Meizu's Note series were off to a great start with the m1 note. The m2 note did some upgrades in expense of a few features, while the m3 note turned out a worthy successor though it trailed behind the Xiaomi's mid-range crop. It's time for Meizu to freshen up its Note lineup again, and today we get our hands on the newly released M5 Note.
Fun fact! Did you notice there is a missing fourth model in the series? The number four is considered a bad omen in China and skipping it is quite usual. The fear of the number four actually has a proper Greek name - tetraphobia. And yes, we just looked this up.
The M5 Note comes with a refined design, easily noticeable, but not breaking up with its roots. There is also more storage, if you are ready to pay for it, and Android Marshmallow comes pre-installed.
The rest is pretty much as we left it on the m3 note - Helio P10 chipset, a 13MP main camera, the iconic mTouch key with a fingerprint scanner, and a beefy 4,000 mAh battery.
It seems Meizu was focused more on the Note's appearance, rather on its performance and camera skills. And that would have been OK, if it weren't for the overcrowded mid-range market.
But we are yet to unwrap the M5 Note and put it through its paces. We are hoping Meizu has put some twists here and there, and we'll make sure to search for those.
We're experimenting with a shorter review format for this phone as it gives the spare time to review a broader range of devices. We hope it still answers all the questions you may have about the device. Our goal was to give you our impressions in a shorter, concise manner but without sacrificing the performance assessment and the results from the full tests we normally perform. We hope you enjoy it. Any feedback is welcome.
The Meizu M5 Note has the same footprint as its predecessor, though it's gained about 12g in weight. While the M5 Note looks the same at the front, the metal back has changed a bit and it's for the better - there is a prominent chamfer between the frame and the rear surface. This tiny design twist makes for a better grip and stylish appearance.
The retail box of the Meizu M5 Note includes only the basics - a fast 24W charger plug and a microUSB cable. There are no headphones inside.
The M5 Note is all-metal in the luxury kind of way - there are no big plastic strips at the back, just two tiny antenna bands. A glass covers the entire front and it has 2.5D edges - it's probably a Dinorex T2X-1 glass, but Meizu didn't share any specifics.
The 5.5" screen has an IPS matrix of 1080p resolution or in other words 403ppi density. Its viewing angles are close to perfection, very wide and with no color distortion, though its sunlight legibility is below average with a score of 2.189.
The 5.5" display has a maximum brightness of 460 nits, but its mediocre black levels led to an average contrast of 1:754. The color rendering is average, too - the screen offers mostly accurate colors but blue hues interfere with the image rather obviously, and the white color is way colder than it should be. The representation out of the box has an average DeltaE of 8.7, but even playing with the color settings won't help you do much better than that.
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Below the 5.5" display is the familiar mTouch key. It's an all-in-one button with three functions - tap for Back, click for Home, and there is an embedded fingerprint scanner for when the screen is locked. While the biometric sensor isn't always on, it's very fast, accurate, and is capable of recognizing your fingerprint from any direction.
The M5 Note supports MediaTek's Pump Express 3.0 rapid charging, and the supplied charger has a maximum power output of 24W.
The phone is powered by a 4,000 mAh battery - that's 100 mAh less capacity than the unit inside the m3 note. It scored an excellent 98-hour endurance rating in our battery test, even though its video playback endurance is only average.
Since Meizu is not a registered Google Services partner, the international M5 Note comes without Google's services preinstalled. Instead, the phone gives you access to an installer which installs them for you hassle free. Other reviewers have been pointing out that these, essentially sideloaded, Google apps and services drain the battery faster than usual, but we assure you this behavior was only found on the reviewers units, which were sent out running an earlier pre-production version of the ROM. With the latest software build we've been enjoying great battery life.
Our endurance rating is the time you can keep using the M5 Note on a single charge if you are to make an hour of 3G talks, web browsing and video playback each day. This sort of usage pattern may not apply to you but we've established it so our battery scores are comparable across devices.
Meizu M5 Note is a dual-SIM phone, but it uses a hybrid slot so you would have to make the choice of either a second SIM or a microSD card. You can opt for 16, 32, or even 64GB storage options - getting more gigabytes means you won't have to give up on the second SIM card.
Finally, the bottom of the M5 Note is where the audio jack, the microUSB connectivity port, and the loudspeaker are. The primary mic is also around.
The M5 Note's speaker scored a Very Good mark in our loudness test and its output quality is clean, crisp, and with deep enough bass.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|