We got our hands on the Zenfone Max Pro M1 around July 2018 and released an unboxing video, but it’s only recently that we had been able to take a proper look at how the latest generation Max series perform.
With a new tagline “Limitless Gaming”, the focus of the Max Pro series now seem to be Gaming + Longetivity, as opposed to the other series like the 5Q which is focused on selfies and photography and the higher end Zenfone 5 and 5Z series for much more premium features.
With such a low starting point of only 9,995 for the 3GB + 32GB version, however, we wonder how ASUS was able to pack a Snapdragon 636 into such an affordable device – leaving us to further investigate if any corners were cut to meet such a price. We were surprised by the results!
Read on to find out our impressions.
Packing and Contents
There was nothing fancy about the box or the box contents but it covered all the basic essentials – Jelly case, Earphones, Charger, Manuals, Warranty card and the phone itself.
Our gripe was that all of the accessories are fairly basic, but we weren’t necessarily surprised given the price of PHP9,995. In fact, we assumed that ASUS would skip the earphones and jelly case for this variant to save on cost but we were dead wrong.
Thumbs up to ASUS for keeping the accessories complete!
Speaking of the accessories though, the charger included is not the fast charging variant and it takes quite a while to charge up the device to 100%. [It took us almost 3 hours to fully charge the device] I mean, it is 5000Mah after all so a fast charger could really help max out the battery. Nevertheless, you can just leave it charging overnight and then enjoy it for the next 2 days without worries. [More on the battery life later].
As for the bundled earpiece, audio quality is decent but it lacks bass. If at all, it sounds like it doesn’t have any. We recommend buying a 3rd party earpiece for better audio sessions.
The Zenfone Max Pro M1
Now, let’s talk about the phone itself.
The construction of the phone seems tough but the chassis is a strong fingerprint magnet. We recommend to keep the jelly case on to prevent smudges and to protect the phone itself.
There’s no special buttons or layout on the Zenfone Max Pro M1. The left side houses the sim card tray slot, which can house 2 nano sims and the right side flanks the volume rocker and the on-off button. Underneath is the headphone jack, micro-usb slot and a speaker grille.
Overall, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 is a promising phone. Despite the 6inch body and a 5000Mah battery, the phone manages to remain fairly thin at only 8.5mm. Similar big sized battery phones are closer to 10mm.
It’s worth to mention briefly that the phone uses a pure android 8.1 Oreo version, as opposed to ASUS usual Zen Ui making the android experience closer to buttery smooth as the OS was designed to be.
The screen is an IPS LCD screen with 1080×2160 resolution or FHD+ which is decent as it will help take less toll on the battery but we don’t like the brightness. It seems quite dim and visibility under direct sunlight was pretty poor. However, it was quite acceptable in average areas like the workplace or home. It’s still quite good for watching movies on the go or binge watching on netflix, though. We looped in a video at 50% brightness and it took almost 18 hours before the phone hit zero battery.
There are dual cameras at the back and a single lens snapper at the front. The rear cameras are comprised of a 13M and 5M camera, while the front snapper is an 8MP variant. We had high hopes for the Zenfone Max M1 in this category since photography is quite a big focus on ASUS phones as of late, but this was where we were disappointed the most.
Images we took were quite grainy and colors were quite flat. Focusing on subjects were not easy and it took quite a while to get the right focus on. We didn’t even bother to post the selfie images because they performed much worse than the rear shooters.
It’s not to say that the camera on the Zenfone Max Pro M1 is terrible, though. It’s just that at Php9,995 or, atleast in mobile cameras these days, a good camera is expected as it becomes a very integral part of everyone’s daily usage, with gaming falling below the consideration factors when buying a phone.
Outdoor shots fared better but if you have shaky hands, it will be hard to get the perfect photo as most images will turn out quite blurred due to the lack of any stabilization.
This is forgiveable, though, as the phone after all comes at a very affordable Php9,995 only as compared to phones at double or triple the price that come with OIS or EIS.
