We review the Meizu M1 Note!
The Meizu M1 Note is one of the most hotly anticipated smartphones to ever arrive in the Philippines. While it doesn’t have the most original design in recent memory (and actually looks like an Androidified iPhone 5C) it’s what inside that counts. Sporting a fairly powerful processor, 2GB of RAM and a beautiful 5.5-inch, full HD display, the Meizu M1 Note has managed to dethrone the ASUS Zenfone 5 as the best international bang for the buck smartphone in our eyes.
(Before you start reading the review below, make sure to check out our initial impressions of the M1 Note, as well as the gaming test video that we did)
Meizu M1 Note
- 1.7GHz 64-bit MediaTek MT6752 octa-core processor
- Mali T760 MP2 GPU
- 2GB RAM
- 5.5-inch Full HD display, Gorilla Glass 3 protection, 1920 x 1080
- 16GB/32GB internal storage
- 13-megapixel Samsung rear camera, flash, F/2.2 aperture
- 5-megapixel front camera, F/2.0 aperture
- 3G, LTE
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
- Android 4.4 KitKat, Flyme 4
- 3,140mAh battery
- 150.7 x 75.2 x 8.9mm
It migh be generic and uninspired, but it still looks damn good
Like we said earlier the M1 Note’s overall design is almost a direct copy of Apple’s iPhone 5C. While there are distinct differences in size, the M1 Note looks and feels a lot like Apple’s earlier offering. While it might be a problem for some, personally we really didn’t mind – there are worse designs you can copy and we’re glad that Meizu has at least had the foresight to imitate one of the leading phone brands in the world.
While the design takes liberal stylistic cues from Apple, this means that the device looks great. The M1 Note uses a primarily polycarbonate body that sports gentle curves to help facilitate a more positive grip on it. Because of this, the M1 Note doesn’t have a removable battery or an SD expansion slot – you’re limited to the 16GB of storage that’s given to you, which may be an issue for some.
The overall construction of the M1 Note is pretty solid, and build quality of the phone is top-notch. We didn’t notice any seams or gaps in the phone and the device showed zero flex. One issue that we did find was that the plastic SIM tray of our review unit didn’t sit flush with the main body, protruding about a millimeter or so. This annoyed us to no end, as we could feel the physical bump of the tray when we moved our hand along the otherwise smooth plastic body of the M1 Note.
The M1 Note uses Sharp’s 5.5-inch full HD IGZO panel, an uncommon display choice even for higher-end smartphones. Sharp’s IGZO panels essentially promise less power consumption because IGZO displays allow more light to easily travel to them. The downside is that there’s going to be a bit of ghosting in the images, but it’s not a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination.
As far as overall display quality goes, the M1 Note has impressive color reproduction, good contrast and saturation and was visible even under direct sunlight. As an added bonus the speakers of the M1 Note are very loud, which makes the phone an excellent phone to watch movies and videos on.
Flyme takes some getting used to
Like Meizu’s other products, the M1 Note uses Flyme, their own take on Android. You’ve probably noticed the single halo-like button on the bottom of the display of the M1 Note, and were wondering where the rest of the capacitive keys are. Well, they’re not there – the halo button of Meizu is their trademark, and the omission of the two other Android capacitive keys takes a little getting used to.
Like the UI overlays of other companies, Flyme takes away the traditional app drawer and spills most of your apps on your homepage. We’ve also noticed that the M1 Note is devoid of Google’s services like YouTube, Gmail and other apps, though the phone has access to Google Play Store and will sync with your Google contacts when you connect to Google in the accounts setting. This, along with the theme and app center that Meizu has set-up that’s only available in Mandarin, is a vestige of Meizu’s focus on the Chinese domestic market where Google’s influence as far as apps go isn’t as prolific here in the Philippines.
The biggest issue we had with Flyme was app stability – we had a few apps crash on us randomly when we were either using them or installing them on the phone. One of our games, Modern Combat 5 would download from Google Play up to 95% and then stop abruptly. Dead Trigger 2 would install fine and run until the initial cinematic then would crash on the startup page. Waze would install and run, but its interface would be a garbled, pixelated mess which made the app unusable to us. Hopefully Meizu sends out a software patch to fix this.
Can literally run any game you can throw at it
The M1 Note makes up for its Flyme related offenses by giving you power that’s ridiculously off the charts. The M1 Note is capable of running almost anything that you can throw at it (provided it runs in the first place) without any problems at all. Real Racing 3, a game that gives headaches to Snapdragon 800 equipped smartphones managed to run without a single hitch, and we have a video to prove it. NBA Jam? Forget about it. Clash of Clans? Pssh. The phone is ridiculously fast, and is a fantastic device for people looking for an affordable but powerful smartphone.
Lest we forget, the M1 Note is still a smartphone first, and as far as the actual phone part of the device goes, the M1 Note delivers solid performance. Calls made with, and to, the M1 Note were clear with no issues with call quality. The LTE capability of the phone is pretty much explained by our screenshot above. We did notice that the M1 Note took longer to acquire and hold an LTE signal compared to other devices.
Really good camera with a manual shooting mode
You wouldn’t expect a great camera in the price bracket that the M1 Note plays in. You’d be wrong – the M1 Note has one of the best cameras that we’ve ever seen in a budget device, and sports a manual shooting mode with a manual focus feature that’s not present in more expensive phones in the market today. As far as actual image quality is concerned, the M1 Note scores high marks in color reproduction, saturation and overall image quality. It’s a very good camera is what we’re saying.
Meh battery life
If there’s one thing that we’ll hit the M1 Note for, it’s the battery. The M1 Note is fitted with a 3140mAh battery that should be able to power the device for days at a time. In truth, that’s not the case, and we recorded around 7 hours and 40 minutes of battery life with around 27-28% left in the tank. A few more hours and our battery ran down to almost zero at the end of the day. To be fair we were using the phone pretty heavily, and you’d probably get better battery life if you’re more gentle with the phone.
Verdict: This is the best bang for the buck phone right now
The Meizu M1 Note hits all the right notes: gorgeous display, powerful processor, excellent performance and fantastic camera. We have a few issues with the phone mostly relating to Flyme and the so-so battery, but don’t let that fool you – the M1 Note is the best phone you can buy at its price point right now. Beg, borrow, sell whatever you need to sell – if you’re looking for a new phone, the Meizu M1 Note should be it.
The Meizu M1 Note is exclusively sold by Novo7 Tech in the Philippines.