Meizu’s M1 Note was the first bang-for-the-buck phone to really take off in the PH at the beginning of the year. When we reviewed it back in March, it was the best phone you could get under 8K. Things have changed drastically since then – multiple international and local companies have stepped in and have inundated the local market with their own bang-for-the-buck offerings. Puzzlingly, Meizu’s newest entry in its Note line of smartphones has taken a step back in terms of hardware, but there’s a method to the madness – the new phone may have taken a step back, but it makes up for it by taking two steps forward in terms of design, features and battery life.
Meizu M2 Note specs:
- 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6753 octa-core processor
- 2GB of RAM
- 5.5-inch full HD Sharp IGZO display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
- 16GB of storage, expandable via microSD
- 13-megapixel rear camera, F/2.2 aperture, dual LED flash
- 5-megapixel front camera, F/2.0 aperture
- Dual SIM
- 3G, LTE
- WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
- Android 5.0 Lollipop, Flyme UI
- 3100mAh battery
Similar design compared with the M1 Note, with new twists
Meizu’s not exactly a company that thrives on original designs, and one only has to take a look at the original M1 Note to see why. The M1 Note copied many facets of Apple’s 5C smartphone, and the M2 Note follows suit – it uses the same, unibody polycarbonate body patterned after Apple’s multi-color iPhone released a few years ago. Of course, the M2 Note isn’t an exact clone of the previous device – there have been subtle tweaks to the design to make it easier to use. The sides of the phone are slightly rounder, to make the phone easier to grip in one hand. The bezels are a tad smaller, though they’re still impressively thin, especially considering the price point.
The biggest design change that you’ll immediately spot is the addition of a physical home key. Meizu’s trademark halo capacitive button is nowhere to be found – instead, it’s been replaced by a physical home button on the bottom bezel. While the home button doesn’t hide a fingerprint scanner (it would have been awesome if it did) it does allow users to navigate through the phone without touching the display. Tapping the button (dubbed the Mback) takes you to the home screen while swiping left to right works kind of like the back button. Meizu designed the button to help people navigate the phone one handed, and there’s even haptic feedback built-in so you know that you’ve pushed the button. Using this arrangement does take getting used to, but once you’ve mastered it you’ll be swiping away like a pro.
Other controls include the power and volume rocker that’s located on the left side of the device. The speaker holes flank the USB port on the bottom though the volume output wasn’t as great as we were expecting. The 3.5mm jack is on the top while the SIM card slot is accessible on the right.
Speaking of SIM slots, Meizu’s addressed one of the biggest issues with the M1 Note this time around with the addition of a microSD expansion slot, though you will have to sacrifice one of the SIM slots on the phone to get it. Still, that’s preferable than sticking with the 16GB of storage on the device which was the biggest flaw of M1 Note.
Like we said earlier, the 5.5-inch display on the M2 Note is rather big and has minimal bezels compared to other phones in the same price range. The M2 Note’s full HD display is essentially identical to the one on the M1 Note. That’s not a bad thing – the M1 Note used an IGZO panel and had impressive color reproduction, good contrast, and saturation and was visible even under direct sunlight. That’s the same story with the M2 Note – and the phone is a definite pleasure to use when you’re watching movies and playing games.
Flyme is mercifully fast and fluid this time around
Flyme, Meizu’s UI that’s overlayed over Android 5.1 Lollipop on the M2 Note, is the company’s own take on Android. While it follows the same vein as the UI overlays of other Chinese manufacturers, forgoing the traditional app drawer for a more Apple-like approach, Meizu has put in a few nice touches that make it easier to navigate through the phone one-handed: swiping quickly down from anywhere pulls down the notification screen, while doing the same going up brings up the search bar. One thing that we didn’t like was that most of Google’s default apps that you’d usually find in an Android phone isn’t present (though the Play Store is there) which belies the phone’s Chinese roots.
The downgraded processor isn’t that bad
While the M2 Note is technically a successor of the M1, its hardware has taken a hit – 1.3Ghz MediaTek MT6753 compared to 1.7GHz MediaTek MT6752 on the M1 Note. The phone’s GPU has also been downgraded, Mali-T720 compared to the Mali-T760 on its bigger brother. Does this mean that the M2 is less capable than the phone that came before it?
Not really – the phone still manages to fly through Flyme without any issues, and is completely capable of taking on whatever game you throw at it, though you won’t be able to power through graphic-heavy games without experiencing lag. Modern Combat 5, for example, had a few performance issues in areas that had a lot of smoke around, but it never really got down to game-breaking levels. Simple games like Clash of Clans shouldn’t have any issues with the M2 Note.
As far as LTE connectivity goes, the M2 Note is able to surf the web on high-speed networks, though we found that MediaTek’s LTE modems are still no match for the ones that Samsung, Huawei and Qualcomm makes.
We were impressed with the M1 Note’s camera, and we’re happy to report that the M2 Note is able to match its older brother’s performance.
A majority of the shots in this review were taken in challenging low-light areas like restaurants and cafes, and the M2 Note still manages to capture a good amount of detail despite that. The front facing camera is also able to produce okay photos indoors, though it’s good enough for uploading to social media. You will be a little constrained with the device since the front camera has a rather narrow-angle of shooting, which requires you to extend your hand a little bit more.
Better battery life than its older brother
One perk of having fewer cores and a slower clocked processor is better battery consumption. The M2 Note managed to score an impressive 6 hour and 58-minute score on PCMark’s battery benchmark, which equates to more than a day of actual use. That’s a massive improvement over the M1 Note – we struggled to get to the end of the day with moderate use with it, and we’re happy to see that the M2 Note is a more capable smartphone when it comes to battery endurance.
Verdict: A solid bang-for-the-buck offering, but it’s not an upgrade from the previous device
If you’re someone who already owns an M1 Note, the M2 Note isn’t for you. The change to a slower, less powerful phone may be jarring, though if you’re looking for a phone that has better legs and expandable storage option then the switch may be more palatable to you. For people who are upgrading from entry level phones to something better, the M2 Note is a great choice. It’s solidly built, easy to use and has more than enough battery to last you a day, with a little more left over. It’s a great all-around device, and for only Php 7,490 at Novo7Tech stores, it’s more than enough to give its competitors a run for their money.
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