Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 launched on Flipkart, starting price Rs 10,999

Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1
Taiwan-based smartphone manufacturer Asus on April 23 made a global debut of the Zenfone Max Pro M1 in India. The budget smartphones comes in two variants – 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB storage & 4GB RAM and 64 GB of storage. The company has priced the base model at Rs 10,999, and Rs 12,999 for the top-end variant. Asus also confirmed the 6GB RAM variant, priced at Rs 14,999, which will go on sale later. Designed for Indian consumers, the smartphone boasts the stock Android Oreo 8.1, a modern 18:9 aspect ratio screen, dual rear cameras, and a mammoth 5,000 mAh battery.

Asus has a history of rolling out specification-heavy smartphones. However, with the launch of Zenfone Max Pro M1, the company’s game plan for India seems to have changed and the focus has now shifted to software optimisation. Interestingly, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 also sports powerful innards, such as Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 system-on-chip (SoC).

On paper, the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 seems to be a strong proposition in the budget smartphone segment. However, does it have enough to challenge other budget smartphones in the price segment?

Here is what we gathers from the first impressions of the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1:

Design

In terms of design, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 looks similar to other modern budget smartphones such as the Redmi Note 5 and Note 5 Pro. The phone sports a 6-inch 18:9 aspect ratio screen that stretches the phone’s height and gives it a tall look – something that adds to the overall design theme.

Coming on to the rear of the phone, it sports a vertically mounted dual-camera set-up on the top left corner and a circular fingerprint sensor placed on the upper middle side. Interestingly, the phone’s rear camera unit does not bulge out and has a subtle protruding rim to protect the glass. That apart, the back looks bland and has little to boast.

Display

The smartphone sport a 6-inch 18:9 aspect ratio screen of fullHD+ (2160 x 1080) resolution. The screen seems to have a better contrast and sunlight legibility. The colour reproduction is satisfactory, if not perfect, and the 2.5D curved glass on top makes it easier to operate. The curved corners of the screen might not please everyone, but based on screen usage patterns and utility, they seem to look better than pointed edges.

Camera

In the Zenfone Max Pro M1, imaging is taken care of by 13-megapixel and 5MP cameras on the rear and an 8MP camera on the front. The camera is powered by the Snapdragon camera app, which is not as polished as the camera app found in ZenUI, Asus’ proprietary customised theme based on Google Android. However, the app has been custom-tuned to make it easier to understand and use.

In terms of output, the cameras show improvement over Asus' other budget smartphones -- to some extent. However, we did notice that the photos looked washed out at times and there was no manual mode to tweak the settings. Overall, the camera performance seems to be a mixed bag of hits and misses. In good-day light conditions, the camera seems to offer satisfactory output. However, the focus speed, colour rendering and detail levels remain in question.

Battery

The Zenfone Max Pro M1 is powered by a mammoth 5,000 mAh battery. The on-battery time looks promising and the phone manages to stay up for more than a day. However, the numbers are based on the phone’s initial testing, which involved setting it up and installing a couple of useful apps to gauge the performance.

Overall, the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 seems to have its ups and downs. In first impressions, the phone showed strengths in every area. However, we would reserve our verdict until we review the device thoroughly, sometime next week.

Here are some of the recent and important news developments involving Asus:

Asus enters into strategic partnership with FlipkartOn April 17, Flipkart announced a strategic partnership with Asus in a bid to capture at least a 40 per cent share of the domestic handset market by 2020. At an event held in New Delhi, the company’s vice-president for mobile and large appliance, Ajay Veer Yadav, said the e-commerce space had plans to contribute significantly to adding the next 100 million smartphones users. He claimed, out of every 100 smartphones sold in India, 25 were sold by Flipkart, and the company aimed to increase this share to 40 per cent of the overall Indian smartphone market by the year 2020.

The company’s partnership with Asus is the first step towards achieving the vision of a 40 per cent market share by 2020. Under the partnership, Flipkart becomes the premium sales partner for Asus smartphones. Both companies would also work together in understanding consumer demand to roll out smartphones built specifically for Indian consumers.

The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 is a first device to come out of the strategic partnership between Asus and Flipkart, a home-grown e-commerce portal.

What to expect from Asus in future?: At the Mobile World Congress, Asus unveiled its premium notch screen-based Zenfone 5-series. Even though the company has been silent about these phones’ launch, it is expected that the duo of smartphones are next in line to launch in India. With new partnership at place, the phones are expected to be Flipkart exclusive. However, it is also a possibility that the company might just launch the Zenfone 5 – a trimmed down version – in India.

Asus Zenfone 5z and Zenfone 5 specificationsThe next-generation Zenfone-series boasts artificial intelligence capabilities, which, unlike some of the other phones, are not limited to just camera but have access to display, ringtone, battery and live videos as well.

Apart from the AI capabilities, the Zenfone 5z and Zenfone 5 have 90 per cent screen-to-body ratio, thanks to their 6.2-inch fullHD+ screen covering almost the entire front. The 19:9 aspect ratio leaves just a small notch on top to accommodate an 8-megapixel camera, earpiece and sensors – just like in Apple iPhone X but smaller.

On the back, the smartphones sport a dual-camera set-up, which features 12MP and 8MP shooters. The primary 12MP sensor boasts f/1.8 aperture and the 8MP sensor features 120-degree wide-angle lens. Both, front and rear cameras are backed by AI for automatic scene selection and portrait photography, and machine learning to improve the output by learning usage patterns.

The Zenfone 5z and Zenfone 5 sport 2.5D curved glass on the front and back, supported by a metal chassis that holds them together seamlessly. The Zenfone 5z houses Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 system-on-chip (SoC), 6GB RAM and host of storage options starting from 64GB. The Zenfone 5, on the other hand, uses Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, 4GB RAM, and comes with 64GB storage in base model.

 

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