In the west, Meizu may not be the most popular Chinese manufacturer, but they definitely put out some great products. Typically when you think of a Chinese manufacturer, the names that come to mind are Xiaomi, ZTE, Huawei and Lenovo (Moto now too). Meizu has been around for quite a while, actually, but really only started to see growth in the past year or so. In 2014, the company sold 4.4 million smartphones. Now in 2015 that number rose to about 20 million. Making for a pretty impressive year-over-year increase. And they aren't done. In 2016, they have announced the Meizu M3 Note which is a somewhat mid-range device with a very low-end price. Then there's the Meizu PRO 6, which is what we are here to talk about today.
When the Meizu PRO 6 was announced last month, many enthusiasts saw it as a step down from the PRO 5 that the company announced in 2015. They swapped out an Exynos chip for MediaTek's Helio X25, they also dropped the screen size and battery, but kept the same camera. This leads many of us wondering, is the Meizu PRO 6 worth the money? Well let's find out in our review of the Meizu PRO 6.
Inside the Meizu PRO 6, we have the MediaTek Helio X25 processor, which is a deca-core processor. That's a dual-core 2.5GHz Cortex-A72, combined with a quad-core 2GHz Cortex-A53 and a quad-core 1.4GHz Cortex-A53 set of cores, which make up for what looks like a powerful processor on paper. We also have the Mali-T880 GPU inside. That's combined with 4GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of storage. It is not expandable, so you're stuck with the included storage. Powering all of that is a 2560mAh battery.
The display on the PRO 6 is pretty respectable. It's a 5.2-inch 1920x1080 resolution Super AMOLED display. Which brings it to about 423 pixels per inch. It's running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, along with Meizu's own UI known as Flyme v5.2. Camera-wise, we have a 21MP f/2.2 sensor around back with phase detection and laser auto-focus. But what is unique about this camera is the ten-LED flash, which is a dual-tone flash. The front has a 5MP f/2.0 camera that is capable of 1080p video.
Lastly, the bands supported by the Meizu PRO 6 are listed below.
LTE Band 1 (2100), 3 (1800), 7 (2600), 38 (2600), 39 (1900), 40 (2300), and 41 (2500)
In the box
Surprisingly, the packaging for the Meizu PRO 6 was quite interesting. Typically the box for most smartphones is cardboard. However the PRO 6 had a plastic box, which is a bit more durable and made for a unique experience, to say the least. Inside we of course have the Meizu PRO 6 along with a USB Type-A to Type-C cable and a wall adapter (our model came with the EU adapter since it is the worldwide model and not the Chinese model). There is also a SIM ejection tool and a bunch of paperwork telling you how to use the phone, use the SIM card tray and much more.
Just looking at the spec sheet, you'd expect this display to be amazing. It's a 5.2-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display. And it is amazing. Since it's a smaller display, the PPI is still fairly high, coming in at 423. Like many other Super AMOLED displays, the PRO 6's display can get very dim. This is especially good for using the phone at night. On the flip side, though, it can also get very bright. Making it perfect for using outdoors in direct sunlight. Meizu does also allow you to adjust the display. So there are four different display modes available which include Adaptive Mode, Standard Mode, Photo Mode and Colorful mode. Additionally, the display mode will automatically optimize the display color range, saturation, and sharpness. This way you get the best-looking display possible, no matter the environment you are in. Some people like warmer displays, some like cooler ones. Meizu also gives you the option to adjust that to your preference. During my time with the Meizu PRO 6, I kept it at the default setting, as I found that worked the best for me. Much like the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, the PRO 6 also has an Eye-Protection Mode. What this does is it protects your eyes from harmful blue lights for long-time use. This is especially important if you like to read at night, or in the dark.
As mentioned the display does get very bright, and it doesn't seem to affect the battery all that much. We also have to remember that this display isn't using as many pixels as say the Samsung Galaxy S7 or even the Xiaomi Mi 5. So battery won't take that much of a hit, with the brightness being all the way turned up. Colors are very vivid here on the PRO 6. We've been using all sorts of very colorful wallpapers on this smartphone, and they all look incredible. Of course, this is a Super AMOLED display, so that's expected.
This is a high-end smartphone from Meizu, so there shouldn't be any issues with the digitizer, and there definitely aren't any here. We've been using the PRO 6 for almost two weeks and haven't had a single issue with the digitizer inside the phone. You don't need to press the screen hard, either to get it to work.
