The Meizu MX6 is the first smartphone to use Sony's IMX386 sensor. The sensor specs sound rather nice on paper - 12MP resolution, 1/2.9" size, and 1.25µm pixels. Meizu has paired it with a f/2.0 lens and a dual-tone flash, and there is also phase-detection autofocus.
Unfortunately, that sounds a bit of a downgrade from the 20.7MP Sony IMX220 we saw on the Meizu MX5. Sure, the IMX220 had a bit smaller pixels at 1.2µm, but it made up for that with pixel count, and back then it had a laser-assisted AF system, which is now replaced by a phase-detect system.
We were really pleased with the MX5 camera, so we kind of had similar expectations for the MX6. Let's see how things turned out.
The camera interface by default launches into Auto mode where the camera determines the shooting parameters. You have the option (in Settings) to turn on HDR (but no automatic HDR), gridlines for the viewfinder and a level gauge so that your horizon is level.
Available shooting modes include Auto, Macro, Manual, Beauty, Panorama, GIF, Light field, Scan, and Slowmotion. Now, that's a lot of modes so let's go through some of them. The Manual mode allows you to set the shutter speed down to as low as 20s, and it allows you to fiddle with ISO, exposure compensation and even the focus - from macro to infinity. The Beauty mode can make your subject's eyes bigger, face slimmer, skin smoother and skin tones lighter. Panorama and GIF are somewhat self-explanatory, but Light field is Meizu's refocus app allowing you to defocus any part of the scene and even do it after the image was taken. Scan offers quick QR barcode scanning, while Slowmotion... well, it captures slow motion videos.
The Meizu MX6 snaps rather average 12MP pictures. The resolved detail is uninspiring and often gets compromised by the high levels of noise. The images lack sharpness, there is purple fringing along some edges, and the auto ISO and exposure tweaking reset quite often should you tap to focus on a particular subject.
On a positive note, the dynamic range is okay and the colors, contrast and white balance were quite accurate.
In bright sunny days, the MX6 would snap great photos. When the light is low, the detail gets ravaged by the overeager noise reduction. In the dark, the autofocus gets quite unreliable, too.
When shooting at night, it really pays if you have a tripod with you - even a small one. Auto focus is quite unreliable in the dark, and you would have to rely on the Manual focus option to lock on proper focus in these conditions. Once you have the phone set up on a tripod, it's also realy easy to make use of the long exposure feature to take beautiful low-light pictures.
The HDR mode is meant to bringing back detail in the highlights and the shadows. On the Meizu MX6 it does a good job, and sometimes it even produces more accurate colors than the standard mode.
Panoramas are far from impressive on the Meizu MX6, though. There is plenty of resolution and good overall exposure, but the resolved detail is less than we would have liked.
Finally, you can check out the 5MP images taken with the front-facing camera of the device. It offers enough detail for a selfie camera, the colors are okay as is the contrast, but we've seen far better results from even cheaper phones.
We've uploaded full resolution (12MP) photos to our photo quality comparison database to compare against other high-resolution smartphones. You can clearly see the superiority of the Honor 8 (bottom right), but the MX6 camera turned out better than the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (bottom left).
The Meizu MX6 shoots videos up to 4K resolution (3840 x 2160px) at 30fps and 1080p videos at 30fps. There's no 60fps smooth motion option.
The UHD videos of the Meizu MX6 are recorded in the HEVC format, also known as H.265, a recent codec that's supposed to offer the same quality as the widely popular H.264 in lower bitrate and smaller filesizes. While this advancement makes sense because it helps you reduce the storage requirements, we're not quite sure if it's worth the inconveniences and it comes with a whole bunch of those.
First off, with H.265 means that most of your computer media players will need an additional codec in order to playback the videos you shot with the Meizu MX 6.
Secondly, uploading the files to YouTube doesn't work either as YouTube doesn't support H.265 and our research led us to believe there are no plans for adding support in the immediate future. The smartphone itself has no issues with playing the videos, but sharing them is a major PITA.
And finally, we're not even sure if the claim for "same quality, smaller file sizes" applies here as the Meizu MX6 uses a bitrate of 44Mbps, which is about what other smartphones are using for H.264 (48Mbps for the Galaxy S7 and 46Mbps for the iPhone 7). So you don't even get the benefit of smaller filesizes.
Even worse, there is no apparent benefit in quality either. The 4K videos produced by the Meizu MX6 have average levels of detail and average dynamic range. On the positive side, the contrast is good, and so are the colors and at least there are no compression artifacts as there are on the Huawei Mate 9 videos, which also rely on H.265 but use a noticeably lower birate of 30Mbps.
The audio recording is stereo at 128Kbps bitrate.
Framerate stays firmly at 30fps, and we got almost no dropped frames.
Here is a short 4K video (10s, 52MB) for download.
The resolved detail in the 1080p videos is quite poor, the noise often gets in the way and makes the samples unpleasantly grainy. All samples look a bit out of focus, which is a whole other issue. The contrast and colors are good, though. Here is a sample we've uploaded on YouTube. The 1080p videos are encoded in H.264 so there is no problem with that unlike the 4K ones.
You can also directly download the 1080p@30fps video sample (10s, 20MB).
Head to our Video quality comparison tool for a comparative look at the MX6 video recording capabilities. Surprisingly, the phone did great at the 2160p charts when compared to the Meizu Pro 6 and Xiaomi Mi 5.