“The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2 is a solid upgrade over its predecessor. Here’s a first look”

The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1 (review) was one of the best VFM phones of 2018. With a solid feature set including great battery life, smooth performance and good cameras, it was a worthy rival to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (review). ASUS has now launched the successor to the device in the form of the ZenFone Max Pro M2. The device carries forward all the great features of the Pro M1, while bringing in upgrades in practically every department. I received a unit ahead of launch, and here’s a quick look at the box contents and the smartphone. 

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2_12The ZenFone Max Pro M2 ships in a black box with the phone’s branding in the front and key specs listed at the rear. Opening up the box, you’ll find a blue sheath on top. This contains a clear protective case, SIM ejector tool, user guide and warranty information. Beneath this is the phone itself, resting on a cardboard tray. At the very bottom, you’ll find the 5V 2A wall charger and micro-USB cable. Headphones are not included in the box.

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The ZenFone Max Pro M2 feels several notches more premium than the M1. Our review unit shipped in a gorgeous deep blue hue. The smartphone features a large 6.26-inch full HD+ display, with a small notch up top that houses a 13MP front camera, LED flash and sensors. With a 19:9 aspect ratio, the display features slim bezels all around, and a slightly thicker one at the chin. The display is crystal clear, with punchy colours and good viewing angles. It’s protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass 6.

The phone measures 8.3mm in thickness, and despite the large display, feels quite comfortable for single-handed use. The right edge is home to the power button and volume rocker, while the ejectable SIM card tray is on the left. The ZenFone Max Pro M2 features dual nano-SIM card slots and a dedicated microSD card slot, with support for expansion up to 2TB. It is a dual-SIM dual-standby device, with support for 4G VoLTE on both slots. On the bottom edge, you’ll find the loudspeaker, 3.5mm headphone jack, primary microphone and micro-USB port. The top edge houses a secondary microphone. 

The back panel is made of curved glass, and features dual cameras and an LED flash in a vertical setup. A fingerprint sensor sits in the middle, followed by ASUS branding. Apart from the fingerprint sensor, the device also offers a face unlock option. The cameras consist of an f/1.8 12MP primary sensor and 5MP depth sensor. The cameras output detailed images with rich colours, and the portrait mode works well too. I’ll reserve my final judgement on the cameras for the review. 

Coming to the internals, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 is powered by the reliable Snapdragon 660 chipset. The handset is available in three configurations – 3GB + 32GB, 4GB + 64GB and 6GB + 64GB. ASUS sent me the 64GB variant of the device, and there was around 53GB of storage available out of the box. The smartphone runs Android 8.1 Oreo in a mostly stock avatar, and is scheduled to be update. A few apps like Facebook, Instagram and Messenger come pre-loaded, but the device is otherwise devoid of bloatware. The battery on board in a massive 5,000mAh unit, which should be capable of offering two days of usage. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with support for fast charging. Thanks to the combination of the Snapdragon 660 chipset and vanilla interface, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 felt fluid and responsive during my initial usage. I’ll have to see how it holds up with more intensive usage and gaming though. 

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At the outset, the ASUS ZenFone Max M2 Pro seems like a worthy upgrade to the ZenFone Max Pro M1, and one that is likely to give Xiaomi a run for its money in the budget segment. I’ll delve into more detail about the handset in my review, which is out later this week.