As I’m typing I completely understand that I’m about to broach a topic that’s already been covered extensively. You see, I don’t need to review this phone category by category. There are plenty of other articles and videos that will cover this in depth. But there are a few questions that I can help you answer rather wholeheartedly. Should you buy the ZenFone Max Pro M1? Is it the best budget phone out right now? Let’s see if I can help, shall we?
To clear the air right at the beginning, the device I tested is the 6gb ram model with the improved camera. I can quite righteously say that you are getting the extra features you’re paying a premium for over the 4gb variant. The camera for one is considerably better. Still, it isn’t as good as the primary shooter on the Mi A2 or even the Redmi Note 5 pro. The reason for this is two-pronged. Camera interfaces are supposed to be visually appealing and easy enough to master for even the dumbest minds. This is one the reasons that the camera on the Pixel 2 and the iPhone X are considered a class apart. Keeping with their stock roots, Asus has opted to use the Snapdragon Camera UI which looks straight out of Jellybean era phone. Just to give you some history, the Snapdragon camera app is used to test camera hardware on the factory floor and is hardly a substitute for a full-fledged camera experience. The interface is clunky, unresponsive and downright disgusting to look at compared to the more elegant and organized UI on the Redmi Note 5 Pro. Even though the pictures turn out quite vibrant with great dynamic range and sharpness it still undercuts the camera performance in Xiaomi’s offerings. I’m still at a loss to understand why Asus didn’t just port the UI from their other flagship offerings. Pity, because the camera UI on Asus flagships are one of the best in the business. My 2 cents overall is that even though camera performance has significantly improved over the 4gb RAM variant, if one of the categories you can’t skimp on while buying a phone is the camera, I’d still suggest the Mi A2.
Let’s come to performance and battery-life shall we? All the budget devices in this price range predominantly use the Snapdragon 636 or 660 SoC. Both are the same, albeit the 660 is clocked slightly higher. You will NOT be able to notice the difference in everyday performance or in graphics performance. This detail makes it a fair match with the Mi A2. Undoubtedly, the ZenFone is the king in the segment when it comes to both battery life and performance. Asus’s decision to play it safe with stock Android proves to be a decision that works in this device’s favor. The extra RAM further gives this device the added capability to be snappy even with some extra applications open in the background. The devices thrashed most game-titles with ease and I found myself enjoying multiple rounds of PUBG on the huge display with almost zero lag. The cherry on the cake you ask? NO OVERHEATING. So why am I not saying the Mi A2 is better here since its chip is clocked to pump more power? Well, mainly because the battery is a pipsqueak compared to the ZenFone Max Pro M1. The Zenfone’s 5000 mAh powerpack lasts me an entire day with heavy gaming and usage with over 9 hours of screen-on time. THIS IS MIGHTY IMPRESSIVE. Let me put this in better perspective. Asus’s Max Pro M1 is as light as the Mi A2 and the Redmi Note 5 Pro and still pushes a bigger screen and a 25% bigger battery. Asus has mastered the art of functional design and other companies could really make use of their pointers on how to fit a bigger battery without compromising on ergonomics.
Here is where we answer the important questions. Should you buy the ZenFone Max Pro M1 at Rs.15000? If you can live with a less robust camera experience than what you’d get in other offerings THEN YES. With a snappy vanilla Android experience and the largest battery in the segment, there’s not a lot the ZenFone gets wrong. Easier availability compared to the Redmi and Mi A2 is definitely the icing on the cake. Provided Asus can keep their promise in delivering timely updates to Android Pie and the yet to be announced Android Q, Asus has got a champion in their hands.
Move aside the Xiaomi, for Asus is finally back!