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Featured Review: Meizu MX5

July 6, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Last year, Meizu switched up their release cycle a bit, and debuted a couple new device lines like the MX4 Pro and the M1 Note. In fact, they announced 3 phones in about four months. In early June, Meizu announced the M2 Note which we reviewed and gave it some pretty high marks. We were pretty impressed with the device, especially when you factor in its price point. On June 30th, Meizu invited us back to Beijing to attend their launch of their new MX flagship launch, the MX5. Last year the MX4 was announced in September, so it is a bit earlier this time around.

The MX4 was their flagship behind the MX4 Pro, which had a Quad HD display, a fingerprint sensor in the home button and an amazing camera. It was the beginning of the physical home button for the company as they had normally used a capacitive home button, that looked similar to the one Apple uses. The MX5 is all metal, as we pretty much figured from the leaks and the teasers sent out before the event. Meizu announced the MX5 for just 1799 Chinese Yuan, which is just under $300 USD. Not a bad price when you consider the specs. But is it really worth that price? Let’s have a look in our full review.

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Specs

  • Display: 5.5-inch 1920×1080 resolution AMOLED display; About 401 PPI
  • Processor: MediaTek Helio X10, MT6795, octa-core chip clocked at 2.2GHz
  • Graphics: PowerVR G6200 MP4
  • Memory: 3GB of RAM
  • Storage: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB of storage, no microSD card slot
  • Camera: 20.7MP sensor with laser autofocus. 5MP front-facing camera capable of 1080p video.
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1 LE, GPS, A-GPS and GLONASS
  • Battery: 3150mAh non-removable.
  • Dimensions: 149.9 x 74.7 x 7.6 mm

Hardware

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When you pick up the Meizu MX5, it definitely feels solid, and feels like a device you’d like to hold for long periods of time. It is completely metal, like the HTC One M7, M8, and M9, although it doesn’t feel as slippery. Definitely a plus for Meizu. One of our complaints on the M2 Note was the fact that the volume rocker and power button were both located on the left side, instead of the right side. That’s great for those that are left-handed, but most people are right handed, so we’re glad to see they made the move to switch sides this time around. Putting the volume rocker and power button on the right side. On the left side, there is the dual SIM card slot, both slots can do 4G LTE (for those unaware, the second SIM card slot usually can only do EDGE or Voice. Not 4G LTE). You can also choose which one should be the dominant SIM card slot.

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While we have a 5.5-inch display on the MX5, and it is rather large, it doesn’t feel too large. I can easily use the device with one hand, which is something I really like being able to do with a smartphone that I use as a daily driver. Meizu decided to put the speaker on the bottom, again. It’s not a big issue though, because the speaker is plenty loud, and because of the curve on the edges, it doesn’t get muffled too bad when you’re playing a game, or holding it.

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Unlike a lot of the other flagships out there right now, Meizu decided not to use a curved back. It is completely flash, although the camera does stick out a tiny bit. In the week and a half that I’ve been using the device, I haven’t had any scratches, or dings on the camera though, so that’s a good thing. The MX5 looks a lot like the MX4, but not quite enough to where you’d get them mixed up. Basically Meizu took the good from the MX4 and brought it to the MX5, and made it all metal as well. There’s no removable back this time around, like there was on the MX4, but that’s probably a good thing, seeing as the battery wasn’t removable last time either.

Display

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Here we have a 1080p AMOLED panel on the MX5. I was actually a bit shocked when they announced the device as having an AMOLED panel. But there is one here, and it does look truly amazing. Not sure it’s better than the Galaxy S6 (although that’s also a QHD display vs a FHD display here. In layman’s terms, the Galaxy S6 has much more pixels). But for media consumption, it’s definitely a great screen to be looking at for hours and hours.

Performance

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This is the first time I’ve had a chance to use MediaTek’s high-end flagship processor, the Helio X10, which is also known as the MT6795. It’s an octa-core processor that is clocked at 2.2GHz, and it’s a beast. It took basically everything I threw at it and didn’t slow down a single bit. And it also didn’t heat up at all. The phone pretty much stayed the same temperature the entire time I used it. Whether I was running Benchmarks, or playing games, or doing simple things like answering emails. Meizu did make some changes to how this chip was implemented, and it seems like they did a great job. Even the battery life is pretty spectacular on the Meizu MX5. So no complaints here.

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Speaking of performance, we have to do some benchmarks. We ran AnTuTu on the Meizu MX5, and got a score of 49,591. Which beats just about everything and barely edges out the Meizu MX4, actually. Although, AnTuTu didn’t have the Galaxy S6 listed in the results, but I’m sure the numbers are close to the Meizu MX5.

