ASUS recently unveiled a whole new lineup for their Zenfone smartphones here in Malaysia. Apart from the highly requested Zenfone 5, there’s also an entry level smartphone – the Zenfone Max Pro M1. ASUS’s Zenfone Max series is always about very big batteries for longer usage times, and the Max Pro M1 is Asus’s latest attempt to offer a budget smartphone not only with a huge battery, but also one with vanilla Android, and here’s our first look at the Redmi Note 5 challenger.
The Max Pro M1 in Malaysia comes in 3 variants, and between them are differences in RAM and storage configuration, as well as different camera setup. Our base model, which is priced at RM699, comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, while the 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage configuration is priced at RM849. The top of the line version gives you extra 2GB of RAM, with the retail price bumped to RM999.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 636, Octa-core processor (8×1.8GHz)
3/4/6GB RAM, 32GB/64GB internal storage, dedicated microSD slot, support up to 400GB
5.99-inch IPS LED display, 18:9 ratio
1080 X 2160 pixels, 402 pixels-per-inch
13/16-megapixel + 5-megapixel rear cameras, LED flash, UHD video recording
8/16-megapixel front-facing camera, LED flash
The Zenfone Max Pro M1 (in this review we’ll just call it the M1 from now on) comes in a pretty standard packaging, mostly dominated by blue and grey colours. Removing the top cover off reveals a box, which contains a clear case, a SIM tray removal tool and a few documentations, and the phone sits right below the box. Despite its low price, the M1 still comes with the usual bits and pieces, which include a microUSB cable for data transfer and charging, a pair of earphones and a USB wall adapter, and its plug can be easily interchangeable depending on different plugs in different countries. Of course, ours comes with a 3-pin head that we use in this country.
For the price, our first impressions on the M1 isn’t bad at all. The looks is pretty understated, nothing flashy about that. The device is pretty thick to accommodate the 5000mAh battery, but it’s nowhere uncomfortable to hold. While the front is of premium smooth glass, the rest of the body is actually plastic, but it tries to look like metal. Despite that, it doesn’t feel cheap, and in fact, it feels rather solid. Overall, the M1 still holds up pretty well in the looks department, even when compared to the Redmi Note 5, which shares the similar story.
Dominating the front is a 5.99-inch IPS display, with a resolution of 1080 X 2160. It’s just a regular display with 18:9 display ratio, hence it doesn’t require a notch on the top. All 4 corners are rounded, and bezels on both left and right sides are visible, but pretty minimal. On top there’s an 8-megapixel front-facing camera for our lowest spec unit (mid-range and above will have 16-megapixel sensors), an earpiece, a couple of sensors and an LED flash which isn’t visible. At first look you can’t even tell that there’s an LED flash.
The SIM tray sits on the left, and a bonus on the M1 is that all cards get their independent slot. This means that we can run dual-SIM card in there, along with storage expansion via a microSD card. On the right there’s the volume and power buttons, and in typical ASUS fashion, the power button has a texture to it.
The ports do live at the bottom, which includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a mono speaker.
There’s really nothing much going on at the rear. The 13-megapixel + 5-megapixel cameras live at the top left corner, and they are vertically stacked on each other. There’s also a little wording “DUAL CAMERA” in between them. The LED flash is also located just below the cameras. Not far away is a conveniently located rear-facing fingerprint reader, with an ASUS branding just below it.
Software wise, while we had no real beef with ASUS’s own ZenUI, it’s always nice to see a phone that comes with vanilla Android operating system, without heavy skin on it. There’s still very little customization by ASUS, which involves only a few apps (with little to no bloatware) and some extra functionality here and there.
Stay tuned to WTN.today for our upcoming full in-depth review of the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1!