The Quick Take
While being a fairly well-established smartphone brand in China, Meizu is a recent entrant in India, and a significant market share still eludes the brand in this nation. The latest product from their stable, the Meizu m2, balances specifications, user experience, and pricing well, and is aimed to carve out a niche for themselves in the budget smartphone market.
- Build quality
- Software optimization
- Battery life
- Confusing UI
- mBack experience
- Inconsistent camera
Meizu m2 specifications
|Operating System||Android 5.1 Lollipop with Flyme OS 4.5|
|Display||5-inch HD (1280 x 720) | AGC Dragontrail glass protection|
|Processor||1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6735 64-bit processor with Mali-T720 GPU|
|Memory||16GB internal memory, expandable up to 128GB with microSD|
|Rear Camera||13MP with LED Flash, f/2.2 aperture|
|Front Camera||5MP, f/2.0 aperture|
|Dimensions||140.1 × 68.9 × 8.7mm|
About this review
I've been using the Indian edition of Meizu m2 for last two weeks. Out of the box, the m2 ran Flyme OS 4.5 running on top of Android 5.1. For most of the time, I used it with Airtel 4G, and to test the dual SIM functionality, I popped in a Vodafone 3G SIM sometimes.
Meizu m2 full review
Meizu m2 design
Meizu m2 carries the design identity we've seen with other Meizu devices in the past, transcending the price segments. It's not flashy, but focused on being functional and ergonomically sound, and yet is visually appealing.
While one may mistake the exterior for metal on first glance, the build is all plastic. Nevertheless, it feels really good in the hand and the curved edges on the back makes it really easy to grip. At 131 grams it's fairly light and the contours make for a very comfortable and compact phone.
The glaring omission are the three navigation buttons found on most Android smartphones. Instead, you'd find a single, physical button, called mBack. The single button is both touch sensitive and physical, and hence serves as both Home (long press) and Back (tap) keys. Pressing the mBack button once minimizes the app and takes you to the home screen while holding it for three seconds, locks the screen.
The 5-inch HD display sports Asahi Dragontrail glass for damage protection. While the display is pretty good in terms of colors and resolution (294 ppi), the brightness is a tad letdown. Even at full brightness, it isn't quite bright and the dullness is exaggerated outdoors under intense sunlight.
While the m2 is a dual-SIM device, one of the trays is a hybrid one, which means that you can either have a second SIM or a microSD card for expandable storage, but not both. Also, the back is not removable, so you can't access the battery.
Meizu m2 hardware
On paper, the hardware specifications of the Meizu m2 with a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6735 64-bit processor with Mali-T720 GPU paired with 2GB of RAM are run of the mill, but the excellent software optimizations make it a pretty good device for most users. There's 16GB of onboard storage, out of which about 10GB is user-accessible, which is decent. There's also a slot for microSD card allowing you to expand the storage up to 128GB.
The performance is consistently decent, and you wouldn't find the m2 lacking as long as you aren't pressing too hard on multitasking – and that's really true for most budget smartphones. Navigating through the UI and launching apps is snappy and even with gaming, the m2 performs quite smooth and at par with other devices in the price segment.
The battery life on the Meizu m2 is quite impressive, credit due to the power efficient processor and the optimizations on Flyme OS. On moderate to average use, the 2,500 mAh battery easily lasted for over a day.
Meizu m2 software
Powered by Android 5.1, the Meizu m2 runs the company's proprietary Flyme operating system. It's a refreshing change from the stock Android experience, but many would wonder if it is necessary.
The interface eschews a dual-level hierarchy and there's no app drawer. While the notifications hub is similar to most Android skins, the app switcher is quite different. You'd need to swipe up from below — from either side of the home button — to get access to currently running applications. The settings section is a little confusing at first since the two-pane setup focusses on iconography. It's easy to get lost here, and takes a little time to get used to.
The Flyme OS 4.5 experience is an acquired taste, along with the mBack paradigm. The latter is an unusual experience, and while it doesn't solve any problem, it works well once you get a hang of it. The UI though looks neat, and for the lack of better word, feels quite light.
Meizu m2 camera
The Meizu m2 sports a generous 13-megapixel rear camera. The daylight shots are reasonably good. Most of the photos captured are bright and detailed and the color reproduction is decent. Some shots can be a miss too, with a little blur or noise creeping in. Low light photographs on the other hand are grainy and lack details. The photos turn out to be dull, however, the ones with the LED flash are decent. The 5-megapixel front camera is decent, and good enough for those selfies.
Both the cameras can capture full HD videos that look good enough when shot in well-lit conditions, and offer a smooth playback.
The UI of the Camera app is intuitive, and offers different modes with creative filters, beauty mode, and a QR code scanner mode for reading barcodes as well. Switching between the modes is a tad awkward since it involves swiping between the modes with no way to jump to a mode at the other end. The app also offers a manual mode which allows you to play around with the shutter speed, ISO, exposure, and focus.
While it doesn't offer anything exceptional, except a neat camera app, most photos are pretty decent and acceptable for a budget device. Check out some sample photos from the Meizu m2 below.
Meizu m2 The bottom line
Priced at ¥599 ($94 USD) in China and ₹6,999 ($105) in India, the Meizu m2 boasts of great build quality with excellent audio playback and battery life. While the camera manages to pass of as average, the overall performance is pretty good. The Flyme OS and the mBack button might be disorienting at first, but the software optimizations are what makes it snappy. The m2 ticks almost all the boxes for a decent smartphone, and it feels great in the hand.
Should you buy it? Probably
The Meizu m2 might not be the best out there, but definitely a pretty good budget smartphone. If you are looking for a nice, compact phone that performs well, Meizu m2 is a fine option on the table. I quite like the overall feel of the phone, and continue to use it as my secondary phone after the review period. If you are looking at other phones in the same price segment, and are convinced about one of those, maybe you should give m2 a skip and avoid the learning curve required for Flyme experience and the mBack navigation paradigm.