ASUS Zenfone Max (M1): Hands-on, First Impressions


After tasting success with the Zenfone Max Pro (M1) and the Zenfone 5Z in the budget and affordable flagship segments respectively, ASUS seems to be eying the entry-level smartphones space in India. As part of its plan to beat Xiaomi (and now several others) at its own game, the Taiwanese electronics giant earlier today announced two brand new devices in the sub Rs.10k price segment in India. These new handsets include the lower-priced Zenfone Lite (L1) and the ZenfoneMax (M1). In this article, we will take a quick first look at the pricier of today’s new launches – the Zenfone Max (M1).

ASUS Zenfone Max (M1): Design, Display

ASUS Zenfone Max (M1) Design

As evident from its name, the ASUS Zenfone Max (M1) seems to be a toned down version of the bigger and more powerful Zenfone Max Pro that was launched earlier this year. In fact, it would be fair to say that the new Max (M1) shares several design cues from its bigger, more expensive sibling. Our review unit is in the premium-looking Gold color option. The phone, however, is also available in a normal black color option.  The Zenfone Max (M1) boasts of a metallic finish and for a device under Rs.10k, looks pretty good.

The front fascia of the Max MI is dominated by the fairly large 5.45-inch IPS LCD display. The panel boasts of a resolution of 1440x 720 pixels in the tall 18:9 aspect ratio and has a contrast ratio of 800:1.

Since I have only recently started using this phone as my review unit, I did not get time to exhaustively evaluate the display. My initial impressions, however, are that the panel is pretty sharp for its sub Rs.10k price. Sunlight legibility, however, could have been better as I did face some trouble using the phone in direct sunlight.

ASUS Zenfone Max (M1): Hardware, Performance

ASUS Zenfone Max (M1)

The Zenfone Max (M1) is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chipset and houses the Adreno 505 GPU for graphics. The device comes in a single version with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Like the more expensive Zenfone Max Pro, this phone also gets a triple slot that can take in two SIM cards and a single microSD card at the same time. While the handset supports VoLTE networks, do note that the SD430 chipset is incapable of handling dual VoLTE networks. You cannot, therefore, use the phone with two Jio SIM cards.

In my brief time with the device, the phone did feel a tad sluggish. I am hopeful, however, that this was because the handset had to update several apps in one go after I connected it to my Wi-Fi network. I am also assuming that my handset was on a pre-release software version. I should be able to talk more about the performance aspects of the handset when I publish the complete review in the next few weeks.

For security, the handset gets a face-unlock feature as well as a fingerprint scanner that is conveniently placed at the rear panel. The Zenfone Max (M1) also features a large 4000 mAh battery that is rated to offer up to 36-hours of 3G talk time and 41 days of standby time.

ASUS Zenfone Max (M1): Software

Zenfone Max M1 Software

The major difference between the Zenfone Max (M1) and the pricier Max Pro version is that the former runs ASUS’ ZenUI 5.0 atop an Android 8.1 Oreo core. The Max Pro, as you might be aware runs stock Android. As mentioned earlier in the performance segment above, I initially found the device a bit sluggish to start off. I am expecting things to get better in the days to come and will compile my findings in the next few days. One of the features that I found interesting was the AudioWizard option that lets you customize the sound output from the phone.

Since the handset uses ASUS’ ZenUI, there are a few preinstalled apps that the phone comes with. These include the PowerMaster Performance Suite, Mobile Manager, and the Web Storage app. Apart from these, the phone only comes with Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram apps preinstalled. The handset also supports Twin apps that lets you run two instances of the same app for different logins.

ASUS Zenfone Max (M1): Camera and Imaging

The Zenfone Max (M1) gets a single 13-megapixel camera at the rear with an aperture of f/2.0. The phone boasts of a 5p lens and supports PDAF as well. You also get a single LED flash for low light imaging. The front camera is an 8-megapixel unit with an aperture of f/2.0 and support for portrait and HDR modes. Both the front and rear cameras support full HD video recording.  

The camera UI is pretty similar to the one I used on the Zenfone 5Z and is pretty easy to use. I will post a few sample images in my final review.

The ASUS Zenfone Max (M1) is an interesting addition to the crowded sub Rs.10,000 price segment in India. It remains to be seen how well this phone is received by the Indian consumers. Do watch out for our detailed review of the handset in the days to come.