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ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review – A Cheaper Redmi Note 5 Pro Killer?

For A Dedicated Indian, Here's a Dedicated Flagship Exclusively Available In India Only!

Q: Is ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 better than Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro? Let’s get to know every detail of the flagship in this ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 review.

The budget-friendly smartphones are getting better and better every year. One might credit the Chinese smartphone manufacturers such as Xiaomi, Huawei, and Vivo. However, our today’s protagonist isn’t a Chinese brand at all. It’s a phone made by one of the leading Global consumer electronics Taiwanese manufacturer ‘ASUS’. Moreover, the phone is dedicated to India only. Everyone meet ‘ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1’.

It appears like ASUS is trying to go back and reclaim the Rs 15,000 mid-end smartphone market where there’s a lot of competition right now by brands such as Lenovo, Huawei, and Xiaomi. That’s why they have to launch something which is better than the current mid-end phones or at least equal to them. ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 is that ‘something’ set for such a purpose.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - Featured

So what’s the big deal? The new ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 might neither sound showy nor tedious. It might not bring the cutting-edge technology such as triple rear cameras of Huawei P20 Pro and even a jaw-dropping design like Full-screen 2.0 of Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S. But do you know what? It might surprise you with its hardware featured at a stupendous price of INR 10,999 (163 USD). It is the best rival of Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro, offering the same hardware and better battery at a much better price.

Let’s dive into the details and know this India exclusive ASUS Zenfone in this ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 review:

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review – A Flagship That’s Exclusive to India Only!

Specification Sheet

ModelZenfone Max Pro (M1)
Dimensions159 x 76 x 8.51 mm
Weight180 g
MaterialMetal, Plastic Antenna sections
ColorsTwo (Midnight Black, Grey)
ScreenIPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Display5.99 inches, 93.1 cm2 (~77.0% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution1080 x 2160 pixels, 18:9 ratio (~403 ppi density)
SoCQualcomm SDM636 Snapdragon 636
CPUOcta-core 1.8 GHz Kryo 260
GPUAdreno 509
RAM3/4GB
ROM32/64GB
External storageYes, TF card supported up to 400GB
(dedicated slot)
Network2G bands: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2
3G bands: HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100, HSDPA 850 / 900 / 2100 - India
4G bands: LTE band 1(2100), 3(1800), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 20(800), 40(2300) - India
Dual SIMYes, slots (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by) + MicroSD slot (dedicated)
ConnectivityWired: 3.5mm audio jack, Micro USB 2.0
Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Bluetooth 4.2
Camera (Rear)Dual: 13 MP (f/2.2, 1.12µm) + 5 MP (f/2.4, 1.12µm), phase detection autofocus, LED flash
Dual: 16 MP + 5 MP, phase detection autofocus, LED flash - 6 GB RAM model only
Features: Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama, face unlock
Camera (Front)8 MP (f/2.2, 1.0µm), LED flash
16 MP, LED flash - 6 GB RAM model only
Features: Beauty Mode
SensorsFingerprint, Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope, Light sensor, Proximity
OSStock Android 8.1 (Oreo)
BatteryNon-removable Li-Po 5000 mAh battery
Standby: 840 h
Talk time: Up to 42 h (3G)
Music play: Up to 199 h
Average use: 2 days
Extreme use: 1 day
Charging time: 2.5 hours to 3 hours
Content1 x Phone
1 x Boom Box
1 x Charger
1 x Micro USB cable
1 x User Manual

Design & Appearance

Starting with the appearance, ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 is a pretty good looking phone despite the cheap price. The phone is available in two colors: Grey and Deepsea Black. ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Deepsea black color reflects a bit of dark navy blue color as well when in bright light. That is why it looks way elegant than the grey version. The holding experience is fantastic as the back is non-slippery and builds from the premium material but there’s a huge downside as well (discussed later). Moreover, the hold is improved further by the 2.5D glass and the rear covered sides.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - Fron

