ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life
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ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life

Introduction

The “Max” series of ASUS has been applauded for its amazing battery life, without too much power consumption. As the company acknowledged it, they still releasing smartphones with high battery capacity. Now, the ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1), which was unveiled here last January has been received high anticipation due to its notable physical design and build compared to the previous models. This phone is the first from the Taiwanese company to pack an 18:9 aspect ratio, in a narrower display.

Being marketed as the “Battery King”, we expect that this will also perform very well, not just the battery, but also the performance, the camera, and other aspects. Will the ZenFone Max Plus kicks in for budget-centered masses? Let us find out.

Key specs:

  • 5.7-inch FHD+ IPS LCD display, 2160 X 1080 resolution, 424 ppi
  • Android 7.0 “Nougat”, ZenUI 4.0
  • Dual-SIM, dual standby
  • 1.5Ghz 64-bit MediaTek MT6750T octa-core processor
  • Mali-T860 GPU
  • 32GB internal storage
  • Expandable microSD slot up to 256GB
  • 4GB RAM
  • Dual 16-megapixel and 8-megapixel rear cameras, phase detection auto-focus with LED flash
  • 8-megapixel rear camera, screen flash
  • 1080p at 30fps of video recording
  • Face Unlock
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 4G LTE (Category 4)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • GPS, with A-GPS, GALILEO
  • USB-OTG capable
  • microUSB 2.0 connector
  • 152.6 x 72.7 x 8.8 mm
  • 160 grams
  • 4,130 mAh non-removable battery

Unboxing

Display and build

The ASUS ZenFone Max Plus features a distinct design, having the FHD+ resolution with 18:9 screen-to-body ratio on its 5.7-inch IPS panel that gives a decent display quality. The solid build class is what makes the phone looks comfortable, with round edges on all sides, and has a really nice finish nature. The screen size, matched on its weight is somewhat surprising when taking the device to use it on outside. It has a better feel in our hands, the build is compelling and the buttons were not wobbled.

Audio quality

The 5-magnet speaker of the phone is enough to play music in a small room without significant distortions. As we play some audio streaming sites like Spotify and Deezer, the music lacks bass though it can adapted by several preset profiles for audio enhancement. Having a pair of earbuds or Bluetooth speaker maintains a balanced sound quality.

Software & UI

The now one-year and two-month-old Android 7.1.1 “Nougat” serves as the operating system in the device, preloaded by the ZenUI 4.0. This is similar to what we’ve encountered with the Zenfone 4 models. There’s no app drawer on the screen, but swiping up will show all the applications installed, with some of the pre-loaded like the Mobile Manager and Power Master.

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life

Swiping down reveals the notification panel and quick toggles with the brightness slider. Broadly speaking, the Zen UI (for us) is one of the most beautiful user interfaces, with a high customization that can easily adjust the icon sizes, fonts, themes, and scroll effects.

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life

The on-screen buttons are here, and there’s an option to change the layout. Further, “Twin Apps” feature is a great part of the software as it clones certain applications. For example, if the user has two accounts on Facebook, Twin Apps allows it to simultaneously log two different accounts of the same social media platform.

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life

Performance

The ASUS Zenfone Max Plus is equipped with an 8-core SoC, the 64-bit MediaTek MT6750T, a mid-tier chipset which is manufactured in a 28 nm process. On board, we have the Mali-T860 for graphics and the 4GB of RAM. Applications ran smoothly, including some of the heavily installed applications like Facebook and Messenger.

We didn’t experience any lags while using the phone for more than 6 hours of straight use. Running the browser is very likable as the content loads fast, though some stutters when scrolling sites. In terms of gaming, the Mali-T860 graphics unit can handle most of the highly demanding games effortlessly and can run 3D games too without any trouble. Check out some benchmark scores below:

Antutu:          55,164
Geekbench:
Single-core               436
Multi-core            2.168
Renderscript               693
Vellamo:
Multi-core            1,956
Metal            1,106
Ice Storm Extreme:            6,499
Sling Shot Extreme:               373

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life

Camera

The rear-facing dual camera on the ASUS Zenfone Max Plus features a 16-megapixel sensor with f/2.0 aperture and 0.03 seconds of PDAF, plus an 8-megapixel with 120° wide-angle sensor that provides 200% wider view. It also allows video recording for 1080p at 30 fps. The front camera is furnished with an 8-megapixel lens too, with f/2.0 aperture and 85° field of view.

