Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 first impressions: Note 6 Pro alternative with a huge battery

The ZenFone Max Pro M2 isn't just an incremental upgrade but a phone where Asus has put in a ton of effort.

Asus may not be a household brand of choice when it comes to budget smartphones, but the company has been trying to take on Xiaomi's entourage of budget offerings with is its ZenFone Max lineup for a while now. The Max Pro M1 was launched earlier this year and did very well to take on the Redmi Note 5 Pro so the hopes are definitely high for the successor.

The ZenFone Max Pro comes in three variants with a starting price of Rs 12,999. Image: tech2/Sheldon Pinto

The ZenFone Max Pro M2 comes in three variants with a starting price of Rs 12,999. Image: tech2/Sheldon Pinto

The Taiwanese company may still be struggling to find a better name for the new phone, but things have drastically changed since the Max Pro M1. What I mean is that the M2 is not just an incremental upgrade, but a brand new offering of sorts from Asus — the design, the internals and the camera — everything sees a change here.

The Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 starts at a price of Rs 12,999 for the base variant with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. There’s also a 4 GB RAM with 64 GB storage variant and a 6 GB RAM with 64 GB storage variant on offer each priced at Rs 14,999 and Rs 16,999 respectively.

Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2: Build, Design and Display

After facing a lot of flak for a dull, uninspiring design on the Pro M1, Asus has gone right back to the drawing board for the M2. The Max Pro M2 is, by far, the most attractive looking budget device to have made it to the market with a glossy back and a brushed metal-looking finish on the back. We had the blue unit for review which looks quite compelling, a huge departure from what we saw on its predecessor.

The Max Pro M2 has a glossy plastic back which look appealing but doesn't feel very durable. Image: tech2/Sheldon Pinto

The Max Pro M2 has a glossy plastic back which look appealing but doesn't feel very durable. Image: tech2/Sheldon Pinto

Asus is also quite happy about the fact that the phone comes with Gorilla Glass 6 protection, making it one of the most affordable offerings in India to feature Gorilla Glass 6 protection.

The phone is considerably larger than the Pro M1 but doesn't feel as dense and well-built when you pick it up. The phone is predominantly made of plastic which does help keep the weight down a fair bit but does hamper the feel of the device. The phone has curved edges on the back which helps in gripping the device and also lets you hold on to the phone better during one hand use.

Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 has a notch which isn't too wide. Image: tech2/ Sheldon Pinto

Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 has a notch which isn't too wide. Image: tech2/ Sheldon Pinto

Talking about the back, the plastic also picks up quite a lot of smudges as well as a few scratches. Asus does bundle a clear case in the box, so you would definitely want to put that on if you have sweaty hands as I do. You'd also want to ensure you don't throw your car or bike keys into the same pocket as the phone.

There is a bit of a camera bump as well on the back but its small enough to almost ignore it completely.

The display has seen quite a makeover as well. The 5.99-inch 16:9 display on the M1 has been changed to a 6.3-inch 19:9 aspect ratio LCD panel with a notch which isn't too big. With my limited time with the phone, the colours on the panel are punchy and also quite bright for outdoor use.

Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2: Chipset, Storage and Software

The ZenFone Max Pro M2 gets an upgrade from a Snapdragon 636 chipset to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 this time which is always welcome. The Snapdragon 660 may not be a beast when it comes to gaming, but it handles regular usage and a fair bit of multitasking with ease. Battery consumption from the 14 nm chip isn't too bad either.

Zen UI on the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2

Zen UI on the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2

Asus has also stuck with its stock-like build of Zen UI which we saw on the Max Pro M1. The animations are buttery smooth and I had absolutely no trouble with it so far. The transitions and minimal animations are also rendered to perfection by the able chipset inside. If you do post a lot of images on your Instagram stories and apply a lot of filters and stickers, the Max Pro M2 should be able to handle all of that with ease.

There is a dedicated microSD card slot and none of that hybrid SIM slot business to hamper storage expansion. Image: tech2/ Sheldon Pinto

There is a dedicated microSD card slot and none of that hybrid SIM slot business to hamper storage expansion. Image: tech2/ Sheldon Pinto

The unit we have for review came with 50.62 GB of usable space of the 64 GB, but there is a dedicated microSD card slot and none of that hybrid SIM slot business to hamper storage expansion. This is another area where the ZenFone Max Pro M2 would definitely be a more sensible pick over the Redmi Note 6 Pro.

The phone is also expected to receive an upgrade to Android 9 Pie by the end of January 2019.

Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2: Camera and Battery

The camera was an area where the competition against the Redmi Note 5 Pro really fell apart last time and this time Asus has changed quite a few things with the hardware on the Max Pro M2.

The phone features a dual rear camera setup with a 12 MP Sony IMX 486 primary sensor and an aperture of f/1.8 (with an equivalent focal length of 27 mm) and a 5 MP secondary unit with portrait mode and field of view of 84 degrees. The camera shoots video in 4K, FullHD and HD. The front camera is a 13 MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.0 which comes with a flash for tricky lighting situations.

The camera performance will really determine whether the Max Pro M2 really beats the Redmi Note 6 Pro. Image: tech2/ Sheldon Pinto

The camera performance will really determine whether the Max Pro M2 really beats the Redmi Note 6 Pro. Image: tech2/ Sheldon Pinto

My initial impressions of the camera are quite pleasing. The camera shoots well-exposed images in daylight as well as at night. The portrait mode also works well, but sadly, there's no portrait mode for selfies on the phone which is a real bummer.

The battery is definitely one thing that you don't have to worry at all. Two-day battery life? With moderate usage, I even managed to squeeze out 2 and a half days of use with the ZenFone Max Pro M2. The 5,000 mAh battery here does take a while to charge with the lack of a fast charger in the box, but once you do charge the phone, you'll really have to try hard to deplete the battery life. I do have to spend more time to gauge how much the battery drain is while heavy gaming, but I'm mightily impressed with battery life so far.

Conclusion

First impressions of the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 are definitely promising. The phone ticks most of the right boxes for the average consumer. However, it's the minute things like the camera performance and overall durability where it really needs to prove its mettle against the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro.

The phone has a micro USB port at the bottom along with a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a single speaker grille. Image: tech2/ Sheldon Pinto

The phone has a micro USB port at the bottom along with a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a single speaker grille. Image: tech2/ Sheldon Pinto

Asus has really put in a lot of effort into the Max Pro M2 and it definitely shows in every way.

How well does it fare against the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro, Honor 8X and the Realme 2 Pro? Stay tuned for the in-depth review to find out.

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