Meizu m3 note #ExpressReview: Great design, lacklustre experience

So, is Meizu m3 note the best smartphone under Rs 10,000? Let's find out in our review.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Written by Karthekeyan Iyer | Updated: May 31, 2016 3:13:00 pm
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Meizu, the Chinese smartphone maker, is riding high on the success of its m series budget smartphones. Considering the diverse option available, it is really difficult to gain traction in the budget space. Meizu claims to have sold over 20 million m series smartphones, which is not a small number by any means.

Meizu is banking on the success of its previous offering and has introduced m3 note in India. Meizu says it has brought the budget smartphone to India within days of its China launch, which proves how much of a priority India is for the company.

Meizu m3 note

Meizu m3 note is the successor to m2 note and the most direct competitor yet to Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 — note the note in the names.

Meizu m3 note has a design very similar to m2 note, which itself is similar to Apple iPhone. The smartphone has a really big 4100mAh battery and metal unibody design, similar to Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. What sets the m3 note apart, however, is the significantly cheaper price tag. So is this the best smartphone under Rs 10,000? Let’s find out in our review

Specs: 5.5-inch Full HD display | 1.8GHz octa-core Mediatek MT6755 Helio P10 processor | 3GB RAM | 32GB storage space (expandable to 128GB) | 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera | 4100mAh battery | Android 5.1 Lollipop

Price: Rs 9,999

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What is good?

Meizu m3 note has one of the best industrial designs among smartphones priced under Rs 10,000. It has metal unibody construction with nice chamfered edges. The silver colour review unit had a striking look, and many even confused it for the iPhone 6 Plus.

Meizu m3 note has only a single navigation button called mBack. The mBack button acts as Home button, fingerprint scanner and back button. Again it’s an idea taken from iPhone design, but added with extra features. The whole implementation is very neat and works flawlessly.

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The Meizu m3 note has a battery that will be the envy any kinds of smartphone in the price range. I used Meizu m3 note as my primary smartphone and was easily able to push it over two-and-a-half days. The screen on time was over seven hours every single day, and the usage involved calls, messaging, social media, video streaming and little gameplay.

My usage does sound a lot but the 4,100mAh Lithium battery under the hood just lasts longer. An average user can easily get around three days of juice from this one while heavy users can leave home their charger for a day. It matches Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 3 nicely when it comes to battery backup.

Meizu m3 note packs a 5.5-inch Full HD display upfront which offers nice detail, sharper texts and good colour reproduction. However, the auto brightness did not work well and especially under Delhi’s direct sunlight, the brightness needs to be maxed out. Even at maximum brightness, Meizu m3 note lasts longer thanks to its big battery.

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My colleague was not really impressed with Xiaomi Redmi Note 3’s camera and I must say Meizu has managed to better Xiaomi on that front. Meizu m3 note’s camera is quick to focus and it manages to reproduce great amount of detail almost every time.

It offers tonnes of options like 6-second gifs and the ability to refocus the image using light field mode after it’s shot. These are nice features to have but you won’t be using it that often. However, the manual mode works reliably well. It has a maximum ISO of 1600 and shutter speed of 16 seconds. The pictures shot in manual mode or using long exposure setting are not as breathtaking as it would be on a DSLR. It is still a cool feature, something you would use quite often.

Meizu m3 note comes with 32GB storage out of the box which is the maximum you can get at this price. If you prefer larger storage space, Meizu m3 note should be the one you consider.

What is not good?

Meizu m3 note runs Flyme UI 5 based on Android 5.1 and we exclusively reported that there is no Marshmallow update on the cards any time soon. The latest operating system means latest security, which Meizu m3 note will miss badly.

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Coming back to Flyme UI 5 itself, Meizu claims this version brings lot of polish but my experience was not good. I often saw crashes and some of the UI animations rendered too slow. Very simple things like card-based multitasking didn’t always appear while swiping from the bottom of the screen. Also some of the most common options are hidden, and take time to figure out. I believe this is not the best UI Meizu has ever built.

Meizu mocked every other manufacturer implementing rear fingerprint scanner in their devices as wearing underwear reverse. I feel its own device has worn the wrong underwear altogether. To be specific, the fingerprint scanner (referred as underwear) is too moody and often failed to register my fingerprint. An issue, unheard of in a device priced as cheaply as Coolpad Note 3 Lite.

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Meizu m3 note is powered by a MediaTek Helio P10 processor, which is not a bad processor for smartphone in this class, but isn’t as powerful as the Snapdragon 650 found under the hood of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. That Snapdragon chipset makes for an advanced performance and better graphics performance.

Meizu m3 note could have got one thing right – speakers. The speaker set on this one sounds too tinny and won’t work even at your basic house party. Small things that matter over time.

Should you buy?

With Meizu being my primary smartphone last week, I had only one feeling – a great design that gets basics wrong. A great hardware with poor software can make the whole experience underwhelming. Meizu m3 note fits in this category.

I would forgive Meizu for not bringing Marshmallow update (read: most Android phones are still stuck on KitKat) but what they are offering right now needs to learn a great deal to be really useful and effective.

Get Meizu if you want a great design, good storage space, very good camera and days long battery at such a low price. But if you want to be in the ring of latest software goodness, better to look elsewhere.

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