Budget Mobile Gaming With The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2 And Max M2

Remember the ZenFone Max Pro M1 from earlier this year? Well, you might remember it for it’s name, because that’s really quite a mouthful.

It’s just been a couple of months but Asus is already following up that first act with a fresh new batch for its entry line, starring the ZenFone Max Pro M2 and the ZenFone Max M2 — and we’re still not exactly sure what that M stands for, so let’s just chalk it up to the mysteries of product branding.

Geek Culture got to attend the product launch in Jakarta, Indonesia, and we managed to get up close and personal with the phones, both of which Asus is touting as the… more modest cousins of their utter overkill of a gaming behemoth, the ROG Phone.

For a phone that’s being semi-marketed at gamers, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 looks pretty understated — but you know how that age-old adage goes, never judge a book by its cover (or a phone by its subtle-no-frills body). It’ll be powered by the Snapdragon 660 supporting a Qualcomm AI Engine, coupled with a 6GB RAM, which means it’s no slouch in the processing department. Granted, it’s no ROG Phone either, but then again, it’s also not going to eat up half your month’s salary.

And sure, it looks understated — in a no-gaming-bling sort of way — but that lovely wave finish on the back cover gets aesthetic points if you’re into the whole zen, minimalist look. Come on, it’s inspired by water, that practically screams zen. Asus has claimed that it took a whopping sixteen finishes to get it to catch light the way it does, and looking at it now… yeah, we can buy into that.

It doesn’t take Bruce Lee telling us to “Be water” to get that water’s a real force to be reckoned with. So it’s a nice (although probably unintentional) metaphor for a phone that’s also selling itself for its durability. The ZenFone Max Pro M2 will have its screen equipped with the Corning Gorilla Glass 6. And Scott Forester, Division Vice President, Marketing and Innovation Products of Corning, took to the stage to say, “Corning’s research has shown that consumers, on average, encounter most drops from waist height or below and, on average, drop seven times a year. Therefore, we are delighted to work with ASUS on the ZenFone Max Pro (M2) designed with Corning Gorilla Glass 6.”

The ZenFone Max Pro M2 will also come with a 5000mAh battery, and that translates to 10 hours of mobile gaming, 19 hours of Youtube and up to 23 hours of web-surfing on Wifi, according to Asus. On the camera side of things, it’ll sport a dual-camera system on the rear like its predecessor — this time with the Sony IMX486 sensor — and boast a list of helpful features such as AI Scene Detection, Phase Detection Autofocus and Electronic Image Stabilisation. And you’ll be able to snap away and enjoy your photos on a 6.3-inch FHD+ display.

For a more in-depth look at its specs:

Design Premium 3D-curved glossy design
Front 2.5D-curved Corning® Gorilla® Glass 6
Dimensions 157.9 x 75.5 x 8.5mm
Weight 175g
Display 6.3-inch FHD+ (2280 by 1080) 19:9 all-screen IPS display
94% NTSC colour gamut
90% screen-to-body ratio
450nits brightness
1500:1 contrast ratio
Capacitive touchscreen with 10-point multitouch
CPU/GPU Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 660 Mobile Platform with 14nm, 64-bit Octa-core processor with Qualcomm AI Engine
Qualcomm® Adreno™ 512 GPU
Memory & Storage LPDDR4X 3GB / 4GB / 6GB RAM
eMCP 32GB / 64GB / 128GB storage
Dual Camera System Main rear camera: AI Scene Detection with 13 scene types / 12MP Sony ® IMX 486 image sensor / f/1.8 aperture / 1.25µm pixel size / 6p lens / 0.03s PDAF/ LED flash / 4K UHD video recording / 3-axis electronic image stabilization
Secondary rear camera: 5MP, depth sensing
Front camera: 13MP / f/2.0 aperture / Softlight LED flash/ 3-axis electronic image stabilization
Wireless 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz
Supports Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Display
DC-HSPA+: UL 5.76 / DL 42 Mbps
LTE: CAT5 UL 75 Mbps / CAT4 DL 150Mbps
Connectivity Bluetooth® 5.0
Bluetooth® HID
Security Features Rear fingerprint security sensor with 5-finger recognition
Face Unlock for added convenience and security
SIM card and SD slot Triple slots with dual SIM, dual 4G + 4G standby
Slot 1: Nano SIM (2G / 3G / 4G)
Slot 2: Nano SIM (2G / 3G / 4G)
Slot 3: MicroSD card (up to 2TB)
Navigation GPS
OS Stock Android™ Oreo TM
Battery 5000mAh capacity with fast charging
Audio 5-magnet speaker
NXP smart amplifier for louder, deeper and less distorted sound
Colours Midnight Blue
Cosmic Titanium

