Chinese manufacturers are disrupting the mobile industry across the world, not only they have managed to make affordable products, but the quality has been improved and you can certainly mark them as premium smartphones with such high-end specs and built materials usage. Though, they’re not as inexpensive they used to be, but that is justified by the premium quality you get. But offering those smartphones at even an affordable range of pricing is a smart move by Chinese mobile brands.
One such brand is the Meizu, which has recently announced its latest flagship, the MX5. All you will notice at the first looks about this device is how beautiful and sleek it is. We have been testing the device for quite a time now. This is our detailed review of the same. Let’s start.
Metal built smartphones are in the trend these days among the big brands, and that’s when Meizu thought why their consumers should also have access to such lightweight and beautiful design. Though, company hasn’t changed its design from the last iteration, the MX4, but we certainly see quite the changes in terms of the buttons placement. Like Volume rocker keys and the power button has been shifted to the right edge, which is still the ideal place to keep those functions there only. Many other brands have tried to experiment, but we haven’t liked them at all, such as MX4 has a power button on the top edge, volume keys on the left edge.
The all-metal design has been touted by the company a lot during its launch in Beijing, and we think that it was quite an establishment, the metal gives a premium look. Moreover, it is quite light on hand for a large screen size device. The metal body frame carries a weight of 21 g, which is almost one-seventh the overall weight of the device.
But we felt that even the company’s claimed five times coating on the metal body doesn’t help, as within a usage of two weeks, we witnessed scratch marks on the back of the device. Meizu may have achieved the perfect coloring on the metal body of the MX5, but it couldn’t stop the device from getting scratched. The back is not fingerprint prone while the front of the device would catch some smudges.
Talking further about the ports placements, you’ll see the speakers are placed on the bottom edge, which apparently are stereo speakers, and we liked what heard out of them. The most interesting addition on this new iteration was the Fingerprint scanner, which is according to the company an upgrade from what they added to their MX4 Pro model. The mTouch 2.0 do feel like a very easy operation and efficient feature, as it is quite quick in recognizing the fingerprints. While we can’t comment on whether it is an improvement from first version of mTouch or not, but we definitely can say that if you compare it with other devices like Samsung Galaxy S6 and Apple iPhone 6, then it is quite the responsive feature considering the price point it comes with.
The display on MX5 is of 1080p, which is a comfortable resolution among the flagship smartphones these days. Though, we would have liked to see the 2K display since it is 5.5-inch screen size, but nonetheless, even at 401 PPI the screen has the good picture output. People should be more concerned with saturation, white balance and sunlight legibility than a PPI count on a display.
The company claims that its display on MX5 offers a wide visual angle, which is close to 90 degrees. Though, it was not that good at those angles, but we still liked how the colors looked very precise at most of the visible angles. Moreover, the auto-brightness sensor was quick at adapting the conditions, so that I don’t have to adjust the brightness levels manually.
Enjoying a full HD movie would’ve been real good, but only if the battery drainage were not an issue. This time company has used the AMOLED screen, which is a good display technology over the IPS panel. The contrast ratio on this display is quite high at 10,000 : 1 while it was 1100: 1, which actually makes quite a sense as the brightness levels are quite impressive when you are browsing through your phone under sunlight.
Chinese manufacturers these days not only focus on offering better-built quality on their handset, but we have noticed that among recent launches, vendors are also improving the software experiences on their smartphones. Such is the case with Flyme OS 4.5 which comes on the MX5. Based on Android Lollipop 5.0.1 the operating system on the device won’t remind you any kind of material design that is found on the Lollipop OS. It was more like a mixture of best elements of iOS and Android fusion on one interface.
There are not tons of bloatware pre-installed on the device, but only the essential apps and services, which can be accessed on the home page only, since there is no app drawer present on the interface. Though, many Android users don’t like to have a UI without app drawer, as it gets messy on the home screen and if you’re a power user, then there would be many apps, and it won’t be easy to sort out those.
Moreover, there is no capacitive buttons such as menu and back buttons, instead company has made a one physical button available, where you can swipe left or right to go back/exit an app, as well as you can use it as a power ON/OFF button. To open the recent menu, you can just swipe up from the bottom of the screen, although you have to make sure you’re either swiping from left or right but not from the center of the button.