That Metal Built Adds Weight to the Phone and You Know that You Are Holding a Premium Phone Despite the Low Price Tag

Moving to the built and design, most of the budget-friendly smartphones molds from plastic. However, that’s not the case with ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1. The flagship despite being a mid-ender, forges from metal (aluminum alloy). Zenfone Max Pro M1 undergoes the three-staged metal design. The top rear and bottom terminals are plastic which is the antenna section. We would have really appreciated if the phone had a unibody design or an innovative antenna design. Well, nothing to complain about under that price tag. On the rear, we find the dual rear camera (along with dual-toned LED flash) placed vertically at the top left and is slightly bulged as well. At the rear top-center, there’s the fingerprint reader embedded.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - Back

On the front, we have the glass panel with narrow bezels. Now, ASUS says that it’s a sturdy glass panel but it has no reinforcement brand tag such as Saphire or Gorilla Glass Protection. So, you might need a screen protector after all. On the edges, the glass gets slightly curved proving that it’s 2.5D curved glass screen.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - SIM slot
ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 has a SIM slot with three compartments, two for Dual Nano SIM, and one for SD card

Everything seems to be perfect until you use a little bit and turn the phone to the rear and see those fingerprints!

Speaking of the downside of the design, the rear back gets dirty too often by the fingerprints. It’s because of that dull color on that cold metal. Those aren’t noticeable in dark environment, but in daylight or reflection, you and the others might once them. Since its metal, those fingerprints are harder to clean than on a glass back.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - Back 1
ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review: The rear gets smudged from the fingerprints

Zenfone Max Pro M1 occupies a space of 76.0 mm x 159.0 mm x 8.51 mm and appears to be slightly heavy weighing 180 g. As a 6-incher and being thick you won’t be able to perfectly clutch ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 despite carrying the 18:9 full-screen trend. Even the one-hand operations seem impossible on this phone for a person with average hand size. However, the rear fingerprint reader is easily reachable in one-hand operation.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - Top (2) ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - On screen buttons

However, the size and weight have benefits as well. The 6-inch smartphone is much suitable for gaming, watching movies, and other multimedia stuff. The 180 grams weight adds a plus point to the holding experience and you feel like you are admittedly holding a metal smartphone.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - Side view

The ports placement is somewhat questionable. It’s fine for the phone to have a Micro-USB port at the bottom of the phone, but the 3.5mm is shifted from the top to the bottom along with it. In fact, everything is at the bottom including the speakers and the mic. No complaints, but speaking of the practical use it’s a little difficult to hold the phone while charging and using it with the wired headphones on. However, the idea of that speaker placement was fantastic.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - Bottom ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - Top

 In comparison to the Redmi Note 5 Pro, both almost have the same dimensions and weight. The two of them uses the same three-staged metal design with plastic terminals. The finishing is almost the same. But, Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro wins in the appearance section, do you know why? Because unlike ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1’s dull and dirty rear metal chassis, RN5 Pro has a sandblasting shiny rear where the antenna sections are more symmetrical along with fine linning, and the larger rear camera section has a better visual impact. But because of the sandblasting, Xiaomi RN 5 Pro has a slippery surface. This is where the Zenfone has a much better holding experience. At last, both of the phones being 6-incher has the same difficulty in using them for one-hand operation.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - Boom Box
ASUS also gifts a boom box with ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 for a better sound experience

In short, ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 surely has a great holding experience and a classy metal built. So what if Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro has an upper hand in design & appearance, you won’t get an RN 5 Pro under Rs 10,999, would you?

