We were first introduced to the brand new Max (M1) sub-branding during December of 2017, and within half a year, ASUS is introducing a brand new smartphone in that series. This is the all-new ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1). With the specs that it has, it seems like a price that’s too good to be true. And yet it’s here. Available for purchase today. Right here, right now.

Continuing the legacy from where the Max Plus (M1) left off, it’s still a smartphone with a humongous battery – but how much of a difference will the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 make? Let’s discover together in this review.

Specifications

The specs below are specifically for the variant of ZenFone Max Pro (M1) that we have, codenamed ZB602KL. For the specifications of other ZenFone Max Pro (M1) variants, check out our first impression here.

CPU & GPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 636

8×1.8 GHz Kyro 260

Adreno 509

RAM 3 GB
Storage 32 GB

Supports microSD card up to 400 GB, dedicated slot

Display 5.99-inch

18:9 IPS LCD

1080 x 2160

Camera (rear) 13 MP + 5 MP

f/2.2 + f/2.4

PDAF

Camera (front) 8 MP

f/2.2

Battery Non-removable 5000 mAh
Operating System Android 8.1 Oreo
SIM Dual SIM (Nano) + MicroSD Slot
Connectivity GSM / HSPA / LTE

Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n

Bluetooth 4.2 A2DP, LE

GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS

Features Rear fingerprint scanner

Unboxing

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) (1)

At first glance, ASUS has really trimmed down and make the packaging design a lot simpler. With only two splashes of colors separated by a white line and with the branding debossed onto the sleeve.

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) (2)

Sliding off the sleeve reveals a box with the “we love photo” slogan. ASUS has been using this since its ZenFone 4 lineup – the ZenFone 4 Selfie Pro that we reviewed here.

The accessories that comes with the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) includes a micro USB cable, 5V 2A charger, TPU case, and also an earphone. With the fantastically low price of this smartphone, I wonder how ASUS found the budget to include an earphone. Of course, we’re not talking about how it sounds yet, but the fact that ASUS included one deserves a thumbs up.

Unlike its predecessor, the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) does not come with an OTG cable.

The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1)

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) (15)

If you remember the ZenFone Max Plus (M1) that we reviewed early this year, then this design will definitely ring a bell. From the front, it looks the same aesthetically. Still an 18:9 aspect ratio FullView display with 2280×1080 resolution too.

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) (9)

On the right side, ASUS changed the card tray design once more and now it’s a really long card tray. It has two dedicated Nano SIM card slots and a micro SD card slot in a straight line.

At the bottom, it has a 3.5mm audio jack, a micro USB port, a microphone, and a speaker. Around the top is where the second microphone is found.

Last but not least, the volume rocker and power button is on the right side. However, remember that the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) also comes together with a TPU case. That case however, has the same issue as before. Instead of accentuating the buttons, the included TPU case understates the buttons, making them difficult to press.

Screen

Believe it or not, the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) actually has 6-inch FullView display now – larger screen than its predecessor. However, it suffers the same fate too.

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) (14)

The screen on the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) lacks contrast, and throughout my usage experience , I realized that my eyes got tired. This is especially true when I was using Telegram with the dark theme. The UI and background are dark, but so are the texts. Since the contrast is low, everything just looks like a black blotch of pixels and it tires the eyes.

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App scaling has gotten a lot better too since this aspect ratio of screens have gotten mainstream. Games can scale up without an issue, making the gaming experience more immersive.

Cameras

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) (19)

Still maintaining the trend for dual-cameras, the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) that we have here is equipped with a 13MP primary camera and another 5MP depth sensor. The 5MP depth sensor is only used to collect data for bokeh photos via the depth effect, not to take pictures.

ASUS ZASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) Camera (2)enFone Max Pro (M1) Camera (2)

ASUS actually ditched their ASUS Camera app in favor of this new camera app called Snapdragon Camera. The new camera app has large fonts and humongous icons, making them easy to be seen and pressed.

However, many other camera options were taken out of the app.  Unlike its predecessor, it has no manual mode. There adjustable controls for the camera has been limited to pretty much only the EV meter and ISO. Also, it cannot take any photo in RAW format.

In ASUS’s credit, it does a pretty good job in portrait mode (a.k.a. bokeh) as its vertically stacked cameras as supposed to enable the cameras to “see” better while taking pictures in landscape orientation. Once the picture is taken in portrait mode though, it cannot be fine-tuned further.

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Battery & Performance

The ZenFone Max series is known for its large battery that can easily last you for the entire day of usage with ease, and the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) here is no exception. When fully charged, it can easily last for 5 days with very minimal usage. For daily usage purpose which includes web browsing, social media apps, calls and messaging, etc, the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) managed last for roughly 2 days of usage.

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) Honkai Impact 3 Gameplay (2)

Other than having a long standby time, it’s capable of lasting quite well with graphics intensive games as well. While running titles such as Honkai Impact 3 under level 4 settings, the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is able to run for approximately 5 hours before the phone decided to turn itself off.

Moving on to the battery charging, we did 2 charging test with the battery drained to under 1%. While charging using the included charger, the total charging time for the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) to reach 100% from a near flat battery state is around 3 hours on average. As for charging with USB power, charging from a near flat battery state to 100% will take around 8 hours and 40 minutes.

Verdict

Despite having a 13MP + 5MP rear camera, the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) isn’t really a phone that is designed to take crazy good looking photos. Though, that’s pretty much the same for the rest of its predecessor in the Max series.

However, the large battery capacity (5000mAh), large 6-inch 18:9 full-HD display does make up for that. Even if you’re not really a big fan of games like the seemingly popular  battle royale titles, you can game relentlessly on the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) for hours with that big juice pack it has. The 3GB RAM and 32GB variant (priced at RM699) we have here especially, does makes a pretty attractive choice for mobile gamers and users who wanted long battery life for mobile entertainment purpose.

Pros

  • Big 6-inch, 18:9 Full HD display
  • SIM card slot with dedicated dual SIM and MicroSD slot
  • Very good battery life
  • Reverse charging capable
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  • The camera isn’t great, especially under low light condition
  • Face recognition unlock doesn’t work well under low light condition

Tech Critter Silver