Meizu MX6

Tech Advisor - - Con­tents -

First im­pres­sions of the MX6 from Meizu are good. On pa­per it’s got de­cent spec­i­fi­ca­tions, which in­clude a deca-core pro­ces­sor, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of stor­age, and out the box it’s a well-made and good-look­ing metal hand­set with a de­sign some­where be­tween the lat­est iPhone and the HTC 10 – and, oddly enough, it’s avail­able in rose gold, grey, sil­ver and gold.

Price

At £255 this is a mid-range smart­phone, but the MX6 of­fers more for your money than phones you might find on the High Street. As you’ve prob­a­bly guessed from the un­fa­mil­iar name this is a Chi­nese phone, but from a com­pany well-known in its home­land.

In the past Meizu phones have re­minded us of those of Xiaomi, of which it is a com­peti­tor, of­fer­ing great value for money and com­ing pre­in­stalled with a sim­i­larly cus­tomised An­droid in­ter­face that places ev­ery­thing on the Home screen, but with no Google apps built in. Flyme, the OS used by the MX6, is very dif­fer­ent to Xiaomi’s MIUI, but we’ll get on to that later.

In com­mon with those phones, the MX6 did not come pre­in­stalled with Google ser­vices. How­ever, upon turning it on for the first time we re­ceived a no­ti­fi­ca­tion in­struct­ing us to in­stall them. This might be dis­con­cert­ing for new users, but in­stal­la­tion proved a pain­less process and within a few mo­ments we were able to log into our Google ac­count and start down­load­ing apps from the Google Play store.

The ad­di­tion of Google ser­vices makes this Meizu phone much eas­ier to use than the pre­vi­ously re­viewed Meizu M3 Note – it’s only a shame they weren’t pre­in­stalled be­fore we took it out the box. Other than in­stalling Google ser­vices, no tin­ker­ing is re­quired for set­ting up this phone for UK use, which is re­as­sur­ing for a Chi­nese phone.

De­sign

Our only is­sue with us­abil­ity re­gards the ‘mTouch’ Home but­ton on the front of the phone. It works ex­actly as you’d ex­pect for a Home but­ton with a fin­ger­print scan­ner built in, in that you press it to be re­turned Home or to un­lock the screen (though ir­ri­tat­ingly for the lat­ter you must either press it a se­cond time or long-press to un­lock it).

Our is­sue is with the lack of any but­tons to the side of it and, un­like the re­cently re­viewed Ele­phone S7 which has a sim­i­lar setup, there’s no op­tion in the Set­tings menu to enable a nav­i­ga­tion bar. To go back you tap the Home but­ton, to lock the screen you long-press it, and to ac­cess the Re­cents menu you swipe up from the bot­tom of the screen (but not di­rectly above the Home but­ton). You can enable a Multi-win­dow fea­ture from the Re­cents menu, too, but not all apps are sup­ported.

But while it’s frus­trat­ing in use at first, this setup does enable a clean de­sign with no but­ton le­gends be­low the screen. And it’s largely the same on the rear, with an in­of­fen­sive Meizu logo and a small (and very Ap­ple-es­que) scrawl at the bot­tom that says the phone was de­signed by Meizu and as­sem­bled in China. We’re not en­tirely keen on the cam­era bump pro­trud­ing from the rear, but it’s some­thing that is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly com­mon on An­droid phones and not so dras­tic that the phone will rock when used on a desk.

The over­all de­sign is very good, if sim­i­lar to dozens of ri­val hand­sets, with a metal uni­body and al­most edge-to-edge 5.5in dis­play. Al­though it’s heav­ier than many phones of its size at 155g, it feels very small for a ph­ablet, in part due to those slim bezels and in part to the 7.25mm ul­tra-thin frame and curved cor­ners and edges – it’s rounded on top with 2.5D curved glass, and on the rear. In fact, it’s from the side that it ar­guably looks most like an iPhone.

The over­all de­sign is very good, if sim­i­lar to dozens of ri­val hand­sets, with a metal uni­body and al­most edge-to-edge 5.5in dis­play

The MX6 looks like a smaller ver­sion of the flag­ship Meizu Pro 6. We haven’t re­viewed its pre­de­ces­sor, the MX5, but from what we un­der­stand the MX6 isn’t a vast im­prove­ment over it. In place of an AMOLED panel with Go­rilla Glass there’s a TDDI in-cell dis­play with no pro­tec­tion, rather than a 20.7Mp pri­mary cam­era there’s a 12Mp snap­per, and the bat­tery is 100mAh lower in ca­pac­ity, yet the phone is wider and thicker.