Screen & Display

The new ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 uses a large 5.99-inch LCD IPS Full-screen 18:9 display with a Full-HD+ resolution and pixel density of 403ppi. Like previously said it’s a 2.5D curved glass. In comparison to other budget smartphones, you can notice that this phone has a quite vibrant screen. This is because of 1500:1 contrast ratio and being 85% NTSC which is better than Redmi Note 5 Pro (1000:1, 84% NTSC). Thus, the colors are brighter and sharp, despite having the same maximum brightness (450 cd/m2) as of Redmi Note 5 Pro. Since it’s IPS the viewing angles are simply unexceptionable.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - App menu
ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review: The phone slightly reflects under sunlight on 50% brightness

A Screen-Protector is a Must to when you get an ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 as there’s no default protection like Corning Gorilla Glass

Nowing speaking of the bad side, like previously mentioned, the screen isn’t coated with any branded anti-scratch coating such as Gorilla Glass 5, so you need to take extra care of the screen from those keys and coins in your pocket as well as the dust on the surface. We recommend using a screen protector.

Thus, ASUS gives us quite a large and colorful display which requires some extra care as well.

Hardware & Performance

Now comes the selling point of the phone. As we have teased you at the start, the phone is a perfect combination of power and long battery life. The heart of the flagship is the latest mid-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC. In case you don’t know, it’s the improved version of Snapdragon 630 featuring 40% increase in performance. What can you expect from eight customized Kyro 260 cores running up to 1.8 GHz? Well, everything! Speed, performance, as well as surpassing optimizations.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 is among the few smartphones to score 100,000+ points on AnTuTu under Rs 15,000 INR price range

The CPU is accompanied by Adreno 509 as the GPU as well as a generous 3GB/4GB/6GB optional RAM and 32GB/64GB storage (expandable) which is simply fantastic under that price tag. To be honest, we loved the 4GB version but had the 3GB version with us because of the availability problem. So, we are testing the 3GB version. The 6GB version also has a better camera configuration (rear: 16MP + 5MP, front: 13MP).

Regarding connectivity, it’s good to see that the phone supports Dual SIM (Nano) as well as a MicroSD card, unlike Redmi Note 5 Pro’s hybrid slot. Even though the SoC supports Bluetooth 5.0 but still, the phone uses the old Bluetooth 4.2. Last but not the least, we have the dual-band WiFi. The signal reception is relatively good thanks to those plastic antenna compartments.

We did some benchmarks as well to judge the performance and compare it with current mid-end king ‘Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro’ and guess what, despite having the same SoC, ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 beaten Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro. Here are the benchmarks tested on this device:

AnTuTu Benchmark Test (To Check Overall Performance)
Intro: The world’s first mobile phone/tablet hardware performance evaluation tool can comprehensively examine the performance of various aspects of the equipment, including user experience, and visualize the ranking. It supports multiple mainstream platforms, running points can be compared across platforms. The test comprises CPU, GPU, Memory, UX, and finally the total performance.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - AnTuTu Benchmark Score

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 3GB version scored 111013 points marking it as a mid-end performance. It is slightly better than Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (10900 points). You know the benchmark results always vary. The 4GB version will perform slightly better.

GeekBench Test (To Check CPU Performance)
Intro: Cross-platform CPU performance testing tools can accurately reflect the device’s CPU single-core, multi-core performance. Test load simulation of real-life application design, the result is more meaningful, but also to measure the GPU graphics computing performance. It’s a detailed test comprising of Single-core and Multi-core performance.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - Geekbench

The single core performance (1326 points) is incredible along with a good multi-core performance (4568 points).

GFXBench Test (To Check GPU performance)
Intro: The cross-platform, cross-API 3D benchmark software accurately reflects the graphics performance of the device’s GPU. Multiple test scenarios can fully examine the OpenGL ES graphics performance of the device and perform battery life tests. GFXBench offers OnScreen and OffScreen test methods. When the screen is running with the native resolution of the device screen, the off-screen display is unified to 1080p resolution, facilitating cross-device comparison.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - GFXBench Score

The offscreen frame rates per second were excellent, thanks to Adreno 509. The phone is suitable for mid-end graphics performance on the Full-HD resolution.

