Technophile

An iPhone clone for the recession-hit wallet

Visvaksen P | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on September 02, 2015

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The Meizu MX5 is good value for money in terms of hardware and has an innovative OS



Meizu entered the smartphone market in 2008 with the M8 after a decade spent making portable media devices. Since then, they have gone on to establish themselves as one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in China. Internationally however, Meizu continues to be a brand with very little recognition despite a string of solid releases over the past few years. The MX5, which was launched in India last week, is Meizu’s newest flagship. Powered by an octa-core Mediatek processor and featuring a heavy-duty 20.7 MP Sony lens in its rear camera, the Meizu MX5 is yet another phone that is aiming to to bring jaw dropping specs down to a price that doesn’t require you to take a second mortgage.

Design

It isn’t very hard to see where the inspiration for the MX5’s design comes from. Everything from the way it is packaged to the single button on the front and the circular speaker slots below it is designed to look like the iPhone. If you can forgive the lack of originality, there isn’t much wrong with the execution. The aluminum unibody looks just as premium as anything Apple makes, minus the half-eaten fruit on the back of course.

The MX5 abandons the squarish dimensions of its predecessor and goes for a more standard 16:9 aspect ratio on the display, which is a 5.5-inch AMOLED capable of Full HD resolution. The quality of the display is top-notch with vivid colour reproduction and sharp detailing. The lack of Quad HD resolution support- which is fast becoming the standard in this segment- is barely noticeable.

The only major departures from the iPhone look come in the positioning of the cameras- central on the rear and off to the side in front and the volume and power buttons- which are on the side as in other Android devices.

Our only gripe with the device’s design was the home button. The button is touch sensitive and tapping it works quite well, but pressing the button feels incredibly clunky- instantly reminding you that the MX5 comes from Zhuhai and not Cupertino.

Hardware & performance

The Meizu MX5 runs on a Mediatek system-on-chip (SoC) featuring a 2.2 Ghz octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 Turbo processor paired with the PowerVR G6200 GPU and 3 GB of RAM. The device is available in configurations of 16, 32 and 64 GB but does not support expandable storage.

We found performance to be more than adequate for casual usage and heavy multitasking. The PowerVR graphics chip though is quite weak and gaming performance is noticeably weaker than devices running on Qualcomm SoCs with Adreno graphics (like the OnePlus Two). But since all but the latest and greatest games at the highest quality settings ran absolutely fine, the reduced graphics capability is unlikely to affect users who aren’t into heavy gaming.

The home button on the MX5 features an integrated mTouch fingerprint scanner that we found to be very pleasant to use. It had very fast response times and almost never failed to recognise our fingerprint.

The bottom mounted speakers on the MX5 are great for playing your ringtone because it gets quite loud. But for music or movies, we’d definitely recommend headphones because the sound from these vents is very 'tinny' and lacking in refinement.

Battery capacity on the MX5 is rated at 3150 mAh, which we found sufficient for a day’s worth of regular usage. Meizu also equips the device with its own implementation of quick charging called mCharge, which took the device from 0 to 60 per cent in 40 minutes flat.

Camera

The 20.7 MP Sony rear shooter on the MX5 is ably supported by other hardware goodies such as a dual-toned flash and laser-assisted focusing mechanism. The end result is a very good camera. We consistently achieved great results in daylight and detailing in low light was also impressive, although HDR was a tad slow. Additionally, we managed to capture some great motion pictures thanks to the laser focus.

Unlike other Android smartphones with great camera hardware, Meizu has resisted the temptation to pack the camera software with advanced settings- even the manual mode offers precious little fine grain control. Instead the MX5 has gone for a clean, minimal interface geared towards casual users. Customization of your photos is done mostly through the preset options and filters, of which there are more than enough.

Video recording upto 4k resolution is also supported and so is a slow-mo mode which records at 100 fps. The front camera is a 5 MP unit that does its job of taking selfies fairly adequately.

Software

Just like its design cues, the Flyme OS found on the MX5 borrows liberally from Apple’s iOS. Deep down, it has an Android Lollipop core, but there isn’t much in the way of material design anywhere. Instead, the device attempts to imitate iOS in every way possible. Apps are installed to multiple homescreens instead of an app drawer, the multitasking menu is accessed by swiping up from the button and navigating back is accomplished by tapping the home button.

Flyme includes the ability to customise the quick access panel and a number of gestures like most customized Android implementations do. It also has enhanced privacy controls with the ability to lock apps and customize individual permissions natively.

The Flyme experience is pretty stable overall, with rough edges barely visible. The device does come with a bit of a learning curve, but after a week of daily usage, we find it quite comfortable and intuitive.

Bottomline

The Meizu MX5 is planted just shy OnePlus Two territory. It has comparable if slightly inferior performance, a comparable if slightly superior camera and is priced similarly.

The major difference is in software, with the MX5’s heavily customised OS presenting a clear contrast to the OnePlus’ near stock experience.

Hardware-wise, the MX5 is a solid package except for the clunky home button- which is a major flaw considering how central it is to the user experience. However, the lack of brand recognition and an established service structure means it is going to have a hard time unseating the OnePlus Two among the hobbyist crowd.

But if you really want something that almost looks like an iPhone and almost feels like one too, but costs less than half the price, the MX5 is what you should choose.

Love: Camera, OS

Hate: Home button

Price: ₹19,990

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Published on September 02, 2015
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