ASUS ZenFone Max (M2) Hands-on: Still a great budget contender

New model, new upgrades



There’s a new budget smartphone in town. Continuing the tradition of sporting long-lasting batteries, the ZenFone Max (M2) is ASUS’ latest offering which succeeds the ZenFone Max (M1). It’s also the cheaper version of the ZenFone Max Pro (M2).

Is the new model better than before? Let’s find out in this hands-on.

It’s got a 6.26-inch notched IPS LCD

Resolution is just HD+

The power and volume keys are on the right…

Both are responsive and tactile

… while the triple-card tray is on the left

Have a microSD and two SIM cards at the same time

Up top is the headphone jack

Along with the noise-canceling microphone

Sadly, it still uses micro-USB

Beside it is the loudspeaker and the main microphone

The back looks similar to its predecessor

It still has a metal back panel

Now with a bigger display

The latest ZenFone Max model has a bigger and taller display with thinner bezels. ASUS has stretched the display to occupy the top corners, but they still have to put a notch for the front sensors. It’s worth noting that the notch is quite wide, which means you’ll see fewer icons on the status bar.

With a resolution of 1520 x 720 pixels, this isn’t the sharpest you’ll ever see — even for a phone at this price. Color reproduction is okay, although I do find it to be muted especially when compared to other phones. There’s not much to expect from the phone’s screen, but at least it’s responsive to the touch.

The phone’s body is made of plastic and metal. The frame of the phone is plastic, while the back panel is metal. The subtle cold feeling of metal gives the phone a premium feel despite its price point.

If you own (or are familiar) with the previous ZenFone Max, you can tell that they share a lot in common when it comes to the design. The position of the cameras is the same, plus the fingerprint reader is still located at the back.

The ZenFone Max (M2) feels more expensive than it looks, which is how budget phones are shaping up to be. That’s a good thing and hopefully, other manufacturers will follow suit.

A budget gaming phone

I am considering the new ZenFone Max a budget gaming phone because it can deliver good performance. That is, of course, if you’re willing to pull the graphics settings down. This phone has nowhere near the performance of the ROG phone, so don’t expect it to fly.

What makes this possible is the Snapdragon 632 processor paired with Adreno 506 graphics. The phone has 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage as well, which are within the norms of a budget phone. Like before, pure Android software runs everything — no ZenUI, no annoying bloatware. The version is still Oreo, but ASUS promises to give it Pie.

Free Fire comes pre-installed out of the box and it runs great by default. I also didn’t have issues with Asphalt 9: Legends and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. It’s safe to say that popular titles are playable on the new ZenFone Max. Don’t hate it when it lags for a bit; it’s doing its best with the processing power it has.

I also appreciated the phone’s speaker. It’s loud and clear, something that other phones in this price point lack. Watching YouTube and playing games on high volume really show how good the phone’s loudspeaker is. Also, the 4000mAh battery sealed inside the phone can do hours and hours of gaming.

Cameras are surprisingly good

Equipped with a main 13-megapixel shooter and a 2-megapixel depth sensor, the ZenFone Max (M2) is surprisingly a good camera phone. During the day, the phone can capture pleasing images. Even the phone’s front 8-megapixel shooter impresses with its bright and balanced selfies.

Check out these samples:

Light is always your friend if you want to have a good-looking photo. When you zoom in though, the images don’t have the fine details. If you primarily use your phone’s camera to share on social networking sites, the ZenFone Max (M2) will do just fine.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

With a price of just PhP 8,995, it’s easy to ignore the shortcomings of the ZenFone Max (M2). To be honest, the phone has a lot of strong selling points like its clean Android software, quality build, good camera, and large battery capacity. If you want all those, go check out the ZenFone Max (M2) in stores.

The upgrades are also noticeable compared to its predecessor, making this new model a better buy.

SEE ALSO: ASUS confirms launch date for ZenFone 6


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