PCMark Test (To Check Daily Usage Performance & temperature)
Intro: PCMark is a test software that considers the overall performance. This performance can accurately reflect the processing performance of the daily use of the smartphone, multiple daily test scenarios, such as web browsing, video editing, document writing, picture editing, etc. It should be noted that PCMark’s lean-to-energy ratio is higher, which means that the higher the score of the mobile phone the more balanced power consumption and performance it is.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - PCMark Test

In the PCMark test, it scored around 6017 points, thanks to the highly optimized SoC and high capacity battery. The phone can meet the needs of advanced users expecting to watch Full-HD movies and videos and play high-end video games on mid graphics.

Androbench test (To Check Memory Performance)
Intro: AndroBench is a benchmark application that measures the 4K random storage performance of Android devices, including internal or external storage.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - AndroBenck Test

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 has an average storage speed (eMMC 4.1) eliminating the possibility of being eMMC 5.0.

In short, ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1’s performance is probably the highlight in ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 review. The SoC is way powerful than the SD 625 and 630 and the 4GB RAM extends multitasking. The best part is that we get the best mid-end performance with the maximum battery life for such a low price.

Gaming on Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1

We played a couple of games on this device and the device was worth it. A large 6-inch gaming experience with a nice sound and long-lasting battery life are what we need these days. The phone can easily run high-end games such as Asphalt 8 on high graphics and PUBG Mobile on mid-end graphics (it got sluggish on high graphics). Max Pro M1 got slightly hot over the time but the game never got sluggish. Thanks to the new Adreno 509. Here’s the gameplay:

Camera & Samples

Though the camera performance isn’t a top-level one from these low budget devices, however, let’s see what ASUS has reserved this time in this ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 review.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 embeds a 13MP Sony Exmor primary sensor and 5MP secondary depth sensor on the rear, making it a dual camera configuration. Meanwhile, there’s an 8MP selfie shooter on the front. Now, Asus hasn’t told what Sony sensor it uses. From the camera samples, it appears to be Sony IMX486.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - Camera

Starting with the camera app, ASUS provides a lot of modes such as HDR, portrait, landscape, flower and so on along with some beautification. It has color effects like mono, sepia, negative and much more. Still, the camera app layout is somewhat confusing as the controls aren’t properly laid out and take times to learn such as three taps to move to video recording and the confusion between depth mode turning on and you might not even realize it. Apart from these, it’s not suited for the professionals who love manual settings in the camera app, as in ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 there’s no manual mode. Of course, you can still set the white balance.

Unlike Xiaomi Redmi Note 5, it supports 4K video recording at 30 fps (DCI and UHD). At the other end, we have the old QVGA (320×240) and CIF (352×240) resolutions as well which are totally extra having no use. Sadly, we miss the slow-motion video recording. ASUS also allows us to record a muted video which can become quite handy.  Still, the 4K video might experience some shakiness because of no OIS.

Here are the daylight, low light, night pictures shot from the rear camera of ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1:

1) Daylight Samples:

In the daylight, the shots took from this phone was quite vibrant, each color exposing the maximum to the light. Despite having a small aperture of f/2.2 and pixel size of (1.120 µm), the details and focusing were exceptional. Though it took some time to focus. The details on the stalk of the plant are visible. However, the detail is only limited to the focused area.

The background blur was praising as well, way better than of Redmi Note 5 Pro. The portrait focused had sharp edges and with no blurring making the portrait blurring quite accurate and not artificial. Whereas the whole background was perfectly blurred. Such a nice background blur from a Rs 10,999 smartphone.

2) Low Light / Nightlight Samples:

In the low light and nightlight camera samples, the phone struggled. In most of the parts, there wasn’t adequate lighting and a lot of background noise. This is where you get to know the downside of having a small aperture and pixel size. However, for a mid-end and low budget device, it’s still acceptable as the night photography wasn’t that bad at all. Though the image looks quite dull, but the focusing was still prominent.

The background blur at night was successful and improved the image a lot.

In fact, while the LED was turned on, there was no sign of over-exposing and the image was sharp and stable similar to the daylight samples.

