Review: Meizu MX6

Meizu is one of the more popular smartphone makers coming out of China. They are right up there with the likes of Huawei, Lenovo, and Xiaomi. Meizu has seen some incredible growth in the past couple of years, part of that is due to them growing their portfolio from just a single smartphone - in the MX lineup - to having smartphones hitting all types of price points. Despite the Meizu M3 Note, and PRO 6 being some of the best smartphones available, the company hasn't turned its head away from the MX line, and recently announced the Meizu MX6. It's fairly similar to the Meizu PRO 6, but it is a better smartphone, at least on paper. Sporting a deca-core processor from MediaTek, how does the Meizu MX6 stack up against competitors both in and out of China? Let's find out.

Specs

It's important to note here that the Meizu MX6 is priced around $350 USD (in China, it retails for 1999 RMB). So while it is a pretty cheap flagship smartphone, it does put it at about the same price as the likes of the OnePlus 3 and ZTE AXON 7, both coming out of China as well. Spec-wise, the MX6 sports a 5.5-inch 1080p display and is powered by the MediaTek Helio X20 processor. This is a deca-core processor featuring two quad-core clusters and a dual-core cluster. It breaks down as dual-core 2.3GHz Cortex-A72, quad-core 1.9GHz Cortex-A53, and a quad-core 1.4GHz Cortex-A53 cluster all wrapped into one. This is paired with the Mali T880 GPU, and 4GB of RAM. There is also 32GB of storage included. There is also a 3060mAh battery powering the smartphone, although it is non-removable.

When it comes to optics, Meizu has gone with a slightly different sensor this time around. There's a 12-megapixel camera around back. With a pixel size of 1.25um, meaning that the camera will allow even more light get into the sensor, allowing for even better images, especially in low-light. It sports a f/2.0 aperture as well. The front-facing camera is a 5-megapixel shooter with a f/2.0 aperture as well.

In the Box

The unboxing experience with the Meizu MX6 is about what you would expect here. Open up the box, and the Meizu MX6 is laying right there on top. Beneath that there is a pouch full of documentation - including a quick start guide and warranty information - with the SIM ejection tool included. Below that is the wall adapter and USB Type-C to Type-A cable for charging the Meizu MX6. There's nothing that's out of the ordinary here with the Meizu MX6.

Hardware & Build Quality

Meizu is one of those companies that puts out some amazing looking and feeling devices. The Meizu MX6 fits right in with the rest of their lineup. Although it does look fairly familiar to their other smartphones released this year, like the Meizu PRO 6 and the Meizu M3 Note, both of which we recently reviewed. What we have here is a metal frame and back with a glass front. Although we did get the Meizu MX6 in a different color than the PRO 6, it does have the same design, more or less. One thing that I really like about the design though, is the antenna lines. By now, we all know that they are here, and here to stay, but that doesn't mean that Meizu can't make them look as minimal as possible. And that's what they've done here. The antenna lines have been moved further up/down (depending on if you're looking at the top or bottom of the smartphone) making them look a bit more minimal. Of course, we'd rather them not be here at all, but this is better than some of the other antenna lines we've seen from other smartphones.

Now yes their is a metal jacket on the MX6, and the camera does protrude a bit. However, it does not protrude as much as the camera on the Moto Z line of smartphones do. It's very subtle, and I almost don't mind that it protrudes at all. Beneath the camera is a dual LED flash, but there is no laser auto-focus here. One of the very few changes from the PRO 6. On the bottom of the device, there is a 3.5mm headphone jack, with the USB Type-C port and a speaker. There is a microphone placed at the top of the phone and the bottom, additionally, the volume rocker and power button are on the right side of the phone. Finally, the SIM card slot is on the left side. It is a dual nano SIM card slot, and not a micro SD card hybrid slot, unfortunately. Which means you can't expand the storage on the MX6.

