Meizu Quits Making Smartphones: 5 Turning Points That Defined Its Journey


Remember the smartphone brand Meizu? The company was popular for its midrange and budget devices in India like the Meizu M3 Note, and even competed against the likes of Xiaomi and Huawei in 2016. However, Meizu lost its grip over the market and now has announced that it will stop making smartphones altogether to pivot its business to AI development.

Despite being one of the earliest phone makers from China, the company failed to make it big in the long run. But what went south for Meizu? Let’s try to understand by having a look at the company’s history.

Meizu’s Debut Smartphone in 2007: The Meizu M8

It was that time of the technology era when Apple had just announced the original iPhone. The iPhone was such an engineering marvel and a revolutionary product, that the competition for it looked pale. The transition from feature phones to touchscreen devices was just on the verge of starting among phone users.

meizu m8 iphone 2g 2007
Meizu M8 (Left) and iPhone 2G (Right)

Meizu saw this as a huge opportunity and launched the Meizu M8, which had a strikingly similar design to the iPhone. The device was launched with a custom operating system based on Windows CE, as Android was not invented yet!

The Meizu M8 was doing well in the consumer market as the demand for screen touch smartphones was constantly rising. Meizu’s phone was also 30% cheaper and its visual similarities with the iPhone were helping in their favour. This was until Apple sued Meizu over design patent infringement, causing them to stop the production of their first device.

Meizu’s Android Journey

After biting a bitter Apple, Meizu launched its first Android smartphone in 2011, the Meizu M9. It was an instant hit for the company as the device offered a higher resolution screen and checked every tickbox that one would expect from a smartphone during that time.

Meizu then started developing mid-range and budget phones like the Meizu M1 Note and Meizu M2. Devices like the Meizu M3 Note and Meizu M5 also made their way to India, which were good options under Rs 10,000. The company kept growing further and launched its first flagship smartphone, the Meizu PRO 5 in 2015.

meizu zero
Meizu ZERO: The Portless Smartphone

Apart from its focus on affordable devices, Meizu was also optimistic about its future.

The company showcased a concept smartphone in 2019, the Meizu ZERO that had no buttons and ports.

The device even used wireless charging to skip the USB port and featured an in-display fingerprint scanner. However, the phone never made it to the consumer market.

Meizu’s Downfall To Competition

While Meizu was doing daily well in the budget segments, the competition from other players like Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo was a belligerent force. Xiaomi focused on offering the best value-for-money devices, whereas OPPO and Vivo targeted camera-centric users.

In a market where every brand was trying to stand apart from the competition, Meizu failed to build its unique identity.

Meizu even started struggling in its home market China, and had to shut down several stores due to lowering sales. The company was finding it hard to keep its business afloat leading to multiple high-position employees leaving the organization.

Customers of Meizu smartphones also started complaining on online forums that the company was not providing after-sales services for its devices. Meizu was limping and needed a helping hand, which it received from Geely in 2022.

Meizu Gets Acquired By Geely

Chinese automaker Geely, which is also the parent company of Volvo, acquired a major controlling stake in Meizu in July 2022. The idea behind this acquisition was that Meizu would function as an independent smartphone brand while helping Geely to create smart cars in the future.

Polestar Phone MySmartPrice
Meizu’s smartphone developed for Polestar

Polestar, another automobile company owned by Geely, shared plans to release a Polestar smartphone that would seamlessly integrate with their luxury cars. The device was to be made by Meizu. MySmartPrice was one of the first publications to spot the sighting of the phone on Google Play’s supported devices list. The company also revealed teasers of the phone recently, revealing a hole-punch display.

Meizu Quits Making Smartphones

While we haven’t heard about the Polestar phone yet, Meizu has officially announced that they are shutting down their smartphone business. The company has also cancelled the development of its upcoming devices like the Meizu M21 Pro, M22, and the M23. Meizu will now focus on the development of AI, embracing an ‘All in AI’ approach.

Shen Ziyu, a Senior Executive at Geely said customers are holding onto their phones for longer durations, before upgrading. Smartphone market is also saturating and lacks true innovation. Meizu’s new AI-first approach will have a larger impact on society, as compared to their earlier focus on making smartphones.

Meizu is expected to launch its first AI-focused hardware product by the end of 2024. The company has not shared any roadmap for its upcoming projects. It will be interesting to see what Meizu does with its AI development, as the company has plenty of experience in the consumer markets.