We review the Meizu MX4 Pro, a flagship phone with all the bells and whistles at an unbelievable price.
Meizu are quite a traditional Chinese brand, usually only launching just one phone a year, and usually not trying to antagonise the competition. Well that was the case last year and the year before and again before that, but 2014 has seen a change, one for the better.
Meizu’s change began around 2 months ago with the Meizu MX4. A phone that grabbed the attention of Meizu fans and those who had never really taken notice of the brand before. The MX4 boasted amazing features, (read the MX4 review here) and costs only 1799 Yuan in China. Meizu had never launch a phone so affordable!
Fast forward a few months and we find ourselves again in Beijing at the launch of another Meizu phone. Meizu had never launched 2 completely different models before in the same year, and again the retail price was killer.
Let’s find out just how good Meizu’s change is in the following Meizu MX4 Pro review.
Meizu MX4 Pro Review – Specifications[table id=177 /]
Meizu MX4 Pro Review – Unboxing Video
Meizu MX4 Pro Review – Design and build
If you look at the Meizu MX4 Pro by itself then you would be forgiven for thinking that the new phone is nothing but a slightly larger MX4, but get the two phones together and you will see that there are quite a few differences.
The MX4 Pro is made from the same style all alloy chassis. Machined from a solid lump of aircraft grade alloy, to create a strong and lightweight frame, but the chassis of the Pro is longer, wider and thicker so can house new components and features.
Dimensions of the Meizu MX4 Pro are 77 x 150.1 x 9mm at a weight of 158g. So a slight larger and heavier phone than the MX4. Still the device manages to cram a large display, 5.5-inch in this case, in to the narrow width, and is easily controlled with one hand (thanks to some clever Flyme 4.1 features).
We were given the grey version of the MX4 Pro for review, which like its smaller brother has a removable plastic rear cover, and polished silver edges which really set off the all glass, black front. Two other colour options will also be made available including a gold model and white and silver version.
As already mentioned the rear of the phone has a removable panel which gives you access to the single SIM tray and a glimpse of the built-in (non removable) 3350mAh battery. In all honesty the removable rear is overkill just to access a single sim tray, but we imagine there was significant savings on production over building a unibody phone. It also gives you the option of using clip on flip covers to protect your phone too.
The rear is also where we find the familiar large lens of the Sony 20.7 mega-pixel main camera, dual tone, dual LED flash and Meizu logo. All pretty much identical to those on the MX4.
Flip the phone over and we have the usual Meizu silhouette which MX, MX2 and MX3 users will be familiar with, but with a rectangle home button on the chin beneath the display.
Many people have pointed out that the rectangle design of the home button is very similar to Samsung’s and yes it is really, but there are only so many shapes a button could come in, and besides it harks back to the days of the Meizu M9, Meizu’s first ever Android phone.
If you have been following the MX4 Pro launch you will know that the home button offers more than meets the eye. This is because the sapphire glass, stainless steel surrounded button also houses a finger print recognition system called mTouch. More on that later.
Above the 2K+ display there is a receiver grill, a white LED notification light (sorry no RGB) and to the right of that an all new 5 mega-pixel front facing camera with improved low-light performance.
The rest os the design has a micro USB and 4 holes drilled in the bottom for the single speaker. Volume rocker on the left hand side and 3.5mm headphone jack and power button in the very top.
As the MX4 Pro has a slightly larger display (5.5-inch vs 5.35-inch on the MX4) and has slightly wider bezels, and has a less tapered rear the flagship MX4 Pro does feel larger in your hand, more so than the dimensions suggest. Still I’m able to handle the phone with ease, but then again I’m quite use to the larger OnePlus One and Vivo Xplay 3S too, so it is all down to personal opinion.
Build quality is superb, and as good as the MX4 in every way. The chassis is finished to a high quality and the polished edges really standout against the black of the display. I was concerned about how the mTouch button might feel, but I needn’t as it feels first class.
If there was one area I would have to grumble is again the rear panel of the phone. Although it fits better than the MX4 we reviewed, it still isn’t a fully flush fit all the way around. Also on my phone I have managed to slightly damage the polished frame somehow. It hasn’t been dropped so I can only imagine it has happened while in my back pack or pocket.
Meizu MX4 Pro Review – Display
The display on the Meizu MX4 is a 2K+ panel. The 2K stands for the QHD high-resolution and the + because it is actually the highest resolution display of any smartphone to date with the largest pixel density. For those of you who need the numbers the 5.5-inch display has a resolution of 2560 x 1536 with a pixel density of 546ppi!
Those numbers are seriously impressive, but the features don’t stop there.
Although the JDI sourced panel has a higher resolution it also used a new Nega negative LCD display technology which uses around the same amount of power as the 1080p display on the MX4. So double the resolution, a larger panel and the no additional battery drain.
Features continue with a max brightness of 450cd/m2, 2049 levels of brightness and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection!
In use the display is super crisp with sharp images, bright, natural colours and great viewing angles. Is the super high resolution of the Pro good? Yes it is! Is it notably better than a 5.5-inch 1080 display? No, not really.