There's no real complaints about the hardware and build quality with the Meizu MX6. As usual, they have knocked the ball out of the park. But now, their design is starting to become a bit "boring" as some would say. In fact, you can't even really tell the difference between the Meizu M3 Note, MX6 and the PRO 6. Hopefully 2017 brings about some big changes for them, design-wise.

Display

With the Meizu MX6, the company opted to stick with a 1080p display once again. While many would welcome that with open arms, especially due to the fact that the battery is a moderately sized, 3060mAh, many others are wishing that Meizu would jump on the QHD or 2K display bandwagon. Especially with VR becoming a pretty popular topic in recent months and years. With this being a 5.5-inch display, you do still get a decent pixel density of 403 pixels per inch. The display looks great, it's got a slight hint of saturation, but not too much. And it is also more than visible when outdoors in direct sunlight. Something that not every other smartphone can boast.

The display here isn't going to be the best for virtual reality, but it will more than do the trick for everyday tasks like checking email, Twitter, and even watching some media from the likes of YouTube and such. While the display may look great, the other side of the coin here is the digitizer. Displays can look amazing, but if they are paired with a crappy digitizer, then it's going to give users a bad experience. The digitizer is what recognizes your finger whenever you touch the display. Needless to say, it's an important part of any smartphone. The digitizer on the Meizu MX6, however, is pretty good. We won't say it's perfect, but we haven't had any issues in our 2 weeks of using the device as our daily driver.

Performance

Using a smartphone like the Meizu MX6 is always interesting. This is because Meizu uses MediaTek chips (they used to use Samsung's Exynos chips in their smartphones). These are chips that aren't often seen in smartphones here in the West. Especially not the high-end chips like the Helio X20 which is present in the MX6. This is a unique chipset, to be honest. The Helio X20 is a deca-core processor, so there are three clusters here. There's two quad-cores and a dual-core cluster. There's a quad-core 1.4GHz Cortex-A53 cluster, quad-core 1.9GHz Cortex-A53 cluster and a dual-core 2.3GHz Cortex-A72 cluster. The idea with this tri-cluster setup is for the device to typically use the 1.9GHz quad-core cluster for most tasks. Allowing it to bump up to the 2.3GHz cores for more resource intensive tasks like gaming, and when in idle or standby, it can use the slower 1.4GHz cores to use less battery when the phone isn't actively being used. Sounds good on paper, but how does it perform in the real world?

Quite well actually. Using it side-by-side with the Honor 8 which houses Huawei's own Kirin 950 processor, the MediaTek Helio X20 performs really well. There isn't a stutter to be found in day-to-day usage, and standby time is pretty phenomenal as well. And that's without using any of the crazy battery saving modes that are included on the MX6. There's no complaints with the performance of the Helio X20 which is also paired with the Mali-T880 GPU. This is the same GPU that is found in most other high-end smartphones that aren't running Qualcomm chipsets. This includes the Meizu PRO 6 as well as the Honor 8. There is also 4GB of RAM to boot, which gives you plenty of memory for storing apps without needing to reload them every time you switch from one to another.

Fingerprint Sensor

There's nothing new here with the fingerprint sensor. Meizu seems to have found a placement on their phones for the fingerprint sensor and stuck with it over the years. Their first fingerprint sensor was in the Meizu MX4 Pro. It is located on the front of the device, in the home button. To unlock the MX6, just press your finger on the home button and it unlocks within seconds. It's lightning fast, although they do have some competition from Huawei/Honor in that area.

However, the fingerprint sensor does a whole lot more than just unlocking the phone. It also serves as a home button and back button. It's a capacitive button too, so just lightly touch the button and you'll go back. If you press the button like a physical button, you'll head home. Pretty simple. Now to get to recents, just swipe up from the bottom bezel and you'll see all of your recently opened apps. You can also jump into multi-window mode from there. But more on that in the software section.