As the most modest cousin of the lot, the ZenFone Max M2 is basically the ZenFone Max Pro M2 on a budget — which is expected, considering their nomenclature.

Housing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 and a 4000mAh battery, the ZenFone Max M2 doesn’t fall too far off from its bigger, better, pricier Pro counterpart. If you’re wondering, that translates to 8 hours of gaming and 22 hours of Wifi-web browsing in Asus-speak, so that’s just an hour or so shaved off.

It also comes with the dual-camera system for its rear camera, and it has AI Scene Detection and Phase Detection Autofocus ticked off but doesn’t seem to come with image stabilisation.

The one stark difference — and boy, is it stark — is really the overall design. We know we said the ZenFone Max Pro M2’s understated, but ‘understated’ would actually be an understatement for the ZenFone Max M2. The grainy black frame is almost painfully nondescript. And we’re not quite sure if there’s actually an aesthetic it’ll appeal to — is non-aesthetic an aesthetic? Well, maybe if you’re into the whole spartan… military… sort of look, maybe. Then again, phone covers exist for a reason, so maybe aesthetics aren’t too important.

And here are its specs, if you want to go more in-depth:

Design Metal body design with front 2.5D-curved glass
Dimensions 158 x 76 x 7.7mm
Weight 160g
Display 6.3″ HD+ (1520 x 720) IPS display
19:9 aspect ratio
88% screen-to-body ratio
Capacitive touch panel with 10-point multi-touch
CPU/GPU Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 632 Mobile Platform with 14nm, 64-bit Octa-core Processor
Qualcomm® Adreno™ 506
Memory and Storage Up to 4GB RAM
Up to 64GB storage
Main Rear Camera 13MP
f/1.8 aperture
26mm equivalent focal length in 35mm film camera
Phase-detection autofocus
LED flashAI Photography: 13-mode AI Scene Detection
Second Rear Camera 2MP
Depth sensing
Front Camera 8MP
f/2.0 aperture
26mm equivalent focal length in 35mm film camera
Softlight LED flash
Face Recognition
Video Recording 4K UHD (3840 by 2160) video recording for main rear camera
1080p FHD video recording at 30fps
720p HD video recording at 30fps
3-axis electronic image stabilization for rear camera
Take still photo while recording video
Wireless 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
Supports Wi-Fi Direct
DC-HSPA+: UL 5.76 Mbps / DL 42 Mbps
LTE Cat5 UL 75Mbps / Cat6 DL 300Mbps
Connectivity Bluetooth® V 4.2
Rear fingerprint security sensor with five-finger, 360° recognition, 0.3s unlock
SIM card and SD slot Triple slots with dual SIM, dual 4G + 4G standby
Slot 1: 2G/3G/4G Nano SIM Card
Slot 2: 2G/3G/4G Nano SIM Card Slot 3: supports up to 2TB microSD cardBoth SIM card slots support 3G WCDMA / 4G LTE network band. But only one SIM card can connect to 4G LTE service at a time.
OS Stock Android™ Oreo TM
Battery 4000mAh capacity
Colours Midnight Black
Space Blue
Meteor Silver

If you’re in Singapore and you’re looking to pick up either phone, well, you’re in luck. The Asus ZenFone Max Pro M2 (in Midnight Blue) and the ZenFone Max M2 (in Midnight Black) will be retailing online at Asus’ Lazada, Qoo10 and Shopee stores, at S$349 and S$239 respectively.