In case you seemed on the ZenFone Max Pro M1 on paper, ASUS had what seemed like an unreasonably good smartphone on their palms. It was virtually like they’d assembled all of the items of Exodia and simply gained. It had the identical sort of specs because the class-leader in that reasonably priced mid-range class, but it someway additionally managed to be cheaper.
But then, once I truly obtained to utilizing the smartphone, a few apparent flaws undoubtedly introduced the gadget again right down to Earth. It was nonetheless a superb smartphone, don’t get me incorrect, but it simply wasn’t the identical divine-level gadget I initially thought it was.
Now, although, it’s time for spherical two. Not even a yr has handed because the launch of the M1, ASUS has come again swinging with its successor, aptly named the ZenFone Max Pro M2. And, whereas I assumed Xiaomi slept just a little on their Redmi Notice 5 successor — the Redmi Word 6 — the ZenFone Max Pro M2 looks like a big improve.
Extra of what you appreciated
With this improve, it appears fairly clear that ASUS’ aim was to provide you extra of what you liked with the unique M1. Meaning you get extra efficiency beneath the hood because the ZenFone Max Pro M2 upgrades the mid-range Snapdragon 636 processor on the M1 to an higher mid-range Snapdragon 660 processor. You additionally get 4GB of RAM as commonplace, with a 6GB RAM choice on the larger tier. Each units sadly include the identical 64GB of inner storage, so ASUS hasn’t fairly jumped on the 128GB storage wagon in Malaysia the best way Realme has with the two Pro. Should you do want extra storage, the M2 does have a devoted microSD card slot for reminiscence enlargement plus twin SIM help.
That stated, I can’t objectively say that the M2 is noticeably quicker, at the least not with my every day utilization. I can say that it feels quicker, but I can’t inform you whether or not that’s extra placebo or if it performs noticeably better. Operation seems like it’s quicker and extra responsive, but that could possibly be right down to any variety of causes. Nevertheless, don’t consider this as a knock towards the ZenFone Max Pro M2 — it’s extra like a retrospective thumbs as much as the M1 for being so clean within the first place.
I think you’ll see extra of those efficiency positive factors in-game should you’re an enormous cellular gamer because the SD660 is the extra gaming-friendly platform. On that notice, my colleague does observe that the ZenFone Max Pro M2 doesn’t endure from the identical display associated points in-game that the M1 did. He notes that it’s much extra responsive with none undesirable leaping whenever you’re aiming in shooters like PUBG. In my expertise, the Max Pro M2 does appear to endure from gyro points with racing video games like Asphalt 9 — forcing me to make use of the touchscreen to steer — but these gyro inaccuracies don’t appear to point out up in PUBG. Whether or not this can be a huge problem to you actually is dependent upon how much of a gamer you’re.
Whereas I feel the efficiency facet of this smartphone relies upon extra closely on whether or not you’re a cellular gamer, the ZenFone Max Pro M2’s signature function is one that everybody can take pleasure in. Like its predecessor, the M2 nonetheless packs that large 5,000 mAh battery — one thing you hardly see in a contemporary smartphone. Naturally which means you get wonderful battery life. In my expertise, I’m getting anyplace between six to 6 and a half hours of screen-on time (SOT) with fifteen to nineteen hours between fees. Take note that is with plenty of Netflix, YouTube and Spotify, plus some mild gaming. For those who’re not as heavy of a consumer, you should have the ability to final over a day (24 hrs+) between expenses. It’s nonetheless a bit of unlucky that there doesn’t appear to be any fast-charging help, so it will nonetheless take over three hours to completely cost. But, contemplating the superb battery life, fast-charging is extra of a “nice to have” than an absolute necessity.
In addition to the efficiency bump and wonderful battery life, ASUS has additionally made various smaller scale upgrades with the Max Pro M2 to push it nearer to that “complete” smartphone expertise that its predecessor couldn’t attain. And of that, my favorite change is its physique.
“WHAT? Are you crazy? This new phone’s made of plastic! The old one had a metal back!”, I hear you say.
Sure, the brand new Max Pro M2 is product of extra plastic elements than its predecessor. Gone is the metallic again and as a substitute you’ll discover a shiny glass-like curved panel with a fingerprint scanner and digital camera reduce into it. This again panel curves into the shiny body the best way a flagship smartphone does, but don’t mistake this for a flagship smartphone as a result of all of that’s plastic. However the query I have for you is: What issues extra? The truth that it’s plastic, or the truth that this new physique feels method better within the hand than the previous cheap-feeling metal-backed physique of the M1?
I feel the latter. The complete gadget feels extra strong and better put collectively than the final. Sure, the elements are plastic, but they’ve been designed to really feel like costly supplies and I feel ASUS did a reasonably good job. My largest concern with the plastic again is that it will possible be extra susceptible to scratches than a glass equal. Working example: My Realme 2 Pro, which additionally has a shiny plastic again, already has a tonne of scratches on it. So, you may need to slap a case on this man earlier than utilizing it.
Subsequent, I have to say that the ZenFone Max Pro M2 has probably the greatest single speaker setups I’ve heard on a smartphone. Not as a result of the audio high quality is tremendous wonderful or something — a great stereo setup (just like the Pixel three XL) will nonetheless have better audio high quality — but as a result of it will get actually, actually loud. And on a smartphone, the primary factor I would like the speaker to do is get actually, actually loud. Once I’m watching movies on the can, I’m not in search of a Dolby Atmos expertise, I simply need to have the ability to hear my content material and the Max Pro M2 does an awesome job right here.
Apart from, in case you do need a better audio expertise, you’ll be able to all the time hook up a pair of wired headphones to the gadget by way of the three.5mm headphone jack the M2 retains alongside its micro USB port.