Benchmarks

With the Meizu MX6, we ran three benchmarks to make sure that everything is on the up and up. Now since the internals are exactly the same as the Meizu PRO 6, and it is running the same software (Android 6.0 with Flyme 5.2) we expected similar results. And that's exactly what we got with the MX6. You can see the results from AnTuTu, Geekbench and 3D Mark down below.

Battery Life

Just a quick disclaimer here, Meizu measures battery life a bit differently in Flyme. Where as most operating systems will reset the statistics whenever you charge up to 100% and show you stats from that entire battery cycle, Flyme only shows you the past 3, 6, or 12 hours. Making it tough to show how good (or bad) the battery is on the Meizu MX6. But we do have plenty of screenshots to show you, in the gallery below. Once more, we ran PC Mark which gave us a score of 9 hours and 28 minutes. That's pretty similar to the Honor 8 we reviewed recently, but slightly lower than the Moto Z Play.

While we can't say for sure that you should get around 4-5 hours on screen time with the Meizu MX6, it is pretty likely that you can. It's also extremely likely that you'll be able to get through a full day without needing to recharge the phone. Unless you are a very heavy user, it should definitely last the entire day.

Software

Meizu hasn't changed up their software all that much in the past few years. Flyme has gotten some pretty small changes here and there, but there's not much that needs changing anyways. Onboard the Meizu MX6, we have Android 6.0 Marshmallow running with Flyme 5.2 on top. That is the latest version of Flyme, but as of last month, it's not the latest version of Android. Meizu doesn't show which security patch is on the MX6, in settings, but we do know from past experience that Meizu is pretty good with updates. They never come as fast as users want them, but they do at least come, fairly often. As for when Android 7.0 Nougat will be available, that's tough to say. And as usual, Meizu isn't committing to a firm date for the update.

Flyme is actually one of my favorite Android skins out there. Not only is it colorful, but it adds a lot of useful features, while still being lightweight enough to keep the phone from lagging or being bogged down. Of course, the big omission from Flyme is the app drawer. This is common with smartphones out of Asia, specifically China. It appears that the way users in Asia use their phones, is different from those in the west. Which is understandable. There are a few complaints that we have with Flyme, which are basically the same as the ones in our Meizu PRO 6 review. But let's get these out of the way before we talk about the good of the UI.

First up, Meizu has a separate app called "Security". This is a bit confusing, as there are a number of settings here that should be part of the settings app. Particularly the data usage, and battery profiles. The cleaner, accelerator, and the others in here are okay to be in a separate app. But for normal users that are looking to turn on a battery saver mode, they aren't going to jump into the Security app to do that, most would go to the Settings app, as that is where it is located on literally every other smartphone. The other is when it comes to Gmail notifications (Inbox as well). Notifications show the subject in black text, so that it's tough to see the subject of your emails in the notification bar.

Continuing on with the notification shade, the toggles are customizable here, but not as customizable as we'd like. When you move one toggle out of the shade, another one pops in there. Which means you can't have any more or less than 12 toggles (3 rows of 4) in the notification shade. Likely not an issue for most people, but it can still be a bit of an issue. You can choose whether the notifications appear on the lock screen or not, and one of my favorite features (which seems to only be available on smartphones out of China) is the ability to show your network speed. Allowing you to see if you are actually getting activity from the network you are connected too.

Now Meizu has added in a new feature, which is multi-window. This was present on the Meizu M3 Note, which we reviewed recently, but not on the Meizu PRO 6 for whatever reason. It's a bit of an interesting implementation to say the least. Basically, you swipe up to get into recents, then you will see a "Multi" button on the right side of the apps that are compatible. Tap on that and you will open the app in multi-window. The bottom half will show a launcher with the apps that are compatible, which there aren't too many. Some of the third-party apps that are compatible include Facebook, Twitter and Spotify.

