Midrange smartphones have had tremendous success over recent months and 2018 has been chock full of releases that are perfect for the mainstream market. With numerous models releasing in quick succession over the months past, including ASUS’ own Zenfone Max Pro M1 (check our full review of that phone here), what does the Zenfone Max Pro M2 bring to the table?
We’ll have the answer to that in an update but in this release, we’ll focus on gaming performance. The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 was a formidable mobile gaming phone with its extended battery life and overall decent gaming performance. Today we’ll take a closer look at the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2 and how it handles in popular games like Mobile Legends and PUBG.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 Mobile Platform
64-bit octa-core CPU (8 x Kryo 260 cores) / Hexagon 680 DSP / Adreno 512 GPU / AI Engine 14nm FinFET (Low Power Plus) power-saving technology
Up to 6GB EMMC
Up to 128GB
LTE CAT5: UL 75 / CAT4 DL 150Mbps / DC-HSPA+: UL 5.76 / DL 42 Mbps
WLAN 802.11 a/b/g/n, 2.4HGHz with Wi-Fi Direct / Bluetooth 5.0 (with aptX)
6.3-inch Full HD+ (2280 x 1080) All-screen display LED Backlit IPS LCD,
450nits / 1500:1 contrast ratio / 94% NTSC color gamut / 88% screen-to-body ratio
AI Main rear camera:
12MP, F1.8, 77.8 degree view angle (27mm focal length by 35mm eq) / 6-element lens
IMX486 sensor with 1.25µm pixels, 1/2.9” sensor size
AI Scene Detection in 13 types (will arrive via software update)
Second rear camera / sensor:
5MP Secondary depth sensing camera / sensor for bokeh effects
Front: 13MP, F2.0, 77.2 degree view angle (26.4mm focal length by 35mm eq)
5 element lens
Rear and front Softlight LED flashes
Video recording (Rear camera)
4K UHD (3840 X 2160) video recording
1080p FHD video recording at 30fps
720p HD video recording at 30fps
3-axis electronic image stabilization for front and rear cameras Still photo shooting while recording video capability
NXP 9874 smart amplifier with 5-magnet speaker
Triple slots, dual SIM dual standby (4G+4G):
Slot1: 2G/3G/4G Nano SIM Card
Slot2: 2G/3G/4G Nano SIM Card
Slot3: Supports up to 2TB microSD card VoLTE / VoWiFi support
USB 2.0 Micro USB 3.5 mm combo audio jack
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, QZSS
Gorilla Glass 6 display panel and 3D-curved acrylic rear panel with Wave finish
Face and Fingerprint (up to 5 registered) unlocking
157.9 X 75.5 X 8.5 mm / 175 grams
Midnight Blue, Cosmic Titanium
Stock Android 8.1 “Oreo” with coming upgrade to Android 9.0
ASUS packages the Zenfone Max Pro M2 in a new style packaging featuring the Max Pro designation on top of a stylized image. The box is predominantly black with minimal print aside from branding on all sides. As you can see in our unboxing video above, you’ll be greeted with the phone upon opening and most of the contents are underneath the lower compartment of the box. Package contents will vary by region. As ours is a review sample, it is not indicative of what end-users will receive. Do check with your local region what your package contents are for the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2.
The most obvious and one of the most talked about changes of the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2 against the M1 release is the introduction of the notch. ASUS is bringing a 19:9 ration on the 6.26″ display and is finished with a Corning Gorilla Glass 6 on the front which ASUS claims is unrivaled in its market range right now. The screen sports a 2280 x 1080 FHD+ resolution and ASUS has went with an IPS display with 450 nits of brightness making it decently visible in daylight. The IPS display offers good color reproduction and viewing angles as well as contrast but still not as good as most flagship display options.
The phone speaker is close to the edge giving ASUS more space to cram the front camera, sensors and a selfie LED flash. The notification LED is right on the edge of the notch .
The back is also switched up versus the Zenfone Max Pro M1 with a new 3D look. The Zenfone Max Pro M2 comes in Titanium and Blue color variants. The back of the M2 features a laminated backing featuring the new 3D design concept. Its a bit of a smudge magnet but nothing you can’t wipe away and we’re pretty sure most of you would want at least a gel case on phone. A familiar fingerprint sensor is located just above the ASUS logo on the rear-center of the M2 with the cameras and flash situated just over at one side. The cameras themselves don’t protrude making the rear flat when laid down on a surface.