We’re not sure why Meizu has opted for a TDDI in-cell dis­play over AMOLED, nor why it hasn’t fit­ted Go­rilla Glass and left the screen glass vul­ner­a­ble. AMOLED is our favourite type of screen tech, very thin and en­ergy-ef­fi­cient with ex­cel­lent con­trast and sat­u­rated colours. The TDDI panel here com­bines usu­ally sep­a­rate screen lay­ers and has a two-layer touch con­trol sys­tem. It is very re­spon­sive to touch, and still of­fers sat­u­rated colours, good con­trast and bright­ness (par­tic­u­larly at the lower end of the scale, go­ing right down to 1 nit for eas­ier night­time use), but it can ap­pear cold.

The de­sign is oth­er­wise mostly stan­dard, with a USB-C port and speaker grille at the bot­tom, a dual-SIM tray on the left edge and a vol­ume rocker and a power but­ton on the right. How­ever, you’ll note that in Flyme OS this vol­ume rocker con­trols only the me­dia vol­ume (Silent mode is ac­ces­si­ble from the pull-down no­ti­fi­ca­tion bar, but to ad­just the vol­ume rather than mute the phone you need to en­ter the Set­tings menu), and that the head­phone jack is un­usu­ally lo­cated at the bot­tom of the hand­set.

Per­for­mance

The MX6 is the first in Meizu’s MX fam­ily to get the He­lio X20 deca-core pro­ces­sor, which is sim­i­lar to the He­lio X25 but clocked slower at 2.3GHz. It com­bines four Cor­tex-A53 cores run­ning at 1.4GHz with four run­ning at 1.9GHz and two Cor­tex-A72 cores at 2.3GHz. The Mali-T880 GPU is in­te­grated, and it’s paired with 4GB of LPDDR3 RAM.

It’s a very sim­i­lar specification to that of the cheaper Ele­phone S7 (which hap­pens to of­fer dou­ble the stor­age at 64GB plus the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­pan­sion through mi­croSD). We’ve also seen this chip in the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 – per­haps a closer com­peti­tor but with a larger bat­tery – and Vernee Apollo Lite. All three of th­ese smart­phones come in sig­nif­i­cantly cheaper than the Meizu, but per­for­mance is rea­son­ably sim­i­lar. If any­thing, the MX6 per­formed less well in our bench­marks, which may be an ef­fect of Flyme OS. You can see how the phones ranked in the chart above.

In real-world use the Meizu feels fast, and even the cam­era app launches quickly. Things could be sped up with the abil­ity to wake and un­lock the screen with a sin­gle tap of the mTouch but­ton, but we don’t think you’ll have any is­sues with nav­i­gat­ing the hand­set once you’re in. Games and video shouldn’t present a prob­lem either.

The Meizu MX6 comes with 32GB of stor­age built in which, com­pared to UK phones at this price point, is very gen­er­ous. How­ever, we’re dis­ap­pointed to find the dual-SIM slot doesn’t al­low you to sub­sti­tute the se­cond SIM for a mi­croSD card. If you need more than 32GB of stor­age you’ll need to rely on the cloud or a sep­a­rate de­vice.

The bat­tery is a non-re­mov­able model that charges over USB-C. Us­ing a com­pat­i­ble charger mCharge al­lows the bat­tery to fill from zero to 100 per­cent in 75 min­utes. Its 3060mAh ca­pac­ity won’t last you longer than a day, though, so be ready to charge it ev­ery night.

Con­nec­tiv­ity

Be­fore buy­ing any Chi­nese phone you should en­sure it will work on your net­work. The Meizu MX6, in com­mon with Xiaomi phones, does not sup­port the 800MHz 4G band in the UK. It does still work on the 2100MHz and 2600MHz UK 4G bands, but all the ma­jor mo­bile op­er­a­tors hold 800MHz fre­quency, which means your cover­age might not be as wide as it was on a previous smart­phone.

We used the MX6 on the Voda­fone net­work, and didn’t seem to re­ceive 4G con­nec­tiv­ity as com­monly as pre­vi­ously, but that con­nec­tiv­ity was never an is­sue – at least not in places we could pre­vi­ously get online.

For O2 cus­tomers and those of any vir­tual mo­bile op­er­a­tors that pig­gy­back its net­work (for ex­am­ple, Gif­fGaff and Sky Mo­bile), the lack of 800MHz (aka Band 20) will be frus­trat­ing be­cause it’s the only 4G fre­quency held by O2. If you use any of those net­works you will not re­ceive 4G at all on the MX6, though you will still be able to get online via 3G and dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi.

The MX6 al­lows you to add a se­cond SIM (both are Nano-SIMs), which could po­ten­tially al­low you to use sep­a­rate con­tracts (from sep­a­rate op­er­a­tors) for your calls and texts, and mo­bile data. Or you could in­sert a busi­ness SIM, al­low­ing you to make and re­ceive

busi­ness calls with­out hav­ing to carry a se­cond phone.

