Saturday, September 21, 2019
MobileTechPinoy

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2 Review: A Worthy Contender to the Entry-midrange

The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2 looks to build on the success of its predecessor, which was a surprise hit last year. The Max Pro M2 is priced to move, packing some great specs at a sweet mid-range price point. ASUS Philippines was kind enough to send over a review unit and boy did I take it for a test run on my last trip to Bicol. For what it’s worth, I got the 6GB/64GB variant and there’s a 4GB/64GB also available. Want to know how it fared? Read on for the full review!

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2 Specs

For its price point, the Zenfone Max Pro M2 is attractive, at least on paper. Check out the full specs below:

DISPLAYTypeIPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size6.26 inches, 97.8 cm2 (~82.0% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution1080 x 2280 pixels, 19:9 ratio (~403 ppi density)
Aspect Ratio19:9 ratio
MultitouchYes
ProtectionCorning Gorilla Glass 6
PLATFORMOSAndroid 8.1 (Oreo)
ChipsetQualcomm SDM660 Snapdragon 660 (14 nm)
CPUOcta-core (4x2.2 GHz Kryo 260 & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 260)
GPUAdreno 512
MEMORYRAM4/6 GB RAM
ROM64 GB
Expandable?microSD, up to 512 GB (dedicated slot)
CAMERAPrimary12 MP, f/1.8, 1/2.9", 1.25μm, PDAF
5 MP, f/2.4, 1.12µm, depth sensor
LED flash, HDR, panorama
Secondary13MP, f/2.0, 1.12µm
CONNECTIVITYNetworkHSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A (3CA) Cat9 450/50 Mbps
WLANWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth5.0, A2DP, LE
GPSYes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS
NFCYes
FM RadioNo
USBmicroUSB 2.0, USB On-The-Go
BATTERYmAhNon-removable Li-Po 5000 mAh battery
MISCSensorsFingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Price4GB/64GB on Shopee/Lazada @ PHP 12,995
6GB/64GB on ASUS/ZenFone Shops & accredited multi brand partners @ PHP 14,995
ColorsMidnight Black (4GB and 6GB), Cosmic Titanium (6GB only; http://bit.ly/MaxProM2WTBCosmicTitanium)
Body157.9 x 75.5 x 8.5 mm (6.22 x 2.97 x 0.33 in)
175 g (6.17 oz)
Front glass, plastic body
Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by)

What’s in the Box?

The Zenfone Max Pro M2 comes in your typical brick of a box that slides out of a sleeve. Inside you’ll find the following:

  • Handset
  • Clear jelly case
  • Warranty booklet
  • User guide
  • SIM ejector tool
  • In-ear headset with in-line remote and mic
  • Extra earbuds
  • Micro USB to USB data/charging cable
  • Wall charger (2A output)

The case and SIM ejector tool are thoughtful extras you won’t often find bundled with most other standard smartphone retail packages. So are the extra buds, although the 2A charger will probably be the most underrated accessory, allowing you to charge your phone faster. Overall, above average for a smartphone like this.

Build Quality and Design

Whereas its predecessor sported a more subdued and understated design, the Zenfone Max Pro M2 has an eye-catching 3D gloss design dubbed “Wave finish”. While undoubtedly pretty and an upgrade in aesthetics, it’s a fingerprint magnet that will annoy those of you with OC tendencies. That doesn’t make it any less gorgeous though if you take time to wipe it off.

In addition, the display makes use of a notch that houses the front camera and sensors. It’s a trend we’ve seen since last year and while smaller than most, it would have been nice to have one of those pea-sized water-drop notches that’s just becoming its own thing now.

One thing I don’t like about the design though is that it comes with a micro USB port instead of Type-C, which would have made better sense on a large battery handset. It might have kept the cost down, but charging times with the Zenfone Max Pro M2 will no doubt be longer than those with Type-C ports.

Display

The Zenfone Max Pro 2 follows the trend of notched displays, although the notch on this one is thankfully smaller than most. It’s no waterdrop, but it does help maximize the 1080 x 2280 Full HD+ resolution. Unfortunately, there isn’t a software feature that allows you to “turn the notch off” so you can see more notifications, even if you go directly into the settings.

Being an IPS display, color reproduction and saturation were great. Readability was particularly excellent and I could read the homescreen clock with the phone tilted almost completely sideways. While not the ideal way to watch a movie with someone else, the screen is large enough that you can hold it far enough away so neither of you are straining.