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life

Images look nice on the 5.7-inch display, providing a good amount of light. As normal with other phones, lots of noise are expected for lower light conditions. Color accuracy is okay, while the sharpness is nevertheless decent for a mid-range device. Selfies are quite acceptable, but the sharpness reproduction does not fare generally well in our tests. The wide variety of camera modes are available, such as the Beauty, Pro, Super-resolution (up to 64MP), GIF Animation, Panorama and Time Lapse. On the front, there are only four PixelMaster modes: Beauty (with different levels of blemishing or whitening the skin), Auto (with HDR capability), Selfie Panorama and GIF Animation.

Rear camera

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life
Zenny (Normal shot)
ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life
Zenny (HDR shot)
ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life
Zenny (Flash on)
ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life
Normal shot
ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life
Wide-angle
ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life
Hallway (Indoor)
ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life
Foodie (soup)
ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life
Long exposure (Pro mode)

Front camera

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life
Selfie
ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life
Selfie (‘bokeh’)
ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life
Group selfie (indoor)
ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life
Group selfie (outdoor)

Connectivity

The Wi-Fi reception that supports 802.11 b/g/n standards is good and most of the times, it is stable. Bluetooth v4.0 is supported as well for wireless connection. ASUS Zenfone Max Plus is a dual-SIM smartphone that supports multiple bands on both 2G, 3G and 4G networks. LTE speed can handle theoretically up to 50 Mbps of upload and 150 Mbps for download transfer rates. The compatibility of LTE bands may vary per country or region. For location, the GPS supports some main navigation satellite systems, including the A-GPS and GLONASS. It has a sufficient quality to locate our position.

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life

Battery Life

The runtime on the battery’s expectancy is nice. But, the 4,100 mAh falls behind other smartphones with smaller battery capacity. One of the factors is the 28 nm process on the chipset versus other alternatives. In spite of that, the power management helps the device to maintain the long-runner usage time. It scored only 8 hours and 41 minutes in the PC Mark battery benchmark test. Using the supplied 5V-2A power supply, the phone’s empty battery needs less than 2 hours for recharging.

ASUS ZenFone Max Plus (M1) Review: A fashionable frameless device with long battery life

The app called “PowerMaster” helps the phone to conserve battery by monitoring on what applications are running in the background. There are nine features to be considered: 2X Lifespan to extend the battery’s life drastically, Reverse Charging that allows charging of other devices using an OTG cable, Scan for optimization, Auto-start Manager to help the user which apps should closely always close while not running, Battery Modes that offers fives modes for battery saving capabilities, Boost to clear the background applications, Power-safe Technology to know that the Zenfone batteries are one of the safest smartphones batteries worldwide, Battery-Saving Options, and Battery Usage to show the detailed statistics on the phone per charge.

Verdict

The budget cost of the ASUS Zenfone Max Plus is somewhat good, despite having some shortcomings. Battery life is amazing but not stellar. The numbers don’t really fit on its tagline. On the other hand, it can be used for a whole day without needing it to charge. Otherwise, if the user is really a heavy gamer, then a power back might help.

Other features including the display are quite impressive, using the IPS panel with contrast and color accuracy being the good pinpoint on the category. Cameras were able us to capture decent photo quality. Same goes for the front camera. Overall, the ASUS Zenfone Max Plus appeals to be a very good handset, especially for the users who like to have narrower bezels in a big display device.

Pros

  • Stylish design
  • Build quality
  • Dedicated microSD slot
  • Large amount of RAM
  • Decent performance
  • Tons of camera modes
  • Respectable battery life
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Affordable price tag

Cons

  • Mediocre speakers
  • Battery life is not what we expected

  • Display4.5
  • Performance3.8
  • Audio4.0
  • Camera3.8
  • Battery Life4.3
  • Price4.3
4.1Overall Score

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