Even next to each other it is impossible to tell the difference between 2K+ and a good 1080, but its a great display, hasn’t upset battery consumption and judging by the price hasn’t effected the cost of the phone, so I’m more than happy.
Meizu MX4 Pro Review – Performance, and benchmarks
Meizu might be working with Mediatek on their mid-range MX4 and rumoured entry-level phones, but it is Samsung who provide the processor the the MX4 Pro. Samsung and Meizu have worked with one another for years firstly on MP3 players and then when they entered the phone market.
The processor in the MX4 Pro is a Samsung Exynos 5430 chipset, a 20nm octacore processor running 4 x 2.0ghz A15 cores and 4x 1.5ghz Cortex A7 cores. The chip can either switch between cores depending on what you throw at the phone, or even turn all cores on at the same time for really tasking apps.
The Samsung chip has a Mali T628 600Mz GPU, not the fastest but more than enough for the 2K+ display and the games we have thrown at the phone. There is also 3GB RAM on board too to completely eliminate any possible bottle necks.
When Meizu announced the Pro many were worried that the 5430 wouldn’t be up to the task, but like many modern phones the MX4 Pro handles everything you throw at it with ease. Gaming, video and general daily use don’t worry the hardware on the Pro at all.
Benchmarks below actually show the Meizu MX4 Pro is lagging a little behind other flagship phones on the market, but as we have long realised benchmarks don’t really mean anything and real performance can only be determined from actual usage.
Meizu MX4 Pro Review – Benchmarks
- Antutu: 46,553
- Andutu X: 38,225
- Quadrant: 10,310
- Vellamo Metal: 1623
- Vellamo Multicore: 1345
- Vellamo Chrome browser 3818
- Ice Storm Unlimited: 18285
- Ice Storm Extreme: Maxed out
So as far as processor and RAM performance go the MX4 Pro is as good as any flagship phone we would care to mention, but that isn’t to say it isn’t without its issues.
One issue we have found is with the write speed for the memory in the phone. Chances are that the issue is due to the first version of the international Flyme 4.1 ROM we are running (a newer version should be available at launch). Now and again saving, or reading files from the 32GB of internal memory is very slow. This is especially notable when saving photos, more so after editing.
The issue is intermittent (at least on our review phone) and a reboot clears things up but there is something there. There is also a similar issue with 4K and slow motion video which causes slower than expected or jerky playback, but again these issues will hopefully be solved when finally launched.
Gizchina News of the week
Meizu MX4 Pro Review – Camera
The camera on the Meizu MX4 Pro is the same set up as the sensor on the MX4. That’s good news as we know that we are getting a rather good camera with a nice camera app with tons of nice features.
The main sensor on the MX4 Pro is a Sony IMX220 Exmor RS sensor with Blue glass filter, sapphire glass protection, 5 element lens and F2.2 aperture. This is a great set up and capable of capturing some really nice photos even in low light conditions thanks to the fantastic night mode.
Overall images are fantastic, but there are some odd times that the image is much darker than expected, this doesn’t affect the photo quality too much as it can be quickly fixed with the built-in photo editor. During the review time with the MX4 Pro I also had a Sony Xperia Z1 with the same rear sensor set up as the MX4 Pro and found the Sony to have the same dark photo characteristics.
On the whole I would still rate the Vivo Xshot as my phone pick for camera quality, but the MX4 Pro comes in a close joint second with the MX4.
Meizu MX4 Pro photo samples
Up front the 5 mega-pixel front camera is a huge upgrade over the 2 mega-pixel of the MX4. Image are much clearer and thanks to FotoNation enhancement algorithm and Face AE light boost technology you can get some great photos even in low light.
Like the MX4 the Meizu MX4 Pro is capable of capturing slow motion video and up to 4K video. Below is a short sample of slow motion video from the MX4 Pro.
Meizu MX4 Pro slow motion video sample
Meizu MX4 Pro Review – Battery
Having a wider and slightly fatter body compared to the MX4, Meizu have been able to give the MX4 Pro a generous battery size of 3350mAh. Couple the larger battery with the low drain 2K+ display and power conscious Samsung Exynos 5430 chipset and Meizu claim a battery life of around a day and a half.
In my time with the phone, I have been able to get a around a day and half from a single charge during my normal daily use. I.E taking lots of photo, checking and updating social networks, data and WIFI on all the time, email on push and Mi Band connected etc.
On a recent trip out of town which required GPS, Google Maps and the phone to start hunting around for a data connection more often than usual (poor data connection in the city) I was forced to charge the MX4 Pro by the evening.
Meizu MX4 Pro Review – Connectivity
This being a flagship phone, it offers most connectivity options you would want. GPS, WIFI, GSM, WCDMA, 4G LTE, NFC, and Bluetooth.
GPS is fast, WIFI is strong and 3G and LTE were spot and were only affected due to poor service coverage. If you read my recent Mi Band review then you will know I’ve fallen for the Xiaomi wearable and have it on my wrist all the time. Connection is never lost and overall is better than Bluetooh on the MX4 which sometimes missed a beat and disconnected.
