Meizu M3 Max

£190 • meizu.com/en

Android Advisor - - Contents -

Meizu makes de­cent but af­ford­able An­droid phones, and its Meizu M3 Max will appeal to those look­ing for a large-screen phone on a bud­get. The M3 Max is cur­rently avail­able from Meizu’s on­line shop for $259.99 (£210.08), al­though the usual price is $329.99 (£266.62).

Be warned that when buy­ing from China you will be ex­pected to pay im­port duty upon its ar­rival to the UK. How this is cal­cu­lated de­pends on the value writ­ten on the pa­per­work, and when we re­ceived our pack­age con­tain­ing the M3 Max and MX6 (re­view com­ing soon) we were hit with

a bill for £95.51 from DHL. Al­though that is for two phones, it’s still a fair bit more than the usual £20- to £30 we’re charged, so should cer­tainly be fac­tored into the over­all cost of the phone be­fore you buy.

It’s worth point­ing out that we usu­ally get our Chi­nese phones via GearBest or Geek­buy­ing, with whom we’ve had mul­ti­ple deal­ings and no real is­sues. Un­for­tu­nately the M3 Max is cur­rently out of stock at GearBest, but at the time of writ­ing it was on sale at Geek­buy­ing at £190.04. So that’s not only cheaper, but it’s com­ing from a source we trust.

Do bear in mind that which­ever out­let you choose there are var­i­ous risks as­so­ci­ated with your pur­chase. Apart from any­thing else the rules are dif­fer­ent out­side Europe, and get­ting mat­ters re­solved should any­thing go wrong could be more com­pli­cated. You’ll also have to wait longer for your par­cel to ar­rive if you opt for free de­liv­ery.

De­sign

Meizu phones are well-made, good-look­ing de­vices, but they don’t stand out for hav­ing a dis­tinc­tive de­sign of their own. The M3 Max looks a bit like an iPhone 6s Plus, but with an elon­gated rather than cir­cu­lar home but­ton. For many users that won’t be a bad thing.

It’s very dif­fi­cult to fault this phone’s de­sign. Al­though it’s large at 163.4x81.6mm with a 6in panel it has rea­son­ably slim bezels on the left- and right edges and is thin at 7.9mm, which makes it eas­ier to hold. We still found it im­pos­si­ble to reach the far cor­ner of the screen with a thumb, and the phone is pretty weighty at 189g, so

two-handed use is a must. A huge plus point of this ex­tra size and weight is a high-ca­pac­ity bat­tery, which is rated at 4100mAh.

We re­ally missed the One-handed mode of Xiaomi phones here, able to shrink down the dis­played screen to a more man­age­able size, but we did find a SmartTouch op­tion in the Set­tings that al­lows you to place on­screen a but­ton that works with var­i­ous ges­tures. By de­fault a tap takes you back a step, slid­ing up takes you to the Home screen and slid­ing down pulls down the no­ti­fi­ca­tion bar at the top of the screen. Slid­ing left and right lets you switch be­tween tasks.

When you be­come fa­mil­iar with SmartTouch it can be use­ful, al­though at the same time you’ll also need to be­come fa­mil­iar with the Home but­ton. And we have to say it’s not for us. With no back or mul­ti­task­ing but­tons on ei­ther side of the phys­i­cal home but­ton you must tap it gen­tly to go back, and

a lit­tle harder to go to the Home screen, but not too hard as it’ll send the screen into standby mode. To ac­cess the mul­ti­task­ing menu you slide up from the bot­tom of the screen, but not di­rectly above the home but­ton. We found this out en­tirely by mis­take.

The other thing to say about this Home but­ton is that it is also an mTouch finger­print scan­ner. In our ex­pe­ri­ence it works well, so no com­plaints there.

In other re­spects the de­sign is fairly stan­dard, al­though that’s not to say bad. It feels as though it will with­stand the per­ils of daily use with no is­sue, with a rea­son­ably clean metal rear (in­clud­ing a com­pletely flush cam­era) and chis­elled edges that flow smoothly into the 2.5D glass cov­er­ing the white plas­tic front. There are no sharp edges, no rough bits, no creaks, cracks or gap­ing holes – ab­so­lutely noth­ing here that would cause con­cern.

Un­usu­ally the head­phone jack is found on the bot­tom of the hand­set rather than at the top, but to be fair at least it has one. Also here is Mi­cro-USB for charg­ing, a mic and five small holes that al­low au­dio to pass through from the phone’s mono speaker. A slot-load­ing SIM tray sits on the up­per left edge, and here you can opt to insert two SIMs or one SIM and a mi­croSD card. With 64GB of stor­age built-in the need to choose be­tween a se­cond SIM or ex­pand­able stor­age shouldn’t be too frus­trat­ing an is­sue.

