The ZenFone Max M2 has a 13MP f1.8 rear camera with a 2MP depth sensor and an 8MP f2.0 front camera. The cameras are different compared to both the Max M1 models as well as the Max Pro M2 model.
Starting with the camera app, the Max M2 comes with a very basic version of the app that you get on other ASUS phones. It's similar to the one on the Max Pro M2 and better than what we had on the Max M1 but these stock Android devices from ASUS always get these different, worse camera apps even though there's nothing stopping ASUS from putting their standard ZenUI app on these devices, or at least putting some effort into these apps.
It's not that this camera app is lacking some crucial feature, but it's the way it's designed is what makes it look like an Android camera app from five years ago. Even then some phones had a better-designed app. And if the dated menus and iconography wasn't an issue, there are some glaring problems like the autofocus indicator appearing in the center of the screen. But the viewfinder is not in the center of the screen, which means the AF indicator appears on the right side of the frame, which looks comically bad.
The biggest criticism of the camera app by far is how slow it is to react to everything. Tap any button to change something and there's a half second delay before the phone realizes you did something and reacts to it. For a while, it feels as if the phone didn't react to your touch at all, and that, too, happens every once in a while, but other times it just feels that way as the phone eventually comes around and does what you asked it to.
The bottom line with this app is that it is in dire need of a redesign or at least performance optimization.
In terms of image quality, the rear camera on the Max M2 is above-average. The color accuracy is good, with natural looking colors and a good white balance. The autofocus is fast and works reliably well. And the images shot indoors come out perfectly usable.
However, the camera has a disastrously bad dynamic range and routinely blows out highlights in the frame to the point where many objects just become invisible. The saving grace, however, is the HDR mode, which works really well to recover highlights and also fill in shadow detail. However, the HDR images do lack some of the vibrancy of normally shot images so it's not the best idea to leave it on all the time, no matter how tempting it might be.
The camera also has a night mode that does nothing apart from draining even more color from the image and making it largely unusable.
The portrait mode works surprisingly well with objects and the overall results come out quite well. In the picture with the elephant, you can see it even managed to blur out the spaces between the pillars at the bottom correctly. You get a little slider before shooting to adjust the depth of field. The shots you see here were shot at the default medium level but you could dial it up or down as you please. There's no way to adjust it after the image has been shot, however.
The phone is capable of recording 4K video at 30fps. You can also record in 1080p at the same frame rate and the reason you'd want to do that is that the electronic stabilization does not work in 4K. The camera app also has the option to mute audio, which is a feature we wish more phones had.
The 4K video quality would have been good if there wasn't so much stuttering throughout the video, making it completely unwatchable. The 1080p video is perfectly smooth in comparison, although it's obviously not as sharp. The image stabilization also crops a big chunk out of the video, making the frame rather small but it does work quite well so we'd still recommend leaving it on. Until ASUS manages to fix the 4K mode, this is pretty much just a good 1080p camera.