Talking about the internal storage on the device, we have the 16GB unit available with us and out of that around 10GB was available for the user, which was not enough for us. That’s why we tried plugging OTG drive to the microUSB port on the device, and it was able to detect the drive. While this is not the best storage solutions, but it is as far as you get in terms of the storage since the microSD card expansion is not available. When running 5-6 large apps in the background, there was still around 1GB of RAM available for use, which means that you can still open a lot of apps and switch between them.
Though, we were not happy with the UX experience that we have been through within these couple of weeks. There are many things that we eventually end up disliking about the operating system on the MX5. While the UI has been made to look all smooth and clean, we find that there was no option to organize my contacts, as all the emails and phone contacts were available in one list. Now it is not easy to find a specific contact out of a 5000 contacts list. Every time I have to scroll down the list or have to search for it, either way it was not convenient and non-intuitive as well.
The apps seem to be crashing all the times while we didn’t think that it was an application’s default, but more of how the interface is buggy, or maybe because of the fact that it runs on 5.0.1 version of Android Lollipop. Either way, we were not happy with the UX. There were many more occasions when the app crashing shouldn’t be tolerated, like when I was on the call, the Phone Dialer would crash, and OS would ask to close the app, saying it’s not responding. Now tell me, if you’re on an important call and this happens to you, wouldn’t one get displeased.
The most annoying thing was that even after updating apps from Google Play Store, the notification to update the same apps has been popping up after every few mins. It is understandable if that happens one time, but if it happens every time some apps needs to be updated, then it’s not a one-time error its a big bug that is present on the Flyme OS.
Moreover, if you see tons of notifications coming, there should be a simple swipe button that should make some content visible in the notification panel itself, this being the basic feature of Android OS, and not implemented on the Flyme OS is not comforting.
The performance is the most important part of any smartphone, and if you’re a power user, then it would be the one of the things that should be powerful on your device. The Helio X10 comes from the high-end chipset series announced by MediaTek earlier this year. Packing some amazing strength in those Octa-Cores, X10 is the most powerful and costliest chipset we have ever come across. One variant of the SoC first came with HTC One M9 Plus and later with One ME too.
The company might be thinking that it was clever of them to use this processor instead of going with any other options in the market. If you’re aware of the demise of Snapdragon 810 chipset, then you would know about it. The heating issue also prevails on the device, not just while playing a game for few minutes, but even when the device was in standby mode at night. Whenever I tried picking up the phone from the desk after a couple of hours during standby mode, I noticed the heating was unusually high.
Talking the benchmarks, the device score 45695 in Antutu test while the Vellamo score for Mulit-core speed was 2258 and chrome browser test was 2057. All these numbers are sometime meaning less, but they give the idea about the theoretical performance numbers. The Octa-core processor allowed device to go long distance when playing games, as we didn’t noticed a lag even in games like Asphalt and Dead Trigger 2. Though, the heating issue was always present there.
We did the browsing test on the default browser of the device and were satisfied with the experience we got. The Zoom-in and Zoom-out were quick and responsive, as we didn’t have to wait for the site to load, we were able to move around on the website pretty easily. While the same can be said of the browsing experience on the Chrome browser, as it was a smooth ride.
The addition of Fingerprint scanner has made this device rank among some of the elite class of smartphones. Talking about the operations of fingerprint scanner, it was quite impressive as it handle fingerprint scanning easily. There was no occasion that it was not able to detect my fingerprint. We have used this feature on Apple iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S6, and those devices set the benchmark for quality. At the end of the day, we felt you can’t get a better fingerprint scanning feature on a $300 device than what Meizu has offered on its MX5. It is worth noticing that this is the improved version of what Meizu used it on its MX4 Pro smartphone, this fingerprint scanner is called mTouch 2.0 and it comes with good upgrades.
The Meizu MX5 packs a massive 20.7MP rear camera, and that big camera module won’t disappoint you. While the last iteration, MX4, sported dual-tone LED flash, the new flagship come packed with two tones LED Flash and laser aided-focus. That being said, we think it has worked out for the company, as the laser aided-focus is quite fast. While I think there is no better camera than LG G4 in terms of fast and sharp captures, but this does offer a competitive result.
