Meizu MX3 review: Eastern connection

Marian Petrov, 2 November 2013.
Pages: 1234567891011

Tags: Meizu, Android

Introduction

Meizu's worldwide reputation - or rather lack thereof - isn't necessarily deserved but at home and, in broader terms, emerging Asian markets, its products are synonymous with stellar hardware at a reasonable price. The name should definitely ring a bell to our loyal readers and those who didn't miss the Meizu MX and the MX 4-core will know what to expect. But even if Meizu somehow slipped under your radar, we'll fill in the blanks for you.

The Meizu MX3 is closely related to the the original MX and the MX 4-core, by way of both design and equipment. The original Meizu MX launched with a dual-core Exynos chipset and a screen resolution of 640 x 960px - not the kind of specs anyone would call a mistake at the time. Then came the MX 4-core, which became Meizu's ace in the quad-core deck.

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Meizu MX3 official photos

The original MX had the Retina resolution of the iPhone 4 and that was by no means a coincidence. The same goes for Exynos - which has been the chipset of choice for Meizu since. So, three generations into it (or four if you count the MX and the MX 4-core separately), Meizu has a full-HD five incher powered by the chipset that ticks inside half of the Galaxy S4's.

Key features

    • Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE; dual-band 3G with HSPA
    • 5.1" 16M-color 1080p capacitive 15:9 aspect, 412 ppi display
    • Android OS v4.2.2 Jelly Bean with Flyme 3.0I
    • Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15 + four 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 cores, PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU; Exynos 5410 chipset
    • 2GB of RAM
    • 8 MP autofocus camera with LED flash, 1.4 µm pixel size,1080p video recording @ 30fps, continuous autofocus
    • 2 MP front-facing camera, 1080p video recording
    • Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA
    • GPS with A-GPS
    • 16GB/32/64GB of built-in storage; 128 GB version also available
    • microUSB port with USB host and MHL 2.0
    • Bluetooth v4.0
    • NFC on 32/64/128 GB models
    • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
    • Accelerometer and proximity sensor
    • Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
    • 2,400 mAh battery
    • Costs less than direct competitors
    • Excellent audio output

Main disadvantages

    • Reflective screen struggles outdoors
    • Limited battery life
    • Non-expandable storage
    • Non-removable battery
    • No FM radio
    • Hard to undo back panel
    • No NFC on 16 GB model

The Flyme OS does things its own way and feels more like the lovechild of Android and iOS. It's clean and minimalist, a flat interface with no app drawer - much like iOS (and compatriots Huawei's Emotion skin for Android).

Everything is tailor made - the notification area unrolls just enough to show toggles and events - not all the way down. The main homescreen can be transformed into a vertically-scrollable grid of apps while the two auxiliary homescreens strike closest to home with the generic widget and app/folder arrangement. The single capacitive home button however is another first among droids.

Built around the powerful big.LITTLE Exynos 5 Octa chipset, the Meizu MX3 is has enough speed and power. The screen has solid credentials too: 1080 x 1800 pixels on a 5.1" diagonal. Simply put, it's full-HD in 15:9 aspect ratio.

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Meizu MX3 at HQ

For all its strengths and weaknesses, the Meizu MX3 is a testament to how diverse Android can be. What could spoil a perfectly good, and reasonably priced, package is the very thing that thwarted its predecessors - availability. Meizu hasn't really been able to expand its footprint beyond Asia - but that has very little to do with the quality of the actual devices.

It's now the MX3's turn to try and prove that and we'll do our best to let it demonstrate its full potential, without letting it get away with any sort of weaknesses.

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