Asus Zenfone Max M2 review
Asus has been giving established smartphone manufacturers a tough fight in the budget segment and has been on a smartphone launching spree this year. The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 has yet again proved that it’s a good device that can challenge the likes of Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro and Realme 2 Pro.
Talking about Asus strategy this year, the Taiwanese company has launched multiple smartphones which have been received well in the Indian market and competed with the likes of Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro and Moto G5S Plus. As the year comes to an end, we now have the Asus Zenfone Max M2 which recently launched in the sub-Rs. 15,000 segment. The one thing that Asus has been doing right is the undercutting its competitors by some margin while offering similar features, and the Asus Zenfone Max M2 is no exception to this strategy from the Taiwanese-based maker.
Interestingly, the launch of Asus Zenfone Max M2 comes just a couple of months after the company introduced the Zenfone Max M1 in the sub-Rs. 10,000 segment. But with the Zenfone Max M2, Asus has added more features to the mix such as a large display with a notch, better processor, dual cameras and more. However, these additions do come at a price hike, and now the Asus Zenfone Max M2 competes directly with the likes of Redmi 6 Pro, Nokia 5.1 Plus, Honor 9N, Realm 2, and Redmi Y2. It is not going to be an easy task for the Zenfone Max M2 to prove its worth.
Whether the Asus Zenfone Max M2 be able to offer the same value for money tag as the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2? Can it be considered one of the best smartphones in the sub-Rs. 10,000 segment? Will the combination of ‘best from the last version’ and ‘new premium features’ work for Asus Zenfone Max M2? We try to answer all these questions in our review.
Also read: Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2 Review
No fast charging support
Asus Zenfone Max M2 review: Design and display
The Asus Zenfone Max M2 comes with a metallic build though it’s not an all-metal phone. You can still see polycarbonate used at the back.
For display, there is a 6.3-inch HD+ display with 19:9 aspect ratio, 2.5D curved glass and 720×1520 pixels screen resolution, the smartphone also comes with a display notch which houses the front camera sensor, an LED flash and the receiver. Moreover, the notification LED light has been placed under the receiver, just like the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2. At the rear panel, you will find the vertically aligned dual rear cameras along with the LED flash while the fingerprint sensor is placed in the middle. The rest of the back panel is a clean slate. On the right side, there are the volume rockers placed above the power button while the SIM tray on the left side. At the bottom of the smartphone, you will find the Micro-USB charging port along with the NXP Smart Amp speakers and the mic on either side of the port. The 3.5 mm audio jack has been placed at the top of the device.
Overall, Asus has played it safe with the design of the Zenfone Max Pro M2, and there is nothing new to surprise us. However, the metal frame is somewhat better than the plastic panel present on the Max Pro M2 as it offers better grip and eliminates worries of a smudge filled back panel. Due to the curved edges, the Asus Zenfone Max M2 is easy to use with one hand while the volume rockers and power button are easily accessible. Also, despite the metal frame and a 4000mAh battery, the Asus Zenfone Max M2 feels light in hands.
Coming to the front panel, it has noticeable bezels on all the sides while the bottom chin is not the thinnest one when it comes to the competition. That said, the 80.9 per cent screen-to-body ratio offer enough real estate for an immersive experience while watching high-quality videos. The viewing angles of the display are also apt for consuming multimedia on the go. However, visibility under direct sunlight is not the best we have seen in the segment.
Under indoor conditions, the display seems vibrant enough to offer good colour contrast. However, the brightness levels aren’t too distinctive between the 30-70 per cent mark. Overall, the display provides better real estate than most of the competitors of the smartphone while multimedia consumption is also up to the mark. However, we would have loved better outdoor visibility on the screen, which is something that manufacturers like Infinix have also mastered in the same segment.
Asus Zenfone Max M2 review: Performance and software
One of the most reliable thing about the Asus Zenfone Max M2 is the processor upgrade. We can safely say that the smartphone has seen a significant upgrade from its predecessor. The octa-core Snapdragon 632 SoC powers the Asus Zenfone Max M2 built on 14nm is clocked at 1.8GHz and paired with Adreno 506 GPU. There are two storage models of the smartphones, i.e. the 3GB RAM and 32GB storage version and the 4GB RAM and 64GB storage version. We received the 32GB inbuilt storage version as our review unit. While the smartphone also supports expandable storage via a dedicated microSD card. It runs stock Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box. Asus has also promised that it will be pushing the Android 9.0 Pie update for its smartphones in January next year.
Coming to the real-life performance credentials, the Asus Zenfone Max M2 turned out to be one of the best smartphones that we have tested in this segment. The processor upgrade could be felt as there was no sort of lags or frame drop while playing heavy-graphics games as well as storage hungry games such as PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends, however, we had to opt the graphics settings at the lowest level. Even with 3GB of RAM at our disposal, we were able to have a seamless experience with the device. From quick app loading time to switching between multiple social media apps and from streaming a video to handling the notifications side by side, the Asus Zenfone Max M2 not at all felt glitchy.
