Today, we’re taking a look at the newest addition to ASUS’ lineup of battery-focused ZenFone Max series, and the follow up to the very successful ZenFone Max Pro M1, the ZenFone Max Pro M2.
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A Different Approach to Design, and I Like It
Unlike its predecessor, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 uses a “notched” approach for its 6.3-inch display, which also sticks to a Full HD+ resolution. I’ve always loved the screens on ZenFones for their liveliness. And happily, this one follows through -- colors are punchy, text is sharp, and viewing angles are decent.
It’s also one of the first few devices to utilize the new Corning Gorilla Glass 6, which means it should be able to withstand a few “accidental drops.”
The device uses a triple slot tray, located on the left side, while all the buttons are placed on the opposite side. Obviously, some compromises had to be made to keep the price in check, such as the microUSB port at the bottom.
The back of the device veers away from the usual flat design of previous models, and now takes a more curved approach.
It houses an AI-assisted dual rear camera system, the second one used for depth. While this setup is quite common for current mid-range devices, it’ll be interesting to see if ASUS has made significant improvements in its implementation, as the optics on the Max Pro M1 had a number of minor issues.
Do note that at the time of writing, we have yet to receive the update that enables the AI features in our review unit.
Even without AI features, the rear cameras are able to capture a fair amount of detail up close. Colors accuracy is also on point. The depth effect could use some work in detecting the edges. At least, the blurred areas only show minimal pixelation. As far as the front snapper is concerned, well, it slightly struggles to focus, but the details have noticeably improved, even over the more premium ZenFone 5.
A Welcome Upgrade in Performance
The device runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chip, which is slowly becoming a mainstay for mid-range devices, and for good reason. It’s one of the most powerful chips in the 600 series, and quite efficient too. You get 6GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage, expandable with a microSD card.
To give you an idea of this phone performs in games, the ZenFone Max Pro M1 runs PUBG Mobile in Balanced + high framerate setting, while the M2 on the other hand, can run the same game in HD + high framerate setting. We’ll have our benchmark stats ready for you in our full review, so stay tuned.
No ZenUI Here
Like its predecessor, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 doesn’t have ZenUI installed, and runs on stock Android 8.1 and doesn’t come with bloatware. Of course, that also means you’ll miss out on some features, but you do get better performance in general. In any case, navigating the UI is smooth and fluid, as you’d expect.
A Massive Battery to Keep You Going
And last but not the least, this phone wouldn’t have the word Max in it if not for a massive battery – 5,000mAh to be exact, and it’s compatible with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology. That means it should last at least a full day of light to moderate use, and juicing it back up shouldn’t be a hassle.
The ZenFone Max Pro M1 lasted 12 hours in PCMark’s Work 2.0 benchmark, which simulates usual day to day tasks plus some editing and data manipulation. As such, we expect the M2 to do the same, or even better.
So far, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 does look to be quite a promising phone. The change in design is very welcome and makes the phone look more expensive that It actually is, the processor upgrade to a Snapdragon 660 from a 636 alone is enough to get us interested in how it will fare in real world usage. Its optics do need a bit work, but we’ll forego that for now, as it’s still awaiting some updates for the AI features. The phone is set to be available in stores this December 15.