Sadly, nevertheless, the Max Pro M2 doesn’t simply hold the great things. It additionally retains lots of my most important points with the unique Max Pro M1 — points that I hoped they might have fastened with a sequel.
Extra of the identical issues
And the most important of the lot is software program. As shocking as it was the primary time I reviewed the M1, the M2’s stock-line Android expertise hasn’t modified much. It nonetheless seems to be and feels fairly inventory, but it comes with preloaded apps. And whereas I can nonetheless forgive the helpful ASUS apps just like the sound recorder and calculator, I’m simply not down with the opposite bloat just like the pre-installed Fb, Instagram and Messenger apps. The Indonesian set I’m reviewing even comes with an app referred to as Caping (which you’ll be able to’t uninstall) that prompted an entire host of points with my gadget. But, since ASUS Malaysia has assured me that the native Malaysian units gained’t have this specific app put in, I gained’t dwell on this any additional.
Now I personally don’t know what offers have been struck that led to the preinstallation of those apps on the Max Pro M2, but it’s undoubtedly disappointing to see. Virtually as disappointing as the truth that this near-stock Android smartphone launching in December of 2018 doesn’t include Android Pie out of the field. ASUS’ reasoning was that they might solely replace software program as soon as it’s secure, but I might have beloved to see Pie on this telephone particularly after loving it so much on the Mate 20 Pro and Pixel three XL.
Rounding out my issues with the Max Pro M2’s software program is its atrocious notch optimisation. Oh sure, did I point out that the Max Pro M2 now comes with a notched show? Sure, it’s bigger, measuring 6.three inches diagonally, and it nonetheless pushes a Full HD+ decision, but this new panel comes with a cutout proper within the center. I truthfully don’t thoughts the notch — it’s even smaller than the Pixel three XL’s and that telephone’s notch didn’t hassle me both. Plus, I feel that the show is fairly OK with good sharpness and affordable viewing angles. If I had any complaints it can be that it doesn’t get very brilliant and you may’t use it in panorama with polarised sun shades on.
However the largest difficulty for me is how poorly optimised the software program is to deal with this specific notch. I’ve seen my justifiable share of dangerous notch optimisations, but this one takes the cake. Not solely does it eat into stuff like Instagram Tales, but it additionally eats into system particular features like the quantity controls and stuff like YouTube movies that haven’t been stretched to ultra-wide display (18:9 and above) format but. It’s virtually as if ASUS was off by a few milimetres once they designed the UI round this notch.
For probably the most half, it’s a beauty situation, but I feel this small but extremely noticeable drawback is only a good illustration of how poorly executed the software program is on this handset. The great intentions are there, but they only misplaced the plot someplace alongside the best way.
Subsequent, we’ve received the digital camera. Realistically, this was by no means going to be a flagship killer, so my expectation was for it to be better than its predecessor. But, after utilizing it for a few days, I feel the most effective I may give it is that it isn’t worse than its predecessor. OK perhaps that was a bit harsh, as a result of the digital camera app on the M2 is marginally snappier. Although, they do appear to supply the identical sort of pictures.
Pictures look affordable in shiny mild, but it does begin to wrestle when it involves scenes with robust backlighting.
When the going will get darkish, the whole lot shortly begins falling aside. The digital camera struggles to tug focus and could be very vulnerable to handshake blur. The pictures themselves lack saturation and are peppered with luminance noise.
And you then think about the truth that the Max Pro M2 nonetheless doesn’t have 5GHz WiFi — an issue that may solely worsen as extra individuals get quicker WiFi connections — nor does it have NFC, and you’re painfully reminded but once more that that is nonetheless very much a finances smartphone.
But does that make it a nasty telephone?
No, I don’t assume so. If I assumed the primary Max Pro M1 was an excellent system for the cash, then I feel that this M2 is certainly a worthy successor. It ups the ante the place it counts for a telephone on this worth bracket, like efficiency and construct, whereas additionally sustaining what we liked concerning the unique, like its superior battery and comparatively inventory Android expertise.
Sure, it is peppered with points within the software program division, but I wouldn’t contemplate that as it utterly bombing out of the competitors. In addition to, these are all issues I consider ASUS can patch with future software program updates.
The toughest factor I forsee individuals dwelling with would nonetheless be the digital camera, but then once more, you’d be onerous pressed to discover a good digital camera at this worth level anyway. And for those who think about the opposite strengths of this smartphone, I consider that you simply’ll discover that they stability out this specific weak spot. Particularly once you take a look at the worth.
For this primary wave of merchandise, ASUS Malaysia is simply bringing in two variants, the bottom mannequin with 4GB of RAM and the extra succesful mannequin with 6GB of RAM. As a result of each these smartphones have extra reminiscence, additionally they begin at a better price ticket, with the 4GB RAM variant retailing at RM859 whereas the 6GB RAM variant has an RRP of RM999. For those who examine it with the primary Max Pro M1, the one distinction is that there’s no entry-level 3GB/32GB mannequin, and the 4GB/64GB mannequin is now RM10 costlier.
And RM10 for what I’d contemplate is a reasonably vital improve doesn’t sound like a nasty deal in any respect. Actually, it seems like a fantastic deal. The one actual competitor right here is the Realme 2 Pro (sorry, Redmi Word 6 Pro) which sports activities the identical type of specs for a bit bit much less cash, but you’ll have to sacrifice the 5,000 mAh battery on the Max Pro M2 in case you go for the Realme. Additionally, I’d decide the Max Pro M2’s close to inventory Android — bugs and all — over Realme’s closely skinned ColorOS any day of the week.
So, is the ZenFone Max Pro M2 value your cash? Sure, undoubtedly.