Zenfone Max Pro M2 Hands-on Review – ‘Notch’ Makes a Difference?

Zenfone Max Pro M2 Hands-on Review - 'Notch' Makes a Difference? - 4

By now you’d have known the price of the latest Zenfone Max Pro M2, and well, the price tag of Rs. 14,999 for 4/64GB does suit for the features it’s offering. As like before, I had a chance to explore the device before the launch and without ado, here’s my hands-on review of the device.

Before we move to my first impressions of the Zenfone Max Pro M2, let’s have a look at the key specifications it’s offering.

Zenfone Max Pro M2 Key Features:

  • 6.26-inch [19:9] Full HD+ Notch display
  • 3/32, 4/64, 6/64GB storage variants expandable up to 2TB
  • Triple SIM Slot [4G LTE / VoLTE +4G LTE/VoLTE+MicroSD]
  • Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 with AIE
  • Adreno 512 GPU
  • Android v8.1 Oreo [AOSP]
  • A 12MP f/1.8 main sensor along with a 5MP depth-sensing camera, EIS
  • 13MP f/2.0 front-facing camera with LED flash
  • 5,000mAh Li-Ion battery
  • 3.5mm headphone jack

Impressive for the price tag of Rs. 14,999, isn’t it? Well, of course! If you notice the specifications of Zenfone Max Pro M2, I’ve highlighted a couple of features which are like an upgrade to the predecessor Zenfone Max Pro M1. Let me tell me you more in my hands-on review.

Zenfone Max Pro M2 Hands-on Review:

It’s been rumored that Asus will be launching a successor to Max Pro M1 later this year when it was actually announced, and it turns out, Asus hasn’t taken much time to launch the successor Max Pro M2. The Max Pro M1 was a huge hit not just because of the power-efficient chipset, and the pricing but also the stock Android experience. Following the same paths, even the Max Pro M2 meets every point which consumers have always wanted.

First Impressions of Zenfone Max Pro M2:


Zenfone Max Pro M2 - Hands-on Review3

Anyhow, when I took the device on my hands, the first thing I noticed was the new ‘NOTCH’ on the front [for obvious reasons]. It looks relatively smaller than most of the other notch phones in this price segment, and if I’m correct, it’s even smaller than their flagship phone – Zenfone 5z. But the ‘chin’ has got pretty huge bezels.

Zenfone Max Pro M2 - Hands-on Review4Can’t blame Asus for that as every other OEM with this budget range has relatively bigger chins.


Zenfone Max Pro M2 - Hands-on Review1

Moving away from the notch, the display is super vivid. It has more colors compared to their previous generation – Max Pro M1. Though the display size is over 6.2-inch, it got the same form factor like M1. The one other major addition to the display is Corning Gorilla Glass 6 protection. This might be the only smartphone in this price segment offering this protection, and I can honestly say that it can truly withstand the drops from a few meters height. I even kept my keys and the phone on the same pocket, and there weren’t any visible scratches I noticed on the screen.

Notch, again-

We were speaking about the smaller notch earlier, aren’t we? This was made possible by moving the front-speaker to the extreme top. Asus might not be the first to do it, but this is quite a practical move to accommodate more in the ‘notch’ area. In the notch area, there’s a front-facing camera along with a LED flash for the selfie-lovers.

Besides the accommodation, the main purpose of the notch is to give a full view experience, but in Max Pro M2, it just adds the relevant color of the app, and nothing more. I even tried opening wide-angle videos on YouTube to see if they go over the notch, but it’s not. If you want a visual picture of it, take a look at Vivo phones. They go all over the notch-part.

Alright, I won’t speak about the ‘notch’ anymore, and let’s focus on what’s new in Zenfone Max Pro M2.

Design & Build Quality

Zenfone Max Pro M2 - Hands-on Review9

Firstly, it’s the design itself. Though the form factor is the same, the design aesthetics are completely changed. The phone has a glossy finish on the rear side that gives a premium look and feels. The vertical alignment of the rear camera is nothing new, but this time, they dropped the words ‘dual camera’. The fingerprint sensor is placed at the exact position where our index finger usually reaches.

Overall the build quality of the phone is as same as the previous one, but the addition of Corning Gorilla Glass 6 has improved it a lot.

The camera of Max Pro M2 –

Zenfone Max Pro M2 - Hands-on Review12

The camera UI has got some changes in terms of extra additions like ‘Pro Mode’, but overall it is as same as the previous one in Max Pro M1. I still didn’t find the exposure control in general/auto mode.

Before I speak about the quality, you can take a look at the below slideshow –

I had very less time to take some good pics, but yeah, overall, the pictures from the rear camera came out well. There’s this one thing I noticed, and it’s the color levels in the ‘night mode’. If you observe the picture taken in the auto mode, there’s more yellow, which is actually the true color, but in the night mode, the colors are little undersaturated. Well, I still need to test it in different scenarios, and will soon update it.

The bokéh mode is true to its name. The depth and focus are actually pretty good compared to what I saw in Max Pro M1. Again, my only concern here is the exposure control, and every time, I need to improve the lighting using ‘Google Photos’.

Now, it’s time to talk about the LED flash next to the front-facing camera. I’m that kind of person who doesn’t use LED flash while taking pictures, so, I haven’t used it for the selfies in the slideshow. I’m not sure if that really makes a difference, but anyway, will try to take a few with and without, and update this article.

Before I close the camera section, let me talk about the beauty modes. THEY’re bad. I’ve tried low, medium and high modes, and they literally change the appearance of my face and adds too much softness. It’s better to disable it, and you can see the trueness of yourself. Alright! It’s just I never liked it on any phone. So, I might sound strange to you.

How’s the Performance?

Snapdragon 660 is actually a brilliant chipset with AI abilities. It’s well optimized and is power efficient. I hadn’t faced any lag or sluggish when swapping between applications. I even played Asphalt 9 without any lag, but I’ve some concerns about the graphics rendering quality. It’s not up to the standards in what I see now, but again, it’s just my first impressions, and thorough testing has to be done.

Battery life is incredible. Having a 5,000mAh battery with no bloatware, and the pure android UX adds more points to the table, and in my daily usage, the device lasted for more than a day. However, the phone comes with a 10W adapter, so it takes almost 2 hours to completely charge the phone.

Let me end this with my likes and dislikes so we can speak in detail about the phone in my complete review.

What I liked –

  • Gorilla Glass 6 Protection
  • Snapdragon 660 AIE chipset for this price range
  • Rear camera & front-one without beauty filter
  • Battery Life

What I dislike –

  • Camera UI – it’s still bad
  • Beauty modes
  • High-end gaming
  • Notch

As this is just my first impressions, I still have to explore the device in a lot of detail. So, with some OTA updates, or some tweaks, my dislikes might become the likes. I’d strongly recommend reading my final review for a fruitful decision.

Final Comment:

From every major OEM like RealMe, Vivo, Xiaomi, Nokia, etc. have many devices like RealMe 2 Pro, XIaomi Mi A2, Vivo X21, V9, Nokia 7 Plus, etc. running on SD 660.  Although most of the devices fall in the same price segment as well, the major difference you find is in user experience. Mi A2 and Nokia 7 Plus offers the same experience, but their price range is relatively higher. So, even with some compromises like the camera UI, I totally suggest to go with Max Pro M2 if you’re on a hunt for the best budget-end phone…Trust me, you won’t regret it.

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