Before we start this review, we would like to get something off our chest – why couldn’t Asus think of a smaller name for its latest lower mid-range smartphone? I mean, it does get quite irritating to say (and especially write) Zenfone Max Pro M1. Seriously Asus, who came up with this name?!
To make things easier, we will use just “M1” for the rest of this review article.
With that out of the way, the M1 is quite an impressive phone in a nutshell. And honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to be this good personally. We have been using the M1 for 2 weeks now and have already compared it to the Redmi Note 5 Pro, Honor 7X and the Nokia 6.1 in comprehensive overall comparisons. We are a bit surprised, but glad at the same time, to say that the M1 trumped all three smartphones and they are all pretty good in general.
Now, we are bringing you our entire 2-week experience with the M1 in the form of its Pros & Cons. So here it goes.
Understated design which impresses with time: M1 is not a flashy phone. In fact, it can be easily lost in the crowd of smartphones and remain unrecognizable for the most part. Still, it feels more solid than possibly all other phones in its competition. It is quite well-built to say the least and less slippery to hold as well. Due to its big 5,000 mAh battery it is slightly thicker, but that helps in having a firm grip which is always good. Additionally, there’s no camera hump at the back either.
Competitive display: M1 has a 5.99 inches of IPS LCD display panel which delivers Full HD+ resolution. This is nothing new and many other phones in its segment and outside come with similar screen size. The colors are good – live and vibrant – and it seems to have a touch higher contrast by default compared to, say, Redmi Note 5 Pro. The big screen experience is particularly good when playing a game or watching a video. Basically, though there’s nothing special about the M1’s display as such, there’s nothing to complain either.
Pure and latest Android Oreo: This can be a personal preference as many people like customized UIs while others, like me, prefer a stock Android experience. This is one of the reasons I really love the iOS. Coming back to the M1, its pure Android Oreo is smooth for the most part and keeps things simple and straightforward. Being a pure OS also gives it better chances of receiving faster updates compared to those Android phones that come with customized UI on top.
Incomparable battery life: M1 comes with a humongous 5,000 mAh battery which delivers 2 days of life as long as the phone usage remains normal, like – messaging, chatting, using social media apps, occasionally browsing internet, light camera usage (no video recording). With heavy use, the runtime will be reduced accordingly, Still, the overall battery life is very satisfying in general.
Cheaper than its 3 most direct competitors: M1 with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage is priced at Rs 12,999. Compared to this, for the same specifications, the Redmi Note 5 Pro is priced at Rs 14,999, Honor 7X is priced at Rs 15,999 and Nokia 6.1 is priced at Rs 18,999. The difference is quite clear. Also, remember that all these prices are from each phone’s official company website, you might find a cheaper deal from some other source.
Inconsistent performance of fingerprint sensor: The fingerprint sensor at the back usually works as expected and is quite fast as well. However, there are regular instances when the user is forced to touch the sensor multiple times for the phone to unlock. Obviously, this becomes irritating over time. We are not sure if this can be fixed with a software update or if it’s a hardware issue altogether. But it surely is a bit flawed.
Face recognition struggles in lowlight: The face recognition security feature works nicely in well-lit conditions, be it natural or artificial lighting. And it is a fairly simple feature which requires the eyes to be opened in order to work but doesn’t require them to be pointed at the front camera. However, the face unlock system struggles in lowlight conditions. In completely dark conditions, it fails completely. While we are quite sure the feature is not designed to function in completely dark conditions, but we have struggled unlocking the phone using the face id even in certain shadowy areas. So we think that there’s some scope of improvement here.
Camera could be better: M1’s camera delivers totally acceptable pictures, but it tends to struggle with its autofocus at times. Frequently, we have to wait a few seconds before the autofocus finally settles down (this usually happens while capturing a busy scene). Also, performance in night time is a bit inconsistent – sometimes, images appear a bit washed out while in other instances they are better.
So, these are all our thoughts and observations about the Zenfone Max Pro M1 with 2 weeks of use. By the end of our experience with the handset, we are convinced that it is an absolutely worthy purchase for anyone looking to buy a smartphone between the price range of Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000. Of course, no smartphone is free of niggles and M1’s positives outshine its not-so-impressive areas.
Let us know in the comment section below what you feel about the Zenfone Max Pro M1 and if our review and comparisons help you in making a decision.