However, this is a pressure sensitive display. So we do have mPress here. Although I have to say the branding here is pretty inconsistent. Some places it's called Force Touch, others it's 3D Press and then it's also called mPress. It does work a whole lot like the Force Touch on the iPhone, where you can press harder on different apps and even pictures in the Gallery to see them without opening them up. It's a cool feature, but it's not one we used terribly often.
Hardware and Build
As soon as you lay your eyes on the Meizu PRO 6, you'll realize that it looks a whole lot like another smartphone. A smartphone from a certain company in Cupertino, California. Yes we're talking about Apple. It's hard to deny that the Meizu PRO 6 doesn't look like the iPhone 6S, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, OEM's should have their own unique design. But the design here isn't bad at all. In fact, I'd say they took the iPhone design and made it better. Just look at the antenna lines on the back. They are still there, and will be until a company figures out a way to get rid of them (without painting the metal on the backside). But they are more minimal, and I quite like them actually. There's also less bezel on the front of the PRO 6, compared to the iPhone, especially on the left and right sides. So does it look like an iPhone? Yes. Is that a bad thing? Not really.
The Meizu PRO 6 is made of metal and glass which makes for a great feeling smartphone in the hand. My only real issue with the PRO 6, as far as how it feels in the hand, is that it's a bit tall. It would be nice to have it a few millimeters wider and a few millimeters shorter. The bottom of the PRO 6 is quite busy, we have our 3.5mm headphone jack on the left side, next to a microphone port, with the USB Type-C port in the middle and a speaker on the right side. There's just one speaker here. So Meizu didn't do like HTC and use the earpiece as a speaker as well. It's great that Meizu kept with USB Type-C (after all the PRO 5 had Type-C too), and it's great to see it going more mainstream. USB Type-C is a great port to use because it truly is universal.
The front of the device is pretty minimal really. There's a home button at the bottom of the display, and at the top we have the earpiece, your cluster of sensors (like the proximity sensor) and then the front-facing camera. Now the chin and forehead are a bit bigger than we'd like, but we aren't engineers, so we're not sure how much they could cut it down, really. It's a nice clean front, on the gold model we have here (a white front). It'll likely look even cleaner with the black front, since the proximity sensor and front-facing camera will blend in with the black bezel a bit more.
Lately, we've seen many smartphones going the way of using the SIM card tray for a microSD card slot and SIM card slot. Meizu has actually done this with a few of their smartphones. But that's not the case here with the PRO 6. We're looking at a dual nano SIM card slot. It blends in pretty well on the left side, but you can still tell there is a SIM card slot there.
Meizu was one of the first to put fingerprint sensors on their smartphones (not the first though), and a few years later, the PRO 6's fingerprint sensor is pretty darn good. Meizu uses a home button on the front, which is the only button you'll use to interact with the device. The home button is a fingerprint scanner, but it is also your back button. And of course getting to recents is just a gesture away. It's a unique way to do things in their Flyme UI, and I actually like it. It doesn't even take that long to get used to it, which is also nice.
Onto the important part of any fingerprint sensor, and that is, how well does it work? It's lightning quick, and for the most part, it does recognize my fingerprint every time I attempt to unlock the device. There are a few times that it has issues scanning my finger, but I'd say around 98 times out of 100, it's spot on. The sensor is a bit smaller than the one on the LG G5, and even the Samsung Galaxy S7, which likely contributes to the very rare times it doesn't recognize your fingerprint.
As mentioned already, the PRO 6 does have Android 6.0 inside. What this means for fingerprint sensors is that they are a whole lot more useful. There are a handful of apps that I use that support Android's Fingerprint API. Apps like LastPass, PayPal, Bank of America and a few others. LastPass is especially useful for having fingerprint support, since it is a password manager. And on the PRO 6, you are able to login with your fingerprint. Making the fingerprint sensor just that more useful. So instead of just using the fingerprint sensor to unlock your device, you can also use it to login to your apps, and even authorize purchases on Google Play.
Performance and Memory
This is one of the areas where many felt that the PRO 6 was a downgrade from the PRO 5. Meizu swapped out the Exynos 7420 that is in the PRO 5, and replaced it with the MediaTek Helio X25 deca-core processor. Not to be clear, MediaTek's processors aren't bad, it's quite the contrary actually. However the new Exynos 8890 is a better processor than the Helio X25 which is what most people were hoping Meizu was going to use this time around. Having said that, the Helio X25 is a deca-core processor, and the Meizu PRO 6 is being marketed as the first deca-core smartphone. It's a quad-core 1.4GHz processor, quad-core 2.0GHz and a dual-core 2.5GHz processor all wrapped into one. Currently the Helio X20 and X25 are the only deca-core processors available (or announced). In theory, the lightweight tasks will keep the quad-core 1.4GHz cluster going, and the other six cores quiet, while tasks like checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc will use the middle cluster of 2.0GHz cores and then high-end stuff like gaming will use the 2.5GHz cluster.
