ASUS has some interesting releases lately. Their Zenfone 5 line-up is keeping their fans from the upper class entertained. However, what really got our attention is their more affordable smartphone — the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1.
If you’ve been following the news, I’m pretty sure you already have an idea on what this device is. But for those who aren’t, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 is the company’s spec-ed out budget-friendly smartphone — something that is poised to compete against one of the biggest bang-for-the-buck devices today, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5.
We know how appealing its specs are, we’ll see in this review if those actually hold up in real-world usage. Is it actually the best-value smartphone for the price? Let’s figure that out here.
ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Specs
- Android 8.1 Oreo
- Dual SIM, Dual standby
- 5.99-inch FHD+ IPS display, 2160 x 1080 resolution, ~402ppi
- 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 octa-core processor
- Adreno 509 GPU
- 3GB RAM
- 32GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 400GB
- 8-megapixel front camera (3GB/4GB RAM model)
- 13-megapixel + 5-megapixel dual rear cameras, PDAF, LED flash (3GB/4GB model)
- Fingerprint scanner
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, hotspot
- Bluetooth 4.2
- GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
- FM Radio
- microUSB 2.0
- Dimensions: 159 x 76 x 8.5mm
- Weight: 180g
- 5,000mAh battery, 10W charger
Design and Build Quality
While ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 sure has some powerful specs, ASUS still managed to make it look appealing and sleek. The device is made of metal, which is still an interesting compromise when compared to the glass back that its higher-end devices have like the Zenfone 5Q.
The material is also prone to smudges but is still better than having a glass back. It also has curved edges and corners, making it feel really good in the hands.
The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 has incredibly thin side bezels which makes it really sleek for a large 6-inch device. However, the top and bottom bezels are still a bit thicker — making it relatively taller than the competition.
Also, the device weighs 180g, so it’s clearly not the lightest device around. But for a device that has a huge 5,000mAh battery, it is still surprisingly light.
For a quick tour, there’s the said 6-inch FHD+ IPS display on the front. At the top, there’s the 8-megapixel front camera, earpiece, and sensors. ASUS opted for on-screen navigation buttons instead of physical ones, which is actually better since you can easily customize its order in the settings menu.
On the right side of the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1, we have the dual nano-SIM tray and a dedicated slot for a microSD card (up to 256GB). While on the left, we have the lock/power switch below the volume controls. The buttons feel really tactile that it takes a bit more force to be actually pressed.
At the top, there’s the noise-canceling microphone hile on the bottom we have the primary built-in mic, 3.5mm headphone jack, micro USB port and the loudspeakers.
Moving on to the back, we have the dual rear cameras in a vertical orientation. The LED flash is separated from the glass frame. We also have the fingerprint scanner sitting right in the middle for easy access.
Overall, I’m really impressed by how ASUS dressed this device. It might not be the most good-looking and portable device around, but the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 is definitely a stunner despite all the power that it holds inside.
The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 sports a large 5.99-inch FHD+ IPS display, 18:9 aspect ratio, with a resolution of 2160 x 1080 pixels and a total of ~402 pixels-per-inch. It might not be the best screen around, but for the price of under Php10,000, this is the best that you can get.
Its huge size makes it really perfect for consuming media or multitasking. It has enough room to make videos feel immersive, or give you more details inside games. The screen quality is also good with deep colors, although the contrast is a bit of a downer.
It sure makes videos and games look immersive. However, it still faces the usual problem with 18:9 panels. Since most videos are produced in 16:9, you’ll have tiny black bars on the sides when watching video contents.
On the upside, you can easily stretch it to the sides by doing a pinch-to-zoom gesture. However, it will crop the top and bottom frame a little so some details will be cut out.
But other than those minor issues, this screen is actually really good — especially when you consider the price.
Most devices under this category would easily neglect the audio department to easily cut cost. But surprisingly, that’s not the case for the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1.
ASUS rigged it with a 5-magnet loudspeaker. According to their website, it is 41% louder with 14% low-frequency extension and has 12% less distortion when compared to the standard ones.
Those numbers really reflect in our real-world tests. It has really loud volume, with really low distortion on max volumes. And surprisingly, it has a decent soundstage — good for listening to music or watching videos.
The device also delivers good audio via headphones. It has fairly loud volume range, which is rare in most Android devices in this price tag. The quality also sounds clean, although it will still depend on what headphones you are using.
Hardware and Performance
On to the really exciting part, the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 is powered by a 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 octa-core processor with a decent 3GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable storage. It also comes with an Adreno 509 GPU for graphics-intensive tasks.
The Snapdragon 636 is absolutely the best chipset that you can have on a smartphone at this price. Heck, you can even find it with the other devices that are thousands more expensive than this.
With that, expect some really good performance on the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1. It can handle basic tasks really well. From social media apps, browsing through the interface and what not. But since it only has 3GB of RAM, the multitasking experience is not as seamless as with the other devices who have more.
Still, applications launch reasonably fast. The 32GB of internal storage is also roomy enough to handle a few games, basic apps, and a lot of media files.
Of course, the game can handle games well. I tried playing PUBG Mobile and the device was able to handle it smoothly. However, you need to keep the graphics settings to Balance to make sure the frame rates stay high for the most optimal experience.
Overall, I’m really impressed with the performance of the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1. It’s reliable and can play games really well — some of the most important things that a lot of people are looking for, especially on a value-oriented smartphone.
