Meizu unveiled its latest smartphone, the Meizu 15, in Wuzhen just last week. It was to mark the company's 15th anniversary, and the company threw together a pretty big event in a location that it doesn't usually use to announce new smartphones. Typically, Meizu will announce new products in Beijing, the capital city of China, instead of Wuzhen, which is a smaller city further south in the country. But the Meizu 15 showed the world that Meizu, despite expanding to new countries in recent years, is still too focused on China. And that is likely what is keeping Meizu from being a global player in other markets, like India, where many other Chinese smartphone makers are thriving right now.
The Meizu 15 isn't a bad phone, to be honest, especially for something that will be under $400 USD. But it shows that Meizu is really only focusing on the Chinese market with this phone. For one, the Meizu 15 only supports Asian bands. That means if you are in Europe or North America, the Meizu 15 is essentially a WiFi-connected paperweight, as it will only work with 2G/EDGE networks, if you are lucky. That is typically always the case with Meizu and other Chinese smartphones, but there's really no reason why Meizu couldn't create a smartphone that supported more bands, if not bands for North America, at least for Europe – where Meizu actually sells smartphones.
That's not the only issue for Meizu, that's keeping it from being a global player though. The company also seems to be lacking innovation right now. It's pretty clear with the Meizu 15 and 15 Plus it just announced. It's sporting a 16:9 aspect ratio display, in a time where just about every smartphone is moving towards a taller display, going with either 18:9 or 19:9 with a notch. Meizu believes that 16:9 is the better choice right now, but it leads many to think that Meizu just can't keep up with the industry right now. The company also seems to be lacking a "premium" design with its smartphones. Design isn't a new issue for the company either. If you go back to 2016, just about every smartphone that the company announced had the same exact design. It was an aluminum unibody with a white front. It wasn't necessarily a bad design, but it was definitely played out, and when your entry-level, mid-range and high-end products all sport the same design, something needs to change.
Even with the Meizu 15, it's clear that premium design is still an issue for the company. The Meizu 15 looks like a pretty decent smartphone, but when you hold it in your hand, it just doesn't scream "premium" here. This is also something that LG is struggling with right now, so Meizu isn't alone here. While the back of the Meizu 15 looks really clean, with a brushed aluminum look, it's not aluminum. It's not even glass, it feels more like plastic, which is the main reason why it doesn't scream premium when you pick it up. The Meizu 15 is a pretty compact device here, with a 5.46-inch display, in a body that is similar to a 5.2-inch smartphone with the same 16:9 aspect ratio, and that's because the side bezels are almost non-existent and the top and bottom bezels are very compact. But overall, the phone looks somewhat boring, and that's not new with the Meizu 15 either, as all of its devices in 2016 and part of 2017 were all sporting the same design as we mentioned already.
Then there's the software. Flyme isn't a bad operating system, but it's not something that appeals to those in the West, where Meizu wants to expand at some point. It has its issues, like every operating system does, but Meizu needs to do a better job of accommodating users in the West as well as those in China and other parts of Asia. That's something that Xiaomi has done very well over the past few years as it has grown to become one of the bigger players in the world. Xiaomi entered India just a few years ago, and is now the top smartphone maker in the country, surpassing Samsung not too long ago. And that's because Xiaomi has adapted to what those in the country want. That's where Meizu is lacking right now. Meizu needs to adapt its software, but also its selling strategy, to other regions, which will help the company appeal in those new regions and also result in more market share.
Meizu has plans to be one of the larger smartphone makers out there, and wants to expand to more countries in Europe and eventually make it to North America. But right now, it simply isn't ready. Meizu isn't planning to head to the US anytime soon – partly due to the political issues pushing Huawei and ZTE out of the country – so there is time for Meizu to change things up and get ready to enter the third largest market. And it may be doing that with the Android Go smartphone is launching later this year. While Meizu didn't mention how exactly that device would be marketed, it will likely be heading towards Western markets like Europe and possibly India, when it does launch later this year. Hopefully by then, Meizu is able to put out a smartphone with a really premium design, and changes up Flyme a bit to be more streamlined and a bit closer to AOSP – for example, some notifications were unreadable on earlier versions of Flyme, but that appears to be fixed now. There's just no reason to replace Google apps with Meizu's own apps, for smartphones being sold outside of China. Inside of China, that's fine because Google is blocked there, so Google isn't an option for its users. Meizu has the resources to do this, the big question is whether they will do it though.