Premium metal design
Fast fingerprint sensor
3.5mm headphone jack
MicroSD card expansion
Poor low light camera performance
No U.S. LTE support
Not running Android Oreo
The Meizu M6 Note may not be the most exciting smartphone, but it’s not bad. I’ve had it for the past week, giving me plenty of time to put it through it’s paces. The M6 Note is a mid-range smartphone (at best). It’s affordable, has some very appealing features, and is made by one of the most popular and reputable Chinese OEMs. With dual cameras, a large battery, a metal design, and Meizu’s signature FlymeOS, is the M6 Note a budget phone worth buying? That’s what we aim to find out in this Meizu M6 Note review.
The M6 Note feels like a high-quality smartphone.
Many aspects of the Meizu M6 Note are pretty run of the mill. It get’s the job done. The M6 Note doesn’t do much wrong, nor does it do a whole lot to stand out from the crowd either. The phone is well designed but it’s nothing we haven’t seen from other manufacturers before. The M6 Note is solidly constructed, with an all-metal body that gives it a very high quality feel. The metal is smooth to the touch, making for very little grip. The flat sides of the phone make it easier to hold, though. Chamfered edges run along the perimeter of the front and rear, which adds extra flair to the overall aesthetics. The corners are also nicely rounded, which makes the phone more comfortable to hold.
By today’s smartphone standards the Meizu M6 Note would be considered average in size. It’s not overly large, making it fairly easy to use in one hand. The side mounted power and volume keys are well placed and comfortable to reach. It’s a well constructed, if unremarkable phone that exudes the premium look and feel of a flagship.
At first glance, the M6 Note’s 5.5-inch 1080p display probably won’t grab your attention. It’s surrounded by thick bezels, especially on the top and bottom, and has a 16:9 aspect ratio, which gives it a very outdated look for 2018. The screen itself is of good quality. At 5.5 inches it isn’t the largest display, but it still feels comfortable for browsing the web, typing, and enjoying content such as movies and games.
The IPS panel of the M6 Note is not as vibrant or contrasty as an OLED display, but it still has great color reproduction and excellent viewing angles. The screen also fared surprisingly well outdoors, as I could comfortably see the screen in direct sunlight when set to max brightness. The 1080p resolution is a step down from the QHD panels on the market, but on a 5.5-inch display 1080p resolution is still more than enough to produce a sharp looking panel.
The Snapdragon 625 isn't the most powerful SoC out there, but it's extremely battery efficient.
The Meizu M6 Note comes with Qualcomm’s mid-range Snapdragon 625 SoC, backed by 3 or 4GB of RAM, depending on the storage option. The M6 Note isn’t a benchmarking beast, but it was a solid performer. In most circumstances, such as general navigation and launching applications, the M6 Note is smooth and quick to respond. Unfortunately, the phone didn’t feel that way with every task. Apps like Snapchat felt sluggish and I noticed the occasional random freeze when playing a fairly simple tower defense game like Clash Royale. Games generally ran well, with smooth gameplay the majority of the time.The freezing issue could also be software related, as I’ve never run into it with other Snapdragon 625 devices before.
The Snapdragon 625 is not as powerful as Qualcomm’s top tier SoCs, but it is extremely battery efficient. The battery sipping properties, paired with the M6 Note’s massive 4,000mAh battery, resulted in excellent battery life during my testing. I was able to consistently hit a minimum screen on time of 5.5 hours every day and I always made it comfortably into the late hours of the night on a single charge. The Meizu M6 Note comes with battery-saving modes that reduce performance and disable features like Bluetooth and GPS to extend battery life. It’s a handy feature to have if you’re low on battery and won’t able to get to a charger. I never felt the need to use it.
Like many other aspects of the M6 Note, the hardware features are very standard and somewhat underwhelming. Internal storage starts at 16GB and can be bumped up to 32 or 64GB, with the option to expand that storage further via microSD. There’s a physical clicking home button on the front that also doubles as the fingerprint sensor. The sensor is quick to unlock and I never ran into any issues with it reading my fingerprint. The device has a 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom, which many users will appreciate. There’s also a single speaker on the bottom that was louder than I expected. It sounds decent, as far as single speakers on smartphones are concerned.
One of the stranger features of the Meizu M6 Note is that is uses the outdated MicroUSB port instead of USB Type-C. While MicroUSB is still a perfectly fine port, it would have been nice to see USB Type-C as it’s more up to date and the reversible nature makes it more user friendly.