The screen is de­cent. We’ve al­ready touched on its size, which is well suited to mul­ti­me­dia – watch­ing videos in any case, if not gam­ing (see per­for­mance below). It’s a full-HD IPS panel, which is rea­son­ably bright (Meizu claims 450cd/m2) and with re­al­is­tic colours and great view­ing an­gles.

The Meizu M3 Max is avail­able in four colour op­tions: rose gold, sil­ver, grey and gold. We’ve re­viewed the sil­ver model here.

Per­for­mance

Run­ning the show here is a Me­di­aTek MT6755M (aka the He­lio P10) pro­ces­sor, Mali-T860 GPU and 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM. This is an octa-core pro­ces­sor, com­pris­ing eight Cor­tex-A53 cores with four at 1GHz for ef­fi­ciency and four at 1.8GHz for power. It’s cer­tainly ca­pa­ble enough for day-to­day use, but the Meizu M3 Max’s per­for­mance in our gam­ing bench­marks leaves some­thing to be de­sired. We found nav­i­ga­tion of the smart­phone fluid, with apps launch­ing quickly and lit­tle signs of lag. In truth, our only real hes­i­ta­tion came from our in­ex­pe­ri­ence of Flyme OS.

We’ve seen this He­lio P10 chip be­fore in the Ele­phone P9000, Ule­fone Fu­ture, Vernee Mars,

im­prove­ment on the 2GB in­side the M3 Note and Sony Xpe­ria XA.

We’ve charted our var­i­ous bench­mark re­sults below, but to suf­fice to say none of th­ese phones par­tic­u­larly stand out in the group for per­for­mance. If any­thing the two Meizus stand out for their lower gam­ing fram­er­ates in GFXBench.

There’s ac­tu­ally very lit­tle dif­fer­ence in the specifications of the Note and the Max, with the phone re­viewed here of­fer­ing a slightly larger (6in ver­sus 5.5in) IPS dis­play and an ex­tra gig of RAM. It’s a lit­tle slim­mer but heav­ier, and per­for­mance is only a lit­tle im­proved.

As in the M3 Note there’s a gen­er­ous 4100mAh bat­tery. It’s not re­mov­able and nei­ther does it sup­port wire­less charg­ing, but Meizu does of­fer its own fast-charg­ing tech, mCharge. It says this is able to charge the bat­tery by 45 per­cent in just 30 min­utes, which could get you through the best part of a day’s use. Ex­actly how long it will last you de­pends en­tirely on you us­age – some will get two days, but if that large screen is left switched on for much of the time you’ll be reach­ing for a power bank be­fore the end of day two.

Con­nec­tiv­ity

The Meizu M3 Max is a dual-SIM phone that works in dual-standby mode. Or at least it can be, pro­vided you don’t want to add a mi­croSD card. UK users should note that it sup­ports 4G LTE only via the 1800- and 2600MHz bands (aka bands 3 and 7). This means there is no sup­port for 800MHz/Band 20, which is the only fre­quency used by O2, Gif­fgaff and a hand­ful of other mo­bile op­er­a­tors in the UK.

If you are a cus­tomer of one of th­ese net­works you will not be able to get any­thing faster than 3G con­nec­tiv­ity in the UK. The Max can also cater to dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth 4.1, GPS and GLONASS, but there’s no IR blaster or NFC – the lat­ter is nec­es­sary for mak­ing mo­bile pay­ments.

Cam­eras

In com­mon with many Chi­nese phones around this price point the M3 Max is fit­ted with a 13Mp Sony IMX258 cam­era with a five-el­e­ment lens, f/2.2 aper­ture, PDAF and a dual-LED flash. For the money it’s a de­cent enough cam­era, al­though we are not talk­ing flag­ship qual­ity.

The cam­era app is ba­sic, but some­times un­com­pli­cated can be a good thing. If you want

to point and shoot, you just point and shoot - or point, tap to fo­cus, and then shoot. If you want ac­cess to more set­tings you’ll find HDR in the Set­tings menu, and shoot­ing modes such as beauty and man­ual via the icon to the left of the shut­ter. Run­ning across the top of the in­ter­face are icons for ac­cess­ing real-time fil­ters, a count­down timer, the flash and switch­ing the cam­era view.

