Zenfone Max M2 woos mid-price phone buyers with premium features.
The dizzying pace with which new smartphones hit the market, reminds one of media guru Marshall McLuhan's mantra: 'If it works, it's obsolete'. But there is an upside to this frantic upgrade of technology, best expressed with another adage: Patience is a virtue. If your mouth salivates at some new feature like AI-assisted shake-free photos or multiple cameras to iron out any flaws, while your purse is not up to the asking price -- just wait. In a few months, the tech will trickle down to a more affordable price band.
ASUS is a past master at this particular effect -- and in the last few weeks of the year it has launched no less than 5 variants of its Zenfone Max M2 family of phones, with prices in the Rs 10,000 to Rs 16,000 range, but features that were touted by much costlier options a few months ago.
We have been trying out the top end of this mini-series, the Zenfone Max Pro M2 which has three options, a 3GB RAM model with 32GB of storage for Rs 12,999; a 4GB/64GB for Rs 14,999 and a 6GB/64GB for Rs 16,999. All three variants go as far as one can go today with add-on micro SD cards -- 2 TB -- more than most desktop PCs today.
Anyone investing in such insanely huge storage can be expected to be a fiend of a user -- and ASUS recognizes this by putting in a 5000 mAh battery -- good to go for almost 2 full days. Dual 4G VoLTE SIMs are supported, the OS is unfettered Android 8.1 and an upgrade to Android 9 Pie is promised in early 2019.
The front dual camera has 12MP and 5MP lenses with some clever stabilisation tech to compensate for shaky hands as well as AI-assisted scene recognition that was a USP of the company's high-end handsets -- till now. The front selfie camera is a 13MP clicker that can shoot full HD video. The 6.3-inch display is full 1080p HD to match, that at a 19:9 aspect ratio, ekes out the maximum viewing area.
The Max Pro M2 is available from December 18, while a slightly more affordable Max M2 costing Rs 9,999 to Rs 11,999 with a marginally lesser camera and RAM, goes on sale two days later.
We were interested to see the extent to which ASUS has Indianised the look and feel: when you switch on for the first time the screen pops up with "Suswagatham" in Devanagari and -- a selector for Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and Urdu as the operating language. English is just one option --not the default. And conceding that 'we are like that only', the 5-element speakers belt out really loud volume -- if you choose Swagatham to that!