Software and UI

If you didn’t take kindly to ASUS’ custom ZenUI, you’ll be happy to know that the Zenfone Max Pro M2 runs on a near-vanilla Android 8.1 Oreo. The only ASUS apps were the Sound Recorder, FM Radio, and Calculator. I will miss the auto-sorting folders of ZenUI, but it’s a small price to pay for less annoying software.

Benchmarks and Performance

The Max Pro M2 is driven by Qualcomm’s midrange Snapdragon 660 SoC. It’s a fairly respectable chipset and it’s nice to see it on a phone that’s on the low end of the Php10-20k bracket. Here are some scores from some of my favorite benchmarking apps.

  • Antutu – 128,147
  • Geekbench
    • Single core – 1,463
    • Multi-core – 5,463
  • PCMark – 5,984

Connectivity

The Zenfone Max Pro M2 comes with a complete suite of wireless connectivity options. You’re getting up to LTE-A mobile data and support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi bands.

As for wired connectivity, you’re only getting a micro USB port rather than Type-C, which I’ll complain about later on in this review.

Camera

While this is primarily a battery-centric handset, it also comes equipped with some decent imaging hardware. On the back, you’re getting a 12mp/5mp dual camera shooter for some neat bokeh tricks. The front camera on the other hand is a fixed focus 13mp affair.

Additionally, a recent update just gave the Zenfone Max Pro M2 some much-appreciated AI-assisted camera software, which unfortunately I wasn’t able to test at the time of the review. However, it does come with your typical set of shooting options.

I still got some pretty awesome shots even without AI assist! Here are some sample shots below:

Outdoor / Overcast

This was shot slightly after the golden hour, although it was still able to capture a nice amount of detail.

Selfie / Lowest Beauty Setting

The selfie camera is also pretty decent and comes with a beauty mode. You’ll want to dial it all the way down though as this mode typically overdoes the beautification on any phone.

Food Shots

You’ll probably get a lot of mileage out of the Zenfone Max Pro M2’s cameras as it takes great closeups of your food in the right lighting.

Bokeh Shots

I really liked the shallow depth-of-field effect the dual cameras provided and it didn’t look too artificial as it can on some other setups.

Night Shots

One thing I’m not a huge fan of is the night mode. While it does bump the brightness up, the signages always end up over-exposed. Overall though, not bad for a midrange smartphone that isn’t primarily a camera phone.

Gaming

If you’re looking for a gaming smartphone, the Zenfone Max Pro M2 is a promising handset, primarily due to a combination of a decent chipset and excellent battery life. While you’re not going to get top-shelf graphics, the Adreno 512 GPU is more than enough for most games you’ll find on the Play Store. I was able to play popular games like Honkai Impact 3 and Dragon Ball Legends with nary a hiccup. Where I really appreciated the battery life though was on Ragnarok M, which I was able to set to Auto attack for 7 straight hours!

Multimedia

For those with extensive media libraries or streaming services, the Zenfone Max Pro M2 will help you maximize them. The combination of excellent screen, large storage, and high speed connectivity all make it a powerhouse of a multimedia device

Battery Life

If it’s from the Zenfone Max lineup, battery life is going to be the focus, and the Zenfone Max Pro M2 is no different. Packing a 5,000mAh, it’s got enough juice to comfortably last for a couple of days before having to be plugged in again.

Its battery life in the real world is pretty excellent too. I’m typically able to go 14 hours straight with mobile data and WiFi always turned on to go along with some heavy gaming. And as previously mentioned, I was able to get 7 hours straight of Ragnarok M on Auto.

In the past, gamers would often have to charge once or twice a day whereas now, the Zenfone Max Pro M2 can last an entire day at school or work!

One thing I don’t like though is that it skips the USB Type-C and instead goes for Micro USB. Sure, it’s still able to charge at a faster rate than most phones, it’s large battery would have benefited more from the high speed charging that Type-C can provide.

So Should You Buy It?

The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2 is an excellent midranger, providing a lot of bang-for-buck, not to mention excellent battery life for just Php14,995 for the 6GB RAM variant and even as low as Php12,995 for the 4GB RAM version. Whether you’re a budget-minded gamer, power user, or social media savant, the Max Pro M2 will meet your needs and then some. However, it does not exist in a vacuum and there are a lot of worthy challengers at this price point, some of which probably come with sizeable batteries + a Type-C port. Still, if you do decide to drop your money on this, you won’t be disappointed!

About The Author

Back when I started MobileTechPinoy in 2012, phablets weren't a thing yet. I enjoyed the stares I got from iPhone owners whenever I whipped out my Samsung Galaxy Note at the time. I'm much more budget-conscious these days though and am perfectly fine with using phones from any of our locally brands.

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