Though, we didn’t like the color reproduction in some captures while it was the constant case in terms of video shots taken by MX5’s rear camera. The module can take video recording of up to 4K, and there are not many $300 smartphones that can offer such camera features. So, you can think of the camera module as its USP.
The low light captures are also pretty good, on top of that you can use HDR, and other modes like manual mode, it improves the low light outputs quite well. You can increase the ISO and exposure, as well as adjust various other levels to make the output look much better.
Talking about the camera app, it is quite straightforward, and would be familiar as well, because of its design since it takes some elements from iOS camera app. You just need to swipe on the screen right or left to change the modes. The menu button would lead you to control the options available on the camera app. While you can tap the second icon from the left in bottom row to use the several effects, or if you want to switch the camera to front, then tap on icon alongside menu button would lead you to that.
The front camera is unique on this device as it is an Auto-focus module, meaning you can change the focus object when taking captures from front 5MP camera. The large aperture, f/2.0, allows the camera to capture photos instantly. We tried to use the front camera in natural and low light, and were satisfied with the captures. Moreover, it comes FotoNation 2.0, in short it is an improved beautification feature, which would virtually do the make-up of you face/object.
In terms of Slow motion capture, it isn’t the iPhone 6, but against 240fps on Apple device it offers recording with 100fps, which is not bad at all. We tested this too and liked that at least the video quality was of 720p.
3150mAh battery and no 2K Display here? One would assume that MX5 might be having quite a good battery life. But that’s not the case here, and we have stats to prove so. During the first day of usage I thought it was my heavy usage that led to emptying the battery life too quick. But after using it for more than two weeks as a primary phone I realized that the combination of Helios X10 and the 3150mAh capacity battery is not a good combo.
The battery runs out quickly even when the phone is in idle state. For instance, the battery went from 100% to about 80% in the idle state of almost 6-8 hours during the night, which is never a good sign for an Android smartphone. This makes the standby time of MX5 amongst the worst in the flagship devices.
Apart from the basic power saver mode, which does nothing to increase the battery life duration, there is no extreme mode available on the device at the time of emergencies. Like if you’re running low on battery and would be happy to use only calling and texting facilities on your phone. Though, such feature is not an option on the MX5.
But to balance out at least certain things, there is a Quick Charging option available on the device if the power input is near your surroundings. Though, people wouldn’t like to carry their charger whe they’re travelling. The Quick charging support promises 25% of charge within 10 minutes and up to 60% charge within 40 minutes.
In terms of connectivity, you’ll see a plethora of options here, as the device supports dual SIM, and what’s interesting is that both the nano-SIM cards support 4G LTE. Though, the 4G network on both can only run if you have a universal firmware version installed on the device. We test the 4G speeds available in our location and thought it was good, as we got less numbers while using a 4G Data on Samsung Galaxy S6.
Talking about the Wi-Fi speed on the MX5, it was quite good as it supports the fastest Wi-Fi protocol, which is 802.11ac. This protocol is capable of handling 433mbps speed making it almost 2.5 times faster than 802.11n, which is capable of only 150mbps speed. Overall, the connectivity on this device is better than most in its range.
Meizu had made an attempt this year that most of the companies hesitate to; they had started something great when the company launched the MX5 last month. With quite the improvements over its predecessor, the MX4, company has embarked on the journey that may lead them to grow more this year, or it may easily loose the flagship battle due to some of the issues we experienced on the device.
The MX5 is one such smartphone that offers high-end specifications at a starting price of $300. And it has the capability to fight head-to-head for the consumers against the flagships from Samsung, LG, HTC and even Apple. But I would only recommend this device if the heating issue has been sorted out by the company via OTA updates. As well as the app crashing issue should also be resolved. It is only a good device if you can at least use the apps properly and don’t have to think about battery life over the day.
Let the world think of these companies what they want, but the truth is that if you want a high-end smartphone features on a phone, which doesn’t cost you as much as a flagship phone from other brands would, then you’re seeking the wrong answers.