The lack of upgrades continues with the Meizu M5's primary camera. It has the same 13MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture we saw on the m3 and probably on the m2 as well. The snapper is capable of capturing 4208x3120px snaps in 4:3 aspect. There's also a dual-tone LED flash that should allow for more pleasing colors in low-light flash photos.
There are quite a few shooting modes available - HDR, Macro, Manual (where you can adjust the shutter speed up to 10s, ISO, exposure compensation, and the focus), Panorama, GIF, Beauty, and even Light Field. Light Field is Meizu's refocus feature, which allows you to defocus any part of the scene after the photo has been taken.
The Meizu M5 snaps pleasant 13MP pictures, but they are not without some issues. The resolved detail is average, the level of noise is high, and it could get in the way, especially in the background foliage. The colors are accurate, and the contrast is very good. The dynamic range turned about above average, which is a rare among the mid-rangers.
The images came out softer than we'd like and there is no sharpness setting in the Manual shooting mode to fix that. Sometimes we experienced focusing issues, and we needed to retake some of the shots.
Nevertheless, the average detail, the noise, the lack of sharpness, and the focus issues are offset by the good colors, contrast, and dynamic range. At the end of the day, we feel good about the camera samples we took with the M5.
You can check out a 5MP image taken with the front-facing camera of the device. Those aren't peachy, though - the resolved amount of detail is rather poor.
If you'd like to compare the M5's camera to the M5 Note and Redmi 4, head over to our Picture Compare Tool.
The Meizu M5 shoots videos up to 1080p resolution at 30fps. There's no 60fps smooth motion mode. All videos from the M5 camera are captured in an MP4 container. The video bitrate is about 17Mpbs, and the framerate is stable. The audio recorded in the video is stereo - it uses an AAC codec with 128 Kbps bitrate and 48 KHz sampling.
Unfortunately, the resolved detail is rather poor, but the contrast and colors are very good. Here is a sample we've uploaded on YouTube.
You can also download the 1080p@30fps (9s, 20MB) video sample taken straight off the Meizu M5. If you'd like to compare the M5's video camera to the M5 Note and Redmi 4, head over to our Video Compare Tool.
The Meizu M5 turned out a very decent entry-level smartphone, which is not only a nice upgrade over the M3, but it also comes priced quite reasonably. The M5 is better in upgrading its predecessor than the M5 Note. The M5 has a bigger screen and battery, a fingerprint scanner built in the mTouch key, and a newer Android version - all solid improvements.
While the M5's chipset might be dated, it managed to provide enough performance to match most of the current crop of budget droids. Sure, there are better ones, but they are not far ahead of the M5.
The 5.2" screen is what we liked the most about the M5 - it's in the comfortable niche between the phablet and compact sizes. We are sure Meizu will potentially win quite a few customers just by having chosen to go for this uncommon screen size.
The best-selling Redmi lineup by Xiaomi are probably Meizu's biggest competition, and there is a reason people like them so much. The Redmi 3 and Redmi 4 series are one of the most affordable phones out there, and yet they offer premium-looking design, great performance, superb battery life, good camera experience, and regular MIUI updates. More powerful hardware and regular updates is where Xiaomi does better than Meizu, and those are often enough to tip the scales.
Lenovo's K5 and K6 are also worth checking out as those are available worldwide and manufactured by an adept maker. They won't shine with screen quality or better performance, but they have a better aftersales support infrastructure in place and most importantly, are available from carriers at subsidized prices.
Meizu did a fine job with the M5, a much better one than with the M5 Note, and while it isn't acing any tests, it's on par with the competition and brings a few meaningful updates over the M3. And that's enough for us to consider the M5 as a worthy sequel.
Editorial note: We don't intend to suspend our regular longer reviews, but we are experimenting with this shorter review format so that we get more spare time to cover a broader range of devices. Our goal is to give you our impressions in a more concise manner but without sacrificing the performance assessment and the results from the full tests we normally perform. Any feedback is welcome.