The ZenFone Max Pro M1 is arguably the best budget smartphone from Asus yet. The phone launched in India three months ago in two variants, one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and one with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Now, Asus has launched a third variant, with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. This variant also has upgraded cameras on the front as well as the rear.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 6GB design
The 6GB RAM variant looks identical to the variants with 3GB and 4GB of RAM. We won't spend too much time rehashing the ZenFone Max Pro M1's design. It has a metal backplate with plastic inserts at the top and bottom. Weighing in at 180g, it is quite a hefty phone, with its 5,000mAh battery contributing to the relative bulk.
The back is a fingerprint magnet, but the camera module on the ZenFone Max Pro M1 barely protrudes from the chassis. The rear-mounted fingerprint sensor is quick and accurate, and the setup process is also quite snappy. The smartphone is available in Grey and Midnight Black, and our review unit is the latter.
The layout of buttons and ports is the same as with the other variants of this phone. There is a SIM tray on the left, with separate slots for two Nano-SIMs and a microSD card. The power button and volume rocker are on the right, and are quite small but well placed. The lack of USB Type-C is disappointing. The age-old Micro-USB port is present on the bottom, flaked by a 3.5mm headphone jack and a single loudspeaker, which is quite shrill and tinny.
The Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 runs a near-stock version of Android 8.1 Oreo. It is powered by the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC with an integrated Adreno 506 GPU, and it has 6GB of RAM. There is a 5,000mAh battery under the hood. The phone has 64GB of storage with support for expansion using a microSD card (up to 2TB).
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (only on the 2.4GHz band), Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, GLONASS, dual 4G VoLTE, a Micro-USB port (USB 2.0 speed), and a 3.5mm headphone jack. This phone supports dual SIMs (Nano) and both can latch onto 4G networks simultaneously. The smartphone ships with a 10W charger, a USB cable, and a cardboard accessory called the Max Box. This foldable stand has a cutout at the base that is supposed to amplify sound. It does increase volume a little bit, but it doesn't make a huge difference.
The Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 has a 5.99-inch full-HD+ display with an aspect ratio of 18:9, which makes content look immersive. The screen dominates most of the front fascia but is not exactly borderless. The chin is quite substantial, but we are glad to see there is no notch. Colours are vibrant but the viewing angles are just about okay. The screen is also bright enough for outdoor use. There is a night mode as well as manual colour temperature adjustment in the Settings app.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 6GB performance, software, and battery life
The Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 tackled everything we threw at it - from basic day-to-day use such as browsing the Web and using social media applications, to intensive workloads - without any problems. Even heavy games like the recently launched Asphalt 9 ran without a hitch, and the phone did not heat up too much when pushed. With 6GB of RAM, we expected a sizeable difference in performance compared to the 3GB variant. Games did load more quickly, and our review unit kept most apps running in the background, even those left unused for a full day.
However, there really was wasn't much discernible difference in day-to-day performance. Truth be told, we had no issues when multi-tasking and playing heavy games with the 3GB variant either. Benchmark results were also more or less the same for both variants.
After we originally tested the 3GB variant of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 back in April, the phone has received several OTA software updates. To be fair, we retested both variants so they were running the most recent software. While benchmarks scores were more or less the same as before, we are pleased to report that real-world battery life has improved with the final software, even more so with the 6GB variant.
Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 6GB cameras
Along with the bump in RAM, this new variant of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 brings with it a new set of cameras. The 3GB/ 4GB RAM variants of the smartphone have a 13-megapixel primary rear cameras with apertures of f/2.2, alongside secondary 5-megapixel depth sensors. On the front, they have 8-megapixel sensors with apertures of f/2.2. With the new 6GB variant, both the primary rear sensor and the selfie camera have been bumped up to 16 megapixels and f/2.0 apertures. As with the less expensive variants, both the rear and front cameras are accompanied by single-LED flashes.
Let's talk about the rear camera setup first. Colours are more accurate, and so is the exposure. The new sensor captures more detail. The colours captured with the 3GB variant's camera are oversaturated in comparison. The real difference is seen in unfavourable light. Images captured with the 6GB variant have less noise and are noticeably more detailed. However, the colour temperature might be a bit too cold for some.
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