While eyes are on Asus’ anticipated notebook launch at Computex in Taiwan, the brand aims to dials things up to eleven as they’re launching not one but two smartphones in Malaysia today – the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 and their flagship Zenfone 5.
The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 is the latest addition to the line that epitomises battery life and value. In Malaysia, the phones come in not one, but three different subvariants, each at different price points and differing slightly in terms of cameras, RAM and built-in storage.
The highest end variant of the Zenfone Max Pro M1 comes with a 6-inch FHD+ 18:9 aspect ratio touchscreen up front, a current Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 octacore processor, 6GB RAM, 64GB of expandable storage via a rare triple SIM card and a huge 5,000mAh battery to keep things charged. The rear comes with a dual camera array that consists of a 16-MP snapper paired with a secondary 5-MP depth sensor while the front has a 16-MP selfie camera paired with a dedicated softlight LED flash. Of not is that the phone is one of the few in its price range capable of capturing 4K UHD video, which makes it an impressive offering indeed, more so for what you pay for.
The midtier variant comes with similar hardware though it has 4GB of RAM and swaps the rear camera for a 13-MP and 5-MP combo on the rear and a 13-MP front selfie camera. The entry level version retains the midtier variant’s camera setup but downgrades the RAM to 3GB and the storage to 32GB of expandable memory. All three variants of the Zenfone Max Pro M1 come in either black or gold with the 3GB RAM/32GB retailing for RM 699, the 4GB RAM/64GB version retailing for RM 849 and the highest end 6GB RAM/64GB version costing RM 999. With every purchase of a Zenfone Max Pro M1, buyers also get a free costume set worth RM80 in Garena’s Free Fire shooter with every phone.
The Flagship Asus Zenfone 5 – AI enhancements aplenty
When announced earlier on at Mobile World Congress, the Asus Zenfone 5 had a Lite variant and a higher end version coming with a Snapdragon 845 processor though Malaysia is getting just the midrange workhorse version dubbed the ZE620KL for now. For the price of entry, you’re getting a 6.2-inch notched FHD+ LCD display that has a wide 19:9 aspect ratio and which is rated to offer an impressive 100% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut.
The rest of the hardware on the Zenfone 5 consists of a Snapdragon 636 processor akin to the ones on the Zenfone Max Pro M1 running Android Oreo and their ZenUI 5.0 user interface beefed up by a hefty array of AI under the hood, 4GB RAM and 64GB of expandable storage. Where it justifies its increased price tag is that its dual rear camera array that has been significantly upgunned from the Zenfone Max Pro M1 with OIS and the aforementioned AI.
The Zenfone 5 features a 12-MP f/1.8 camera using a Sony IMX363 sensor with 4-axis optical image stabilisation paired with a secondary 8-MP f/2.0 camera that allows for creamy smooth bokeh shots as well as 120-degree wide angle shots with the combined setup allowing for smooth 4k@30fps videos too.The whole setup also comes with Dual Pixel tech, which allows for much faster subject acquisition to the tune of a blazing fast 0.03 seconds.
This dual rear camera setup is further augmented by Asus’ own built-in AI that helps to intelligently select the right scenes via AI-scene detection when shooting and optimising the settings for best results. The AI also helps in other areas as well, helping to augment performance by optimising apps and memory via what Asus calls an AI Boost that helps increase overall performance by a quoted 12.7% on paper. The AI has an AI charging mode that also assists to intelligently optimise phone battery life by learning charging and usage patterns to offer a battery lifespan that’s at least twice as long as a conventional phone. Oddly enough, the phone also has an unusual but welcome AI-Ringtone that intelligently rings loudly in noisy environments and offers a more discreet tinkle in quieter ones by dynamically analysing the ambient audio of the environment. To wit, the Zenfone 5 has managed to score a prestigious DXOMark score of 93 points; quite an achievement.
Other mod-cons that place it a notch above its plebeian Zenfone Max Pro M1 sibling include a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, NFC, dual-band 5GHz Wifi connectivity and a hefty pair of dual speakers with Hi-Res audio support to make gaming and listening to treat. All this is crammed into a beautifully machined metal chassis.
The tradeoff though is that it has a somewhat smaller 3,300mAh battery though this is powered by a more contemporary USB Type-C port. At launch, the phone comes in your choice of either Midnight Blue or Meteor Silver for RM1,299. There is no confirmed news yet if the higher end Zenfone 5z is coming to Malaysia as yet though hearsay says that it is on the cards.
As Lazada’s exclusive partner, Asus is also offering a series 0f special preorder exclusives with the Zenfone Max Pro M1 3GB/32GB going for as low as RM599 and the 4GB/64GB variant as low as RM799. For more details check out www.lazada.com.my