Chinese smartphone manufacturer Meizu announced m1 note towards the end of last year, and in a surprisingly quick evolution announced the m2 note in China just a couple months ago. There are few nifty additions and improvements, like the new home button, but otherwise the m2 note is a progressive upgrade of its predecessor.
Let's see how it fares over its predecessor, and where it stands against other budget smartphones in the market.
Meizu m2 note design
The m2 note is almost identical to its predecessor save for the new home button up front. It's also a tad bit thinner and a little longer, although that doesn't make any apparent difference. The back of the phone is a non-removable, glossy plastic shell.
Despite having a 5.5-inch display, the m2 note feels really good in the hands and is comfortable to grip thanks to its rounded corners and the smooth finish. The slim, 8.7mm profile and the curved edges make it very ergonomic and one of the best phablets for extended usage. Even with the glossy finish, it hardly slips out of the hand.
The power button and the volume rocker are on the left edge — an unusual location — but both the keys provide good feedback with just the right amount of resistance while pressing.
Meizu m2 note display
The m2 note features a 5.5-inch 1080p Full HD IGZO display. It's the same as the m1 note but that's not a bad thing since the display is sharp and the colors are very good. The display brightness and the viewing angles are quite good too. In bright sunlight though, the reflective screen struggles with legibility sometimes.
While the m2 note uses tempered glass, the absence of Corning Gorilla Glass or Asahi Dragontrail Glass screen protection is disappointing since you wouldn't want any scratches or knocks on an otherwise beautiful display.
Meizu m2 note hardware
Powered by a 1.3GHz octa-core Mediatek MT6753 processor with 2GB of RAM, the Meizu m2 note packs quite a punch for the price. The user experience is snappy and there isn't any significant lag while multi-tasking or day-to-day usage. The gaming performance impresses too, and graphic-intensive games like Asphalt 8 and Riptide GP2 run very smooth. The phone did get warm on extended gaming sessions, but not uncomfortable to hold.
The m2 note packs in 16GB of internal storage, and unlike the m1 note, it also includes a microSD card slot that supports up to 128GB. It's a hybrid SIM slot, so you'll need to choose between dual SIM functionality (The m2 note supports 4G connectivity on both the SIM slots) and additional storage. It does support USB OTG too.
The a 3,100mAh non-removable battery on the m2 note is more than adequate for an average user, and easily lasts over day. Even on heavy usage on 4G, you're likely to get it through a working day easily.
Meizu m2 note software
The m2 note runs Android 5.1 Lollipop with the company's proprietary customization, FlyMe OS 4.5, on top of it. You can switch between the stock Android and FlyMe OS icons. FlyMe is a nice UI and while it takes a little while to get used to, I liked it for most parts. It's smooth and fluid, and adds several useful gesture and navigation controls without overwhelming the user experience. The localization isn't the best, and you'd find some badly-translated text here and there. Of course, you can always download and install an alternate launcher.
FlyMe offers a bunch of gesture controls like Gesture Wakeup that lets you cold-access apps from the lockscreen by tracing specific gestures or letters or Smart Touch that displays a floating button that functions as an onscreen navigation control that can be programmed to perform various functions.
The m2 note comes with just a handful of Google services pre-installed – the Play Store, Maps, Google Now, and Google settings. Other apps, like the browser and AppCenter (Meizu's app store), are in Chinese. The theme store has a large selection of themes, wallpapers, ringtones, et al but since it's in Chinese, it isn't of much use. The m2 note comes pre-installed with the TouchPal keyboard, in addition to the default Google keyboard.
The m2 note introduces a different paradigm for navigation on Android. There's a unique home key without the usual capacitive buttons or the on-screen keys to go along with it. The home key can register both touch responses as well as presses. So if you are in the settings menu for example, touching the key would take you back one step backward and pressing it would take you back to the home screen.
The navigation isn't complex, although, you'll take a few iterations to get used to the idea. Of course, as you'd go along, you'll learn more shortcuts – and there's quite a bunch of them - that you can use.
Meizu m2 note camera
The Meizu m2 note packs a 13-megapixel camera with dual-tone LED flash. For a budget smartphone, the m2 note captures pretty good quality photos with great detailing. In most photos in broad daylight, there's very low noise and the colors are accurately reproduced. Even the low-light photos are decent, without much graininess, although the LED flash sometimes completely washed out the subjects. The front-facing 5-megapixel camera is also pretty good in terms of details and is good enough for your selfies, but in low-light, the photos come out very grainy.
While the shutter speed is quite fast, it tends to go slow in HDR mode although the dynamic range gets better obviously. Some noise creeps in though. I prefer clicking photos with the HDR mode off since it tends to over-sharpen the photos.
The camera app on the m2 note is zippy, and offers seven modes to choose from – auto, manual, beauty, panorama, light field, scan, and slow-motion. Light Field mode allows you to refocus the image after capturing while the scan mode allows you to scan QR codes. In most cases, the auto mode does the job well. Of course, if you'd want that extra bit of control, the manual mode allows you to choose the shutter speed, ISO, exposure, and focus point.
The camera app also offers gridlines to assist your composition. While gridlines are a common feature, the m2 note also packs in a level gauge that shows you the angle of inclination of the phone making it easier to position and compose your photo.
While the camera impresses for still images, the quality of captured videos is just average and the details are low. Despite two microphones, the audio quality too is nothing to write home about.
The bottom line
The Meizu m2 note is one of the best budget phablets available today. There are some flaws, but overall the phone has a lot of positives to make it a great smartphone. There's a sharp display, good camera, and long battery life backed by very good internals that offer a zippy performance with a refreshing user experience.