The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review) and Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (Review) are two of the most in-demand budget smartphones in the market right now. Both feature large batteries, 18:9 displays, dual rear cameras, and Android 8.1 Oreo. We have already compared the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro with the 3GB variant of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 and now we are pitting it against the recently launched variant with 6GB of RAM, which also features upgraded cameras, and carries the same Rs. 14,999 price tag.
In our earlier matchup, Xiaomi's phone came out on top in terms of battery life and camera quality. Can the new 6GB variant of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 change that result? We spent some time comparing the two smartphones in detail and here is what we found.
With similar dimensions, 18:9 displays, vertically stacked dual camera setups at the rear, and rear-mounted fingerprint sensors, these two smartphones bear more than a passing resemblance to each other. The Redmi Note 5 Pro is made entirely out of aluminium. In contrast, the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 has a metal backplate with plastic inserts at the top and bottom.
Both smartphones are a bit too tall to be used comfortably with one hand. However, they are built well and feel reassuringly solid in the hand. The ZenFone Max Pro M1's back is a huge fingerprint magnet, but the camera module barely protrudes from the chassis. The Redmi Note 5 Pro, on the other hand, has a considerable camera bump but does not pick up fingerprints thanks to its matte finish. The fingerprint sensors are similar in terms of accuracy, but the one on the Redmi Note 5 Pro is slightly faster.
At a time when the industry is transitioning towards USB Type-C, both smartphones are equipped with Micro-USB ports for charging and data transfer.
Both phones are powered by the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor. We are comparing the 4GB variant of the Redmi Note 5 Pro with the recently launched 6GB variant of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 because both are priced at Rs. 14,999. Both feature 64GB of storage and allow storage expansion using a microSD card. The Redmi Note 5 Pro accepts cards of up to 256GB while the ZenFone Max Pro M1 can handle cards of up to 2TB capacity.
The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 has a 5000mAh battery and the Redmi Note 5 has a smaller, but still impressive, 4,000mAh unit. The SIM tray on the ZenFone Max Pro M1 has separate slots for two Nano-SIMs and a microSD card. In contrast, the hybrid dual-SIM tray of the Redmi Note 5 Pro forces you to choose between a microSD card and a second SIM.
Connectivity options on both phones include 4G VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, GPS/ A-GPS, Bluetooth 5.0, and a 3.5mm headphone socket. Both the ZenFone Max Pro M1 and Redmi Note 5 Pro support dual 4G VoLTE. The Redmi Note 5 Pro recently received this feature with its Android 8.1 update.
Both smartphones have 5.99-inch full-HD+ 18:9 displays with no notches but quite substantial bezels. The panel on the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 is bright and punchy, and has vivid colours. The Redmi Note 5 Pro's display has better viewing angles but appears dull and washed out in comparison.
There is very little to differentiate between the two smartphones in terms of performance. Both handle basic tasks such as taking pictures, browsing the Web, and using social media applications with ease, and do not struggle with intensive workloads either. In our testing, both phones handled heavy games like the recently launched Asphalt 9 without any dropped frames or stutters, and did not heat up too much when pushed. Benchmark scores were more or less identical, which means that while the ZenFone Max Pro M1's additional RAM might be felt with regular use, 4GB vs 6GB doesn't make a huge difference to synthetic tests.
With the ZenFone Max Pro M1, Asus has ditched its custom ZenUI skin in favour of a near-stock build of Android 8.1 Oreo. The software is fluid and snappy, and UI animations are butter-smooth. There are a few preloaded apps including Facebook and Go2Pay, which cannot be removed by users.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro runs Android 8.1 Oreo, with Xiaomi's MIUI 9.5 custom skin on top. MIUI is is amongst the most responsive Android skins and is loaded with nifty features such as Dual Apps, which lets you run a second instance of any app with a second account, and Second Space, which lets you configure a secondary user profile. That said, it is still not as clean and fluid as stock Android and there are quite a lot of apps pre-installed, only some of which can be removed by users.