Now how does this work in real life? Well it works quite well. A popular topic among SoC's lately has been heat. With the Snapdragon 810 being so warm, as well as the Snapdragon 808. The Helio X25 stays quite cool. We've played all sorts of games on the PRO 6, and it never got too terribly hot. According to System Monitor, which we've had installed the entire time we've been using the phone, the temperature never went higher than 96 degrees. Which is actually really good. So while it stays nice and cool, does the performance suffer? Not really. We'll save the hardcore numbers for the benchmark section below, but in day-to-day tasks, the Helio X25 performed about as well as the Snapdragon 820 in the LG G5 - which is my daily driver and was used side-by-side with the PRO 6.
When playing games, the Helio X25 definitely is up to the task. With 4GB of RAM, the Meizu PRO 6 does not have any trouble playing games at all. In fact, it may be one of the best smartphones for playing mobile games. Partially due to it having a lower-resolution display - which translates to more battery life and more power for the processor to use for graphics and such.
Multi-tasking is not an issue here. With 4GB of RAM, you'd expect it to be smooth sailing. Unlike Samsung, Meizu does not continually close apps quickly when they are left in memory. We have not needed to clear our recent apps during our review period, not even once. On top of that, we have not needed to reboot the PRO 6 because of performance issues. We see that with many devices, even flagships destined for the US like the Galaxy S7 and HTC 10. This means that performance on the Meizu Pro 6 is definitely top notch.
We ran AnTuTu, 3DMark and GeekBench on the Meizu PRO 6, which you can see those results down below. It wasn't quite as good as what you would get out of a Snapdragon 820 or Exynos 8890-powered smartphone. But they were still quite respectable.
Sound & Speakers
We already talked briefly about the speaker found on the PRO 6 here. It's not an amazing speaker, but it does perform quite well. As long as you don't put your fingers over the speaker holes. There's no system-wide equalizer available here, but there are a few other features available in the Settings. Which includes the ability to have the ringer, or alarm fade in. It's a nice touch, although most people probably won't care anyways.
Listening to music and/or watching videos on the PRO 6 is a great experience. Obviously it's not going to rival the likes of the HTC 10, considering it does have just one speaker while the HTC 10 does have two of them. But the speaker isn't too shabby at all. As we alluded to already, the only issue we've had is covering up the speaker with a finger or two, particularly when playing games. Otherwise, there's really no complaints here when it comes to the sound.
Phone Calls and Network
As usual, we have been using the Meizu PRO 6 on the T-Mobile network for almost two weeks now. While most of the phones we use from China have just EDGE connectivity in the US, the PRO 6 does support HSPA+. Although it does only support the 1900MHz band on T-Mobile. This means that you will likely be on 3G or EDGE while indoors, but can probably get HSPA+ when outside. Having said that, the speeds we saw when connected to HSPA+ were about what you'd normally see. Our tests showed around 10-15Mbps download and around 1-2Mbps upload. That's about normal for T-Mobile's HSPA+ network in this area.
We did make some calls with the Meizu PRO 6 and those on the other end sounded nice and clear. On the flip side, those we called said that we sounded clear as well. There's no HD Voice support here, seeing as this isn't a T-Mobile branded smartphone. There's also no VoLTE support (for one it doesn't support LTE, and two only T-Mobile branded smartphones can use their VoLTE right now). We didn't experience any dropped calls either. Which is always a good sign.
For the first few days, battery life was pretty rocky. With the battery draining pretty fast, and quite often, standby was pretty bad. However, it seems to be getting better each and every day. Unfortunately, we don't have any way to show you screen-on time during a specific battery cycle, due to Meizu's software. You can see the screen-on time for a 3-hour, 6-hour or 12-hour time period, however. But we did run PCMark on the PRO 6, and it got some pretty good results. Better than some smartphones we've tested, but not the best. Out of the last few phones we've reviewed, the Huawei P9 sported a result of 4 hours and 17 minutes, with the Leagoo Shark 1 at 8 hours and 22 minutes and the HTC 10 at 7 hours and 50 minutes. The PRO 6 managed to squeak past the HTC 10 with a pretty impressive 7 hours and 58 minutes. It's impressive due to the size of the battery - a 2560mAh battery in here. Although this shows you one of the big advantages of using an FHD display over a QHD display.
