Gadgets for humans

Asus’ $190 ZenFone Max M2 Pro offers tremendous battery life – but little else

It has a 5000 mAh battery

Asus Zenfone-Max-Pro-M2
Price $ 190 ProductZenfone Max M2 Pro by Asus

In India’s fast-growing mobile device market, phones priced between Rs 10,000-15,000 ($150-230) sell like hot cakes. In the past couple of years, Xiaomi has been a top choice for customers in the country buying a new device in that range. But it now faces stiff competition from rival brands attempting to match them in value. Case in point: Asus’ ZenFone Max Pro M2, which launched last December.

The company’s betting on a big battery and clean stock Android software to win over customers looking for a mid-range handset. And Asus almost got it right with the Pro M2.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, here are the specs for the Zenfone Max Pro M2:

  • Screen: 6.26-inch fullHD+ display, 19:9 aspect ratio
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
  • Memory: 3/4/6GB RAM
  • Rear camera: 12-megapixel with f/1.8 aperture + 5-megapixel depth sensor camera
  • Front camera: 13-megapixel with f/2.0 aperture
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android Oreo 8.1
  • Internal storage: 32/64GB
  • SIM Support: Dual-SIM
  • Expandable storage: up to 2TB

I’ve been using the 4GB+64GB variant which comes in at Rs 14,999 ($211).

What’s new?

Despite the ZenFone Max Pro M2 launching just six months after its predecessor – the Pro M1 – it packs some significant updates. First, the newer device fits a 6.26-inch screen in the same body as the previous model that had a 5.99-inch display. To achieve this, Asus included a notch up top, and shaved down the bezels.

Another significant improvement is the inclusion of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 processor over the older Snapdragon 636, for better performance and graphics

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660 processor over the older Snapdragon 636, for better performance and graphics

What’s good?

This phone’s a marathon runner. Given its massive battery size, it lasts two days with normal usage including calls, texts, browsing the web, watching videos, and light gaming. The large display is great for watching videos. However, Asus forgot to include a software option to hide the notch, which is a bummer for folks who enjoy full-screen views across apps.

The device is a good choice for consistent day-to-day performance thanks to a capable mid-range processor, and mostly stock Android software with minimal bloat. It’s well suited for most games, but if you’re into graphics-intensive titles like Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), you’ll want to opt for a more powerful handset.

Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2

The Zenfone Max Pro M2’s camera system churns out sharp and vibrant pictures in daylight, and does well with Portrait mode. It also captures object details well. Take a look at some samples below, and click here for full-resolution pictures on Flickr.

What can be improved?

First of all, can we change the name, please?

Next, out of the box, the screen’s color calibration of the screen skews more blue than I’d like. While you can change the color temperature via settings, you can’t easily change the color scheme to something neutral like sRGB; your best bet is to increase the color temperature a bit.

What’s more, the display panel’s touch response is oddly inconsistent. I often observed that my taps and swipes registered late or didn’t register at all. Hopefully, this is something Asus can fix with a software update.

While image quality was satisfactory in daylight, I was disappointed by the grainy pictures the camera captured in low-light conditions. That’s generally par for the course with budget devices, but the results from the Pro M2 were worse and less usable than I’ve seen on other handsets like the Realme 2 Pro in this price range.

Who’s it for?

If your main concern is battery life, then this is the phone for you. Between the large battery and stock Android, you can rest assured the Pro M2 will outlast most other devices in this price range. However, if you take pictures often, you’ll be disappointed by its sub-par camera.

Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 6 Pro, starting at Rs 12,999 ($189), goes head-to-head with the Pro M2 and offers a better display, better camera performance, and better bang for your buck. Another contender is the Realme 2 Pro, starting at Rs 12,990 ($189), which looks fantastic, and packs a much better camera to boot.

The Zenfone Max Pro M2 is priced at Rs 12,999 ($189) for 3GB+32GB version, Rs 14,999 ($211) for 4GB+64GB version, and Rs 16,999 ($240) for 6GB+64GB version.

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Published February 13, 2019 — 11:43 UTC

Price $ 190 ProductZenfone Max M2 Pro by Asus