Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 review: Great battery and overall performance at an affordable price

Apart from powerful specs paired with stock Android at an affordable price, the Pro M2 also offers vastly improved aesthetics as well as a display that's more in line with the times. We give it 8.5/10.

 |  6-minute read |   19-12-2018
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2018 has been a busy year for Taiwanese smartphone maker, Asus. Over the course of the year, the company launched a number of interesting phones such as the Zenfone 5z and the ROG Phone. Both smartphones came with industry-leading specs but at slightly high price points.

Yet, the device that turned out to be the most influential Asus phone of 2018, was none other than the budget warrior, Zenfone Max Pro M1. Launched in April, the device brought with it best in class specs at an aggressive price point. 

Now, barely months after its launch, Asus has launched its successor, the Zenfone Max Pro M2. Though the basic strategy has remained the same – powerful specs paired with stock Android at an affordable price – the Pro M2 also offers vastly improved aesthetics as well as a display that's more in line with the times. 

Let's take a look at what the phone brings with it in our review of the device. 

1-copy_121918062658.jpgZenfone Max Pro M2: Powerful specs paired with stock Android at an affordable price. (Photo: Rahul Sethi/ India Today)

Design and display

Unlike the Max Pro M1 which came with an industrial design, this new phone has a more modern look that is not only quite appealing to look at, but can also give competing phones from Nokia, Realme and Xiaomi a good run for their money. And much of this is because Asus has gone with laminated plastic at the back and sides of the phone instead of going with a bland metal unibody design. 

Over the year, we've seen a number of phones coming with plastic on the back – a strategy that has backfired more often than not as most of these phones ended up feeling cheap and unattractive to look at. However, that's certainly not the case here. Asus' treatment of the plastic is quite spot on as the phone ends up looking and feeling like a premium glass-back device. 

Asus claims that this is because the back panel of the phone has been created using a glossy 16-layer coating that changes pattern depending on the angle from which light hits it. 

The use of plastic also helps to keep the weight of the device in check, making it feel extremely lightweight to hold despite the presence of a massive 5000mAh battery inside.

On the side, the phone features a 3D-curved rear design which not only adds to the aesthetics of the phone but also makes it comfortable to hold.

The plastic body finally merges into a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 covered display on the front which features a notch that houses within it an LED flash, the front camera module, an earpiece, notification LED, and ambient and proximity sensors. 

Because of this being a notched display, the 6.26-inch FHD+ (2280 x 1080) panel comes with very little bezels on the sides – although a fair amount of chin still finds a place at the bottom of the display. For most use case scenarios, the display works like a charm and feels quite immersive to watch movies and play games on. However, under direct sunlight, we felt the display lacked a little in terms of brightness. 

2-copy_121918062919.jpgThe use of plastic also helps to keep the weight of the device in check. (Photo: Rahul Sethi/ India Today)

Specifications and performance

Apart from the design and looks, the other important box that the Pro M2 ends up ticking is performance. 

Under the hood, the phone comes packing some serious firepower. Running the show here is the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC that depending upon the variant of choice could be paired with up to 6GB RAM and up to 64GB of storage.  Now considering the price point that this device comes at, the presence of the 660 SoC and ample RAM acts a definite plus in its favour. 

Making things even better, the powerful hardware on the device has been tasked to run clean skin of stock-Android. The device comes running Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, however, Android Pie rollout for the device has been announced for January 2019. 

Overall, the presence of powerful internals and stock Android ensured that the phone performed extremely well during our time with it. We experienced no lags and stutters while going scrolling through the UI, and playing graphically demanding games – at medium setting – too did not prove to be a matter of concern during our review. 

3-copy_121918062937.jpgThe phone comes equipped with a dual camera set-up at the back. (Photo: Rahul Sethi/ India Today)

Camera

Talking about the cameras, the Zenfone Max Pro M2 also improves on the optics when compared to its predecessors. The latest phone comes equipped with a vertically placed dual camera set-up at the back – a 12-megapixel primary camera paired with a 5-megapixel depth sensor.

The main sensor here is the trusted Sony IMX486 with a pixel size of 1.25micron and aperture of f/1.8 aperture for improved low light photography. 

Now even though this is an improvement over the Pro M1, it is a little far from being an excellent camera. Despite clicking some good shots, we did find the snapper clicking over-exposed pictures under direct light at times. The colour acuuracy too seemed a bit off at times. 

Clicking portrait shots was also a hit and miss, as separation of the subject from the blurred background was not quite satisfactory at times. Another thing about the portrait shots is that you cannot adjust the level of depth effect after processing of the shot.

Low light photography was certainly better because of the presence of the wider aperture on the phone, but nothing really to brag about. 

At the front, this phone has a 13-megapixel sensor with a 1.12 micron pixel size and an f/2.0 aperture which does the job. However, if you're looking for exceptional selfie performance, then there are definitely better smartphones available in the market. 

4-copy_121918062948.jpgThe phone comes packing a 5000mAh battery. (Photo: Rahul Sethi/ India Today)

Battery

When it comes to the battery, it's mostly all about the mAh count, and as such, this is one race where the Zenfone Max Pro M2 takes a huge lead over the competition. 

The phone comes packing a 5000mAh battery that is bigger than anything that the competition offers and the fact that its tasked to keep the lights running on a Snapdragon 660 SoC stock Android device, ensures that the Pro M2 lasts two days on a single charge on medium/high use.  

Sadly though, the battery doesn't support fast charging, and the bundled 10W charger takes a little over two hours to charge the phone. 

Should you buy the device?

The Zenfone Max Pro M2 is available in three variants, with the most affordable, 3GB/32GB one starting at Rs 12,999. The other two variants with 64GB storage and 4GB or 6GB of RAM are available for Rs 14,999 and 16,999. And these price tags serve as the biggest victory for the device. 

The fact that Asus has managed to pack segment leading SoC, a huge battery, decent dual cameras within a sleek, light-weight frame without jacking up the price too much is what makes the Max Pro M2 a highly recommended device. 

Yes, there are a number of devices such as the Redmi Note 6 Pro and the Realme U1 that make a strong shout in the segment. But the fact that the Pro M2 comes running stock Android gives it a slight edge over the competition. 

And did we mention it has a 5000mAh battery? 

Also read: Is Asus' ROG Strix GTX 1070 TI good for gaming on a budget?

Writer

Sushant Talwar Sushant Talwar @sushanttalwar

Tech journalist, DailyO

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