Meizu is a brand not particularly well known here in the UK. Leigh recently reviewed the Meizu M1 Note, and I have been using a Meizu M2 Note for a few months now. This is my review of the Meizu M2 Note, a device purchased from Shenzhen Chigon Technology Co., Ltd. (SCTC). The review device is a 16GB M2 Note built for the Chinese market, and before shipping SCTC preloaded Google Play Services and and the Google Play Store, as well as including a silicon case, a couple of screen protectors and a tempered glass screen protector.
The Meizu M2 Note hardware is an evolution of the M1 Note as the name suggests. Announced and released just 6 months after the M1 Note, the M2 Note makes some minor changes which added up improve the overall experience of using the device.
- 5.5” 1080×1920 IGZO IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors (73% screen to body ratio)
- Flyme OS 4.5 based on Android 5.1.1
- 13 megapixel rear camera with dual-LED (dual-tone) flash
- 5 megapixel front facing camera
- 16GB or 32GB storage expandable via Micro SD (up to 32GB in one SIM slot)
- 2GB RAM
- Dual Nano SIM (single Nano SIM if Micro SD inserted)
- Octa-core CPU (Mediatek MT6753 – 1.3GHz A53)
- GPU Mali T720MP3
- WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS, GLONASS
- Non-removeable 3100 mAh battery
The front of the device is mostly taken up by the 5.5” Full HD screen, and positioned centrally on the lower bezel is the new Meizu Home Button. This button acts as a home button when pressed and as a capacitive back button when tapped. On the upper bezel of the screen we find the ear speaker centrally and the front facing 5MP camera to the right. Bezels to the sides of the screen are minimal, not the smallest we have seen, but proportionately small when related to the display.
The right side of the device is slightly curved to the back and has only the multi-tray slot on it.
The left side of the M2 Note is slightly curved towards the back of the device and is where you will find the power button and a volume rocker.
On the top of the device you will find the ambient microphone and the standard (3.5mm) audio jack. As with the sides the top curves slightly towards the back.
The bottom of the M2 Note houses the microphone, speaker and micro-USB power/data port. As with the other three edges of the device, the bottom curves slightly to the back.
The back of the M2 Note is minimal and just has the 8MP camera and dual LED flash, which are flush with the body of the device (no bump). At the bottom of the back there is a Meizu logo and an info slogan “Designed by Meizu Made in China” (maybe a dig at Apple’s “Designed by Apple in California”).
Overall the design of the M2 Note is a forward iteration on the design of the M1 Note: slightly more angled curves on the back, the power button is now placed on the left side (from the top) and the new home button replaces the capacitive LED notification button. On the inside a different Mediatek chipset clocked at a slower speed powers the device. While on paper less powerful, in everyday use the only noticeable difference is the improved battery life.
The Meizu M2 Note runs Flyme (pronounced “Fly-Me” as in “Fly Me To The Moon”). Flyme is Meizu’s Android based operating system which has its own user experience and design language. At time of writing Flyme 126.96.36.199A is running on the device, and is based on Android 5.1.
The Flyme launcher is a flat affair. By flat I mean to say the launcher doesn’t have an app drawer and that all the apps and icons are on the homescreen, where you can create folders if you wish to do so. Flyme’s launcher can be customised with themes, wallpapers and icon packs. The Meizu Themes store gives you access to millions of customisations, both of the paid and free type. Once downloaded, themes can be set wholly and partially. This means you can set the icon pack of one theme and the wallpaper and colour scheme of another. It is easy to spend hours setting up and personalising the look and feel of Flyme. In case you are wondering, yes, you can get a Google-like android theme called Lollipop.
Flyme is built to work particularly well with Meizu hardware, and we’ll now look at how this happens.
The home button on the Meizu M2 Note has a particular hardware setup which takes a while to get used to. It is a dual button which is capacitive for the Android back function, and if you press the physical button it acts as a home button. Paired with Flyme, the back and home button work well, and where necessary a software menu button is presented. Obviously, apps which use the modern Android guidelines will adapt right into the setup.