Asus Zenfone Max M2 and Asus Zenfone Max Pro M2
However, when we tried testing benchmark apps on the smartphone, Antutu and 3DMark were not supported while we were able to run Geekbench on the Asus Zenfone Max M2. The smartphone received a single core and dual core ratings of 1237 and 4603, respectively.
The fingerprint scanner is ideally placed at the rear panel while the Face Unlock feature for biometrics is also quick while unlocking the device. Thanks to the NXP Smart Amp speaker, audio quality is also good with the Asus Zenfone Max M2, while its placement is also bang-on at the right side of the charging port. We received the review unit without the earphones which we are not sure will be the case with the commercial units as well. At this price, consumers give importance to features like earphones available in the box among others.
The one thing that we were really surprised with was, the area on either side of the notch can’t be accessed while watching videos or playing videos in landscape mode.
The Zenfone Max M2 runs stock Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box which means that you don’t get any bloatware. However, the smartphone does come with three preloaded apps including Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, and there is no option to uninstall them. Asus has also added three of its applications which include the Calculator, Sound Recorder and FM Radio. All in all, the UI experience is clean and precise while ZenMotion integration comes with gestures such as double tap on display to wake up.
The night mode is also very precise in rendering colours on display under low lighting conditions while the ambient display is also a convenient feature to know if you have received a new notification. If you are a fan of custom skins which offer features such as dual accounts of WhatsApp, Facebook and more, the Asus Zenfone Max M2 also comes with options such as Parallel Space, App Cloner among others to cover up the omissions.
Asus Zenfone Max M2 review: Cameras
When it comes to the camera department, the Asus Zenfone Max M2 has also received a significant upgrade over its predecessor in the form of dual rear cameras while the front sensor remains the same as that of the Zenfone Max M1. The Asus Zenfone Max M2 sports a 13-megapixel primary rear camera with f/1.8 aperture, Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS), LED flash and a secondary 2-megapixel camera. At the front, there is an 8-megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture, and a front LED flash as well.
The primary 13-megapixel rear camera captures the right amount of details and pictures come out sharp with the right amount of colour accuracy. However, when a landscape is shot, then you might find some grains or less contrast. Pictures captured in auto mode are good for instant social media uploads. There is EIS support that does help in making images less shaky and minimises blurring while also compensates for device shake. What we liked about the rear camera was the fact that it supports 4K ultra HD video recording.
Asus Zenfone Max M2 camera sample
When you take portrait shots, we somehow found the Asus Zenfone Max M2 better than the Max Pro M2, as the device was able to offer sharp edges for the primary subject to make it pop out from the background. When it comes to colour contrast in Portrait mode, you might not get the best results, as compared to other phones in the segment. However, the final images offered an acceptable amount of colour details.
We did find the rear camera struggling to capture details in pictures shot in outdoors condition as they come out less saturated while colours come out a little on the lighter side as compared to what we saw from our naked eyes. The camera improvements are something we expect Asus can fix with software updates via FOTA.
Asus Zenfone Max M2 camera sample
Coming to the front camera, the one thing we didn’t like about the front 8-megapixel sensor was its focus which took around a couple of seconds for finding the perfect spot. On the other hand, portrait pictures took their own sweet time to process forcing us to hold the device still for a couple of seconds after clicking the shot to get the best possible result. Under low-lighting, the results came out grainy while we also missed colour saturation while taking selfies in such conditions. Asus has promised that EIS will also be added to the front camera soon though there’s no timeline yet for it.
To sum it up, the cameras were average, but the rear camera did offer acceptable results as compared to other smartphones in the same segment. However, the front camera was a bit of disappointment as we didn’t see any significant upgrade from what we experienced with the Asus Zenfone Max M1.
Asus Zenfone Max M2 review: Battery
The Asus Zenfone Max M2 comes with a 4000mAh battery, and during our testing, we found out that on a full charge, the smartphone can easily last for a full day with around 20 per cent of battery life still left by the end of the day. The heavy usage includes approximately 2 hours of video streaming, the same amount of time spent on gaming, everyday social media browsing, WhatsApp texting and calling. On the other hand, the Asus Zenfone Max M2 took around 2 hours to charge fully from zero to 100 per cent as there is no support for fast charging, although we would have loved the fast charging support.
Asus Zenfone Max M2 ratings
Asus Zenfone Max M2 review: Verdict
The Asus Zenfone Max M2 has been made available in India with a starting price in India of Rs. 9,999 for the 3GB RAM/32GB storage version while the 4GB RAM/64GB storage version of the smartphone retails at Rs. 11,999. At this price point, the Asus Zenfone Max M2 competes with the likes of Xiaomi Redmi Y2, Honor 9N, Nokia 5.1 Plus and the Redmi 6. Overall, the Asus Zenfone Max M2 can give its competitors a run for their money as it comes with the best combination of value for money-tag as well as some of the benchmark features.
Performance and battery backup are two of the most significant advantages of the Asus Zenfone Max M2 over its competitors while there were some let downs in the camera and display departments, but they weren’t so substantial to completely pull out the Asus Zenfone Max M2 from the competition. It can still be one of the most preferred options in the budget smartphone segment.
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