At CES 2014, one thing became pretty abundantly clear – from Alcatel to Huawei, we’re seeing some really nice devices coming out of the Chinese market. What excited us even more is the fact that some of these are coming at really affordable prices. Today, we got our hands on one that really caught our eye on the show floor. Meizu might be a foreign name to many in the west, but it’s looking like we’ll be hearing it more and more, especially if this offering serves up a nice splash in the western market. Here is our unboxing and first impressions on the Meizu MX3.
Meizu MX3 specifications
|Display||5.1-inch LCD, 1080 x 1800, 412 ppi|
|Processor||Samsung Exynos 5 Octa Exynos 5410 quad-core Cortex A7 @ 1.2GHz & quad-core Cortex A15 1.6GHz, PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU|
|Storage||16/32/64/128 GB, not expandable|
|Battery||2400 mAh non-removable|
|Cameras||8MP rear, auto focus, LED flash
|Networks||GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
HSDPA 850 / 2100
|Connectivity||A-GPS, GLONASS, microUSB, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, dual-band, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, NFC|
|OS||Android 4.2/Flyme OS 3|
|Dimensions||139 x 71.9 x 9.1 mm, 143 g|
From the very beginning, Meizu goes for a bit of simplicity as the rather completely blank and white outer shell is only broken by the ‘MX3’ designation. Break off the plastic and get underneath the lid, however, and you get to see a little more of the company’s individualistic flair. But not before being greeted by a small paper showing how you can pop off the back cover using an included tool in order to insert your microSIM card. Though it’s in Chinese script and thus completely unreadable by me, the graphics are pretty easy to interpret. Worst case scenario – the instructions are found in the English manual.
Again a MX3 logo graces the next layer of the box and is atop a booklet of sorts that gives you a quick glimpse into the features of the phone and finally, once you reach the last page, reveals the phone nestled in a cutout. The black slate design is a welcome sight at the end of this unboxing, as you can barely make out the screen atop the small front home button surrounded by a white circle which acts as the LED notification light. But first, the other contents.
Aside from the phone itself and the various pieces of literature that are included, there is a microUSB charging cable and the tool for removing the back cover. An plug adapter for the cable is on the right, made for Europe. And that does it for the general contents of the box.
It is when you peel off the couple pieces of plastic covering the buttons that the fun begins. Actually, this unit came dead on arrival with an empty battery, so the excitement of firing up the phone for the first time was replaced with the much more mundane experience of watching the battery icon as the phone charged for a little while. A half hour later, however, and we were on the road. Getting into the Flyme operating system of the Meizu MX3 started off with the creation of a Flyme account, which I skipped for now.
The first thing that anyone will notice about this device is its wonderfully executed display. While this LCD provides great colors and expresses the flat design of the Flyme OS very well, it also gets a very big nod for its thing bezels. Especially on the sides, the bezels come in at 2.9mm and the top and bottom portions are fairly minimal as well. What we thus get here is a 5.1 inch display experience that doesn’t bloat the body much at all.
In the hand, a curve of the white back portions helps the phone sit quite nicely. The button layout consists of the volume rocker on the top left and the power button situated at the top. Given these button locations, the white back curve, and black slate front, our first inclination was to describe the MX3 as resembling an old iPhone 3/3G – if it had a larger screen, of course.
Underneath the surface, Flyme OS provides a very unique take on Android not only in its immediate aesthetics, but also in navigation. This a version that does away with an app drawer and so you have to organize your apps into folders all across your homescreens. This might be a turn off for some, but few user interfaces that take on this motif do it as elegantly as Flyme.
Navigation changes continue as all of the contextual softkeys that you may run into on your MX3 Android journey are relegated to a black bar at the bottom of the screen. It’s a small bar that stays mostly out of the way and is actually a pretty elegant way of organizing the various buttons in apps. When entering an app, the back button is all the way on the left, the menu button is all the way on the right, and the rest of the contextual keys show up in between. To access a list of recent apps, you can swipe up from the bottom away from the home button to the screen to pop up the row. Swiping up through the home button is similar to the back button.
We’re quite excited to review the Meizu MX3, not just because it is a pretty affordable phone with mostly high end specifications, but because it all comes in a very attractive package. The screen is a huge plus and the different take on Android navigation helps separate the user experience on the MX3 from many of the otherwise all-too-familiar alternatives out there. Stay tuned for our full review, coming soon!
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Does the Meizu MX3 impress you?