Fingerprint Scanner

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Meizu first introduced the fingerprint scanner on the MX4 Pro last November. It worked well, actually it worked very well. It was inside the home button similar to the iPhone and now the Galaxy S6 (the MX4 Pro came out before the Galaxy S6, remember?). Basically you put your finger on the home button and within seconds it was unlocked. Quick and easy. Meizu brought it back this time around for the MX5, which we expected. It works just as great, however there’s one issue I have with it. It doesn’t seem to be as baked into the OS as I think it could be. You can use it to unlock your phone, lock apps, and login to your Flyme account. And that’s it. I was hoping to see some cooperation between apps and Meizu with the fingerprint sensor. So that I could sign in WeChat or something with my fingerprint instead of a password. Otherwise, the fingerprint scanner is pretty much perfect.

Battery Life

We have a 3150mAh non-removable battery here, as we mentioned in the specs section. That’s about the normal size for 5.5-inch smartphones these days. It’s worth mentioning that this is the international version of the Meizu MX5, but it’s still not equipped to handle US’ carrier networks. We tested this on T-Mobile and only got HSPA+, so no LTE here. The device still lasted us all day with around 3 hours of screen on time. Which isn’t shabby at all. And should get most people through a full day.

Software

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Meizu has updated their OS for the MX5, bringing Flyme 4.5 to the device. The update will be hitting other Meizu devices soon, although we don’t know when exactly, just yet. Flyme OS is a pretty colorful OS, and we aren’t saying that in a bad way. Unlike some other skins we see from manufacturers in China, Flyme is put together quite well and is pretty solid. There are some things you have to get used to though, like data usage. That’s not in the settings, like in most devices. Similar to MIUI, it’s found in another app. It’s found in the Security app, which is a bit interesting to me.

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Speaking of the built-in security app. There are a few other useful features backed in. For example, there’s a built-in junk cleaner here. Which will help you clear up some space on the MX5. There’s also “App Clean” which goes through your installed apps and lists the ones you haven’t opened for the longest at the top. So you can clear some space that way as well. There’s also Virus clean which will search for malicious apps, vulnerable apps, payment risk and ID theft risks. It’s pretty useful.

One of my few complaints about Flyme, however, still exists. And that’s the fact that there is no Settings shortcut in the drop down. If we take a look at stock Android or even Touchwiz, near the upper right-hand corner when you pull down the notification shade, you’ll see a gear icon, for settings. Flyme doesn’t have that. So I stick with the settings icon being on the first page of my home screen. That way I can jump into settings quickly. Additionally, Flyme does not use an App Drawer. Sure you can fix this easily by downloading Nova or another launcher (I don’t use third-party launchers during the review phase, seeing as that is not part of the device’s software). It’s not a huge deal, I just stick everything into a folder and toss it on another screen.

Camera

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Much like its predecessor, the MX5 is also using a 20.7MP Sony sensor here. They decided not to use Toshiba’s 20.7MP camera for some reason. The camera software is pretty much the same as what we’ve seen in Flyme before, There are all kinds of modes this time around, including Auto, Manual, Beauty, Panorama, Light Field, Scan, Slowmotion and Macro which they call Microspur. The scan mode is for scanning barcodes and QR codes, it’s a nice touch that it’s  built into the camera though. For all of the pictures in the gallery below, we used Auto mode, and a few have HDR on.

Speaking of HDR, it’s a tad slow. It’s not the slowest we’ve seen, but there is definitely some slowness there before it actually takes the shot. Most probably wouldn’t notice it until you read this part of the review. So you’re welcome! Otherwise, the camera has been pretty amazing. I took it to Lake Orion, MI to get some shots on fourth of July, and honestly, it outperformed my Xperia Z3 in Auto mode. Which was pretty impressive to me. It does also do 4K video, which we have a few videos from the fireworks show in Lake Orion as well, which you can see below.

We can’t forget the laser auto-focus. While LG was the first to bring in laser auto-focus to smartphone cameras, they aren’t the only ones now. Meizu has added in a laser just below the two toned flash. Which helps for much quicker auto-focusing. It’s about the same speed as the LG G3 and G4, which are both very fast. It’s as close to instant as you can possibly get.

Final Thoughts

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The Meizu MX5 will be coming to Europe and Asia, unfortunately it won’t make it Stateside unless you import the device. Which we pretty much all knew. There’s actually a pretty big reason why it won’t make it to the US, I wrote up an editorial about it after I got back from Beijing, you can check that out here. The MX5 is one of those devices that, you can’t believe that it is priced at its price. It’s roughly priced at $298 USD, and it outperforms some of the flagships that we are paying $700+ USD for. That’s just unbelievable.

With the 5.5-inch AMOLED display, MediaTek’s Helio X10 processor, and Sony’s 20.7MP sensor with laser Auto-Focus, you’ve got a tough competitor coming out of Zhuhai, China.

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