Asus Zenfone Max Plus impressions: An affordable 18:9 phone

MANILA, Philippines – Asus finally gets on board the 18:9 train with their first release for 2018, the Asus Zenfone Max Plus. It's their first phone with the longer, slimmer profile – a trend kickstarted by last year's LG G6, revved by the Samsung Galaxy S8, and later trickled down to more affordable offerings such as Vivo with their V7 and the Oppo F5. 

Add another letter here: X. Apple got in on the act too, with their iPhone X, possibly the most expensive among all the phones sporting said aspect ratio.  

On the opposite end of the spectrum lies the Zenfone Max Plus, quite possibly one of the more sensible 18:9 offerings right now, beyond the budget 18:9 units like the 7000-peso Cloudfone Next Infinity. 

We say so because the Max Plus offers a nice package overall. The matte metal body sandwiched by glossier-looking portions on the top and bottom give it some sophistication while avoiding becoming bland. It feels great in the hand: it fits snugly on an average Filipino's hand with its curved edges, and weighs just right that it doesn't feel cheap. 

The screen, a 5.7-inch 2160 x 1080 display, has rounded corners – a nice, little touch that adds to its visual appeal, as does the ASUS UI (user interface) with its slim fonts and appropriately sized icons and app names. 

Beyond the looks, it's great what ASUS has managed to pack inside this P12,000 (officially P11,995) phone: face and fingerprint unlocking, dual cameras (one standard, and one with a wider angle), dual-sim capabilities with a dedicated microSD card slot, and the ability to charge another phone like a powerbank.

Some dual-sim phones have a shared slot for a second sim and a microSD, which means you'd have to pick what to put in the slot. The Max Plus eliminates that problem. The powerbank feature is something we've seen from other ASUS phones, but it's great to see it here again, especially as the Max Plus calls itself the battery king with its 4,130 mAh battery. 

A wishlist for its next iteration: USB-C inclusion, and slimmer bezels. 

All that said, in this price range, it's certainly something to consider for anyone looking for an 18:9 phone. –

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.