Meizu M5 Review
Interface and Functionality
The international version of the M5 runs on the custom Meizu Flyme OS based off of Android 6 Marshmallow. It is a flat skin that draws inspiration from iOS in many ways.
The international version of the Meizu M5 ships with the company's Flyme OS built on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Our model did not feature Google services pre-installed, so we had to use the Hot Apps application, where there is a one-click installer for the Play Store, Gmail, YouTube and all the rest. Installing them is not a tough task, but still one more hassle that you have to go through.
Like most user interfaces originating in China, the custom Flyme OS draws inspiration from iOS: it lacks an app drawer and features similar gestures like a swipe to bring up a quick search (it’s a swipe up, though, not down). You can even tap the status bar in apps like the browser to go to the top of a page.
Getting used to Flyme OS is not too hard, but it still feels slightly foreign. What you get in exchange for that inconvenience, though, is a platform that features animations that are surprisingly fluid. There are some slow-downs, though, but more on that later.
The M5 also ships with a TouchPal keyboard. It's a decent keyboard, but the keys are unsightly and in terms of accuracy and vibrational feedback, I found myself making much more errors than on Samsungs and LGs. There are some nice shortcuts to it, though: a neat slide down gesture instantly brings alternative characters (used perfectly with numbers) and this makes typing your passwords so much easier.
Processor and Memory
Running on a base-level MediaTek system chip, the Meizu M5 starts all apps with a slight pause, but once it runs them, it works smoothly.
The Meizu M5 runs on the MediaTek MT6750 system chip, and it’s a base-level SoC with an octa-core CPU featuring eight Cortex A53 cores in two clusters.
Okay, let’s not get too technical and put it this way: this chip performs about on par with the processor in the iPhone 5 from some 4 years ago. In fact, the iPhone 5’s Apple A6 chip outperforms this particular one in the popular CPU measurement benchmark Geekbench.
In reality, the Meizu M5 is fairly well optimized and runs fine most of the time: mostly smoothly and stutter-free. Stutter-free does not mean fast, though: there is a very noticeable wait time every time you start an app, the screen goes white and you have to wait for a moment for the app to load. And It happens practically with all apps, even the dialer. Once the app starts it does not stutter or drop frames, but there is this slight slow down right before an app starts.
We also noticed that app installs took surprisingly long times: inexplicably, it took us few long minutes to install Facebook and Messenger.
And this is clearly not a phone for gamers or heavy users. It takes just a bit longer to open apps and while it can handle basic games, we would not count on the M5 if we were into more serious mobile gaming.
You have two versions of the Meizu M5: a 16GB model and a 32GB variation. This refers to the on-board storage, of course, but you can also expand that storage via a microSD card on both phones, with cards of up to 128 gigs accepted.
Internet and Connectivity
4G LTE connectivity is not compatible with US bands, but it will likely work in Europe.
The M5 ships with a default browser that we do recommend using. Google Chrome, the most popular Android browser, for some reason performs very poorly here, it stutters and lags, so we do not recommend using it on this particular handset.
The Meizu M5 is a phone made for China, the Asian market, India and some European markets. This shows particularly in connectivity: while the phone supports 4G LTE, it does not have support for the bands required by carriers in the United States. If you are thinking about importing this phone, you should know that it will max out at 3G connection in the U.S., something that is definitely a drawback. But then again, keep in mind that Meizu is not officially selling this phone in the U.S.
The full list of supported 4G LTE bands for the Meizu M5 (international version) includes FDD-LTE bands 1, 3, 5, 7, and 20, as well as TDD-LTE bands 38 and 40. Just as a reference, here are the main bands required by each of the popular U.S. carriers.
The support for bands 3, 7 and 20 is good news for European users. Meizu is selling the phone in Spain and Italy, where it will supported the required 4G LTE bands, and even if you get it in other countries (where it's not sold officially), you would likely still be able to use 4G LTE.
In terms of other connectivity, you also have dual-channel Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, an important step up for an affordable phone, as many affordable phones only support single channel Wi-Fi and in urban areas those frequencies are already too crowded, resulting in reduced network quality. We’re glad to see Meizu stepping up the game here. There’s also Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS and Glonass, but the phone does not support NFC. The latter means you will not be able to use this phone for wireless payments.