A Big Battery Budget Beauty

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Despite being a sequel to last year’s ZenFone Max Pro M1, the new Max Pro M2 looks almost nothing like the original. That’s definitely a good thing though, because while the phone is now entirely plastic, it looks a lot more interesting with an attractive new glossy “Wave Design” rear that ASUS says requires 16 layers of dynamic optical finish to achieve and looks almost like glass.

Thanks to the new entirely plastic build, the phone is actually 5g lighter than its predecessor, coming in at t175g. Despite a larger plastic build, the phone is actually 5g lighter than its predecessor, coming in at just 175g. Despite a larger 6.26-inch screen, it’s also slightly smaller overall, although, it is still quite thick, at 8.5mm.

The rear of the phone is curved at the edges, which makes it more comfortable to hold in hand. There’s a circular fingerprint scanner in the middle and a vertically orientated dual rear camera setup in the top-left corner. The camera setup consists of a 12-megapixel, f/1.8, 1.25μm pixel size, main camera, with a 5-megapixel depth sensor as the secondary lens. The camera is using Sony’s new IMX486 sensor and for the first time, ASUS is also bringing its AI photography features to the Max line, which means the Max Pro M2 can recognize and enhance 13 scenes and objects.

The front of the phone has a small notch above the display that houses the 13-megapixel f/2.0 selfie camera and LED flash. The bezels around the screen are relatively thin, although the chin below the display is on the thicker side. The LCD display itself is 6.26-inches with a 2,280 x 1,080 pixels resolution (~400ppi), 19:9 aspect ratio, 94% NTSC color gamut, 1500:1 contrast ratio and 450 nits of peak brightness. It’s sharp with good brightness and contrast, although the default color setting looks a little cold.

The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6. This is Corning’s newest and most durable glass, so it’s a pleasant surprise to find it on a phone this cheap many flagship smartphones are still using Corning’s older Gorilla Glass 5.

Both the power button and volume rocker can be found on the right side, while the dual Nano-SIM card tray can be found on the left. The Max Pro M2 also has a dedicated microSD card slot, so you don’t have to choose between a second SIM and expandable storage. On the bottom of the phone you’ll find a single downward firing speaker, a 3.5mm headphone jack (which is always a welcome sight) and a micro-USB port (which is not).

Like its predecessor, the Max Pro M2 is running on stock Android 8.1 Oreo. The phone isn’t part of Google’s Android One program, so it doesn’t have 9.0 Pie yet, however ASUS says an update is due soon.

The Max Pro M2 is powered by a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor and a whopping 6GB RAM. As expected benchmark performance was quite good, and the beat most other entry-level phones in our benchmark testing – the exception being Xiaomi’s Mi A2, which is also using a Snapdragon 660 processor. Battery life was also excellent thanks to a whopping 5,000mAh battery. However, it’s worth noting that while the Max Pro M2 technically supports fast charging, it only does so up to 10W of power. Due to the sheer size of the battery, it actually takes quite a long time to fully charge the phone.

If you’re in the market for a budget phone, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 punches well above its weight, and looks, feels and handles like a much more expensive device. It has an attractive design, a large display, good benchmark performance, long battery life, and runs on stock Android OS. At this price point, you can’t ask for much more than that.

My Reading Room
"Slim buttons, but as a midrange phone, still has a little bulk to it."
My Reading Room
"The back of the Max Pro M2 has a new “Wave Design” finish that looks just like glass."
My Reading Room
A great value phone that looks, feels, and performs like a more premium device.