ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 — will the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) live up to its tagline?

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Let’s start off by saying that neither of these devices are gaming smartphones. In their respective families, ASUS has the incredibly overkill ROG Phone, while Xiaomi has the Black Shark, as their gaming smartphones.However the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is marketed with the tagline “Limitless Gaming” which should mean it has decent gaming chops, right? The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 shares most of the basic specifications with the ZenFone Max Pro (M1), and a lot of our readers requested us to compare these two very similarly specced devices. To satisfy everyone, as well as our own curiosity whether the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is a better gaming smartphone than its peers, this is our comparison between the ZenFone Max Pro (M1) vs Redmi Note 5. *cue standing ovation

Specifications

ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) Xiaomi Redmi Note 5
CPU/Chipset: Snapdragon 636 (4 x Kryo 260 @ 1.8 GHz + 4 x Kryo 260 @ 1.6 GHz), 14nm FinFET Snapdragon 636 (4 x Kryo 260 @ 1.8 GHz + 4 x Kryo 260 @ 1.6 GHz), 14nm FinFET
GPU: Adreno 509 Adreno 509
RAM: 3GB LPDDR4X 3GB LPDDR4X
Display: 6.0″, FHD+ (2160×1080) IPS display 5.99″ FHD+ (2160×1080), IPS display
Storage: 32GB eMCP 5.1 (expandable via microSD up to 2TB) 32GB eMMC 5.1 (expandable via microSD up to 128GB)
Camera: Main Camera(s)
13MP f/2.0, PDAF + 5MP depth detection sensor
Single LED flash, HDR, 4K video
Front Camera
8MP, Beauty mode, 85° FoV
Main Camera(s)
12MP f/1.9  IMX363 1.4μm + 5MP f/2.0 depth detection
Front Camera
13MP f/2.0, Beautify 4.0
OS: Pure Android 8.1 Oreo MIUI 9.5 based on Android 8.1 Oreo
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4 GHz)
Bluetooth 5.0
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 GHz + 5 GHz)
Bluetooth 5.0
SIM: Dual nanoSIM Dual nanoSIM (second SIM slot shared with microSD slot)
Battery: Li-ion 5000 mAh (non-removable) 4000 mAh (non-removable)
Weight: 180 g 181 g
Price: RM699 RM749

The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) comes up on top with a slightly bigger display and better support for expandable storage. We didn’t expect it to be actually lighter than the Redmi Note 5 with the bigger battery. Pure Android 8.1 Oreo gives the ZenFone Max Pro an edge here too, promising faster updates than MIUI 9.5. Both devices are actually running Android 8.1 Oreo, so we wouldn’t give the ZenFone Max Pro a direct win just yet. True dual SIM functionality is also an advantage you get with the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1), allowing you to use two SIMs and a microSD at the same time. The more affordable price tag of the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) also makes it the more palatable choice. The Redmi Note 5 doesn’t go down without a fight, as its 12MP IMX363 f/1.9 camera and 802.11ac WiFi are clearly better than the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1)’s 13MP camera and 2.4 GHz WiFi.

Gaming Experience

Brightness

After calibrating the brightness

Right off the bat, to get an accurate representation of our gaming battery life benchmarks which we will discuss later on, we noticed that with both devices set at 50% brightness, the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is way brighter than the Redmi Note 5. We had to reduce the the brightness on the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) so that both devices are at the same brightness before starting our benchmarks. Worth noting also is the ZenFone Max Pro (M1)’s display offers more saturated colors, while the the Redmi Note 5’s display is both less saturated and warmer.

At maximum brightness, both devices are pretty similar, with the Redmi Note 5 eking out just a bit more brightness than the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1). No idea why Xiaomi decided that 50% brightness should be less than half the maximum brightness.

Maximum settings

This is when we noticed yet another discrepancy. The Redmi Note 5 can’t do the higher settings that the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is capable of. In PUBG Mobile, the Redmi Note 5 caps off at Medium Frame Rate and Balanced Graphics.

A similar situation is noted in Arena of Valor (AOV), where the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro sports the High Frame Rate Mode for 60 fps gameplay, and the Redmi Note 5 is stuck at the standard 30 fps.

Despite such similar specifications, the Redmi Note 5 clearly lost this round, as any half-decent gamer will tell you that a higher frame rate not only makes the visuals smoother, but also helps you respond better to fast-paced in game situations.

Battery life

Here’s where we test the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1)’s endurance versus the Redmi Note 5. The similar hardware and larger battery of the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) should give it a clear win over the Redmi Note 5, but maybe MIUI’s optimizations will allow the Redmi Note 5 to make up for the difference in battery capacity?

To test, we played Free Fire, AoV, PUBG Mobile and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang for 1 hour each. The settings are fixed to equivalent settings on both devices.

As it stands, the ZenFone 5 Max Pro (M1) consumes up to 3% less battery per hour as compared to the Redmi Note 5 in most games. This metric is far from useful as a gauge of power consumption, but we can see that you will get much more gaming out of the ASUS ZenFone 5 Max Pro (M1) than you can out of the Redmi Note 5.

Here we extrapolate the data, assuming you will stop gaming at 10% battery and run to a charger. With up to 90% of the respective battery life to use for gaming, we calculated that you can play up to 10 hours of AoV, 9 hours of Free Fire and Mobile Legends or 7.5 hours of PUBG Mobile with the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1). Converting that into percentage yields a gain of between 25-33% more gaming time. The battery of the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is just 25% larger, which means that ASUS’ choice of going with Pure Android 8.1 Oreo may have paid off, with less background power consumption than MIUI 9.5. This allowed for up to 33% more gaming, with just 25% more battery.

Conclusion

Without any doubt left in us, ASUS has definitely delivered a smartphone that is indeed the better option for gaming than it’s peers in the same price range. We aren’t saying the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is perfect though, as 802.11ac WiFi would definitely help maintain a more stable connection especially when gaming in more crowded wireless environments. But for less than RM700, we really can’t think of a better smartphone for gaming. The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) delivers on its Limitless Gaming tagline, outperforming and outlasting its closest competitor, the Redmi Note 5 comfortably.