Meizu does a much better job of keeping up with the modern smartphone in the camera department. The M6 Note comes has dual rear cameras — a 12MP primary shooter and a 5MP secondary sensor. In the M6 Note’s case, only the primary sensor is for taking photos while the secondary sensor is only used for capturing depth information.
The secondary sensor can be taken advantage of by enabling the dual lens blur effect from within the camera app. This allows for greater separation between the subject and the background by blurring out the background while keeping only the subject in focus, creating a bokeh effect. It’s a more dramatic effect that gives your photos that DSLR-like look. The results can be very convincing, provided there’s enough distance between the main subject of focus and the background. The amount of blur unfortunately can’t be tweaked, but you can adjust the point of focus after the fact to put emphasis on any part of the photo. The results start to look more artificial as you deviate from the original focus point.
The camera’s biggest weakness is it’s lack of dynamic range, which always seems to be the case with midrange smartphones. In good lighting color reproduction and sharpness are more than adequate, producing an appealing image. Detail is lacking in shadowy areas or bright highlights. HDR drastically improves this while still maintaining a natural looking image, so I would recommend keeping it on at all times. The camera does not feature an HDR auto mode.
The lens is bright, with an f/1.9 aperture, but there is a huge drop off in image quality in low light. Colors become washed out, details are much softer, highlights are overblown, and there is significantly more noise. The results are mediocre at best. Optical image stabilization would have helped with this, if the camera had included it.
As with many Chinese smartphones, there's a big emphasis on beauty mode which can be used to hide blemishes, soften your skin, enlarge your eyes, and thin out your face.
Selfies have become a very important part of Chinese culture, so the front the Meizu M6 Note comes equipped with a 16-megapixel sensor for high resolution images. As with many Chinese smartphones there’s a big emphasis on the beauty mode, which can be used to hide blemishes, soften your skin, enlarge your eyes, and thin out your face. I’ve never been a fan of beauty mode on any smartphone but it works well and is available in a smart and advanced mode. The smart mode lets the camera do all of the work, only giving you control over the intensity of how much it beautifies your face. The advanced mode is more granular and let’s you tweak individual settings, such as how thin you want your face to look or the size of your eyes, for the perfect selfie.
The Meizu M6 Note runs Meizu’s custom FlymeOS software on top of Android 7.1.2 Nougat. Hopefully an update to Android Oreo will come, but for now we’ll have to wait and see. Like many other software skins from Chinese brands, FlymeOS does not have an app drawer, so all of your applications reside on your home screens, similar to iOS. There’s no built-in setting to add an app drawer back so you’ll have to download a third party launcher if you want that functionality. Aesthetically, FlymeOS’ default look has a very clean appearance, with flat minimalistic icons and a great balance of color. This can all be changed if you’re not a fan of how it looks out of the box via its theme engine. The theme engine offers a great selection of themes to customize the icons, wallpapers, and even the general UI elements, allowing you to tailor as much or as little of the OS as you like.
FlymeOS is a big departure from stock Android. The experience is easy to use and offers a nice amount of software tweaks that many people should find enjoyable.
FlymeOS also has an abundance of gesture controls for navigating the OS, waking the display, and opening specific applications of your choice by drawing letters on the screen. Meizu’s SmartTouch is another gesture-based feature, except it puts a virtual joystick on your display and gives you many of the same actions. There are plenty of options for interacting with the OS.
FlymeOS isn’t necessarily my cup of tea. It’s a big departure from stock Android. However, it’s easy to use and offers a nice amount of software tweaks many people should find enjoyable.
|Meizu M6 Note|
1,920 x 1,080
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 625|
Expandable up to 256GB via microSD
|Camera||Rear: 16MP sensor with f/1.9 aperture, PDAF + 5MP with f/2.0 aperture|
Front: 16MP sensor with f/2.0 aperture
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
3.5mm headphone jack
|Software||Android 7.1.2 Nougat|
Pricing and final thoughts
Depending on where you buy it, the Meizu M6 Note costs around $200 unlocked. It’s tough to recommend for U.S. buyers, as it doesn’t support 4G LTE bands in the States. The Honor 7X would be a much better option. It has a more modern design, offers a similar feature set for the same price, and supports U.S. LTE bands.
For international markets, this mid-range smartphone should appeal to many, with its premium metal design, dual cameras, and long-lasting battery. It doesn’t necessarily stand out from the crowd, but if you just want a good, inexpensive smartphone with a few extra bells and whistles, the Meizu M6 Note fits the bill.
That’s it for our Meizu M6 Note review. What do you think of the M6 Note? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.