ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2 Gaming Review

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ASUS’ ZenFone Max Pro M1 proved to be a decent gaming machine, can the ZenFone Max Pro M2 say the same?

ASUS is now regarded as a major player in the smartphone market, especially at the mid-range segment. Their ZenFone Max Pro M1 sold like hotcakes during the first week of its release, thanks to having respectable specs and a nice price tag. Even more so for hungry mobile gamers on a budget that craved a smartphone with big battery and decent gaming performance.

Fast forward to late 2018, ASUS released the M1’s successor — the ZenFone Max Pro M2, sporting the same heavy battery and competitive specs. Does it have what it takes to carry on the mantle of its predecessor? Let’s find out in our ZenFone Max Pro M2 gaming review.

asus zenfone max pro m2 gaming review

A smartphone’s gaming performance might be focused mostly on its CPU and GPU capabilities but you also have to take into account other factors such as its display and sound. After all, what is a smartphone that can game great but cannot provide an immersive experience. That’s why, while not overly important, display and audio quality still has bearing to overall gaming experience.

Display

asus zenfone max pro m2 gaming review

The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2 is rocking a 6.3-inch 19:9 aspect ratio FHD+ (2280 x 1080) IPS display. Despite having a 6-inch screen, the phone is able to maintain a smaller form factor thanks to that 19:9 aspect ratio. We’re also getting a lot more screen real estate. It’s a respectable display, with good color accuracy and reproduction. Even though it’s stretched due to the tall aspect ratio, game elements are still sharp and images are well presented.

Having such a tall aspect ratio does have its advantages. Since we have a lot more screen real estate, we get a more immersive experience. This is especially evident with games that have cinematics, cut-scenes, and whatnot. Overall, the display of the Max Pro M2 is satisfying and more than enough for your gaming needs.

Audio

asus zenfone max pro m2 gaming review

While the display is great overall, the same can’t be said for the smartphone’s speaker. The lone bottom mounted speaker produces hollow sounds with no noticeable lows and only decent mids and highs. It can go really loud though without losing too much clarity, so at least there’s that. Another caveat is that the speaker is small enough to be easily blocked by your fingers when gaming, effectively rendering the smartphone mute.

So we recommend placing the speaker at the upper right when the phone is held in landscape. This won’t be much of an issue for gamers who aren’t too particular with the audio of their devices. Yet it will hamper overall experience for games with great soundtracks. Don’t get as wrong, the speakers are still decent, it’ll just leave you wanting more.

General Performance

asus zenfone max pro m2 gaming review

The ZenFone Max Pro M2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 CPU with an Adreno 512 GPU, a common mid-range combo. To fully test its capabilities, we subjected it to synthetic benchmarks and multiple gaming sessions. We used AnTuTu to assess overall performance and to stress test the device and 3D mark as well as Geekbench 4 to check GPU performance. Here are the results:

  • AnTuTu — 130,458
  • Geekbench 4 — 5,168 (Compute Benchmark)
  • 3D Mark — 1,202 (Sling Shot Extreme – Open GL ES .31), 1,153 (Sling Shot Extreme – Vulkan)


These are respectable numbers in the mid-range segment.

As for the stress test, we noticed some fluctuations in performance during the 15-minute run. The M2’s CPU performance dropped to around 60-70% after a few minutes. This is actually acceptable as AnTuTu’s stress test doesn’t reflect real-world circumstances since you can rarely push your device to the brink.

This means we can assume that performance fluctuation can only go as low as 80% during heavy gaming, which is actually pretty good. We decided not to look into the CPU load and Core Clock speeds as it seems the data wasn’t properly recorded.

Gaming Performance

Alright, onto the juicy part — Gaming Performance. To test out how the Max Pro M2 handles gaming, we used GameBench on 9 different games. To get proper metrics we played these titles for 15-30 minutes each. We opted to keep graphics settings of games, with these options, at maximum to fully gauge the capabilities of the device. The Max Pro M2 can handle light games such as Homescapes and Candy Crush smoothly and without a problem. However, it begins to falter at some medium to heavy games.

