Got My Hands on the Meizu M5 Budget Smartphone


A couple of years ago before OPPO and Vivo were dominating the smartphone scene in the midrange and budget category, one of their fellow Chinese smartphone makers Meizu was one of the best go-to brands that Filipino users had for affordable yet super capable mobile handsets until its local distributor suddenly went out of business. But that's not the case anymore as Meizu has been back in the Philippine market since November of 2016 with old and new smartphone offerings under its banner. One of these devices, and newest, is the Meizu M5 which I had the opportunity to have a hands on experience.

This M5 is just one the smartphones under the M5 series from Meizu. There are the M5s which is a slightly upgraded version, and then the M5 Note the most high end of the bunch. But for this hands on review, I am going to talk about this youngest and most affordable sibling.

Display

The Meizu M5 sports a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with 720p resolution out of the box.  That screen size and resolution equate to 282 pixels per inch density across the display panel. This is actually the first time I have ever had my hands and eyes on a Meizu smartphone and to be honest I was actually expecting the display quality to be not that good compared to other well known brands' smartphones with the same resolution. And I found out that while it is not the best of its kind, it is not that bad either. For its price tag, I think the display is one of the strong points of this smartphone. Images and texts appear to be clear and you can barely spot pixels unless of course if you look real close to the screen. Most of the time, I find the display quality and color accuracy to be good and pleasing to the eyes. Its brightness is good enough to be used outdoor even on a sunny day. 


The display does not appear to have any type of glass protection like Gorilla Glass or Dragontrail so you will really need a tempered glass or a simple screen protector installed on the panel. But it does have a 2.5D contoured glass with full lamination which makes the front panel looks nice especially the curved edges.

Software and Performance

It is running on Meizu's latest Flyme 5.2 OS based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The Android platform on this smartphone is heavily tweaked that you can hardly recognize it as an Android platform. Depending on your taste, that may be a good and a bad UI for you. Good because you get to experience a different user interface without completely leaving the Android world and its services, and bad if you prefer the design to be as close as possible to the original Android design.

Let me also note that this Meizu M5 handset, while being an Android device, by default, does not have Google Play app and other Google services installed in it upon initial booth which is very different from other devices. However, that is not going to be an issue at all because you can still download Android applications from Meizu's own app store built in the phone such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and many others. According to the company's representative I talked to, all those apps even the native ones will work just fine.


If you prefer to download apps straight from Google Play, you will need to download first the Google Installer via Meizu's own app store. Just look for the Google Apps Installer in the app store and click download, it will only take a few minutes fully install and from there you can just just login to your Google account and access it as normal.

I just can't fully understand why Meizu would not just have the Google Play available right out of the box in this handset so users won't need to download it for themselves. But I guess it has to do with a couple of things, first is this makes the interface look clean, light and more responsive, second is for users who don't like bloatwares and unnecessary apps pre-installled which leaves them more memory space available upfront, and then just give users the freedom to download only the apps they need and want. I could be wrong, but that's what I assume.

Powering this M5 is an octa-core processor from MediaTek paired with 2GB of RAM. And with these, the apps and system perform okay and smooth. Though I encountered some hiccups and long waits to launch apps, those instances were very rare and hardly noticeable. As for the internal storage, it comes with 16GB and can be expandable via microSD card using the second SIM slot up to 256GB.

The screenshot in the middle is what you will see when you download the Google App Installer from the Hot Apps section of Meizu M5 and at the far right is the Antutu Benchmark score the phone achieved.

Design and Build

There are five colors to choose from for the M5. Mint Green, Glacier White, Champagne Gold, Sapphire Blue, Matte Black. The phone is encased in a polycarbonate, with smooth and almost glossy finish back, panel. The front face, on the other hand, comes in all black regardless of the actual color of the unit. As you can also see in the images, the edges of the device are rounded which adds more comfortable grip and feel to the hand. Add that to the phone's dimensions, one handed use is simply easy.

