Opinion: Meizu & Xiaomi, Please Redesign Your Smartphones

Xiaomi and Meizu are the two China-based companies that most of you are quite familiar with. Xiaomi is definitely the more popular one, but Meizu is one of the fastest growing smartphone manufacturing companies in the country (and the world) at the moment, and it will be interesting to see where the company will end up in a year or two. That being said, these two companies are at the very top of the food chain in China, in other words, amongst the largest Chinese smartphone manufacturing companies. With that in mind, Xiaomi’s sales are really good this year, though they were trumped by Huawei, Vivo and OPPO in the second quarter of this year, which is not something many people have expected. Meizu is still a significantly smaller company than Xiaomi, and is currently not amongst the top 5 smartphones in the country, but it’s close enough, and Meizu’s sales have also been quite good this year.

Now, these two companies have a lot in common, they’re both located in China, they both pre-install their own Android-powered OS on their devices… and they both really, really need to change up the design of their smartphones. Now, we’ve actually talked about Meizu’s design language quite recently, in case you’d like to read that piece, and are here to tackle both of these companies at the same time basically. Meizu and Xiaomi might be selling tons of smartphones as of late, but the sales of some other China-based companies have managed to shake up both of these companies, mainly because they do the vast majority of their business in their homeland, and we all know how fierce the Chinese smartphone market is. Tons of Chinese companies are looking for a way out of China, and it will be interesting to see how long will it take for Xiaomi and Meizu to spread on Europe and the US. They will, of course, not leave their homeland literally, nor will they stop selling devices over there, but they need to tackle different markets in order to grow.

Anyhow, as already mentioned, these two companies need to change up the design of their smartphones, badly. This might not be the main reason why Xiaomi’s sales are not as good as Huawei’s, OPPO’s and Vivo’s lately, but it sure is one of them, and Meizu will end up in the same hole with Xiaomi if they don’t do something about it. Even Meizu’s CEO recently criticized the design of one of their devices, the MX6, in an internal memo. The company’s CEO did not say that the design is bad or anything of the sort, but that it resembles the company’s previous devices a bit too much, and that is very true. Meizu has been releasing similarly-looking smartphones for quite some time now, and even though we might know the difference between them, they certainly do look too similar to regular consumers. Same can be said for Xiaomi, the company did take a step back with the Xiaomi Mi 5, their current flagship, and included a physical home button on it (and its design looks more premium in general), which is a first for Xiaomi, but the rest of their lineup looks way too similar.

Now, to tell the truth, the design is not bad, and they’re extremely well-built devices, but they look boring to be quite honest. Xiaomi releases devices with three capacitive buttons below the display, and the menu button is still there for whatever reason. Android ditched the menu button a long time ago, and it’s more in a way now than anything else. That’s not all though, the general shape of Xiaomi’s devices is regular, there’s not much to excite about when you look, or hold those devices. Similar things can be said for Meizu’s units, though this company doesn’t have the capacitive button ‘issue’. Meizu pushes their trademarked ‘mBack’ multifunctional physical home button, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s unique and functional, but the rest of their devices, not so much. The ports are usually identical, the camera design as well, and the device are all basically pieces of metal which don’t look that fresh. As already mentioned, these are very well-built devices, but Meizu really needs to start differentiating. You can imagine how confused people get when they see two very similar devices made out of metal, one is an entry level phone, and the other one is the company’s flagship. Flagship devices need to differentiate from the rest of the pack, significantly, that will not only make them more appealing to consumers, but the sheer design will excite them.

Now, truth be told, it seems like both companies are aware of this. If rumors are to be believed, both companies will introduce devices with curved displays before the end of the year, similar to the Galaxy S7 Edge and the Galaxy Note 7. This will not exactly be an original design, but it will certainly differentiate their higher-end devices from the rest of the pack, and both of them really need to do that throughout their whole lineup of devices. There’s a good reason why Samsung had a crisis a while back, their Galaxy S3, S4 and S5 devices looked way too similar, and the company did not really bring anything new to the table in terms of the design. They looked uninteresting, for the most part, and people eventually got tired of them. Samsung did a great thing when they released the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge (even though the new era began with the Galaxy Alpha), the company finally realized they can't just recycle in order to be successful, they actually have to innovate. The same thing can be said for both Xiaomi and Meizu, they really need to step up in order to remain successful.

Both of these companies sell the vast majority of their devices in China, while India is their second market, and in order to succeed outside of Asia, they’ll need to improve their design quite significantly, design really is equally as important as everything else, whether people want to admit it or not. That being said, it will be interesting to see what happens next, both companies seem to be ready to change things up and release significantly different devices than the ones we’ve seen them release in the last couple of years. The Meizu PRO 7 seems to be the name of the company’s upcoming Exynos 8890-powered device which will sport a curved display on the sides, though we still don’t know whether this device will be made out of metal like the rest of the company’s lineup, or if we can expect a combination of metal and glass like the one Samsung used. As far as Xiaomi is concerned, this company is going to introduce their Mi Note 2 flagship phablet soon, and the rumors say that this is the curved glass smartphone we’ve been waiting for, though it seems like only the most expensive variant will ship with such a display, it remains to be seen what the other variants will look like, though we can probably expect a design similar to the Xiaomi Mi 5 with a combination of glass and metal, and a curved glass back. As always, feel free to share your thoughts with us, we’d love to hear what you think on the subject, because from our perspective, both Meizu’s and Xiaomi’s devices got pretty stale at this point in terms of the design, their UIs have been refined to a certain point and are constantly improving, but the design, not so much. That’s not all though, they also need to get the names of their smartphones in line, Xiaomi in particular manufactures too many similarly named devices which are too much alike in most other aspects, while Meizu’s naming structure does not make sense. Meizu introduced the PRO 5 flagship with a 5.7-inch display, then the PRO 6 with a 5.2-inch display which is not exactly more powerful than the PRO 5, and then the MX6 which is almost identical to the PRO 6, but has a 5.5-inch display. It doesn’t really make sense, now does it? In any case, we are looking forward to see what will these two companies come up with.

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About the Author
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Kristijan has been writing for Android Headlines since 2014 and is an editor for the site. He has worked as a writer for several outlets before joining Android Headlines, and has a background in writing about Android and technology in general. He is a smartphone enthusiast that specializes in Android applications, and that platform in general. Contact him at Kristijan. [email protected]