Press the lat­ter icon and you can ac­cess the 5Mp f/2.0 cam­era at the front of the M3 Max, which is as good as any other selfie or video chat cam­era.

Given good light­ing the M3 Max can take a de­cent enough shot. Below you can see our stan­dard test images of the St Pan­cras Re­nais­sance Ho­tel, first with Auto set­tings and se­cond with HDR. In the first we’ve en­tirely lost the sky, but the

level of de­tail is rea­son­able and colours very true. The HDR shot is a clear im­prove­ment (with clouds and ev­ery­thing), al­though the traf­fic run­ning down Eus­ton Road caused prob­lems given the time it took to cap­ture the im­age.

Soft­ware

The Meizu M3 Max runs Flyme OS, which is a cus­tom ver­sion of An­droid 6.0 Marsh­mal­low. By de­fault there are no Google Play ser­vices pre­in­stalled, but as soon as we con­nected to Wi-Fi we were prompted to in­stall Google ser­vices via a no­ti­fi­ca­tion. The phone down­loaded the file, re­booted it­self and we were good to go. We sim­ply clicked on the new Play store icon to log into our Google ac­count and start down­load­ing the apps we re­quired.

This is an im­prove­ment over the last Meizu phone we re­viewed, the M3 Note, which didn’t al­low us to run Google Play ser­vices at all, and for which we ar­gued that it was po­ten­tially not a good buy for UK An­droid users. Al­though you are pro­vided with Meizu’s own apps for mu­sic, videos, se­cu­rity, weather, email and more, plus themes and apps stores, it’s just not the Google Maps and YouTube setup we’re fa­mil­iar with. For­tu­nately, with Google Play sup­port you can add th­ese things; un­for­tu­nately, you still can’t unin­stall the apps pre­in­stalled within Flyme OS. Our ad­vice is to stick them all in a folder out the way ( just drag the home screen icons on top of each other).

A key dif­fer­ence be­tween this and a stan­dard An­droid phone is the re­moval of the app tray, which means ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing can be found on one of mul­ti­ple home screens or within the Set­tings

menu (which is it­self fairly stan­dard). Pull down the no­ti­fi­ca­tion bar and you also get some cus­tomis­able quick-ac­cess tog­gles for Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth and so on, plus a screen bright­ness slider.

We can han­dle the lack of an app tray – if noth­ing else you will know ex­actly where to find ev­ery­thing, and par­tic­u­larly if you’re an ex-iPhone user, but we thor­oughly dis­like the re­moval of the back and multi-task­ing but­tons ei­ther side of the home but­ton. This mul­ti­func­tional home but­ton is truly Ap­ple-es­que, and it’s not a fea­ture we want An­droid to bor­row. Why have one con­fus­ing but­ton plus a SmartTouch work­around when you can have three sim­ple but­tons for which op­er­a­tion just makes sense? They don’t need to be la­belled or even vis­i­ble as long as they are there.

The M3 Max sup­ports a hand­ful of ges­tures, such as dou­ble-tap to wake and slide up to un­lock. You can also draw char­ac­ters on­screen in standby mode to wake the screen and in­stantly launch an app of

your choice, which is a time­saver only so long as you re­mem­ber which let­ter rep­re­sents which app.

Ver­dict

We’re not fans of Flyme OS, nor this strange An­droid-iOS mashup Meizu seems to favour. But the M3 Max is a de­cent-value smart­phone with a nice large screen, a good build and ca­pa­ble day-to-day per­for­mance. Marie Brewis

Specifications

• 6in full-HD (1920x1080, 368ppi) IPS dis­play • Flyme OS • 1.8GHz He­lio P10 (4x 1.8GHz Cor­tex-A53 + 4x 1GHz Cor­tex-A53) octa-core pro­ces­sor

• ARM Mali-T860 GPU • 3GB LPDDR3 RAM • 64GB stor­age (plus mi­croSD up to 128GB or se­cond SIM)

• mTouch finger­print scan­ner • Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi • Blue­tooth 4.1 • Dual-SIM dual-standby (2x Nano-SIM) • 4G FDD-LTE 1800/2100/2600MHz • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS • 13Mp Sony IMX258 rear cam­era with five-el­e­ment lens, PDAF, f/2.2 aper­ture, dual-LED flash

• 5Mp front cam­era with four-el­e­ment lens, f/2.0 aper­ture

• Mi­cro-USB • 4100mAh bat­tery (9 hours GPS, 10.2 hours video) with mCharge (45 per­cent in 30 min­utes)

• 163.4x81.6x7.9mm

• 189g

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