Software and Interface
The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 was spared from ASUS’ clunky ZenUI interface. With that, the device runs on stock Android 8.1 Oreo, with all the good things that come with it.
We’ve reviewed a lot of Vivo and OPPO smartphones in here that we almost forgot how the stock Android UI looks like. So, we’re glad to experience again the light and straightforward nature of Android.
The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 lock screen looks clean with interactable notifications and a large clock on the top. Although I wish Android finally moves the entire control center panel down for easy access — something that other Android OEMs got right on their own interfaces.
But still, if you’re a genuine Android fan, you’ll feel right at home. You can down swipe again to reveal the entire list of actions you can easily toggle appearing just above the notifications.
The home screen of the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 is fairly clean, while the app drawer can be easily accessed by swiping up. The apps are neatly organized alphabetically. But if you want to find one faster, there’s a search bar sitting conveniently on the top.
ASUS tried its best to not touch the built-in camera app of the Zenfone Max Pro M1. However, they had to make some minor additions to accommodate the hardware. But still, it looks spotless with large and recognizable icons so you don’t spend too much time figuring out which is which.
The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 also uses Google Photos as the gallery app, plus other generic Android first-party apps to avoid redundancy.
The M1 branding is made to assure people that they’ll be getting the best Android experience in their ASUS devices. And in that part, the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 surely delivers.
It feels like we can’t really have it all. You can’t expect to have a smartphone under the Php10k range and expect all the features to be top notch. That’s obviously the case with the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1.
While it got everything else right, a few compromises were still necessary to accommodate the low price tag. The compromise? The cameras.
See also: Huawei Nova 2 Lite Review
The Zenfone Max Pro M1 sports an 8-megapixel selfie camera, and a 13-megapixel + 5-megapixel dual rear shooters. The dual rear cameras can take decent photos, but it’s definitely not the best that we have seen. The colors and saturation are still Instagram-worthy, although they appear to be slightly washed out when compared to the others. The White Balance struggles on some occasions, resulting in weirdly-looking colors in images. Contrast is also struggling, although the dynamic range is decent.
On the upside, the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1’s portrait mode features are actually fun to use. Thanks to its dedicated 5-megapixel camera, it can easily detect the foreground and completely blurs out the background. It still has that usual cut-out like effect, but still better than some competing devices.
We also have the same sentiments on the 8-megapixel front camera. It can produce decent photos, but we’ve definitely seen better even in the entry-level category.
With that said, the colors look a little washed out, the contrast is also failing. The details are a bit sharp, a requirement to be considered social media worthy.
ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 also has a beauty mode that works decently, although it is way behind the competition. The AI-powered ones that are found on the Vivo and OPPO smartphones prove to be miles better in comparison to this handset. The portrait mode works in the front camera as well, but it struggles to intelligently separate the foreground from the background.
The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 doesn’t have the best connectivity hardware around but they can still get the job done. It comes with the basic WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, 4G LTE, FM Radio, and GPS. All of which worked well in my testing. I experienced no drop in signal when connected to our home network. The 4G LTE connectivity provides fast and reliable wireless connection for as long as your location supports it. Meanwhile, the Bluetooth function played nicely with my wireless headphones and speakers.
The call quality was also decent. The earpiece delivers good audio and the dual built-in mic was able to pick up my voice without any problems.
One of the main highlights of the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 is its large battery. This thing sports a 5,000mAh battery and is partnered with a fast 10W charger so it can be filled up quickly.
I ran PCMark’s battery test (WiFi off, screen brightness and volume at 50%) and the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 managed to get a screen-on time of 15 hours and 49 minutes.
For a perspective, we ran the same test on the similarly-priced device, the Vivo Y71 which has a 3,360mAh battery, and we only got 9 hours and 29 minutes from it.
Those synthetic test results also reflected in real-world scenarios. On a day of casual use — e.g. casual web browsing, sending texts, and streaming music over Spotify during commutes — the device easily lasts me for a day and a half or up to two days.
The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 is pegged as one of the most value-oriented smartphones around. And in this review, we found out that it is.
We really liked its large and sharp display. It provides enough room for playing games and consuming media. You can also do a lot of multitasking thanks to its sizable screen real-estate.
Speaking of multitasking, its capable processor provides enough power to handle day to day tasks really well. It can also run demanding games decently, but not in the highest settings.
I personally loved the clean Android interface of ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1. It might sound ironic, but it is a breath of fresh air from the homemade skins that a lot of OEMs (even ASUS) tries to apply on their regular smartphones.
In addition, let’s not forget its long battery life. This easily makes the Zenfone Max Pro M1 the right device for those who are looking for a powerhouse smartphone on a budget.
If we’ll be nitpicking, I do wish that the camera could have performed better. The hardware is already there, so I guess ASUS just needs to iron out how the software handles the images.
But then again, we’re just nitpicking. The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 is one of the best budget-friendly smartphones that you can get right now.
Pricing and Availability of ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1
The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 is a Lazada-exclusive. This means that you can not get it in any physical stores nationwide.
As for the pricing, the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 retails for a price of Php9,995.
If you’re one of those people who are still skeptical about purchasing online, well, don’t fret. Lazada is probably the biggest online store in the Philippines, something that you probably know by right now.
You don’t have to worry about being scammed or what. Just make sure to purchase it from the official ASUS store. Or if you’re really scared, you can opt for the cash on delivery option. See listing here.
- Large display
- Capable processor
- Long battery life
- Camera quality could be better
- Uninteresting design