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Article | Gaming
Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 Review
Posted by Raphael Leynes on January 08, 2019

Taiwanese tech giant Asus has just launched the Zenfone Max Pro M2, as “The New Battery King”. The Max Pro M1 comes hot on the heels of its predecessor that was just released last year, the Max Pro M1. The M2 been specifically engineered to improve upon last year’s model through many points across the board, including the camera quality, overall performance and durability. Is this new king worthy of its crown?

Specs

Dimensions: 157.90 x 75.50 x 8.50 mm
Weight (g) 175.00
Battery capacity : 5000 mAh
Colours: Blue, Titanium
Screen size: 6.26 inches
Resolution: 1080×2280 pixels
Screen: Gorilla Glass 6
Processor: 1.95GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
RAM: 6GB
Internal storage:32GB (microSD Expandable up to 200 GB)
Rear camera: 12-megapixel (f/1.8, 1.25-micron) + 5-megapixel
Front camera: 13-megapixel (f/2.0, 1.12-micron)
OS: Android 8.1 Oreo

We’ve already wrote about the on the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 and our early impression of it and its design features and  in a previous article so please check it out here if you can:

Design

Right off the bat, it’s immediately noticeable that the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 is a huge improvement to the M1 is terms of look, feel and design. The M2 sports a smooth and rounded-out form factor similar to that of the M1, that makes it feel really good to hold in your hand. However, unlike the M1, the M2’s back is much flashier and more stylish thanks to the gorgeous “Dynamic Optical Finish” on its back that mimics the movement of the waves of the ocean. This sleek finish on the plastic back does come at a minor cost– it makes the back a bit prone to scratches making the use of a phone case essential to preserving the phone.

In stark contrast to the back, the front screen of the M2 is equipped with the latest Corning Gorilla Glass 6 which is a beast in terms of durability and protection. This ensures that at least the front of the device is well-protected from any damage that may occur in your daily use. The device’s 6.3-inch Full HD+ screen is also very impressive. Colors are vibrant and sharp across the board whether you’re gaming, watching videos or just plain browsing the web. With an 88% screen-to-body ratio, the M2’s screen provides more than enough real estate to consume your favorite media  without feeling cramped.

A big change-up on the front of the device for the M2 is the inclusion of the notch. While not as intrusive or as big as some notches on other phones on the market, it still causes a minor annoyance by either obscuring part of the full screen which, depending on the app, may contain vital information; or by placing a black bar on the notch side of the screen which makes it feel a bit lopsided and awkward.

In picture: black bar hiding notch on the right side of the screen

 

In terms of UI,  the Max Pro M2 drops the divisive ZEN UI in favor of a cleaner and much more efficient stock Android. For the most part, the change works well. The UI is fast and responsive and the app drawer is a always a good thing to have.  One tiny gripe I have about the UI is a holdover issue from the Max Pro M1– Adaptive Icons still causes some app icons to be displayed within a conspicuous white circle. This varies depending on the app but when it happens it ruins the uniformity of the UI and it resizes the icons to make it fit inside the circle making text on them harder to recognize sometimes.

Performance

The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 quite a solid device performance-wise. With its 1.95GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor and 6GB of RAM it is able to handle everyday tasks like surfing the net, handling emails, taking pictures and browsing social media without a hitch. Beyond that, in the realm of gaming, the M2 is no slouch either. It can handle the most resource-heavy games such as PUBG Mobile, League of Legends and Asphalt 9: Legends even on High Quality settings with barely noticeable performance issues. However, dropping the games down to medium settings proved to be the best recourse if you wanted to have an absolutely issue-free gaming experience, which is good enough for phones in this price range.

As far as heat is concerned, the M2 generates an ample amount of heat with long bouts of continued usage but it doesn’t really overheat per se. With all these factors, in addition to the device’s incredible battery life, which we’ll get to in a bit, The Zenfone Max Pro M2 is definitely one of the stronger entrants in its price range in terms of its gaming potential.

With the M2 billed as the “New Battery King” it should come to no surprise that its battery life is where the device shines brightest. The M2 rocks a  powerful 5000 mAh battery that delivers upwards of 16+ hours of battery life without having to worry about charging. In my experience, on a full charge, the Max Pro M2 lasts me through my whole day of moderate gaming, browsing, and media consumption even straight into the next day before having to plug in and charge. Even in the few times I’ve gotten it to below 20 percent battery, the M2 lasts around 2-3 hours more which is more than enough time to get to a plug. This is my favorite aspect of the Zenfone Max Pro M2, it’s a dependable, reliable device that is well suited to be your workhorse and companion through your daily grind.

Camera

One of the key areas of improvement that Asus wanted to improve upon for the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 is the Camera. However, their efforts have produced quite a mixed bag of results with some huge improvements, some carry-over problems and some new annoyances thrown in. Let’s start with the improvements. To be clear the Zenfone M2’s Camera is largely a step up to the M1. The Main Camera’s jump to the much more powerful 12mp Sony IMX 486 has produced quite a huge leap for the camera in terms of image quality. It is able to capture tiny details better and make colors brighter and more vibrant. Even at night, provided that there is decent lighting, colors from lights and neon signs as well as objects in the dark are captured to impressive detail. However, in low-light situations the Camera still leaves much to be desired. It’s still better than the M1’s camera in the dark but not by a lot. Colors become washed out and  the low -light compensation results to a lot of noise in the images.

The 13mp front selfie camera is pretty decent in ample lighting conditions as compared to those in the M2’s price range. However, in low-light it suffers worse than the main camera rendering it rather impotent if there’s no decent light source around. It also has a tendency to overexpose the photo if the lighting is to bright.  I’ve also observed a frustrating bug that affects the selfie camera wherein it fails to take a photo even if you press the button and the shutter animation occurs. This has resulted in many times where multiple button presses and even the odd app restart are needed just get one photo. I’ve encountered this very frequently during my time with the phone and  I have no idea what causes it but it’s very unfortunate and downright frustrating.

Another bug I constantly encounter is frequent camera crashing when I try to take a picture.  Whenever I’d click the shutter button the Asus Camera App Lite just instantly crashes. It started with the Selfie Camera at first then the bug made its way to the main camera as well. It became such a constant pain that I had to download and use a third-party camera app instead.

Hopefully Asus addresses these bugs in future updates as well as push out the much-awaited AI features of the Max Pro M2’s camera that initially wowed us with amazing photos during the launch. When that happens we shall update this review to include how well those features turn out.

In terms of Video capability, the Zenfone Max Pro M2 is quite impressive. It is able to take up to HD 1080p and even 4k UHD video competently. It’s not perfect though, the stabilization options are limited and there are a few times where it constantly needs to refocus through your shot even when you’re already taking the video.

Verdict

Even with the minor annoyances the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 is a huge all-around improvement to its predecessor. It handles everyday tasks with absolute ease thanks to its beefy processor and 6GB of RAM. Its gaming capabilities may not be top-tier elite level but it does the job admirably for a phone in its price range.  Of course, there’s also the beastly battery life that allows you to go about your day without having to worry about charging. Both the phone’s cameras are great when they work but with the nasty bugs I encountered and with the promise of AI functionality still to come in a future update could still they be better. All things considered, there’s a lot of value to be had with Max Pro M2. I had a great experience with the device taking it  around everywhere I went knowing that it can handle all of the tasks I can throw at it without worrying about performance or battery life issues.  If you’re looking for a solid all-around workhorse of a phone at an affordable price, the Zenfone Max Pro M2 should be part of your primary considerations.

 

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