Asus has had a predilection of late of releasing multiple phones of the same type albeit with slightly different permutations. The Zenfone Max Pro (M1) which was first launched in Malaysia earlier this year came with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage along with a commensurately affordable price tag. This, the latest and highest specced variant, the Zenfone Max Pro (M1) 6GB which has recently made its rounds in Malaysia is by and large similar in almost every way bar the fact that it has 6GB RAM, 64GB of expandable storage and improved front and rear cameras.
Externally and even in terms of the box packaging, this upgunned variant of the Zenfone Max Pro (M1) is indistinguishable from its lower specced siblings save for a sticker on the side indicating its storage and RAM. Bar that detail, it is, for all intents and purposes, nigh identical in build, design and form factor from the 3GB RAM/32GB variant we reviewed a while back. The contents of the box packaging are also similar as well with a free Garena Free Fire downloadable content card bundled with the package along with a charging cable, power plug and headphones so we’ll skip the formalities and hop on over into what makes this different under the hood.
Zenfone Max Pro (M1) 6GB RAM performance
As the top of the line version of the Max Pro (M1), the phone notably comes with 6GB RAM and 64GB of expandable storage versus its entry-level sibling launched this year which only had 3GB RAM and 32GB of expandable storage.
The other difference is that the phone has a beefed up dual-rear camera array with one 16-MP f/2.2 camera and a 5-MP f/2.4 working in tandem versus the entry level Max Pro (M1)’s lower resolution 13-MP f/2.2 and 5-MP f/2.4 dual camera combo. The front camera is also upgraded to a 16-MP f/2.2 sensor versus the cheaper variant’s 8-MP f/2.2 sensor.
Bar these differences, the phone is otherwise similar with a 5.99-inch 2,160 x 1080 pixel touchscreen up front with an 18:9 aspect ratio, a 5,000mAh battery juiced by a microUSB port and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor running Android Oreo 8.1.
When we tested the cheaper variant of the Max Pro (M1) a while back, it proved to be fair performer for what you paid for. On paper, you’d reckon that the addition of 3GB more RAM to the phone would offer markedly better performance though this was hardly the case when subjected to synthetic benchmarks.
In Geekbench, it yielded slightly more encouraging scores with 1,339 points for single core performance versus 1,332 points for the 3GB RAM version and 4,835 points for multi-core performance versus 4,931 points for the 3GB RAM version. In Antutu, it got a score of 110,004 points versus 115,176 points for the 3GB RAM variant. In PCMark, the 6GB RAM version got a score of 5,968 versus 6,177 points for the 3GB RAM version. In Sling Shot Extreme, it got roughly similar scores with 923 points versus 930 points for the 3GB variant. In Sling Shot Extreme Vulkan it got a score of 754 versus the 3GB RAM at 758 points.
Benchmarks aren’t the actual full measure of a phone and while the figures seem somewhat anomalous even with several repeats of the tests, it is likely on account of unoptimised firmware as we’ve been informed that there’s already been several OTA updates for the 6GB version since the conclusion of our benchmarks.
In practical terms, the 6GB version runs the same clean version of Android Oreo 8.1. The lack of an image gallery in lieu of Google Photos remains somewhat irksome, especially if you have a large amount of pictures as it’s somewhat hard to tell which was taken on your phone or on another device.
That aside, the phone runs in a similar fashion as its sibling as both have the reliable and efficient Snapdragon 636 processor running under the hood though games and other apps boot up slightly faster for the 6GB RAM version when placed side by side with the 3GB RAM variant. There is also faster swapping between apps as there’s more RAM for the phone to juggle around in memory.
Asus Zenfone Max Pro (M1) 6GB RAM camera performance
On paper, the Zenfone Max Pro (M1) has an enhanced rear dual camera array with a 16-MP f/2.2 camera paired up with a secondary 5-MP f/2.4 camera for depth data. The front has also been upgraded as well with a 16-MP f/2.2 sensor.
We took it around for a spin alongside its more affordable sibling and emerged with mixed results. The user interface for the 6GB RAM version hasn’t been improved in the slightest and remains slow to fire up, clunky to navigate and needs a learning curve to master.
Captured images vary in quality when set on auto. When used with a steady hand, it does a fair job at capturing detail and colours, especially green are rendered with a more vibrant than usual cast. Shots under dim lighting conditions remain poor for both phones. It’s slightly better than the cameras on the 3GB RAM variant in terms of captured detail though that isn’t the sole compelling reason to chunk down money for it.
Price, battery life and Conclusion
The Asus Zenfone Max Pro (M1)’s biggest draw, which holds true across all variants including its 6GB RAM incarnation is that it offers impressive battery life on account of its absolutely massive 5,000mAh battery. This was borne out in testing with a full day’s worth of heavy gaming, web browsing and emails and there was still enough juice for it to confidently chug along for the better part of the following day. More conservative users can expect more than two days of usage. This is quite an accomplishment indeed for any phone.
Overall performance is a tad faster with less load times for apps and whatnot but where it falters is its cameras performance and despite having ostensibly better sensors exhibits marginal improvements in quality. At RM999, it’s quite a bit pricier than its sibling though it represents the pinnacle of the Max Pro (M1)’s performance envelope. If you’re stuck to a sub R(M1),000 budget and prioritise a crisp and large display, exceptional battery endurance and are willing to live with rather middling cameras, the Max Pro (M1)’s best specced configuration is well worth a look.
What we liked Superb battery life, large display, slightly nippier performance versus 3GB variant, triple SIM card
What we didn’t Average cameras, few improvements in camera interface, still uses dated micro USB port
We say Superb battery life, a large screen and enhanced specifications that maximise its potential combine to make the Zenfone Max Pro (M1) 6GB worthy of consideration for those on a tight budget.
Price RM999 (6GB RAM/64GB)
Display 5.99-inch, IPS LCD, 2280 x 1080 pixels, 403dpi
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 1.8GHz processor
OS Android Oreo 8.1
Memory 3GB RAM/ 32GB + triple SIM card
Camera 13-MP w/ f/2.2 + 5-MP w/f2.4 & LED flash (rear) / 8-MP w/ f/2.2 w/ LED flash (front)
Size/Weight 159 x 76 x 8.5 mm / 180g
Review unit courtesy of Asus Malaysia