In typical use, the PRO 6 did last about a full day. In fact, a lot of the time it would go through the full day and have around 50% left at the end of the day - of course, that depends on what kind of day we had and what we did with the phone. All in all the battery was pretty impressive.
Meizu has a few tricks up its sleeve, though, with power consumption. In the "Security" app there's a section for Power. Here you can see the estimated time left on the battery - this is based on how you have been using the phone. You can also decide if you want to turn on Low Power Mode, Super Mode or Customize Mode. All of the options in those modes are customizable too. In settings, you can also determine when you want the phone to go into power-saving mode. Which I have set for 15%. You can also schedule when you want low power on. I have it set for when I'm asleep, around 12-midnight to about 7am. This will extend standby, but you're also asleep so you don't really need your notifications right away. They can wait until just before you wake up. This also keeps your phone from waking you up if someone sends you a message in the middle of the night.
As mentioned already, the Meizu PRO 6 does run on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, along with their own OS on top. Which is known as Flyme and we have version 5.2 on our PRO 6 here. This is a slightly updated version from what shipped on the PRO 5 last year. Although Flyme 5 saw the biggest improvements. After using Flyme OS for a few weeks, we can say that it is one of the better UI overlays available on Android. But it's not without its own flaws. The biggest flaw that we've seen is in notifications. With Gmail, Flyme shows the subject and the sender of the email in black. This makes the notification almost impossible to read, given the background of the notification shade. Meizu isn't the only one that does this either, as Huawei does the same thing with EMUI. It's an annoyance, and should be something simple that Meizu can fix in an OTA.
Meizu also likes to take some settings out of the settings app and put it in their "Security" app. For instance, Data Usage would be in the main settings app on just about every other smartphone. But with Meizu smartphones, it's in the security app. Although Meizu does give you more granular control over data usage. You can see how much data you used today, this month and when your billing cycle is over. Battery settings are also in the security app and not the settings app. Again you get more controls for the battery in this app, including the ability to use low-power mode, super mode, and a few others. This also shows you the estimated time remaining. Something that, again, the main settings app should show, but it doesn't.
Don't get us wrong, the Security app here in Flyme OS is pretty good. Meizu allows you to quickly optimize your phone by clearing RAM, cache, and apps that are using too much energy. This can make a fairly big change in your battery life. You can also clean out your phone. This will scan your phone and find junk files, redundant APK's, cache and even apps that you haven't used in a while. A good tool for anyone that may be running out of space on their smartphone. With this, you can also choose which apps are whitelisted, and also have the phone auto clean at certain intervals. We have it set to once a week at 9pm. The Security app also has a way for you to manage permissions, harassment blocking (blocking messages and calls from specific people), and a built-in anti-virus.
When it comes to the home screen, there's no app drawer. So all of your apps are right there on the home screen for you to use. For a lot of people, rearranging these apps and folders can be a pretty daunting task. Meizu has built-in a way for you to rearrange multiple apps at the same time. Making it much, much easier to set up your home screen the way you want. Widgets are also available, should you want to use one. Just pinch in on one of the home screens, and you'll see that option.
The notification shade is rather nice looking, the background is blurred based on what is showing behind it. And you do have a few quick settings in there, with more available if you swipe down again - including a brightness slider. These are not customizable. Unfortunate, but it's tough to complain about these quick settings because all of the ones you would want are right there. You have WiFi, Network data, Bluetooth, sound, Airplane Mode, rotation, Location Info, Brightness, Flashlight, SmartTouch and DND (Do Not Disturb). Our only issue with the notification shade is the issue with Gmail and it doesn't appear to happen with other apps - although we didn't test other email apps.
SmartTouch, which we mentioned already, is a pretty nifty feature on the Meizu PRO 6. It's not brand new with the PRO 6 either, as it has been on other smartphones from Meizu. Essentially, it's a dot that can be moved around on the screen to perform different tasks. Tapping on SmartTouch will go back, Slide Up takes you to the home screen, Slide Down opens the notifications, swiping left or right will take you between apps that are open on the device. These are all customizable (Settings > Accessibility > SmartTouch) and there is also a double tap gesture, which is not set by default. Now we didn't use SmartTouch that often on the PRO 6, but it does work quite well. If for some reason your home button isn't working, or you don't want to use it, this is a great alternative.