Where is the app switch button? This function is served by an offscreen to on-screen gesture. Swipe up from the lower bezel of the screen and you will be presented with the icons of recently used apps. This task switcher is not as flashy as app switching on Google’s flavour of Android or other similar ones which keep a screenshot in memory. I have a feeling this is part of Flyme’s way of gaining efficiencies and optimising memory.
Speaking of efficiencies, Flyme has a battery mode section in settings. There are three power modes available: power saving, balance mode and high performance. During the last few months I kept the balance mode on. This would get me through a day of medium use and leave me with 20%-25% battery life when plugging in and switching the lights out. The minor annoyance of balance mode has been that sometimes when listening to Audible audiobooks or Google Play Music with the screen off and in my pocket, playback would stop as the backgrounded app was shut down by Flyme. I never experienced this issue when in performance mode.
The built-in music player is a lightweight app which displays album art and broadly follows Material Design guidelines. The only downside to music playback is that it seems to have a little low volume output.
The device reviewed is the Chinese version of the Meizu M2 Note. As mentioned earlier, Google Play Services was side loaded onto this SKU. Meizu now make an International version of the device with Google Play Services. There is nothing to stop one from downloading the International Version Flyme firmware from the Meizu website and installing it on the device.
The Meizu M2 Note has a 13MP camera with dual LED flash on the back. The camera produces reasonably sharp pictures in bright lighting conditions. HDR mode isn’t the fastest, but is useable and produces nice punchy snaps if you have a steady hand. The lack of optical image stabilisation can cause HDR and low light pictures to be a little fuzzy if you don’t have a steady hand though. If you would like to see real life snaps taken with the Meizu M2 Note, check out my instagram feed and the hashtag #ShotOnMeizuM2Note.
The camera software is a simple affair with echoes of the Gingerbread era AOSP camera software. Minimal and functional, it does the job and has a reasonable number of preset options and settings.
The front facing 5MP camera performs pretty much as expected. For stills shots are clear and crisp (if the device is held steady). For Hangouts and Skype calls, the front facing camera offers clear video, provided there is enough bandwidth available.
The Meizu M2 Note is an excellent value for money smartphone in the sub £150 price range. Facing up against the competition you are unlikely to get as much bang per quid, unless you go for a very similar offering from Xiaomi.
For the price category the camera is good, the device is snappy and responsive and in my use seldom suffered slowdowns.
The device is pleasant to hold and use and the curved back makes it easy to nestle in the hand. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple decide to make an unapologetically plastic iPhone 6C at some point in the near future and mobs with pitchforks on the internet claim Meizu copied Cupertino’s Jonathan Ive.
At time of writing Shenzhen Chigon Technology Co., Ltd. stock both the Chinese version and the International version of the Meizu M2 Note. Price is approximately £110 delivered to the UK and includes a TPU case, a couple of plastic screen protectors and a glass screen protector. Colours available are White, Grey (like the one reviewed), Blue and Pink.
If you are feeling less adventurous and prefer Amazon.co.uk to AliExpress, the Meizu M2 Note is also available from there. Prices start at £138.99 depending on the colour chosen. The advantage to this is that you get the International Version and better support were anything to happen. On the downside this means you don’t get the extra goodies and the enjoyment of the wait as the device is shipped from Shenzhen.
As this device is very popular in South East Asia, there is a thriving ecosystem of accessories and cases for the Meizu M2 Note. This for me is a dangerous mix, because shopping for mockodile, pleather, marble and sfake skin cases is far too easy on AliExpress. Needless to say, whatever your excellent taste in accessories is, there is sure to be something to make you happy.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using the Meizu M2 Note over the last few months. While not my primary device, it has filled the role of a secondary device and media player admirably. Value for money it is at the top of the sub £150 pyramid, and I would thoroughlyt recommend buying one if you don’t want to spend too much money on a sleek 5.5″ Android smartphone.