ASUS has managed to outshined Xiaomi in the budget segment, and that’s no easy feat.
ASUS enjoyed moderate success with earlier models within the ZenFone series in india, however subsequent launches haven’t fared so well. A lot had to do with the manufacturer’s lackadaisical attitude with updates, and that is an area the brand is looking to fix with its latest device, the ZenFone max pro m1.
The m1 is an India-first device that is designed to tackle the distinctive challenges within the country. ASUS mentioned that once being attentive to a lot of feedback from its community in India, it set to travel with a vanilla android skin that is devoid of any ZenUI customizations. Rather than partnering with android One like HMD, however, ASUS is giving its own pure android build, and the company is stating that it’ll deliver timely updates.
Then there is the battery: The m1 comes with an enormous 5000mAh battery, because a phone is still the primary gateway to the internet for a majority of Indians. therefore ASUS threw in a battery that’ll simply deliver 2 days’ worth of use.
The third side is performance — the m1 is only the second phone in india to feature the snapdragon 636, and the chipset handles everything you throw at it with ease.
Combine all of the above and a price tag that starts off at just ₹10,999 ($160) and you start to understand that the ZenFone max pro m1 is one of the most effective devices of the year. Here’s my strive against the phone after a month of in depth usage.
I’ll be frank: there’s not abundant to get excited about when it involves the design of the m1. It’s clear that ASUS wanted to get a phone out in the market as soon as possible, which meant very little to no style flourishes. You get an aluminum mid-frame and a metal alloy back, a dual camera that is clad vertically, plastic inserts at the top and bottom that house the antenna bands, and a single speaker located at rock bottom next to the Micro-USB charging port. Thankfully, the money supply retains the three.5mm jack.
The power and volume buttons are on the right side of the device, and they offer decent tactile feedback. i have never faced any problems with calls or cellular connectivity throughout my usage, and it’s great that ASUS is giving a dedicated slot for a microSD card along side two SIM card slots.
As made public earlier, there are 3 areas where the m1 wins out over alternative devices in this category: software, snapdragon 636, and battery. Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 pro has a similar internal hardware, however even it doesn’t quite come close to the battery figures posted by the m1. I simply got 2 days’ worth of usage out of the 5000mAh battery with some room to spare.
The 18:9 panel on the device is one of the better ones I’ve used in this category, and i have had zero problems with the m1 on that front. The 5.99-inch FHD+ (2160 x 1080) panel has vivacious colors with excellent contrast levels, and it gets sufficiently bright that I did not have any issues viewing the screen under sunlight. there’s not abundant in the way of customization if you want to adjust the display’s color temperature to your liking, though.
The single speaker situated at rock bottom is average — it gets loud, however details are muddled when you muddy when you try to crank up the volume.
The ZenFone max pro m1 is available in 2 variants: one with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage that is available for ₹10,999 ($160), and a model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for ₹12,999 ($180). each variants come with the snapdragon 636, and as we’ve seen on the Redmi Note 5 pro, it’s the fastest chipset in this class.
The vanilla android build is the icing on the cake, and is the M1’s differentiator. It would’ve been a masterstroke had ASUS launched the phone beneath the purview of the android One program, but for now I am willing to give the manufacturer the benefit of the doubt.
The UI does not have any added customization, and in general is a delight to use. There are some third-party apps out of the box — Facebook, Instagram, and ASUS’ Go2Pay digital wallet service — however these can be uninstalled.
The m1 comes with android 8.1 oreo out of the box, and in the testing period it picked up several single updates, the last of which bumped the security patch level to April 2018. It looks like ASUS is committed to delivering timely updates, and i can cycle back to the device in a few months’ time to see if that’s still the case.
With the ZenFone max pro m1, ASUS has managed to offer a device with an 18:9 panel, snapdragon 636, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, a decent camera, class-leading 5000mAh battery, and vanilla android. the fact that the device retails for just ₹12,999 ($180) underscores ASUS’ intent to revitalize sales from india, because its hard to see the manufacturer making any money from sales of the m1.
If you would like a budget phone with all the frills and none of the extra bloat, the m1 should be at the top of your list.