The front camera is also good featuring beauty mode. It’s appreciable that we get a single tone LED flash along with it. However, the LED flash isn’t gentle at all with no soft illumination. Instead, it’s pretty much similar to the rear dual tone flash which strikes in your face making you blind.

In short, though the camera app is somewhat crappy (ASUS has promised to improve it in the future), the rear camera performance is worth praising especially in daylight. Unlike Redmi Note 5 we have the 4K video recording as well. Most of the mid-end cameras struggle in low light, and ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 is not an exception. But, let’s ask yourself a question. Can all those smartphones give you that type of camera performance under Rs 11,000? The answer is definitely no!

OS & Battery

Despite ASUS naming ‘ZenUI’, the OS is pretty much ‘Stock Android’. That’s right! It’s just simply pure Android 8.1 OS with no extra apps taking your phone’s precious space. Surely, ASUS has done some optimizations as well in the OS.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - Oreo

Another selling point of the flagship is how responsive it is. The operations carried on the OS are simply lightning fast. The apps don’t take time to load. Scrolling and the on-screen buttons respond smoothly no matter how many apps you have opened. The fingerprint reader is fast but still, we witness a slight delay. It’s a lot better than thanks to the updates but still needs improvement.

The company ‘ASUS’ provides regular OTA updates, so we can hope that the downsides such as the camera app and fingerprint reader response will improve a lot in the future.

Now moving to the great highlight of the phone is its generous 5000mAh battery. If you thought Redmi Note 5 had a great battery, then why not try these extra 1000mAh. The phone can run for 2 days on an average use such as short calls, online surfing, 10 minutes of gameplay, and so on. Talking about the extreme usage such as 1-hour PUGB gameplay, long online video call, internet Full-HD video playback, the device easily withstand a whole day on a single charge.

Since there’s no fast charge technology, it takes around 2.5 to 3 hours to charge the phone with standard charging.

PCMark Battery Life Test (To Check Battery Life)
Intro: Intro: PCMark Life Test is a test to check the battery life of a smartphone/tablet. It utilizes every hardware and feature of the phone and takes the max power out of battery. We did it on 100% brightness, WiFi turned on,  and low volume.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review - PC Mark Battery Test

With the 5000 mAh battery, the battery life crosses thirteen hours. This achievement makes it possible for moderate users to use it for one day on a single charge without any problems.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Metal Built
  • Incredible performance
  • Insane Battery Life
  • Responsive OS
  • Vibrant Display
  • Dual SIM and MicroSD card synchronizes at the same time

Cons

  • Back Gets Smudged With Fingerprints
  • Camera App Interface Needs Improvement
  • Average low light camera performance
  • No Gorilla Glass Protection

Our Verdict

Concluding the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 review, ASUS markets ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 to be the top rival of the mid-end king Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro. Is the flagship truly a Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro killer? Yes, it definitely is! We get almost the same hardware performance (slightly better), bigger battery, a Dual SIM and MicroSD card slot, super responsive UI, and a front LED flash as well in comparison to Redmi Note 5 Pro while paying Rs 2,000 lesser.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Offers the Same Level of Performance and Longer Battery Life at a Much Better Price Than Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro

Price & Availability

Right now, the demand for ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 is probably high thanks to the stupendously low price. You can grab one in two optional colors (Grey and Deepsea Black) from the flash sales on Flipkart. Here’s the pricing:

  • Standard version (3GB + 32GB) for Rs 10,999
  • Higher version (4GB + 54GB) for Rs 12,999
  • Exclusive version (6GB) for Rs 14,999 (not selling right now)

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Sale on Flipkart

The next sale starts on June 14 at 12 pm.

Hope you loved the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 Review. Don’t forget to share your views and experience on the new ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 only available to the dedicated Indians 😉

Update: Surprisingly, the phone is now available for international purchase as well on Gearbest. Here’s the link to the store:

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