The Zenfone Max Pro M2, like most recent products from the stable of Taiwanese electronics maker Asus, gives value for your money in the midrange smartphone segment. The phone comes in two colour variants (blue and titanium) – and three RAM and storage configurations — 3GB RAM/32GB storage, 4GB RAM/64GB storage and 6GB RAM/64GB storage. A successor to the Zenfone Max Pro M1 (review), this phone has a modern notch-based screen, a premium glass-like design, improved camera modules, and a more powerful processor.
Compared with its predecessor, the Zenfone Max Pro M2 has more than just cosmetic upgrades. It seems to tick all the right boxes when tested against the company’s claim of it being an unbeatable performer. But, how does it fare against other smartphones in the same segment, such as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6, Realme Pro 2 and Nokia 6.1 Plus? Let’s find out:
Design and display
The Zenfone Max Pro M2 has a reflective glass-like design on the back and Gorilla Glass 6 on the front. Compared with the metallic body of the Max Pro M1 and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro, the glass design looks premium and has a better feel to it. But, as with the Nokia 6.1 Plus and Realme 2 Pro, the glossy body is prone to fingerprints, which dull the shiny glass. The phone also feels slippery at times and is prone to accidental drops.
Another noticeable change in the Zenfone Max Pro M2 design is the notch-based screen. Though the notch on top of the screen is not as small as the waterdrop design in the Realme 2 Pro, it is not even as big as the one in the Redmi Note 6 Pro. The new screen format adds to the display estate, enhancing the size from 6 inches in the predecessor to 6.26-inches, without much difference in dimensions.
The Zenfone Max Pro M2 has a dual-camera module on the back, with a 12-megapixel primary lens paired with a 5MP depth-sensor. The primary lens has a bright f/1.8 aperture and a bigger pixel size of 1.25 micron metre. Unlike the wide-angle secondary lens, the 5MP depth-sensor in the Max Pro M2 captures depth information to improve portrait shots.
The rear camera unit takes satisfactory images in day light. However, even with a bright lens, its lowlight imaging remains sub-optimal. The photos taken in low light come grainy with visible noise levels. There is a dedicated night mode in quick settings, but it does not show any major improvement to the frame.
It also requires steady hands to capture images in the night mode. There is a Pro mode to make custom settings based on frame requirements. This is the only mode that allows you to take good shots in low light, provided you know how to tweak the settings.
The portrait mode is another weak area for the Max Pro M2 imaging. Unlike most smartphones in the same segment, the Max Pro M2 has a slider-based aperture setting to adjust depth blur instead of automatic settings. This often causes improper segmentation of object and background.
On the front, there is a 13MP lens of f/2.0 aperture, and a soft LED flash. The selfie camera is good for portrait shots and the additional beauty mode works like a charm and improves output.
From an unorganised camera user interface to sub-optimal imaging output, camera performance is one of the weakest areas for the Zenfone Max Pro M2.
The phone, powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 system-on-chip (SoC), boots Android Oreo 8.1 operating system out of the box. The OS, being a vanilla version of stock Android, is free from clutter and bloatware. However, this version of the Android operating system is a generation old. The Android Pie update is expected to arrive in early 2019.
User interface is sleek and the phone shows no signs of lag or slowing down. However, the absence of gesture-based navigation puts it behind the Redmi Note 6 Pro, which has its own full-screen gesture support.
In terms of performance, the Zenfone Max Pro M2 manages multiple apps in the background without forcefully closing any, showing a good RAM optimisation at software levels. The phone handles with ease day-to-day operations like browsing the internet, watching videos, accessing social media platforms, messaging and calling. It also handles processor- and graphic-intensive apps like games, video editing tools, video recording and playback, etc, without any stress.
The phone’s 5,000 mAh battery has ample power to keep the phone going for around two days. But the supplied 10W charger is slow in charging and takes more than two hours to take the battery charge level from zero to 100 per cent.
Priced at Rs 14,999 for the 4GB RAM/64GB storage variant, the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 has more than cosmetic upgrades over predecessor Zenfone Max Pro M1. Except for camera performance, where it delivers better results than the Nokia 6.1 Plus and Realme 2 Pro but fails to match the output of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro, the M2 beats most smartphones in its segment. However, the phone would turn out to be a complete package only if its imaging output is improved through future software upgrades.