Meizu is one of the most interesting China-based smartphone manufacturers in the last couple of years. This company is one of the fastest-growing smartphone manufacturers in the world, they've sold 4.4 million devices back in 2014, and have managed to ship out 20 million last year. Their growth rate is quite staggering, and there's a good reason for that. Meizu tends to release quite affordable, and yet great devices. Every single Meizu-branded device I've encountered was extremely well built, offered great performance and simply did not feel cheap in any way, shape or form, and this time around we get to check out the best of the best Meizu has to offer, the company's PRO 5 flagship. This device was announced a while back, and we've had it for a while, but were waiting for the final Flyme 5 OS update (international version) to become available before we review it, considering that's the software version that was introduced alongside the device. The update arrived quite recently, and we'll talk more about it later in the review. That being said, let's see what Meizu PRO 5 has to offer, read on.
Meizu PRO 5 is an all-metal phablet which features a 5.7-inch fullHD (1920 x 1080) 2.5D curved AMOLED display with Corning's Gorilla Glass 3 on top of it. The phone is available in 3 or 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 32/64GB of internal storage (expandable up to 128GB via a microSD card). As a disclaimer, I've tested the 3GB RAM variant of this device with 32GB of internal storage on the inside. Samsung's Exynos 7420 14nm 64-bit octa-core processor is fueling this handset, and is the only smartphone aside from Samsung's four current flagship device to sport that SoC.
This handset comes with two SIM card slots on the inside (2 x Nano SIM), one of which you can use as your microSD card slot. The 21-megapixel shooter (Sony's IMX230 sensor, f/2.2 aperture, 6-element lens, PDAF) is located on the back of this handset, and below it you'll notice the dual-LED, dual tone flash, and the Laser Autofocus. The 5-megapixel snapper (f/2.0 aperture, FotoNation 2.0 smart selfie enhancement) is placed on the front-side of this device, and a 3,050mAh battery is available on the inside of this device, and is not removable. Speaking of the battery, you do get Meizu's mCharge 2.0 fast charging here, 30 minutes of charging will basically give you 65% of battery.
The PRO 5 is also quite capable in the audio department, it packs in ESS ES9018K2M and OPA1612 chips, which are used in Hi-Fi systems. The NXP PBSS transistor is also packed in here, and the phone's loudspeaker is located on the bottom of the phone, flanking the Type-C USB port. Android 5.1 Lollipop comes pre-installed on the Meizu PRO 5, and on top of it you'll find Meizu's very own Flyme 5 skin. Keep in mind that some versions might ship with Flyme 4.5, but the Flyme 5 is already released, so you should get the update as soon as you power on the device and connect to a Wi-Fi network. The Meizu PRO 5 measures 156.7 x 78 x 7.5mm, while it weighs 168 grams. The device is available in Black Gray, White Gold, Black Silver and White Silver color options.
As mentioned in the specs section, Meizu PRO 5 features a 5.7-inch fullHD (1920 x 1080) AMOLED display, and it looks really, really good. If you love OLED panels and the saturation / contrast they offer, you'll love this display. The colors are not too saturated, but just enough for you to know that this is the AMOLED display and enjoy its vividness. The display is also sharp enough, it's quite pleasing to use quite frankly. You do have some options in the software to tweak colors of this panel, if you want, of course. There's basically a slider for color temperature included in there, and you can set the colors to be colder or warmer, whichever you prefer, I simply used the default selection.
Now, as far as touch responsiveness goes, this is one of the best displays I've ever used. The digitizer is great, and the responsiveness of the display is just right, at least it was for me. You'll get the same quality here, as you'd get with pretty much any other pricier flagship out there, both in terms of sheer display performance and general looks of this panel. It is also worth mentioning that Corning's Gorilla Glass 3 protection is placed on top of this AMOLED panel, which is always a good thing.
Hardware And Build
The Meizu PRO 5 is a beautiful device, especially when you actually get to see it in person. Do keep in mind that it's quite slippery though, the metal is gorgeous and feels great to the touch, but it's extremely slippery, you might want to think about getting a case for this phone. The rear-facing camera protrudes on the back ever so slightly (a case might help with this as well), and the mTouch physical button is located below the display of this device, as it is in other Meizu-branded devices released lately.