There's another app that is pretty popular on the Meizu PRO 6 and that is 'Toolbox'. This houses a few pretty useful features like the Flashlight, Mirror, Compass, Level, Ruler and Magnifier. The Flashlight uses the LED flash on the back, all ten of them. You can choose the temperature and brightness, or use it as a SOS. The mirror is pretty self-explanatory, it basically uses your front-facing camera so that you have a mirror in your pocket. Now the ruler might be my favorite feature in this app. It's something simple, but definitely useful. All of these can be made into home screen shortcuts as well. Making it easier to access them quickly.
Flyme OS may not be our favorite overlay, but it is one of the better ones we've seen lately. As we always say, this is Android, so if you don't like the launcher here, just head to the Play Store and pick one up. This is why we don't get too bent out of shape over the lack of an app drawer - that and it's a really popular feature in Asia, where this phone will be sold primarily.
The camera is something I was really excited to try out on the Meizu PRO 6. We expected it to be one of the better camera's we've used out of China lately, and it is. It's a 21-megapixel Sony sensor on the back, which is actually the same sensor as what we had on the Meizu PRO 5 last year. It does also have phase and laser auto-focus (located in the black area inside the ring of LED flashes), so it can focus in pretty quickly, no matter what lighting condition you may be in. With the LED flash ring on the back of the PRO 6, we were really interested to see how the PRO 6 faired with all this extra light. We took a few night shots with the flash set at different settings, which you can see in the Flickr gallery below. It didn't make a huge difference, and unless you're a photographer, you probably won't notice.
The experience you have when actually trying to take a picture is arguably just as important as the pictures that come from the smartphone you're using. Meizu did a great job with the camera app here. It's somewhat "simple" but still jam-packed with features, and they are all in the places you'd expect. So on the row on the left or the top, depending on what orientation you are holding the phone in, you see the Settings gear, along with the camera flip button, a film button (something popular on smartphones in 2016), timer and flash. Across from that is your gallery shortcut, shutter button in the middle and the bottom houses all of the different modes included in the Meizu PRO 6. Speaking of modes, we have 9 here. Auto, Manual, Video, Beauty, Panorama, Light Field, Slow-mo, Macro, and GIF. All of which you'll find in the Flickr album below.
So how do the pictures look? Pretty darn good. I say this with every review of a phone with a great camera, but it won't replace your DSLR. It's tough to find a smartphone camera that will. But the PRO 6 camera will allow you to leave your DSLR at home more often. The colors are pretty accurate in this camera. Unlike Samsung's cameras where the pictures are pretty saturated, the colors look "natural" in just about every shot. The PRO 6 isn't fantastic at catching movement, but it could do worse (you can see an example in the AMC Theaters picture). When it comes to Zoom, I was actually pretty surprised. The Meizu PRO 6 handled full zoom pretty well. There is a picture in the gallery of a couple of geese, that was completely zoomed in, without any editing. Could it have been better? Of course. But it could have been far worse, and we've seen far worse before.
Fingerprint Sensor + Android 6.0 Fingerprint API
Full HD Display
Camera with ten LED Flash
Too similar to the iPhone
Not available in North America
By now, you've read almost 4500 words about the Meizu PRO 6. So you probably have a good enough idea of what I think about this phone. I really like the Meizu PRO 6. It's one of my favorite smartphones to come out this year. I was a bit disappointed with the specs at first - particularly that battery - but Meizu proved to have done a great job at optimizing their software to work well with a smaller battery. There are a few issues with Flyme OS, ones that have been around for quite some time, and hopefully, they get those fixed but they aren't deal breakers in our opinion.
The Meizu PRO 6 is not a cheap smartphone when compared to others coming from China. But when compared to other flagships, it's pretty cheap. The 32GB model - which is what we have - will set you back around ¥2499, which converts to about $390 USD. The 64GB model is going to be about ¥2799, and that converts to about $430 USD. You can pick up the Meizu PRO 6 if you don't live in China, by hitting the GearBest link below. It's a bit more expensive, but that's usually the case when buying Chinese phones outside of China (due to taxes, manufacturing price changes, etc).
Should you buy the Meizu PRO 6? To be honest, I can't think of a reason not to buy it. If you're looking for a cheap, but high-end smartphone then it's a great choice. But if you don't like the design or think it looks too much like an iPhone, just hang tight for a bit. Another beautiful thing about Android is that the "next big thing" is always just a few days away.