Meizu has been the most recent Chinese smartphone maker to enter the Indian market. It started off with the launch of the Meizu m1 note which was launched in May for Rs 11,999. It has been three months since that launch and Meizu is already out with an upgrade – the Meizu m2 note. To be fair to Meizu, the m1 note has been selling in China for a while now, but it’s good to see that it hasn’t delayed the launch of its latest phone in India. In fact, its flagship device, the Meizu MX5 has also been launched in India last week. It’s just another example of the importance of the Indian smartphone market. So let us see how the Meizu m2 note performs.
Meizu m2 note uses the same design language as its predecessor. It comes with a plastic unibody design that completely wraps around the phone. Resemblance to the iPhone 5c and some older Nokia Lumia phones is pretty obvious. The dark gray coloured phone has quite a smooth finish and the rounded edges do not assist with a rock solid grip. But we like the fact that the camera is flush with the rear side and does not jut out.
The top edge has a 3.5mm audio jack, on the left hand side you have the nano SIM card slot, on the right you have the volume rocker button followed by the power/standby button. The base has the microUSB port beside which you have the opening for the speaker grills. On the base in the front you have a physical button in place of the soft key that was there in the m1 note. The button has a nice feedback to it, but it also works with touch interface. There are no back or task switch soft keys on either side of the button.
The Meizu m2 note features a 5.5-inch full HD IGZO capacitive display and although the side bezels are thin, the top and bottom ones are thick. The phone comes with MediaTek MT6753 SoC which features a 1.3GHz Cortex A53 octa-core processor and Mali T720 graphics solution. This chipset is paired with 2GB of RAM and the phone comes with 16GB of storage of which only 11.7GB is available to the user. It does offer you the option to expand the storage using a microSD card.
The phone comes with Android 5.1 with the Flyme 4.5 UI atop it. You get a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera. On the connectivity front you get a dual nano-SIM card slot, Wi-fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, along with sensors such as accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity sensor and a compass.
Most of the Chinese phones we have seen in the Indian market offlate, come with their own custom user interfaces. Meizu is no different and it bundles its phones with the Flyme user interface. The Meizu m2 note comes with Flyme UI 4.5 atop Android 5.1. The design language is completely different from the Android Lollipop. It does come with its quirks. For starters, there are no back or task-switch soft keys. To go back you simple touch the home button and you will be able to go back. To come to the home screen from anywhere, just press on to the home button. Also to pull up the recently used apps, you need to swipe up from the left hand side of the button. These gestures will take some time getting familiar with, if you are used to using the soft keys on either side of the home button to either go back or see currently open apps.
It seems that the user interface has been designed keeping Chinese fonts in mind. This becomes evident when you open the settings menu as well as with the notifications. The font size, even when made small, gives text which overflows on notifications and in the settings menu.
The two columns for settings menu is quite cumbersome and if you are used to the traditional Android settings menu, this will come across as a bit odd. Also in terms of apps, the phone only had Play Store, Maps and Search from the Google bouquet.
Other apps such as Gmail, YouTube need to be downloaded. It does come with its own file manager, email client, browser, and Security apps. The Security app lets you clean junk, clean apps, manage traffic, tweak power-saving mode, select app permissions and so on. If you are coming from a stock Android OS, then this will involve some learning curve to find your way around.
The Meizu m2 note comes with a 5.5-inch full HD display which gives a pixel density of around 401 ppi. It is sufficiently bright but the glossy surface makes the reflections quite prominent when watching a dark scene. The backlight bleeding was minimal. But the display tends to attract a lot of smudges and you will find yourself cleaning the screen too often. The text appears sharp, because the smallest font on the phone would easily qualify as medium on any other phone.
Call quality was good and the earpiece speakers are decently loud but in traffic you will need to strain your ears. The Mediatek MT6753 SoC with 2GB of RAM keeps things speedy. We did not notice any slowdown of the device while using multiple apps or having multiple browser windows open on the m2 note. The benchmark scores are on most occassions lower than those seen on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 SoC sporting devices such as the Xiaomi Mi4i, Oppo R5, Yu Yureka and so on. However that dosen’t mean it is a slow phone.
Using heavy apps does heat up the rear portion of the m2 note. We found it get warm quickly while outdoors when using photography apps or playing heavy games such as Dead Trigger 2. Casual games play smoothly but games such as Dead Trigger 2, Asphalt 8 need to be played on low to medium settings, else you will notice stuttering.
Meizu m2 note comes with a 13MP rear camera with an f/2.2 aperture 5-element lens whereas a 5MP front-facing camera with an f/2.0 aperture 4-element lens. The camera user interface offers quite a lot of interesting features for a sub Rs 10k phone. You get the regular filters, HDR mode and Beauty mode, but there’s also slow motion video mode, manual mode, light field mode (which lets you adjust the focus after the fact) and a scan mode which is useful when scanning bar codes.
Daylight image quality is quite good and images are packed with details. The focussing speed is not the fastest, but good enough to shoot in the daylight. The HDR mode is quite subtle in the sense that there is no aggressive blowing up of highlights, which is good. Low light photographs appear a tad bit waxy when seen on full resolution. Focussing isn’t as speedy either. The selfie camera is good enough for casual selfies every once in a while.
The phone is powered by a 3,100 mAh battery which has become almost a standard for 5.5-inch full HD devices. The battery is non-removable of course thanks to the non-removable rear cover. PC Mark for Android gave around 8 hours 32 minutes of on-screen time and the phone easily lasted over a day of regular usage involving messaging, web-surfing, clicking and uploading images, video streaming and playing casual games.
Verdict and Price in India
It looks like the Chinese phone makers have cracked the value for money proposition, with the Meizu m2 note being the latest example. The m2 note gives a decent performance and will certainly be competing with the Yu Yureka Plus and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G in the Rs 9,999 price bracket. We found the Meizu m2 note to perform well on most counts and there were few areas where we found anything lacking as such in the phone.
The performance is a tad bit slower when compared to Snapdragon 615 SoC sporting devices and heating is noticeable outdoors. The phone’s user interface and gestures may not be to everyone’s liking and we certainly hope that Meizu does something about the english font optimisation. Barring these drawbacks, the m2 note delivers a good battery life and camera performance. Of course, the low light photography isn’t up to the mark, but features such as slow motion video, scan mode, manual mode in the camera are good to have. The other good thing going for Meizu is that you will not have to go through invite system or flash sales, unlike other phones.