Fingerprint sensors are now reaching the budget category of devices, and the Meizu M5 is just one of those phones that now offers this functionality that was once belonged to the flagships.

Right below the display is the home button which also works as a fingerprint scanner. There are no separate multitask and back buttons on either sides of this physical button nor on the display. To navigate, tap the home button to go back to the previous page or press it to go to the home page.

This fingerprint scanner is embedded in the home key which works pretty accurate but not that fast, I noticed like almost half a second delay everytime. One major turn off though is that it does not work when the phone is on sleep mode, you have to wake the phone up first before the scanner will work. Aside from those, the sensor definitely works as it's supposed to. On top of using this to unlock the phone, it can also be used for locking/unlocking apps, accessing a secure folder called Vault for files you want to only be seen by you, and for setting up the guest mode on the phone.


Down below the Meizu M5 are the 3.5mm jack port, microSD port, mic, and the speaker grille. On the right side are the volume rocker and power/lock key while on the other side is nothing but the dual-SIM tray where the second slot is capable of handling a microSD card up to 256GB.

Keeping the lights on is a 3070mAh battery pack. For a phone this size with 720p resolution, this is considered a massive battery already. And based on my usual usage which is not that heavy, mostly about accessing my social media apps and reading blogs I follow, it's always able to last me the whole day at the office.

Camera

Out of the box, the Meizu M5 has 13MP camera on its back panel and sitting next to it is a dual-tone LED flash. This shooter is equipped with f/2.2 aperture and phase detection autofocus. When it comes to performance, its focusing system works okay in adequately lighted environment but starts to struggle when used in low light scenes. The same goes for the quality of photos using the rear camera. Overall the camera performance is very acceptable and not that disappointing. As for its front camera, there's a 5MP snapper with a larger f/2.0 aperture to assist you capture your selfies whenever you require it. See some of the photos below I took using the M5's rear and front cameras.


This photo was a bit dark when taken, so I used a Snapseed mobile app to make some adjustments such as brightness, contrast, shadow and stuff. The rest of the photos were unedited and were captured in auto or default mode.







Other camera modes are also available on the Meizu M5 like the panorama, video with up to 1080p format, slow-mo, beauty and others. There's even a manual mode and live filters.


Final Thoughts

Of course it all comes down to our budget at the end of the day and we want nothing but to get the best value out of our hard earned money. And I think that's what Meizu is trying to provide here, offering the best possible device with features that do not only focus on performance and output, but also on security and privacy while keeping the lowest possible asking price.

I liked:
- Fingerprint Scanner
- Large 3070mAh battery
- 5.2" HD Display
- Price
- Lightweight

I liked not:
- No Google Play and related services such as Chrome, Photos, Gmail and Maps pre-installed
- Plastic casing
- No earphones and Free screen protector included

Meizu M5 specs:
  • 5.2-inch IPS LCD Display
  • 1280 x 720 resolution
  • 282ppi
  • 2.5D Contoured Glass
  • 1.5GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6750 processor
  • Mali-T860MP2 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal storage
  • Supports microSD card up to 256GB (used SIM 2 slot)
  •  13MP rear camera with f/2.2 aperture, phase detection autofocus, and dual-tone LED flash
  • 5MP front camera with f/2.0 aperture
  • Flyme 5.2 OS based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, GLONASS
  • Dual-SIM (hybrid)
  • 4G LTE
  • 147.3 x 72.8 x 8.2mm
  • 138 grams
  • Fingerprint Scanner
  • Mint Green, Glacier White, Champagne Gold, Sapphire Blue, Matte Black
  • 3070mAh battery
  • Php6,990
The Meizu M5 is available nationwide for only Php6,990. You can visit any Meizu pop up stores or authorized retailers to buy yours. Here in Davao you can buy one from Tekpone stores.

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DugomPinoy | A Philippine Blog: Got My Hands on the Meizu M5 Budget Smartphone
Got My Hands on the Meizu M5 Budget Smartphone
Had an opportunity to have a hands on one of Meizu's budget friendly Android smartphone called the M5. Read my impressions here.
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