As we can see with the low numbers on titles like Life After and Armello. Even so, the poor performance on the heavier games can easily be remedied by lowering graphics quality. This means that the device can definitely handle heavy games, at least at their lowest graphical settings. This is still better than not being able to run them at all. Although, there will be titles that the phone won’t be able to handle smoothly, like Armello, which has no option of lowering graphics quality. Still, we expect that the M2 can run most medium to heavy games out there.

Gaming Battery Life

We also tested how long the ZenFone Max Pro M2 can game. After all, it is boasting a 5,000mAh battery, which on paper is no slouch. Thankfully, it performed admirably and as expected on this regard. The device can easily log 6-14 hours of continuous gameplay based on GameBench’ metrics.

Even at the more demanding titles such as Life After and PUBG Mobile, it garnered 7 Hours and 13 minutes and 8 Hours and 27 minutes of estimated game time, respectively. Those are amazing numbers, to say the least. Remember, these titles have a lot of graphical options and at the highest settings, it can take a toll on battery life.

Vs. Huawei Mate 20 Pro

To have a better representation of how the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2 performs, we compared its scores to that of a high-end device — the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. Just to see how far it is from a device regarded as one of the best performers on the market.

Gaming Performance

We opted not to include the benchmark scores of the lighter games as these will guarantee similar results since both devices can easily run them smoothly. So, we focused on the more demanding and heavy titles. The difference in performance varies depending on the game. For titles without the option of lowering graphics quality, such as Mortal Kombat and Asphalt 9, the scores of the M2 and the Mate 20 Pro aren’t too far apart or even similar.

There is, however, and as expected, a large gap in games such as Life After and PUBG Mobile. This means, the only time the ZenFone Max Pro M2 suffers a performance gap is with titles that have more flexibility in graphics options. Overall though, it performed valiantly against the Mate 20 Pro.

Gaming Battery Life

It’s a different story when it comes to gaming battery life. The ZenFone Max Pro M2 with it’s 5,000mAh pack outshines the Mate 20 Pro’s smaller, yet still respectable, 4,200mAh battery. The difference is actually huge despite the meager 800mAh gap. The ZenFone Max Pro M2, as we’ve seen earlier, averages at around 6-10 hours of game time while the Mate 20 Pro only averages at around 3-6 hours.

Thermals

To check out the ZenFone Max Pro M2’s thermals, we used GameBench’s metrics for battery temps and manually checked peak temperatures with AnTuTu’s checker. As reflected with the fluctuations we noticed earlier during AnTuTu’s stress test, the thermals of the M2 is at normal levels and won’t reach points of throttling.

The highest recorded temperature of its battery is at 41°, while for the CPU it’s at 49° (stress test). External temps are also controlled, as the only part that heats up during prolonged gameplay was at the back of the device along the area of the fingerprint scanner. There is noticeable warmth though not enough to be of a discomfort.

Verdict

asus zenfone max pro m2 gaming review

The ZenFone Max Pro M2 definitely lives up to the name and mantle of its predecessor, even improving on it. It provides an immersive gameplay experience thanks to its overall good and large display and it performs admirably at games with maintained thermals. However, what impressed us the most is its battery life. With about 6-14 hours of game time, the device is truly a gamer’s on-the-go buddy.

The only caveat is the speakers, while it provides strong audio, the quality leaves something to be desired. Yet, despite that fact, the ZenFone Max Pro M2 is still an amazing mid-range gaming machine. Especially with its very enticing starting price of Php 12,995 (~$246).

Specs

SpecificationASUS ZenFone Max Pro M2
Display6.3-inch FHD+ IPS display @ 2280 x 1080px
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 660 1.95GHz octa-core
GPUAdreno 512
RAM4/6GB RAM
Storage64GB
Rear CameraDual 12MP Sony IMX486 F1.8 + 5MP
Front Camera13MP F2.0
SIMDual-nano
Connectivity4G LTE, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 5.0
GPSGPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, QZSS
Security- Fingerprint Scanner
- Face Unlock
OSAndroid 8.1 Oreo (Upgradable to Android Pie)
Battery5,000mAh battery with flash charge
PricingCosmic Titanium (6GB/64GB) -- Php 14,995 (~$284)
Midnight Blue (6GB/64GB) -- Php 14,995 (~$284)
Midnight Blue (4GB/64GB) -- Php 12,995 (~$246)

We would like to thank the following:

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