When it comes to third-party interfaces, not everyone is going to love a particular one. For instance, some love EMUI, some hate it. Some love Sense, others hate it. You get the idea. But Flyme may be the best interface that is available right now. It looks nothing like stock Android, so the purists won't like it, but boy does it add in a ton of features. If you haven't given Flyme a try recently, you should definitely do so. It does take a bit of time to get used to it, but it's a great interface to have on top of Marshmallow, and the company is always working to improve it.

Camera

The Meizu MX6's camera also hasn't changed much from the PRO 6 released earlier on in the year. The software is much the same, which isn't necessarily a bad thing to be honest. The camera UI is laid out quite nicely. On the left side there is a shortcut to camera settings, along with the toggle for the front-facing camera, filters, timer and flash. On the opposite side you have the shutter in the middle with a shortcut to the gallery app - showing your last taken photo of course - above it and below that is the toggle for the different modes available on the MX6. Speaking of modes, there's plenty of them here. There's Auto, Manual, Video, Beauty, Panorama, Light Field, Slow-mo, Scan, Macro and GIF.

Manual mode is of course going to be our favorite mode, as it allows you to have complete control over the picture that you are taking. You can adjust the white balance, contrast, saturation, exposure, ISO and shutter speed. GIF is another good one, because who doesn't enjoy a good GIF or two? This is a pretty simple mode. It allows you to record a video up to 6 seconds long, and it'll just continuously loop, like an animated GIF would do. Now this isn't particularly a new mode, we've seen it on other smartphones before, but it is still a cool one to check out.

The camera does perform pretty well, in day-to-day usage. We took a number of shots with the Meizu MX6 during our time with it, and found that most of the shots were pretty amazing. Now the Meizu PRO 6 sported a higher-megapixel sensor, versus the MX6, but the MX6 does have bigger pixels. This is something that is becoming popular in the industry as of late, and it also means that you're going to get more light in your pictures. Especially useful for low-light situations. The macro mode performed pretty well too, giving us some great looking Bokeh effects. Of course, it still is no match for what you would see on a DSLR or even a mirrorless camera, but still pretty sweet for a smartphone camera. In the gallery below, you'll see a number of images taken from the Meizu MX6, so you can see for yourself how well the camera works.

The Good

Build Quality, despite it becoming a bit boring at this point.

Fingerprint Sensor is fast as always

Camera, even though it looks worse on paper, it outperforms the PRO 6.

Battery Life is stellar, thanks to the Helio X20 SoC.

The Bad

The "iPhone" look, sure the MX6 was announced before the iPhone 7, but it does have the exact same antenna lines and overall look.

Protruding camera, sure everyone's doing it, but that doesn't make it right or something customers want.

Wrap Up

The Meizu MX6 is a great smartphone, there's no denying that. Meizu is known for their great hardware, and a pretty stellar experience with Flyme OS. Sure there are a few issues that those in the West won't be too excited about, but overall it's a great smartphone. The Meizu MX6 seems to be a rather decent upgrade over the MX5 from last year, compared to the PRO 5 and the PRO 6, which seemed like a massive downgrade in a lot of areas.

Should you buy the Meizu MX6?

If you are in Europe or Asia, definitely. This is a smartphone that is made for China, so that means that the LTE bands won't work in the US, unfortunately. However, we did get access to 3G and HSPA+ speeds on T-Mobile, there won't be any 4G LTE speeds on either of the GSM carriers in the US. Luckily for those in Europe, many of the bands used in Asia line up perfectly, so you should get 4G LTE without much of a problem. If you are wanting a great looking smartphone, with top-of-the-line specs, and an amazing camera, then you definitely can't go wrong with the Meizu MX6.

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About the Author
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Alexander Maxham

Section Editor
Alex has written for Androidheadlines since 2012 as Editor of the site and traveled the World to many of the biggest Smartphone and Technology events. Alex has a background in Technology and IT and Deep Passion for Everything Android and Google. His specialties lay in Smartphones of all budgets, Accessories, Home Automation and more. Contact him at [email protected]
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