The ZenFone Max M2 is ASUS Philippines’ first-ever smartphone offering this 2019. Joining the brand’s growing lineup of Battery King devices, this midrange budget smartphone carries a whopping 4,000mAh battery capacity that promises up to 2 days of non-stop use. Does it live up to its promise of long-lasting power? What else does this sub-P9,000 phone have to offer to the demanding smartphone crowd? Read on to find out.
Design & Construction
The ASUS ZenFone Max M2 borrows a lot of design cues from its older, bigger brother, the ZenFone Max Pro M2. This phone has a aluminum unibody form factor with a matte finish. We have the stylish Space Blue variant for our review unit, but the ZenFone Max M2 also comes in the more classic and professional Midnight Black colorway. The rear side features a dual camera setup, aligned vertically, with the LED flash right below. The circular fingerprint sensor is placed on the center with the ASUS logo.
ASUS continues last year’s display design trend by putting a notch on the screen of the ZenFone Max M2. The notch design, along with the slim side bezels, allows the handset to sport a 6.3-inch screen real estate. In the notch, you’ll find the 8MP front camer, LED flash, LED notification light, and the call speaker.
The clicky volume and power keys are placed on the right side of the device, while the SIM/microSD card tray are located on the left. At the top is the 3.5mm audio port. Down below, you’ll find the microUSB port, microphone, and the loudspeaker–the last sports a unique open-speaker hole format, instead of the usual grille design.
The ZenFone Max M2 is lightweight at 160g, but it still feels solid in general. It’s not slippery to hold thanks mainly to the matte finish (it’s not a fingerprint magnet, yey!) and relatively slim form factor (158 x 76 x 7.7mm). The device is not reinforced by Corning Gorilla Glass 6. However, ASUS includes a transparent jelly case in the bundle and you can just install a screen protector for additional protection. This phone is one premium-looking device, too, and would not be mistaken as a budget phone at first glance.
Display & Multimedia
The 6.3-inch HD+ IPS display of the ZenFone Max M2 clocks a 1520 x 720 resolution with 19:9 aspect ratio. The screen may seem lacking in resolution, especially if you’re used to phones with high-res displays. But this is understandable given the device’s price point. Plus, the display is already vibrant and accurate with colors, even the viewing angles are surprisingly good. Brightness at the maximum level is good in normal environment settings. Under direct sunlight or harsh lighting, however, we sometimes struggled with the screen’s visibility.
Thanks to the 5-magnet speaker with NXP amplifier, audio is great in the ZenFone Max M2. Not only that it is loud, the speakers also produces rich and deep sound. Its placement is also strategic as when you hold the phone horizontally to watch videos, your cupped hands can amplify the sound it produces, giving you more immersive viewing experience.
The ZenFone Max M2 sports a 13MP main rear camera with f/1.8 aperture and Phase-detection autofocus. It’s accompanied by a 2MP depth-sensing shooter and a single LED flash. Testing the camera reminded us that this a budget phone; it sometimes takes time to focus and save captured images. Photos taken on daylight are surprisingly detailed, though they’re a bit on the muted side when it comes to the colors. It’s best to get up close to your subject for better results, but landscape shots are great too when the lighting is good. Low-light and nighttime photos are underwhelming–there’s not much details and a bit on the grainy side. The Depth Effect, or bokeh, also looks to unnatural that we just forgo using it after the first try.
This smartphone also allows 4K UHD recording–a welcome feature for the phone. However, you’d probably be satisfied with just the 1080p setting. Focus is good on video, again on daylight. Much like the stills, the night videos on the ZenFone Max M2’s rear shooter leave much to be desired as they can be murky and in poor quality.
In front, the 8-megapixel sensor with f/20 aperture and LED flash takes care of your selfie needs. The front camera is fairly decent, following the same conditions as the rear–good on well-lit environment, and understandably underwhelming on low-lit scenarios.
ASUS ZenFone Max M2 Sample Photos
Under the hood of the ZenFone Max M2 is Qualcomm’s latest chipset, the Snapdragon 632, Adreno 506 GPU, and 3GB RAM. Multi-tasking is a smooth affair; we experienced no lags or stutters as we launched several apps at the same time, including social media apps, camera, and productivity apps, among others. The ASUS ZenFone Max M2 got the following benchmark scores: 102,557 on AnTuTu; 5,882 (Work 2.0) on PC Mark; and 1,246 (single-core) and 4,733 (multi-core) on GeekBench. Playing games like PUBG, Mobile Legends, and Asphalt 9 are generally smooth and hitch-free.
Storage-wise, the 32GB isn’t enough for power users and productivity fiends. However, ASUS offers two outstanding solutions to this. One is the support for up to 2TB microSD external storage and the second one is the free 100GB Google Drive, which available for one year upon signing in.
We personally appreciate that the ZenFone Max M2 runs stock Android 8.1 Oreo. Although, ASUS already pre-loaded the device with the standard apps like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger, among others. The UI is clean, simple, and easy to navigate. We didn’t miss the massive bloatware that most smartphones–even budget ones-come with. All throughout our review, the Android UI remained smooth and launching apps and games remained lag-free.
One of the highlights on this phone is its generous 4,000mAh battery, and the ZenFone Max M2 really shines on this aspect. Starting out on a full charge, we ended up with more or less 25 percent after almost 12 hours of constant use. The tasks involve video streaming, playing graphics-heavy games, constant Web and social media browsing, downloading apps, and occasional calls and messaging. The two-day battery life that ASUS claims is possible with lighter usage. Still, the battery performance is superb overall and is already acceptable for power users. Charging took almost two hours from zero to 100 percent. The Qualcomm Quick Charge support would be a great addition to this smartphone.
The ZenFone Max M2 also comes with the standard connectivity features–Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.2, microUSB, GPS, A-GPS, and GLONASS.
If you’re looking for productivity gadget companion but on a budget, the ASUS ZenFone Max M2 is a great option. For one, its long-lasting battery allows you to work non-stop and not worry about running out of power. Moreover, it offers powerful performance with its octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor and 3GB RAM. The built-in 32GB storage may not be enough for all your apps and files, but the addition of microSD support up to 2TB easily solves your storage woes. The phone is also snappy and can handle multi-tasking and demanding apps. It doesn’t wow on the display and camera, but does the job adequately and are good enough for the general standard of the phone’s category.