Chinese manufacturers continue their onslaught on the Indian mobile industry with Meizu releasing its latest budget smartphone, the Meizu m3s. Given the success Xiaomi’s Redmi 3s has enjoyed in the Indian market, it isn’t a surprise that other manufacturers are gunning for a slice of this pie. After all the budget price segment drives volumes in India.
Meizu m3s would be easy to confuse with the Meizu m2, given the similar shape and price. However, the Chinese company has improved the insides of the m3s, while managing to keep the price point same. For starters, the m3s utilises Mediatek’s MT6750 (octacore, 1.5GHz Cortex A-53), while m2 had a quad-core Mediatek MT6735 processor. The camera also sees a bump in internals, along with the RAM and on-board storage.
Specs: 5-inch 720p display| octa-core Mediatek MT6750 processor | 2GB RAM | 16 GB ROM (expandable up to 256gB) | 13MP rear camera with PDAF | 5MP front camera | 3020 mAh battery | Runs FlyMe OS 5.1 (based on Android 5.1)
Price: Rs 7,999 for 16GB version
While the resolution of the screen might not seem to be the best, the IPS panel does manage good colour and contrast reproduction. The 5-inch screen manages a decent pixel density of roughly 294 ppi, adequate for viewing both movies and photos. Games also look good on the Meizu m3s, attesting that a lower resolution display does not necessarily mean a bad display.
The all metal build of the Meizu m3s is another good thing going for the phone. Typically phones in the sub-10K bracket tend to cut corners on construction materials. However, Meizu m3s is all metal, which also explains the slight increase in weight in comparison to the m2. The phone utilises Asahi glass, instead of the usual Corning Gorilla glass as a means of shatter-proofing the display. While we didn’t get into a drop test, we did end accidentally knock it off the table a few times without breaking it.
Last but not the least, Meizu m3s manages to keep its performance at a satisfactory level. While it couldn’t handle Asphalt 8 when we had several apps running in the background, clearing the RAM did allow one to play the game, but not without issues. Subway Surfer runs without any issues as expected. We were able to squeeze out roughly a day and half worth of performance out of the 3020 mAh battery, and the only way we managed to do that was by closing all background apps ever-so-often.
What’s not so good?
FlyMe OS 5.1 is built on Android Lollipop and in the day and age where were are starting to see Nougat, this is just a sore letdown. The operating system also doesn’t have hardware or capacitive keys for navigation, forcing you to rely on just the home button by means of swipes and presses. This is probably the most annoying feature of the Meizu m3s; its attempt to be more like Apple’s iOS. Apps once downloaded, get added to the homescreen on their own (again like iOS), eliminating the need for an app drawer.
The camera on the phone was another big letdown. Despite a 13-megapixel sensor and PDAF, the main camera still doesn’t produce images with a good balance of highlights and shadows. Close-up shots of flowers turned out just fine. However, people who like to shoot landscapes or wide shots in general will find the auto-exposure somewhat annoying to work with. The camera develops noise in low light and while noise reduction does tend to take care of some of it, the detail in the image is lost rather quickly.
So should you buy?
Meizu m3s comes in two variants, 16GB storage paired with 2GB RAM and 32GB storage paired with 3GB of RAM. They cost Rs 7,999 and Rs 9,299 respectively. Sitting square in the domain of the Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime, the Meizu M3s is on somewhat weaker footing. For those looking for the best battery life, the Redmi 3s provides more and for those worried about OS upgrades, the m3s isn’t going to go beyond the Lollipop framework.
While Meizu does believe in providing the feature set through its OS, the mental block of not being able to upgrade to Nougat or even Marshmallow might deter some buyers. What Meizu m3s does have working in its favour is inventory as Redmi 3s Prime is currently out of stock on Flipkart. If it comes down to wanting a phone right away, the Meizu is the clear choice.