The Asus ZenFone Max Plus M1 is a stunning budget phone

What’s more impressive than fitting a bunch of tech inside of a smartphone? Doing it in flagship-quality style for a price that more can afford. 

Asus has done just that with its ZenFone Max Plus M1, which not only debuted today at MWC 2018, but is now available in the US for $229 (about £164, AU$291) in Azure Silver and Deepsea Black colors.

In terms of standout features, the low cost is certainly one of them. But it also packs in a 5.7-inch 18:9 aspect ratio display with its palm-friendly 5.2-inch chassis. A bigger screen is usually always a good thing, and thankfully, it won’t be too much of a drain on this phone thanks to its large 4,130mAh battery.

A mid-range contender

Asus’ smartphone efforts of late have stepped up to consumer demands for cleaner design, both inside and out. As a result, Zen UI is closer than ever to stock Android – this phone launches Android Nougat – and its build matches with a clean look that doesn’t try too hard to make a statement.

Stocked with a mid-range MediaTek chipset, the octa-core MT6750T (roughly on par with middle of the road Qualcomm processors, like Snapdragon 625), 3GB of RAM tossed in should keep things running quite smoothly. While likely not to be the best option for intensive gaming, it should hold a steady clip with most apps and games.

The ZenFone Max Plus M1 could be a competent camera phone, too, with a dual-lens setup on the rear that can shoot low-light photos at f/2.0 aperture and wide-angle photos.

Rounding things off, Asus ticks the necessary boxes with a fingerprint sensor and dual SIM slot with microSD capability. We’ll be reviewing this phone soon, so keep it locked to see if it makes a shake-up in our list of 2018’s best cheap phones.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2018 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.

Cameron Faulkner

Cameron is a writer at The Verge, focused on reviews, deals coverage, and news. He wrote for magazines and websites such as The Verge, TechRadar, Practical Photoshop, Polygon, Eater and Al Bawaba.