The button itself actually serves as a capacitive back button, hardware home button and a fingerprint scanner. It didn't take me long to get used to it, and once you do, it's quite a joy to use. The button itself is quite tactile, and I believe that most of you will like it. The power / lock and volume rocker physical buttons are placed on the right-hand side of this phablet, and they're made out of the same material as most of this device, metal. The PRO 5 offers a unibody metal design, and two SIM card slots on the left side (2 x Nano SIM), one of which you can use as your microSD expansion slot. The bezels on this handset are also quite thin, but nonetheless, this is a rather large device.
Performance And Memory
Meizu's newest flagship is fueled by Samsung's Exynos 7420 14nm 64-bit octa-core processor. This SoC has been used in only 5 devices in 2015, and 4 out of 5 are Samsung's flagships. This SoC is considered to be one of the fastest chips on the market at the moment, and in combination with 3/4GB of RAM (3 in our case), and Meizu's Flyme UI, it provides an incredibly smooth performance.
The general performance was silky smooth, no matter if we talk about web browsing, heavy multitasking, YouTubing, messaging… I really pushed this phone to the limit. The phone was set to 'Balanced' mode as far as performance goes, which is the default option. As far as gaming goes, you'll be able to run pretty much anything on this phone and enjoy it to the fullest, as already mentioned, the Exynos 7420 pushes anything without a hitch, including 3D intensive games like Modern Combat 5, Asphalt 8, Dead Trigger 2 and a couple more titles I've tried out.
As I've already mentioned, the Meizu PRO 5 features Samsung's Exynos 7420 14nm 64-bit octa-core processor on the inside. This is one of the best best chips around at the moment, and as far as benchmarks go, only Kirin 950 and Snapdragon 820 are above it. As far as Meizu PRO 5's benchmarks go, the device managed to score 82,042 on AnTuTu, in my particular case, you'll see that the PRO 5 model is actually 2nd placed on AnTuTu, right below the Huawei Mate 8. Geekbench results were also great, the phone scored 1,527 in a single-core benchmarks, and 5,393 points in a multi-core test. Results were also admirable in a 3DMark test, which you can check out in the gallery down below.
Phone Calls And Network
This is a phone, first and foremost, so phone calls are kind of important. Well, you'll be glad to know that this handset does really well in this department. The earpiece provided clear sound, and it was just loud enough when you turn the volume all the way up. The people I've talked to said that they can hear me really well, which led me to test the microphone myself (on the other end), and the sound was quite good, no complaints here. Same can be said for 3G and 4G connectivity, both of which I've tested separately. Wi-Fi also provided stable connectivity, I did not experience any significant issues here, though keep in mind that the phone has a built-in idle mode for Wi-Fi which sometimes tends to block notifications from apps which are set to go to sleep while the phone is in idle mode.
Battery life is, for me personally, one of the most important factors when it comes to smartphones, and I'm glad to say Meizu PRO 5 doesn't disappoint in this section either. The phone will always provide at least 4 hours and 30 minutes of screen-on time during your day, presuming you're not a heavy gamer or something similar, in that case it might go slightly below that number. I've been using this handset for quite a while with Flyme 4.5 on it, and over a week with the official Flyme 5 installed. The phone performed almost identical in both versions as far as battery life goes, it was capable of producing over 4:30h of screen on time.
I'm what you'd consider a heavy user, even though I don't really play that many games, I tend to play chess and some arcade games occasionally, but nothing too graphically intensive. I did load some 3D games on the phone simply for testing purposes and did play them as mentioned in the 'performance' section of this review. The phone was still able to produce around 4:30h of screen on time, though if you throw some gaming into the mix, and play those games for a while, the battery life might go below that mark, which was to be expected.
In a gallery down below you'll get to see the battery results from one regular day of use for me. There are four screenshots there because in Flyme 5 you can check out screen-on time for the last 12 hours, so I had to take more screenshots. Anyhow, I unplugged the phone at 7am in this particular example, and at 11:55pm I still had 15% battery left. The total screen on time at that point was 4:26 minutes, as you can see in these images. Overall, I was very pleased with battery life on Meizu PRO 5, as I've used plenty of phones with awful battery life lately, and Meizu PRO 5 is definitely not one of them.
