Meizu M3 Note
£142 inc VAT meizu.com
W e’ve been looking forward to testing a
Meizu phone for a while and, although
the M3 Note is impressive for the
money, it’s not a patch on the similar Xiaomi
Redmi Note 3. We weight up the pros and cons
of the Meizu M3 Note, and put it head to head
against the Redmi Note 3.
Our M3 Note was supplied by GearBest, which
charges £142.50 with free shipping to the UK. (Note
that you may have to pay import duty.) Conversely,
GearBest stocks the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 for
£116.76, which offers even better value still.
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These are both Chinese phones and, as such,
you’ll find some preinstalled Chinese-language
apps (all of which can be uninstalled) and in our
experience you will get some notifications you
can’t read. This isn’t a major issue, since you can
still preinstall any English-language apps you wish
to use, but you will need to install Google Play
first. Of all the Chinese phones we have tested,
it’s fair to say the Xiaomi and Meizu are the least
well adapted for UK consumers (which is totally
fair enough, since they aren’t officially sold here).
However, they’re also among the nicest…
Given its sub-£150 price, the M3 Note has a great
build. It’s crafted from 6000-Series Aluminium
alloy, with a unibody design that feels tough and
well-made. A 2.5D glass screen lies flush, as
does the rear camera sensor, and rounded edges
make the phablet feel relatively comfortable in
the hand, given its size.
It still feels a little chunky, though, at 8.2mm and
163g, but this we can forgive given the generous
4100mAh battery (long runtime is a huge plus
point) and large 5.5in full-HD screen. It’s a few
millimetres taller than the Redmi Note 3, which puts
its fingerprint scanner on the rear, whereas here it’s
built into the physical home button.
There are no back or recents buttons, though,
which we found incredibly difficult to get our heads
around, and a feature of iPhones that we strongly
dislike. It is possible to activate a Smart Touch
floating button that can be customised to offer
these options, but it’s really not the same thing.
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Aside from this you’ll find everything where you
would expect, from the power button and volume
rocker on the right edge to the Dual-SIM tray on
the left and headphone jack on top. One area
the Meizu gets one up on the Xiaomi is with the
bottom-facing speakers (the Redmi places this on
the rear), with two grilles sitting either side of the
Full-HD panels of this size aren’t overly common
in budget phones, and even budget Chinese
phablets will often specify only HD screens. It
matches the Redmi Note 3 with a 1920×1080-pixel
resolution, which equates to a crystal clear 403ppi.
Brightness is pretty good at 450cd/m 2 , colours
realistic and viewing angles good. It’s not an
edge-to-edge screen, but the side bezels are slim.
In common with the Redmi Note 3 you’ll see a thin
black line bordering the screen.
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Meizu fits its M3 Note with an octa-core Helio P10
processor, 2GB of RAM and a Mali-T860 GPU.
This combination isn’t as fast as the Xiaomi’s Helio
X10 and PowerVR Rogue G2600 GPU, either on
paper or in our benchmarks, although the Meizu
feels pretty nippy in real-world use without any
particularly noticeable lag.
Our only slight irritation was the pop-up that
appeared every time we opened a new app for
the first time, although technically this is a good
thing because it ensures that you deal with app
We ran both phones through our usual
benchmarks and found performance from the
Meizu M3 Note that will be fine for most users.
In terms of general processing performance it
managed 2710 points in the multi-core component
of Geekbench 3, and 39,886 points in AnTuTu 3D.
For graphics we run GFXBench, and here
the Meizu recorded 13fps in T-Rex and 5.3fps in
Manhattan. This is really nothing to get excited
about, and suggests the Note won’t handle
anything too intense on the gaming front.
However, its large screen is ideal for watching
video, and the Meizu is more than capable of this.
performance, and here the M3 Note recorded
22.809. Again, not a brilliant score, but not at all
bad for a budget Android phone.
Where this phone really stands out is in battery
life. Meizu claims two-day life from the 4100mAh
non-removable battery, and we wouldn’t suggest
otherwise – the battery percentage indicator just
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doesn’t budge. At 92 percent (having used the
phone all morning) it reported 42 hours 20 minutes
remaining, so you’re unlikely to need to carry a
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power bank here. Our only gripe is that this huge
battery doesn’t support fast charge, so you will
want to leave it for a full overnight charge.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 has a 4000mAh
battery, so the two should be fairly similar in terms
of performance. In the Geekbench 3 battery life
test we recorded eight hours 29 minutes with a
score of 5093 points from the Meizu. It isn’t the
best we’ve seen but it is very good.
For storage you get 16GB built in, and given the
price of this phone it’s difficult to complain. With
only Google Play installed we found we had 9.16GB
of that 16GB available. Unlike the Xiaomi, Meizu
does provide a microSD slot, although adding
one means you will need to sacrifice the Dual-
SIM functionality, since it shares the same slot as
the second SIM. Without a microSD card the M3
Note will accept two Nano-SIMs, which is handy if
you want a single phone for work and play, or are
going abroad and wish to use a local SIM.
