Asus had a very nice year for their smartphone products launched in 2018. The first was the ZenFone Max Pro M1 which was a phone that stood up against the likes of Redmi Note 5 and Note 5 Pro. Then came the flagship from the company, the Asus ZenFone 5Z which revolutionized the flagship smartphone market in India. The 5Z was such a great value for money which came with flagship specs like Snapdragon 845, 6GB RAM (up to 8GB) and more.
Asus has also introduced the ZenFone Max M1 which is a competitor to the Redmi 6 from Xiaomi. But how well does the ZenFone Max M1 perform in real life and how does it compare to Redmi 6? Let’s find out in this review of the Asus ZenFone Max M1.
Design & Build
The ZenFone Max M1 carries looks that are similar to that of the ZenFone Max Pro M1. The body is built out of polycarbonate and you get Black as well as Gold as color options for the phone. The phone definitely feels sturdy but you will notice the light weight of the phone due to the absence of a metal frame.
In the front, you will find a 5.45-inch display that has a 2.5D glass covering it. The display does have noticeable bezels but expecting full bezel-less display in this price range is asking too much from the company. The selfie camera, earpiece, and the proximity sensor is placed above the display.
The back carries the fingerprint sensor in the top middle part of the phone. You will also find the primary single sensor camera with flash on the back. The Asus branding is also present on the back and that’s about it. The power, lock and unlock button along with the volume rockers are present on the right side of the phone while the left side holds the SIM tray which allows you to use two nano SIM cards along with a microSD card in a non-hybrid tray.
The bottom of the phone houses the micro USB port along with a speaker grill on the right and another grill on the left that houses a microphone. The phone also has a 3.5mm audio jack on the top. Overall, the build quality of the phone is good if not the best but the buttons that Asus is using for the power and volume rockers have a nice tactile feedback.
Asus ZenFone Max M1 comes with a 5.45-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 720 x 1440 pixels. The aspect ratio of the display is quite unique as it comes with an aspect ratio of 16:10 which is a tall display for sure, but it is not as tall as an 18:9 display. The display covers about 83% of the screen to body ratio and has a pixel density of about 247ppi.
The display is good enough for the price and since its IPS, it is capable of displaying colors with a good amount of detail. The display is an HD+ display also helps in a better battery life since the battery on the phone has to power a much lesser number of pixels as compared to a 1080p display.
Camera & Imaging
Coming to the imaging department, the Asus ZenFone Max M1 has a primary 13 MP camera with an aperture of f/2.0. It also comes with PDAF for better autofocus.
The front camera, on the other hand, has an 8 MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.2. Asus using a similar camera app that is also found on other Asus smartphones. You get modes such as Beautify, Panorama and Time Lapse modes. You obviously have the normal Photo and Video modes as well. You can use the quick toggles for HDR to turn it on or off and the same stands true for the flash, portrait mode, and the timer.
Let us now talk about the photos taken with the phone’s camera. In daylight, the photos taken were quite nice but the camera results took a steep downfall in low light conditions. The pictures taken in low light conditions are grainy and lack a lot of details. Enabling HDR does help up to a certain extent but it is not as effective. Asus has also added Portrait mode for the selfie and rear cameras but the edge detection is always a hit or miss.
Hardware & Performance
Coming to the hardware, the phone comes with an octa-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon 430 processor along with an Adreno 505 GPU. This phone comes only in one RAM variant and you get 3GB RAM with the phone. The phone performs well under normal usage of apps like WhatsApp, Instagram and such. Pushing the phone too much will obviously cause lags since the processor used in the phone is only capable enough to handle applications up to a certain extent.
Also, yes, you can play PUBG on this phone but you will need to switch to the lowest graphical settings and even then you might face a few frame drops here and there. Overall, the phone performs quite well for the price.
Software & Features
The phone comes with ZenUI 5.0 which has been applied to Android 8.0 Oreo and anyone who is familiar with ZenUI will be able to use the phone with ease. The software on the phone comes with features such as Mobile Manager, Weather, Sound Recorder, File Manager, and Themes. Apps such as Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger are also installed out of the box but you can uninstall them easily if you don’t plan on using them.
ZenUI 5.0 is a lot closer to Stock Android as compared to other skins like MIUI and with the right icon pack and the launcher, you can make ZenUI feel a lot more like Stock Android if that is something that you wish to do.
Battery Life & Verdict
The Asus ZenFone Max M1 comes with a 4000mAh battery which gives it a great battery life. This battery life is due to the HD+ display which doesn’t eat up much of the battery juice. All in all, the ZenFone Max M1 is a great budget smartphone for the price and yes, it does stand strong against contenders like the Xiaomi Redmi 6.