Meizu PRO 5 ships with Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box, but this is definitely not stock Android. Now, some of you might not prefer skins on Android, which is completely understandable considering OEMs tend to put tons of bloat on it, but Flyme is actually quite good. The phone ran incredibly smooth, and the UI looks really good as well, as you can see in the images down below. You do get another layer of customizability here, while you keep some of Lollipop's benefits. lockscreen notifications, heads-up notifications and similar features are built into Flyme as well.
Now, you do get tons of gestures in this OS, from double tap to wake and swipe up to wake & unlock, to various other gestures. You can basically write a letter on the display when the screen is off and call upon an app of your choice. Keep in mind that all of these gestures are customizable, and they work great. Now, there's also a feature the company calls 'SmartTouch'. SmartTouch is essentially a hovering on-screen key which can be set to perform various tasks. For example, you can swipe up on this key in order to go to your home screen, or you can swipe down to call upon the notification shade. If you tap on it, it will act as a back button, and if you swipe left or right it will multitask for you, take you to apps you've used before or after the app you're using at the moment. This button can be really useful as you can place it wherever you want, and I actually use it.
One more important thing you should know about Flyme, is the fact that you don't get an app drawer here. Apps are placed on your home screens, though you can use widgets as well and group apps into folders, of course. This is not the most fortunate solution, but the UI works great and the design is also significantly improved in Flyme 5. There are, of course, some additional additions to this software, and if you check out the images in the gallery down below you'll get a much better idea of what I'm talking about.
The loudspeaker located on the bottom of the device is good, though it's not as good as some front-facing speakers out there, looking at you BoomSound. That being said, the phone does offer really good audio quality, and especially after you plug in your headphones. You'll get a balanced and crisp sound, even though every smartphone has limitations in this area. I've really enjoyed listening to music on the PRO 5, and after I looked at more details specs of the device, I noticed that the company really did focus on improving audio capabilities of this phone, read on.
Meizu has used the ES9018K2M and OPA1612 chips in this phone, which have been used in its predecessor, the MX4 Pro as well. Now, on top of this, Meizu has included a Solo amp circuit, and also four pairs of NXP high current transistors This might not mean much to you, but in the end, I did notice somewhat improved audio output when plugging in quality headphones in here. As I've already mentioned, smartphones, in general, are somewhat limited in terms of audio output, and you can't expect the same quality sound you get out of hi-fi stereos, but compared to other handsets, Meizu PRO 5 does really well in this department.
The PRO 5 differentiates in plenty of ways compared to its competition, from software and the use of its hardware button, all the way to sound quality. Well, on top of all this, the phone also has a great camera. The PRO 5 ships with a 21.16-megapixel CMOS shooter (PDAF included), this is actually Sony's IMX230 sensor Meizu used, which comes with f/2.2 aperture. On top of this sensor you'll find the LARGAN 6P lens which has been adapted especially for this camera according to the company. On top of all this, Meizu has included sapphire glass over the lens in order to protect it. The phone can focus in and take a shot really fast (0.17s), and the Laser Autofocus is also available here, and surely helps with shot speed as well. The dual channel 14-bit Samsung ISP algorithm optimization has been implemented within the software, and the dual-LED, dual tone flash is available on the back of this phone as well.
Now, that's a lot of tech talk, but is the camera any good? Well, yes, it is, really good. The lens itself allows quite a bit of light to enter the image, even though not as much as some other shooters we've seen out there. Now, this is not a problem whatsoever considering the fact that it doesn't overexpose an image in low light, but it allows just enough light to enter the shot for the end result to be really, really good and well-balanced. We've included some low light samples in the gallery down below, and we haven't used the LED flash in any of the images. The pictures are well balanced in daylight as well, and the phone does a really great job indoors as well, no matter whether there's enough light or not. I was quite surprised with the end results of this camera, if I'm being completely honest, the images turned out better than I expected, which is a testament to Meizu. Keep in mind that the vast majority of sample images were shot in bad conditions on purpose in order to really test out this camera's performance.
What is there left to say? Meizu PRO 5 is one of the best devices I have reviewed to date. The phone has lots to offer in terms of build, performance, camera and sound output. Its display is really great as well, especially for those of you who appreciate OLED panels. Keep in mind that Flyme offers a somewhat different approach to stock Android, and as long as you're comfortable with it, chances are you're going to like this phone. The device comes in both 3 and 4GB RAM variants, and is significantly more affordable than other similarly specced offerings out there. So, do I think this device is worth it? Yes, definitely.