While the Meizu will accept two SIMs, it’s important
to note that neither slot supports the 800MHz 4G
LTE band in the UK. This rules out 02 customers
and those of other mobile operators who piggyback
its network, such as Giffgaff. These people will still
be able to get 3G on the M3 Note, but won’t benefit
from the Wi-Fi-like speeds of LTE for browsing.
This is also true of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, and
when buying from China you should always check
whether a phone is supported by your network.
We’ve already mentioned that the Meizu M3
Note has a fingerprint scanner, and we were
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impressed by how fast it operates and how easily it
recognises your finger. We like the Xiaomi’s rear-
mounted approach, where it falls naturally under
your finger when you pick up the phone, but here
you don’t even really need to think about it.
Aside from the fact there’s no support for
NFC, connectivity options are fairly standard. You
get 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and
GLONASS. Xiaomi takes the lead here, though,
with 802.11ac Wi-Fi and an IR blaster.
In common with its Xiaomi rival, the Meizu M3 Note
features a 5Mp, f/2.0 front camera and a 13Mp, f/2.2
rear camera with PDAF and a two-tone flash. It can
record 1080p video from either camera, although it
isn’t immediately obvious how to enter video mode
and we found the resulting footage rather jerky.
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That’s because, as we’ll come to next, this phone
is preinstalled with the Flyme 2.1 Ul, a custom
overlay for Android 5.1 Lollipop. The camera app is
one of the places you’ll really notice the difference
from standard Android, although it seems to have
many of the same options. The volume rocker can
act as a dedicated shutter button, while holding
down the capture button operates a burst mode.
Camera modes include Auto, Manual, Video,
Beauty, Panorama, Light field, Slow video, Macro
and, interestingly, Gif.
You can see a couple of our test shots of the St
Pancras Renaissance Hotel (shot from our seventh-
floor office roof terrace) above. The first is shot in
Auto mode and the second with HDR. The photos
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look pretty good on the phone itself, but viewed
at full size on a PC the lack of image stabilisation
is obvious and a huge of detail has been lost from
the immense blurring. HDR mode improves thing
infinitely, but this certainly isn’t a phone we’d
recommend for its camera and, again, the Xiaomi
As we mentioned, the Meizu M3 Note runs
Flyme 2.1 OS, which is a custom version of (old)
Android Lollipop 5.1. Many of the apps that come
preinstalled are Chinese, but you can uninstall
anything that isn’t shown on the first home screen –
which is, incidentally, also your app tray in another
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unhappy iPhone similarity, though this we can
deal with better than the missing back and recent
buttons. (That Smart Touch floating button just
doesn’t cut it for us.)
There are apps for everything you might expect
to see from Google on a standard Android phone,
from a Map app to an actual App Store, which
means you will double up if you also want to install
Google’s apps. It’s the same story with the Xiaomi
phone, by the way, although it’s not as easy to
uninstall the preinstalled Chinese apps on that
phone and we instead had to hide some of them
away in a folder.
At this point it’s import to note that Google Play
is not preinstalled (although in our case when
bought from GearBest it was and later stopped
working, leading us to resort to a factory reset).
However, installing Google Play is as simple as
launching the App Store on the M3 Note, searching
for Google Installer and installing it. Then click
Open and again tap Install. When you attempt to
launch Google Play you’ll be prompted to add your
Google account details.
Some things have moved around in the
Settings menu, which confused us at first but we
suspect you would become accustomed to this
fairly quickly. For example, Storage is found under
About phone (makes sense, we guess), and it’s
in here that you’ll find the backup and restore or
factory reset options.
You’ll also find some additional options in the
Settings menu, such as do not disturb- and easy
modes, plus a personalisation menu that lets you
play around with themes, wallpapers and fonts.
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Various customisable gestures, such as the ability
to wake the phone with a double-tap or draw a
letter onscreen to wake the phone and launch an
app of your choice, are found under Accessibility,
Holding down the home button can also
activate Smart Voice, which we guess is a bit
like Siri, except it’s Chinese and didn’t understand
what we were saying to it.
The Meizu M3 Note is a great phone, with
outstanding battery life and a nice metal unibody
design, but it isn’t a patch on the Xiaomi Redmi
Note 3, which is faster and comes with a better
camera, more up-to-date software and, importantly,
a cheaper price tag. That said, it’s difficult for us
to recommend to UK users (particularly novice
UK users) the Meizu M3 Note over other budget
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Chinese smartphones we’ve tested, given that
Google Play is not preinstalled and so much of it
has not been adapted from Chinese.
• 5.5in full-HD (1920×1080, 403ppi) LTPS display
• Android 5.1 with Flyme 5.1 Ul
• Octa-core Helio P10 processor
• Mali-T860 GPU
• 2GB RAM
• 16GB storage
• 13Mp, f/2.2 rear camera with two-tone flash
• 5Mp, f/2.0 front camera
• Dual-SIM dual-standby
• FDD-LTE bands 1800/2100/2600MHz
• 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
• Bluetooth 4.0
• GPS + GLONASS
• Fingerprint scanner
• 4100mAh battery, non-removable
• Charges over Micro-USB
• 3.5mm headphone jack
• 153.6×75. 5×8.2mm
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