- 5-inch 1080p display
- 20.7-megapixel rear camera
- 3GB of RAM
- Fingerprint scanner
- Sturdy metal body
- Stable performance
- Fingerprint scanner
- Crisp, colourful displays
- No expandable storage option
- Heats up very easily
Soon after the smartphone sales in China started to see a decline, Chinese phone brands decided to target India. At the same time, the smartphone sales in India had started picking up steam, and it only made sense for these Chinese brands to exploit this space. The latest entrant from this country is Meizu.
Meizu decided to test the waters by introducing its m-series of smartphones - m1 note and m2 note - which are essentially budget phablets with great hardware. After tasting slight success with these devices, the company launched its latest mid-range smartphone, the Meizu MX5, with great fanfare in India. Considering the amount of features it packs, the MX5 could also be called an ‘affordable flagship’, which means that the phone goes up against a formidable opponent like the OnePlus Two. We used it extensively to find out how it fares. Read on to know more.
The Meizu MX5’s design takes a lot of inspiration from the Apple iPhone 6, which doesn’t really go against it, especially since the phone has an all-metal body and its outer shell is constructed from aluminium. This makes it sturdy yet light. Moreover, Meizu has used a sheet of reinforced magnesium alloy to support the thin layer of AMOLED screen. While there is no denying the fact that the MX5 is a very good looking phone, we are still trying to come to terms with the fact that Meizu managed to use such premium materials for a phone that is priced less than Rs.20,000.
We received the silver version of the MX5 for review, but it is also available in gold and dark grey colour variants. The phone is fairly thin at 7.6mm and the screen-to-body ratio of 74.5 percent means that the bezels are really thin. Furthermore, thanks to the use of matte finish in the rear, the phone grips easily in the hand. Meizu has used plastic strips which pick up cellular signals and it has placed these along the chamfered edges of the phone.
Despite the camera bump on the rear, its placement at the top centre portion ensures that the phone doesn’t wobble when placed on a flat surface. At the rear is also a flash module with laser-aided focus, right below the camera.
The front portion of the phone is dominated by the screen, and a single mBack button comes below it. This button also incorporates a fingerprint scanner. We’ll learn how these two features work in the later sections. Above the display one can find the earpiece, a front camera and the LED light for notifications. The bottom edge of the phone has machine-drilled holes for the speaker, a Micro-USB port, and a microphone, whereas the top has another microphone and the 3.5mm audio port.
The right edge of the MX5 houses the volume rocker and the power button. Both these buttons have really good tactile feedback and a nice clicking sound to them.
Meizu uses a 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED display on the MX5. Thanks to the pixel density of 401 PPI, you’d also be hard-pressed to spot pixels. The display has a layer of Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 protection on top of it. The colours on the MX5 pop, and thanks to the use of pastel shades used on the Flyme OS UI, it looks really impressive. That said, the whites had a warm tinge to them which is typical of AMOLED screens. Furthermore, users have been complaining on online forums about a yellowish tint on the screen and we found that to be true. In any case, you can tweak the colour temperature of the screen in the Settings menu.
When viewed at an angle, it is easy to spot discolouration, which was slightly disconcerting while watching videos. The sunlight legibility on the other hand was really good. The ambient light sensor works pretty accurately as well, and adjusts the screen brightness accordingly. All in all, we actually think that the MX5 has one of the better displays on a phone in this price range.
Internally, the phone uses Mediatek’s new Helio X10 64-bit octa-core SoC. The Helio X10 is at its core a rebranded MT6795 processor with eight Cortex A53 cores clocked at 2.2GHz each. This SoC also has a PowerVR G6200 GPU for graphics. Meizu packs 3GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage space on the MX5, of which only around 12GB is available for the user while the rest is used by the system. Moreover, there is no way to increase this storage space and that is a big drawback for such powerful smartphone.
The MX5 also has a 20.7-megapixel camera with F2.2 aperture, a dual-LED flash, and laser-assisted autofocus. This camera can also shoot 4K videos. There is also a 5-megapixel front-facing camera which can shoot 1080p video. The phone accepts two Nano-SIM cards and both these cards can connect to 4G networks in India. Some of the other connectivity options include Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac with support for Wi-Fi Direct, and Bluetooth v4.1. The MX5 has a GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS. It also has sensors such as accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity sensor, and compass. There is a 3100Ah battery providing the juice.
The MX5 runs Android 5.0.1 Lollipop with a layer of Meizu’s custom-made Flyme OS 18.104.22.168 UI. This UI is quite different from that of stock Android, in that it doesn’t have an app drawer. Therefore, all the apps are lined up on the home screen itself. That said, we really liked the sleek design and the overall flat UI with pastel coloured icons. It is clean, neat and is pleasing to the eye.
A dock at the bottom has the icons for Phone, Browser, and Messaging apps. The Contacts app is integrated into the Phone app. To open up the multitasking panel, one has to slowly swipe upwards from the left or the right side of the home button. The default browser is fairly basic, and we had to download Google Chrome for our needs. The best aspect of the MX5 is the fact that the bloatware on this phone is next to nothing. There are only four odd extra apps - AppCentre, Personalize, Memos, Painter, and Security. The one inconvenience that we faced was the fact that the notification slider doesn't have a shortcut to Settings app.
