haven’t pre-ordered.

  9. Rick says:

    Ilalabas po ba d2 sa pinas ung 4gb ram or 6gb ram!!?? Version! Pls answer my question!!!

  10. Ar-jae says:

    When you say to be sold in general public, would it still be only on lazada? Thanks :)

  11. Sonny says:

    Idol Carl do a head to head comparison between this phone and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 AI, it would be intresting to know which one is the best buy since both phones are almost identical in specs and price range.

  12. jobert says:

    Any news on the 4gb/64gb variant? Thanks

  13. Benson says:

    I’m actually curious on how loud can the audio jack performs since I tend to use a lot of IEMs myself kasi.

  14. Matt says:

    Nice review.I am very interested in this device. Do you think i will have any disadvantages upgrading from a perfectly working huawai mate 7S

  15. Dana Frazier says:

    Damn I wanna know if the 4gb ram variant will be available here in the Philippines. I saw a comment on yt saying that the 4gb ram unlocks the full potential of the chipset and that the phone’ll last longer without much lag compared to 3gb. The reason why I want to have this phone is because of gaming hahhaa. Please update if you have any news of the 4gb variant >.<

  16. Butch Afante says:

    Ano po yung range ng shutter speed nung camera?

  17. Patz says:

    this phone has a multi touch issue.. did asus fix this already?

  18. Justin says:

    Would you know if the unit sold in the Philippines is version A or version B?

  19. Mike sia says:

    They are currently selling it @ 13,995 at stores for pre order with jbl headset and stuff. Hey Vaughn Chua where did you buy yours?

  20. kaaaa says:

    hi
    is this lte advanced phone?
    2CA or 3CA?
    thanks

  21. Ley says:

    Why only lazada is the lowest price? Is the lazada legit?

  22. kagerou says:

    is it true that it has battery draining issues? cus sum says it has and others dont., pls guys answer me.,

  23. kidium says:

    What is better? Asus Zenfone max Pro (m1) or Oppo A3s 3gb variant.?

  24. Marlon Mariano says:

    So happy got this for 5995 pesos on Gigahertz Online 3gb ram 32gb storage.

  25. rhon says:

    i got mine this unit, but saddenly disappointed with the dual simcard. othe unit is locked by smart. di binabasa ang globe but all slot i tried, only smart accepted.

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