Meizu MX review: Amaze U
Unboxing an engineering sample box
What we have in our office is an engineering sample, which means that this isn't the retail box. Still, it should contain the same things, so here we go.
There were no surprises here really. There's a compact charger with a USB port, which is where the provided microUSB cable plugs in to charge the phone. There's also a microSIM adapter, so you can use your card from the Meizu MX in other phones easily.
We're not sure if there's going to be a headset in the retail box. No one seems to have one yet, so we'll have to wait for the answer of this mystery.
The Meizu MX measures 121.1 x 63.3 x 10.3 mm, which is roughly the same as the Samsung Galaxy S and slightly bigger than an iPhone 4/4S. The MX weighs 139 g.
Hardware and build quality
The Meizu MX has a strong, undeniable resemblance to the iPhone - at least when you view it head on. Whether or not that resemblance was intentional doesn’t matter as differences become apparent as soon as you turn the phone over.
The MX's outer shell is mostly made of plastic and we have to say we're not big fans of it. The screen is a fingerprint magnet, while the white battery cover is much better. Still, the glossy plastic there isn't particularly pleasant to the touch.
The beveled edges of the back are an instant giveaway that you're dealing with something other than an iPhone 4 or 4S. There's little chance of mistaking it for a 3G/3GS either - the camera placement is very different and there's no Apple logo, of course.
The front of the device is rather iPhone-like as we said, but the 4" screen is noticeably bigger than the Retina display even if you don't have the two side by side for direct comparison.
The display is protected by Gorilla glass to ward off scratches. Its 640x960 pixel resolution is slightly higher than most competing droids (save for the ones with 720p screens) and with a pixel density of 288ppi it's really sharp-looking.
It's an ASV LCD unit, which in theory should provide great viewing angles, although the reality is different. Contrast loss becomes very noticeable as soon as you start turning the screen. Depending on the angle you tilt it, there's even a prominent color shift - grey turns to yellow pretty quickly.
Colors are nothing to write home about and the maximum bright ness of the screen left us wanting. Here are the brightness and contrast measurements for the display.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
|HTC Sensation XE||0.23||172||761||0.64||484||752|
|Samsung Galaxy W I8150||0.29||243||853||0.50||423||853|
|Motorola RAZR XT910||0||215||∞||0||361||∞|
|Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II||0||231||∞||0||362||∞|
|Apple iPhone 4S||0.14||205||1463||0.52||654||1261|
There's a very thin strip of metal running around the screen, which seems to comprise the antennas of the phone.
Moving on to the other interesting features on the front, we have a narrow slit for the earpiece and a tiny, tiny video-call camera next to it, both sitting above the screen. Ambient light and proximity sensors are also here.
Below the screen is where it gets interesting - the central Home key is small and rounded, protruding from the surface. That makes it easy to find by touch and it's fairly comfortable to hit, despite its small size.
On either side of it are the two capacitive soft keys. They are rather special - a patent by Meizu actually. The context aware keys change appearance and function depending on what's happening on the screen.
The left one is typically a Back key and shows a < symbol but switches to a single dot when there's nothing to come back from (it serves as a lock key in this situation, it takes a press and hold to lock).
The right one spends most of the time as a Menu key (displaying ...) but turns into a single dot when there's no context menu available. Here it gets slightly confusing - this dot won't lock the phone if you press and hold it. Instead, it launches a heavily customized task switcher. That also works when there's a context menu - again, you press and hold to activate the task switcher.
That's not all for the soft key tricks though - the capacitive controls are haptic enabled and they actually rotate their icons to match the orientation of the screen. Also, you can adjust the brightness of their backlighting individually from the screen and when you tap a key, it pulses brighter (even if they're at the brightest setting).
Now, such keys may not seem like much, but Meizu's implementation is really cool (and one of the highlights of the MX), so we wanted to cover them in detail. You can see them on video in the User interface section of this review.
The rest of the tour will go pretty quick. The left side houses the volume keys while the right side is bare. The volume rocker is really uncomfortable - thin and quite flat.
At the top are the Power/Lock key, the 3.5mm audio jack and the secondary microphone for noise-cancellation.
The bottom is home to the microUSB port and primary microphone along with two connectors that are most likely for the dock. The microUSB port serves many duties - data connection to a computer, charging, HD TV-Out over a MHL link and S/PDIF.
The dock sounds interesting, but there's not much info on it at the time of writing. S/PDIF is a common way to stream multi-channel digital audio, commonly found in home theater systems. If it can coexist with MHL, the Meizu MX combined with the dock can be an excellent media player option. We'll know more once details about the dock become available.
The back of the Meizu MX features the 8MP camera lens with an LED flash right next to it. The loudspeaker is also here, located at the sloping edge of the back. The loudspeaker doesn’t get muffled, but you should be careful with the camera - it can get scratched and is usually covered in fingerprints.
The back cover can be popped open to reveal the microSIM card slot, which uses a metal tray to get the card in and out easier. You can also see the battery, but it's not user replaceable (not easily anyway), as it's wired. The battery is a 1600mAh Li-Po unit.
The Meizu MX is comfortable to hold in the hand - it's not too big, too heavy or too thick. We wish the exterior was made of better looking plastic, but if you can get over that (or are going to use a case/pouch) there are no complaints about the build quality.
While it has its flaws, the hardware of the MX has a few tricks that can get the attention of serious buyers. Let's see if the software holds up this well - on to the interface section of this review, followed by some Exynos 4210 benchmarking.