NFC is the real let down feature here. Although the phone has NFC I, and others, have found it to be a little temperamental when trying to send files from the Pro to another device. It is almost as if the NFC in the Pro cuts in and out until it finally locks on and works. Again this could be a software bug, but personally I’m not a big user of NFC and the issue doesn’t bother me.
Meizu MX4 Pro Review – Audio
Audio is really what Meizu were boasting about during the launch of the Meizu MX4 Pro. They went to great lengths to remind us that they use to be leading MP3 manufacturers, and created a launch event with music vibe and even a live band.
As for the phone, well the Meizu MX4 Pro has audio technology stuffed inside that wouldn’t look out of place in a top of the range stand alone audio player. The audio experts out there will recognise the ESS ES9018K2M decoder and OPA1612 operation amp from Texas instruments. These are components usually found in $1000 audio equipment not $406 smartphones.
The MX4 Pro also features technology which should automatically detect the best setting for your earphones/headphones and set the audio up to suit without risking damage to your ear drums. Passive filter technology, ceramic film capacitors and low temperature drift resistors also do their part in creating HIFI audio without a hint of background noise.
So how does it sound in real life? Well the single external speaker is loud and offers great range and bass when watching movies or playing games, but it is just a single speaker not exactly what you would expect from a HIFI phone. With earphones plugged in the audio quality is really very good, but in all honesty I would say that Vivo have an edge over Meizu. From hardware alone the MX4 Pro should be a clear winner, but something isn’t quite tuned properly to take full advantage of the hardware on offer.
Meizu MX4 Pro Review – mTouch
mTouch is Meizu’s own home button/fingerprint scanner which is located on the front of the phone below the display. As a user all we see is the rectangle sapphire glass button, but underneath there is a capacitive touch sensor that is activated once the button is pressed.
Setting up mTouch is a simple job of simply placing your chosen fingerprint over the surface of the button in various positions so that the phone can store a useable print that you can use to unlock your phone. If you take the time to set mTouch up properly you will be able to unlock your phone regardless of the position of your finger. Simply press and the mTouch will attempt to read your fingerprint and decide to unlock the phone or not in just 500 milliseconds.
The key to getting mTouch to work properly is in taking the time to set it up. Rushing through the set up will result in a poor fingerprint record and a frustrating user experience. Take a few minutes to set it up however and it is a fast and accurate method of keeping your phone secure.
Next year Meizu, Alibaba and Wechat will allow MX4 Pro users to pay for apps, goods and services using just mTouch. Users outside of China won’t see much benefit from that yet, but it shows that big businesses are confident that the Meizu’s encryption and security measures are up to the job.
Meizu MX4 Pro Review – Flyme 4.1
As a long time Meizu user, I totally understand what it is like to boot up your new Meizu device and walk right in to a wall of bugs or software issues. Recently this has been less of an issue, and so far I have to say that Flyme 4.1 on the MX4 Pro is by far the best launch version of Flyme to date.
Not only is the latest version of Flyme more polished and bug free (not completely but better) but it also adds some nice features which will help you use the phone one-handed.
Smart Touch, found in the notifications drop down, is one such great feature. When activated it adds a white dot to your home screen that can be moved to the location of your choice. With Smart Touch on, you can swipe from left to right to access apps running in the background or double tap to bring the screen down and in reach of your thumb for easy one handed use.
The smartbar on screen navigation control is still here, and you also have the swipe up from the home button gesture to get you back to a previous screen. Whatsapp and Hangouts users will want to keep that in mind as sometimes the smartbar does not appear, but a simple swipe up from the home button will take you back rather than having to exit the app completely.
Overall Flyme 4.1 is more stable than ever and in fact the only apps that we have heard users of Flyme complain about are those which are actually blocked in China. For example there was an issue with Gmail and attachments, which simply cannot be tested from China even with VPN (believe me I have tried), but thankfully that problem does now seem to be fixed.
Meizu MX4 Pro review – Conclusion
The Meizu MX4 Pro is an amazing phone no matter how you look at it. Priced at 2499 Yuan (International pricing is not confirmed) the MX4 Pro offers so much extra for so little extra when compared to rivals that it makes it the better phone to buy. Compare the 2499 Yuan MX4 Pro to the 1999 Yuan Xiaomi Mi4 or OnePlus One for example and the MX4 Pro is a no brainer (unless custom ROM support is a must have).
Performance isn’t as fast as some of the other flagships we have reviewed over the past year, but in actual use it is well on par with even the best. Camera quality is second only to the Vivo Xshot, and overall build is great.
But there is a problem with the MX4 Pro, well it’s not a problem with the phone but more a problem with it’s more affordable brother the MX4. You see the standard Meizu MX4 might not have the 2K+ display, mTouch fingerprint scanner or additional audio hardware, but it is such an amazing phone, it might actually be too good.
With the MX4 offering the same level of performance, similar battery life and the same rear camera, plus in a slightly more comfortable to hold body, it makes the decision between the Pro and standard MX4 a very difficult one!
The Meizu MX4 Pro is a killer flagship phone, and if the latest screen specs, 3GB RAM and security are paramount to you then I simply cannot fault it. If however you can live a with a pin code on your screen, a 1080 display and 2GB RAM, I see no reason not to buy the standard Meizu MX4.