Talking about gaming is talking about one of the best features of the Zenfone Max Pro M1. While the camera leaves not so much to be desired, the Snapdragon 636 and its Adreno 509 GPU packs decent power to play the hottest games on the market right now, like PUBG, at respectable settings.
Sure, you have to tone down the settings a bit lower but the frame rates and gameplay were quite enjoyable and recommendable. Off the bat, loading PubG set our graphics at Medium, but we were able to set it on HIGH in the settings menu.
Trying to enable HDR or Ultra HD, though, will disappoint you as the game itself disables it automatically.
Check out our gameplay below to see how the phone performed on one full classic game.
As you may have noticed, there was a bit of lag when the settings were put on HIGH graphics and HIGH frame rates but taming it down to medium as recommended by the game based on hardware detected – the game was smooth and enjoyable. The IPS LCD delivered quite good colors and contrast for you to see opponents and detail clearly and the phone never got hot during the full 30 minutes game.
While, we would have preferred a more detailed graphics setting – we do understand that this will be the first reason why battery will get drained quicker than you can even finish a 2nd game or 3rd.
It is important to note that the game play above, a full 30 minutes on medium to high settings and whilst the screen was being recorded, ate up only 8% of the phone’s battery life. Theoretically, you can play a dozen full matches before the game dies down.
That’s 6 hours of straight gaming, and it’s the biggest strength of the Zenfone Max Pro!
While the term “Limitless Gaming” may then sound so untrue given the roughly 6 hour limit of game play, it’s something that no other phone can currently achieve.
The Zenfone Max Pro M1’s 5000Mah and efficient Snapdragon 636 combo indeed makes it a really promising gaming companion, leaving you with so many things to do during long boring days or in betweens, like waiting for your flight at the airport and have nothing to do.
You can watch Youtube for hours, play a couple of full PubG games, listen to music and still won’t even hit half the battery life before the plane takes off. Moreover, you have enough juice to continue watching movies and playing (offline) games on the plane and still have good battery when you land.
We even tested how much battery the phone does eat up on standby mode during a 24hour period and we were amazed by the result. We started at 10:41am with 96% battery and inserted no sim card, turned off wifi and kept bluetooth on.
26 hours after, the phone had eaten up only less than 5% of the battery and estimated 20 days more of the same standby usage for 20 days more!
Given a more modest standby usage time, we believe we can hit 30 days on standby time and that’s quite impressive!
We’re quite satisfied with how the Zenfone Max Pro M1 turned out to be, in terms of the available variant in the Philippine market. The 3GB and 32GB storage is ample enough for not-so-power users out there and makes for a good first phone for first time buyers. For those looking for more oomph and multi-tasking capabilities, there is a 4GB + 64GB variant available for 13,995.
The phone may not look stellar for gaming, photography or any other tasks when compared to today’s flagships but given it’s attractive SRP of only PHP9,995 – the Zenfone Max Pro M1 has unbeatable value. In fact, every now and then, Lazada.com.ph puts up the phone for sale for as low as PHP8,995 – making it a true champion for entry level phones.
Actually, the 3GB+32GB variant is not only good for first time phone owners or light users but also for those who are in search for a secondary phone. The Zenfone Max Pro M1 features a reverse charging function that can charge your main phone or your friends phones when battery is low, or it can serve as a secondary device for your business line or other sim cards. While we disagree with the usage of the term, “Limitless Gaming”, we do feel “BATTERY KING” is very worthy description of the Zenfone Max Pro M1. But then again, only the Zenfone Max Pro M1 can actually reach 6 hours of game play and more and that’s something only ASUS can claim.
|Display||6-inch FHD+ IPS LCD display @ 2160 x 1080px|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 1.8GHz octa-core processor|
|Rear Camera||13MP + 5MP with LED flash|
|Front Camera||8MP front camera, LED flash|
|WiFi||Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n|
|GPS||GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS|
|Audio||5 Magnet speaker with NXP smart amp|
|OS||Pure Android (Android 8.1 Oreo)|
|Battery||5,000mAh battery with flash charge|
|Dimensions||159 x 76 x 8.5 mm|
|Colors||Meteor Silver, Deepsea Black|