ASUS has also curved the edges of the Zenfone Max Pro M2 making it nice to hold. There is a slight edge on the sides of the phone which you can definitely feel, this is nearly absent in the M1. Its a matter of personal choice but prolonged use may familiarize you with this feeling but its definitely not something I like
Talking about specs, the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2 receives an upgraded Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 and has either a 4GB or 6GB RAM options. Our review sample is the 6GB variant. Right now the available storage option for both 4GB and 6GB variant in the Philippines is the 64GB capacity storage option.
ASUS loads the Zenfone Max Pro M2 with stock Android Oreo. Similar to the M1 before it, the Max Pro brings a stock Android experience with minimal extra software making it a joy for Android purists. In term of user experience, it is what Google intends Android to be and ASUS did a good job not mucking it up with further ZenUI bloat. The interface is responsive and fast and presents no usability challenges on a day-to-day usage basis
ASUS has been a heavy proponent of the mobile gaming scene and the Zenfone Max Pro M1 was a huge part of their branding in establishing themselves as a go-to smartphone for mobile game enthusiasts that are looking for the perfect daily driver that offer long-lasting battery life for longer gaming sessions in-between work and the daily commute that most Southeast Asian individual go through every day.
Today we’ll feature two of the most popular games in the country right now: Mobile Legends and PUBG Mobile. Mobile Legends is a straight-forward MOBA which has taken the Philippines by storm accounting for a huge part of the regional demographics for MLBB. PUBG Mobile on the other hand is the mobile adaptation of the popular battle royale.
While Mobile Legends in itself isn’t particularly demanding, getting the upper hand on your opponents with a faster system is always an advantage. The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2’s Adreno 512 GPU easily handles the light 3D sprites and loads the game’s texture quite quickly allowing for less FPS drops during hero clashes and particularly team fights. Even on highest settings, the game is butter smooth and having larger RAM at 4GB and 6GB means even when a notification pops up mid game, you can swipe it off quickly without experiencing some sort of loading in-game.
Moving over to PUBG, we played the game on Balanced / High settings. On first boot, the game chose Medium graphics settings but we changed that as you can see in the video. PUBG Mobile with its large map features loading between areas and this can cause slowdowns on weaker systems. The ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2 was seamless as you can see in the video. We did encounter a single chop in gameplay around the 10-minute mark but it was just once and could’ve been caused by an internet hiccup or just a rendering glitch. The game was fluid all throughout and the larger screen definitely helped in securing kills throughout the game.
We’ll be providing feedback strictly on the gaming aspect of the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2 in this section. We’ll cover the touch on the rest of the phone on an update or a separate article once we’ve settled in with the latest firmware provided after launch.
In terms of gaming, the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2 continues the success of the M1. A beefy battery with beefed up specs makes a great combination for a daily driver especially for the average citizen looking for a more budget-friendly option that can go a long way.
While it does have competition in its price point, there are a few things that makes the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2 a standout option. Without going as far as the 5000mAh battery, the Max Pro M2’s Gorilla Glass 6 screen is normally found on flagship phones and its quite a scratch-resistant screen based on our usage.
Purely on a gaming performance and usability perspective, if you already have a Max Pro M1, there’s no reason to go with an M2 unless you need the higher memory for some serious multi-tasking. The larger RAM gives social media enthusiasts some heavy muscle to work with as they don’t to close apps while they game and notifications don’t bother your games much either even with active group chats blazing your notifs every second.
If you’re coming off any flagship from 2-years ago and just want a more modest option to choose as a side phone or a quick replacement then the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2 offers a good choice.
We’ll touch on camera in a future update.
As of this writing, the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M.2 (ZB631KL) is priced Php14,995 for the 6GB version and Php12,995 for the 4GB version. Both are available via ASUS authorized retailers and online. The pricing is just right and doesn’t cannibalize the already established market of the Zenfone Max Pro M1 and both phones can co-exist until another entry comes in.
Against other options in it price range, its going to be heavily dependent on your use-case if the Zenfone Max Pro M2 or even the older M1 is for you. For those that demand excellent battery life whether it be for just longer usage time without charging like for travel or outdoor activities or just straight-up gaming and content consumption, the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M2 is simply unrivaled in value and performance.
ASUS backs the Zenfone Max Pro M2 with a 1-year warranty. We give it our B2G Performance Award.