The ZenFone Max M2 is the latest smartphone from Asus that focuses on those features that really matter to end consumers. The device is an improvement over the original model in virtually every way, including the screen, performance, camera and more. You get a colorful 6.26-inch HD+ display with minimal bezels, a Snapdragon 632 processor, dual rear-facing cameras that take good shots in both day and night, a huge 4000mAh battery, and a stock version of Android. We got to check out the device ahead of the launch, and here are our first impressions of the Asus ZenFone Max M2.
Asus ZenFone Max M2 first impressions: Design, build
When you look at the Asus ZenFone Max M2 you can only think of one thing: that’s a ZenFone Max M1! Indeed, externally, the handset hasn’t changed a lot, especially on the back. You get to see a dual camera setup, a fingerprint sensor, and the Asus logo embossed on the rear. Thankfully, the 3.5mm headset jack has been included, but the USB Type-C charging port is missing.
But there is a major difference in its front design. The newer ZenFone Max has got a 6.26-inch display with Gorilla Glass 6 protection that is much harder to break and less prone to scratches. What’s also new is the notch, a screen cut out to accommodate the front-facing camera, sensors, and earpiece.
Ergonomically speaking, the ZenFone Max M2 is comfortable and fits perfectly in my hand. The phone, like many other smartphones of today, is made from aluminum, which lends it a premium feel.
There isn’t much difference in terms of physical size, though the ZenFone Max M2 is a little slimmer despite packing the same 4000mAh battery. The newer device measures 7.7mm and weighs 160 gram, while the ZenFone Max M1 measures 8.9mm and weighs 150 gram.
Asus ZenFone Max M2 first impressions: Display, performance
The 6.26-inch HD+, 1520×720 display is sharp enough, with solid colour accuracy and decent brightness. Keeping up to the trend, the phone has an aspect ratio of 19:9 for the taller and wider look.
In terms of hardware, the ZenFone Max M2 is a mid-range smartphone at heart. I’m particularly interested in the Snapdragon 632 chipset itself. There should be some significant performance improvements in the chipset (in case you’re not aware, the ZenFone Max M1 featured a Snapdragon 450 SoC). Obviously, I couldn’t run full tests as I have just started using the device. But what I can tell you right now is an early experience of mine with the phone. During my limited time spent with the device, I certainly didn’t notice any hiccups switching between apps, or struggling to open multiple apps in Chrome.
Just to make it clear: I am using the ZenFone Max M2 with 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage (yes, it can be expanded further via microSD). In addition to this model, Asus will offer the smartphone with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. With a 4,000mAh battery, I am expecting the phone to last more than a day on a single charge. For full benchmarks and detailed analysis, you need to wait for the review which will go live next week.
Speaking of the software experience, Asus ZenFone Max M2 runs on Android 8.1 Oreo. Gone is the custom ZenUI. Instead, the user interface is close to enough to stock Android. Though Asus has made its clear that the phone is not Android One certified, like the Nokia 7.1 or Mi A2. This means that the phone won’t get guaranteed Android updates for at least two years as in case of an Android One programme. But there’s nothing to worry about. Asus says it will start rolling out the latest Android 9.0 Pie update for the ZenFone Max M2 in January 2019.
Asus ZenFone Max M2 first impressions: Camera
The ZenFone Max M2 features a dual camera setup on the back. The camera is made up of a 13MP f/1.8 aperture primary camera and a 2MP depth camera that enable portraits with bokeh effects. In general, the camera is fine – given the price point, the smartphone has been pitched in. Outdoors, the phone managed to take decent shots of flowers (seen below). Indoors, there’s certainly some noise and a bit of blurriness, but honestly, I don’t see any major issues. Low-light performance isn’t bad, which is a welcome move. Generally, mid-end smartphones struggle to take poor shots in low-light but this phone seems to be an exception. The 8MP front-facing camera is okay, but it’s not as dramatic as I initially expected it to be.
Asus ZenFone Max M2 first impressions: Early conclusion
Asus ZenFone Max M2 appears to be a solid attempt to make an appealing go-to mid-range smartphone. For Rs 9,999 the smartphone offers decent performance, stock user interface, better cameras, and a huge battery. The question is, will you put your money on the ZenFone Max M2? Why I am saying this is because the competition in this segment is at its peak and the ZenFone Max M2 isn’t the only smartphone that promises to offer a well-rounded experience. Xiaomi Redmi 6 Pro, Honor 8C and Realme 2 are some of the phones that are equally attractive.