Asus has informed Gadgets 360 that it intends to update the ZenFone Max Pro M1 till at least Android Q. The Redmi Note 5 Pro recently received an update to Android 8.1 Oreo but there is no information as of now regarding an Android Pie update, which should roll out at some stage, given Xiaomi's past record.
Both phones support face recognition, but the Redmi Note 5 Pro is a little bit faster. As with all face recognition systems that rely on the front camera, both speed and accuracy take a hit in unfavourable light.
In our HD video loop battery test, the 6GB variant of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 lasted 12 hours and 50 minutes, and the Redmi Note 5 Pro lasted an impressive 16 hours and 10 minutes. In terms of real-world performance, the ZenFone Max Pro M1 had a slight edge. Asus's smartphone had about 50 percent left in the tank at the end of a typical workday, compared to about 40 percent with the Redmi Note 5 Pro.
The 6GB variant of the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 features a 16-megapixel primary rear camera with an aperture of f/2.0, alongside a secondary 5-megapixel depth sensor. On the front, the smartphone has a 16-megapixel selfie camera with an aperture of f/2.0. The Redmi Note 5 Pro also has a dual camera setup at the rear, comprised of a 12-megapixel primary sensor with an aperture of f/2.2 and a 5-megapixel secondary sensor with an aperture of f/2.0. On the front, it has a 20-megapixel f/2.2 camera that can capture portrait shots using Xiaomi's AI learning algorithms.
The 16-megapixel primary sensor on the 6GB variant of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 is a step above the 13-megapixel camera found in the lower variants of the smartphone. It captures more detail, especially in unfavourable light, and renders colours more accurately.
The Redmi Note 5 Pro still has a slight edge when it comes to outdoor shots. Its rear camera captures slightly more detail and has better dynamic range. In low light though, the ZenFone Max Pro M1 manages to edge out the Redmi Note 5 Pro with more detail, less noise, and better colour accuracy.
Portrait shots taken by both smartphones are average at best. The ZenFone Max Pro M1 fares better when it comes to edge detection, and the gradients between a subject and its background are also slightly smoother. Asus' offering struggles to focus on objects that are close to the lens; an issue that gets exacerbated in portrait mode.
The front camera of the ZenFone Max Pro M1 captures more detail in unfavourable light but images look a little dull. In favourable light, the Redmi Note 5 Pro's sensor fares better, but shots are a bit too warm for our taste. The front camera also has a depth mode, which uses Xiaomi's AI learning algorithms for edge detection, and works reasonably well.
Video recording maxes out at 1080p for the Redmi Note 5 Pro, while the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 can go up to 4K UHD. The Redmi Note 5 Pro fares better in this regard as the ZenFone Max Pro M1 exhibits a lot of focus shifting and lacks any sort of stabilisation, which results in shaky footage.
The ZenFone Max Pro M1's camera app is confusing and cluttered, with basic controls like the flash toggle buried within menus. The camera app on the Redmi Note Pro in comparison is much more logically laid out.
When we compared the Redmi Note 5 Pro with the 3GB variant of the ZenFone Max Pro M1, Xiaomi's smartphone had clear advantages in terms of battery life and the rear cameras. With the 6GB variant of the ZenFone Max Pro M1, Asus has made noticeable improvements, especially when it comes to real-world battery life and low-light camera performance.
Compared to the 4GB variant of the Redmi Note 5 Pro (Review), the ZenFone Max Pro M1 (6GB) (Review) offers a few improvements, such as a dedicated micro-SD card slot, more RAM, a cleaner software package, a brighter and punchier display, and the same level of performance. Xiaomi's smartphone does have its advantages though, such as a full-metal body and faster face recognition, but that isn't enough to for it to retain its top spot anymore. The sheer value for money offered by the 6GB variant of the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 cannot be denied.