The dual-SIM setup is du­al­standby, which means either SIM can send and re­ceive calls and texts, al­though you can’t make a call on both SIMs at once. You will need to se­lect only one of the SIMs for mo­bile data, al­though you can switch which is used in the Set­tings menu. Meizu’s MX6 also sup­ports Blue­tooth 4.1, GPS, A-GPS and GLONASS, though there is no NFC for mak­ing mo­bile pay­ments.

Cam­eras

The MX6 is fit­ted with a Sony IMX386, a 12Mp, f/2.0 cam­era with a six-el­e­ment lens, PDAF, 1.25µm large pix­els and a dual-tone flash. It can record 4K video at 30fps.

The cam­era app sup­ports many of the usual modes, real-time fil­ters and a count­down timer, but HDR is hid­den in the Set­tings menu and with no auto op­tion. That’s an im­prove­ment on the Ele­phone S7 mind, which has no HDR mode at all.

In our ex­pe­ri­ence, though, you will want to leave HDR switched on in any case. In Auto mode the sky is com­pletely blown out, whereas things look far more re­al­is­tic with HDR switched on.

The re­sults are av­er­age, and with a rea­son­able amount of noise vis­i­ble, par­tic­u­larly in low light. Shot in good light the colours, con­trast and white bal­ance are ac­cu­rate, though the im­ages aren’t as sharp as we’d like. The Meizu MX6 also has a 5Mp, f/2.0 selfie cam­era with a four-el­e­ment lens. You get all the same op­tions as in the main cam­era app, but with the ad­di­tion of the abil­ity to flip the screen to get a mir­ror im­age.

Soft­ware

Meizu in­stalls Flyme 5.5 on the MX6, which is a cus­tomised ver­sion of An­droid 6.0 Marsh­mal­low. Upon turning it on for the first time you’ll be prompted to download Google ser­vices, which gives you full ac­cess to Google Play and the An­droid apps with which you’re fa­mil­iar. We chose to download Google’s apps for Maps, Drive, Cal­en­dar, Mu­sic and so on. You can hap­pily use Meizu’s al­ter­na­tives, al­though you can’t unin­stall them if you don’t want them.

The first most ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence be­tween Flyme OS and Marsh­mal­low is the re­moval of the app tray. Short­cuts for all your apps are found on the mul­ti­ple home screens, which is a very iOS-es­que setup that you’ll either love or hate. We pre­fer to be able to hide away the apps we need but don’t fre­quently use for a less clut­tered in­ter­face, but here to do that you’ll need to cre­ate fold­ers.

The se­cond most ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence is the re­moval of the nav­i­ga­tion bar – an­other Ap­plestyle move. In­stead you use the mTouch but­ton as both home and back, and swipe up from the bot­tom of the screen to ac­cess re­cents. We don’t like this setup, but if you’re fa­mil­iar with iOS you may see things dif­fer­ently. We have no doubt that given more time we would get used to the change.

You can also place any­where on-screen a SmartTouch but­ton, which in part repli­cates the mTouch but­ton, but can also be used for screen hov­er­ing (which just seems to move half your apps off-screen), un­fold­ing the no­ti­fi­ca­tion bar, lock­ing the screen and launch­ing the task­ing menu. On larger phones such a fea­ture makes for eas­ier one­handed use, though that shouldn’t in it­self be a great is­sue with the MX6.

The no­ti­fi­ca­tion bar is also a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. Pull this down to ac­cess cus­tomis­able quick-ac­cess tog­gles for Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth and so on, plus a screen bright­ness slider.

Extra soft­ware op­tions in­clude an extra-large mode, the abil­ity to set the colour tem­per­a­ture of the screen, and an ad­justable blue light fil­ter to pro­tect your eyes from glare. There is sup­port for ges­tures, such as the abil­ity to dou­ble-tap to wake the screen, as well as cus­tomis­able ges­tures that you draw on-screen in standby to wake the phone and launch a spe­cific app.

Ver­dict

The Meizu MX6 is a nicely de­signed phone, but com­pared to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 and Ele­phone S7 it is ex­pen­sive and un­der­pow­ered. The MX6 still has a great deal to of­fer at around £250, but we’re not keen on Flyme OS or mTouch, and the MX6’s cam­era isn’t the best ex­am­ple we’ve seen. Marie Brewis

The MX6 is fit­ted with a Sony IMX386, a 12Mp, f/2.0 cam­era with a six-el­e­ment lens, PDAF, 1.25µm large pix­els and a dual-tone flash

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