Meizu’s Note series were off to a great start with the m1 note. The m2 note did some upgrades in expense of a few features, while the m3 note turned out a worthy successor though it trailed behind the Xiaomi’s mid-range crop. It’s time for Meizu to freshen up its Note lineup again, and today we get our hands on the newly released M5 Note.
Fun fact! Did you notice there is a missing fourth model in the series? The number four is considered a bad omen in China and skipping it is quite usual. The fear of the number four actually has a proper Latin name – tetraphobia. And yes, we just looked this up.
Meizu M5 Note review
The M5 Note comes with a refined design, easily noticeable, but not breaking up with its roots. There is also more storage, if you are ready to pay for it, and Android Marshmallow comes pre-installed.
The rest is pretty much as we left it on the m3 note – Helio P10 chipset, a 13MP main camera, the iconic mTouch key with a fingerprint scanner, and a beefy 4,000 mAh battery.
Meizu M5 Note at a glance:
- Metal unibody; 5.5″ 1080p IPS display of 403ppi
- MediaTek Helio P10 chipset: octa-core processor, Mali-T860MP2 GPU, 3GB/4GB of RAM
- 13MP camera, two-tone LED flash; 1080p @30fps; 5MP front-facing camera
- 16/32/64GB of built-in storage, microSD slot
- mTouch v2.1 Home button with a fingerprint scanner
- 4,000 mAh battery, fast charging (35% in 30 minutes)
- Android Marshmallow 6.0 OS with Flyme 5.2
- Dual SIM; LTE Cat.6; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.0; GPS and GLONASS; microUSB port
It seems Meizu was focused more on the Note’s appearance, rather on its performance and camera skills. And that would have been OK, if it weren’t for the overcrowded mid-range market.
But we are yet to unwrap the M5 Note and put it through its paces. We are hoping Meizu has put some twists here and there, and we’ll made sure to search for those.
The Meizu M5 Note has the same footprint as its predecessor, though it’s gained about 12g in weight. While the M5 Note looks the same at the front, the metal back has changed a bit and it’s for the better – there is a prominent chamfer between the frame and the rear surface. This tiny design twist makes for a better grip and stylish appearance.
The retail box of the Meizu M5 Note includes only the basics – a fast 24W charger plug and a microUSB cable. There are no headphones inside.
The M5 Note is all-metal in the luxury kind of way – there are no big plastic strips at the back, just two tiny antenna bands. A glass covers the entire front and it has 2.5D edges – it’s probably a Dinorex T2X-1 glass, but Meizu didn’t share any specifics.
The 5.5″ display has a maximum brightness of 460 nits, but its mediocre black levels led to an average contrast of 1:754. The color rendering is average, too – the screen offers mostly accurate colors but blue hues interfere with the image rather obviously, and the white color is way colder than it should be. The representation out of the box has an average DeltaE of 8.7, but even playing with the color settings won’t help you do much better than that.
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Contrast ratio|
|Meizu M5 Note||0.614||463||754|
|Meizu m3 note||0.52||425||816|
|Meizu m3 max||0.46||449||976|
|Meizu m2 note||0.42||473||1108|
|Meizu m1 note||0.65||562||867|
|Meizu m1 metal||0.50||390||780|
|Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)||0.00||353||∞|
|Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)||0.42||403||953|
|Xiaomi Redmi Note 4||0.38||439||1158|
|Xiaomi Redmi Pro||0.00||408||∞|
Below the 5.5″ display is the familiar mTouch key. It’s an all-in-one button with three functions – tap for Back, click for Home, and there is an embedded fingerprint scanner for when the screen is locked. While the biometric sensor isn’t always on, it’s very fast, accurate, and is capable of recognizing your fingerprint from any direction.
The M5 Note is powered by a 4,000 mAh battery – that’s 100 mAh less capacity than the unit inside the m3 note. It scored an excellent 98-hour endurance rating in our battery test, even though its video playback endurance is only average.
The battery supports MediaTek’s Pump Express 3.0 rapid charging, and the supplied charger has a maximum power output of 24W.
The Meizu M5 Note runs on Flyme 188.8.131.52 OS, which was built on top of an Android 6.0 Marshmallow core. Flyme, just like Apple’s iOS, revolves around a single-tier UI – every app or widget resides directly on the homescreen without an additional app drawer that is typical for Android. All other system features can be configured through either the Settings menu or within the powerful Security app.
In China, many Meizu models come with what they call Yun OS, which is a forked version of Android with China-exclusive services to replace everything Google’s. This is the reason why Meizu is not a registered Google Services partner. So Meizu can’t ship even their international models with the Google APIs and apps, which are must-haves in the Western markets. Meizu has found a workaround to give you those crucial apps – the Hot Apps application on your homescreen is a mini appstore of sorts and it would instantly recommend you downloading something called Google installer, which would add everything you need to enjoy a normal Android experience and would give you access to the Google Play store.
The lack of upgrades continues with the Meizu M5 Note’s primary camera. It has the same 13MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture we saw on the m3 note. The snapper is capable of capturing 4208x3120px snaps in 4:3 aspect. There’s also a dual-tone LED flash that should allow for more pleasing colors in low light flash photos.
There are quite a few shooting modes available – HDR, Macro, Manual (where you can adjust the shutter speed up to 10s, ISO, exposure compensation, and the focus), Panorama, GIF, Beauty, and even Light Field. Light Field is Meizu’s refocus feature, which allows you to defocus any part of the scene after the photo has been taken.
The Meizu M5 Note snaps very good 13MP pictures, rich in detail. The level of noise is a bit higher than we’d like, but it’s not nearly enough to ruin the positive impressions. The colors are accurate and the contrast is very good. Finally, the dynamic range turned about above average, which is a rare among the mid-rangers.
We experienced some issues with the focusing, so we’d recommend double-checking important photos for sharpness and proper focus in case you need to redo them.
The same Helio P10 chip is the one used in the Meizu m3 note, while the older m1 metal had a more powerful Helio X10. We can't justify using the P10 in a recent phone such as the M5 Note, but we guess its shares its internals with the m3 note for practicality.
- Very good audio quality
- The Meizu M5 Note impressed us with its loudness in both testing scenarios - its very high volume levels are rather hard to find in this price range and suggest a nicely powerful amplifier.
- The clarity of its output was another nice surprise - it was perfect with an active external amplifier and very good when headphones came into play. The stereo crosstalk, IMD and THD were the only affected readings but even they were still very good.
- The graphic performance hasn't changed a bit since the m1 note and m3 note, though the newer GPU supports the latest OpenGL ES 3.1. The m1 metal, which released two years ago, has a better performing GPU (PowerVR G6200) than the M5 Note.