One can also use different themes from the Settings app. Setting up the fingerprint scanner also happens through the settings app. You can set as many as five different fingerprints and use these fingerprints to make payments as well. But do note that you will have to register to a Flyme account for that. There are a few interesting tweaks in the form of Gesture wakeup from the lockscreen and SmartTouch, which is essentially a joystick-like floating appendage. This joystick can be used to go back, close apps, and a few other tasks.
The camera app has a minimalistic design. A carousel on the left side (when held horizontally) allows you to switch between the different shooting modes - Auto, Manual, Beauty, Panorama, Light Field, Scan, Slowmotion, and Microspur. The shutter button is present on a panel on the right side and is flanked on either sides by the video recording button and the gallery access icon. Below this panel is another panel with options for flash, edit, and front camera. Also on this panel is the action bar which provides access to other settings such as setting photo resolution and video size. By default, the camera records videos at 1080p, but it can also shoot 4K video.
The images shot by the 20.7-megapixel primary camera were full of details provided you can get the camera to focus right. The camera struggled to focus on the desired subject despite multiple attempts especially when we went close to the subject. Even the Microspur (basically macro) mode, couldn’t focus on the right details. While the colours were mostly fine, the reds were a little too exaggerated. There was some barrel distortion around the edges of some photos as well. The low light performance of the camera is not up to the mark and most of our images were grainy.
The Light Field mode is extremely fun to use. In this mode, the camera captures seven images with different areas of focus and stitches them together. A combined image can be then opened in the gallery app. This combined image offers multiple focus points. For best results, shoot with at least two subjects - one in the foreground and the other in the background. It works really well. On the other hand, the Panorama stitching using the camera app produced some mixed results - sometimes we got stellar images with no evidence of stitching or stray lines, and on other occasions the images were completely warped with blurred lines along the stitched areas.
The front-facing 5-megapixel camera also captures some decently detailed selfies and will definitely capture the fancy of selfie lovers. The Beauty mode can be used to whiten the skin or make one’s face look thinner. The 4K video of rainfall we captured with the primary camera had really good details and the microphone also managed to capture the pitter patter of rainfall well. Even the slow-motion 720p video at 120fps was pretty smooth and we couldn't notice ghosting of any sort.
Meizu’s expertise with audio (the company started off making MP3 players) comes to the fore in the sound performance of the MX5. The default audio player has Dirac HD Sound built-in in the app. It can be used to enhance the sound quality of a few earphones that have been predetermined. Unfortunately, Meizu doesn't provide earphones in the box. However, our reference earphones worked really well and the sound quality was great too. The loudspeaker does get really loud, but the sound is tinny and not well-defined.
The phone’s default video managed to play all the video files we threw at it, including the high resolution 4K ones, without any frame rate drops. However, the discolouration in the display when viewing it at an angle hampers the entire video watching experience.
When the MX5 was first launched in China, Meizu ran the AnTuTu benchmark test on stage and the score was a very high 53,330. We never managed to attain that score despite putting the phone in Performance mode and closing all the apps running in the background. The highest our AnTuTu benchmark test scored was 47,155, which is still not a bad statistic. Do note that in Balanced mode the score drops drastically to around 30,000. In GFXBench benchmark test for graphics performance the phone managed to log a score of 27fps, which is average at best.
Scores apart, in our time with the MX5 we never faced a single hiccup in day-to-day performance. Even graphics intensive games like Asphalt 8: Airborne and Modern Combat 5 ran smoothly without stutter. The fingerprint scanner is also very fast and responsive, so much so that we think it is better than the one on the OnePlus 2. But the one commonality between both these phones is they heat up especially when performing intensive tasks. Thankfully, the MX5 doesn’t get unbearably hot.
The earpiece of the MX5 is of really good quality. In a phone call, we could hear the person on the other side crystal clear. Moreover, the phone also managed to latch onto networks easily. We never lost 4G data even in areas with network congestion.
The Meizu MX5 has mCharge fast charging technology inside. This technology can be used to charge 25 percent of the battery in 10 minutes and gets to 60 percent in another 30 minutes. In our testing we found this to be mostly true, but the battery does take almost an hour and half to charge to 100 percent.
The battery easily lasts a day on heavy usage of hours of Whatsapp chats, around an hour of phone calls, half an hour of gaming, and an hour of multimedia consumption. During this time, the phone was constantly connected to a 4G network. Overall, we logged a time of approximately 16 hours of usage with 4 hours of screen-on time.
The Meizu MX5 is available for Rs.19,999. At this price, the phone has a lot going for it primarily because of the fact that it is packed to the hilt with some features. More importantly, these features work without any hiccups; the fingerprint scanner is mostly accurate, the battery is better than average and charges fairly fast, the display is vibrant, and the software and the UI are generally good.
There are a few cons though. It has a paltry 16GB of storage space and gets warm during intensive tasks. Barring these inconveniences, the MX5 is a really good buy. The only other phone that competes with the MX5 in this price range is the OnePlus 2.