Chinese smartphone maker Meizu is back in India with three new smartphones, the Meizu C9, Meizu M6T, and Meizu M16th. These smartphones have been launched at different prices to cater to different segments of the market. At Rs 5,999 the C9 is now Meizu's most affordable offering in the country, closely followed by the M6T which is priced at Rs. 7,999. With these models, Meizu aims to compete with manufacturers including Xiaomi, Asus and Honor, in an already crowded budget segment.
The phone we're reviewing today is the Meizu M16th, which is priced at Rs. 39,999, putting it in a different league altogether despite its very similar name. It competes with the likes of the OnePlus 6T and the LG G7+ ThinQ. Is it good enough to take them on? We find out.
Meizu M16th design
Phones at around the Rs. 40,000 mark should offer premium build quality, and the Meizu M16th isn't an exception. Meizu has opted for a glass back panel that curves slightly on the sides to make the phone comfortable to hold. It has a dual camera setup in the centre along with a six-LED ring flash.
At the front, it has a big 6-inch display without a notch and there are super thin bezels on the sides. The bezels at the top and the bottom are thicker in comparison, but are symmetrical. Meizu has moved the earpiece towards the frame, and the small selfie camera sits right above the display in the upper right corner.
Meizu has opted for a metal frame on the M16th that gets cold to the touch in an air-conditioned room. The power and volume buttons are sleek, and on the right side of the device. These buttons were positioned slightly too high for our liking. On the left is the SIM tray, which has two Nano-SIM slots.
The M16th has a USB Type-C port along with a 3.5mm headphone jack, primary microphone, and a loudspeaker grille on the bottom. You can see antenna bands running through the frame at the top and the bottom.
The Meizu M16th has a dual camera setup and a 6-LED ring flash (bottom)
You won't find a physical fingerprint scanner on this device as it relies on an in-display fingerprint scanner similar to what we've seen on the Vivo X21 (Review) and OnePlus 6T (Review). The M16th has a 3010mAh battery which can be charged quickly with the 24W adapter that Meizu ships in the box.
The phone is well designed and its nearly all-screen front does help it stand out compared to other phones in the market.
Meizu M16th specifications and software
The Chinese smartphone maker has specced the M16th well enough to justify its price tag. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. While the M16th is also available in a 6GB RAM, 64GB storage variant internationally, Meizu has only brought the 8GB RAM variant to India so far. Storage is non-expandable, so buyers will have to make do with what they get.
We liked the display on the Meizu M16th. It is a Super Amoled panel with full-HD+ resolution (1080 x 2160 pixels) and has a vivid output. There are different modes available under the display settings, so you can choose between Adaptive, Standard, Photo, and Dynamic. You can also tweak the colour temperature, and there's the option of an always-on display to see your notifications.
The earpiece on the M16th doubles up as a speaker to deliver a stereo effect, though it isn't as loud as the bottom-firing speaker. Connectivity options on the M16th include Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, and seven satellite location systems. There is support for dual 4G as well as VoLTE. This phone misses out on NFC which is commonly found on other smartphones in this price range.
Meizu ships the M16th with its own Flyme UI on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. This isn't the latest version of Android, and we would have preferred the device to be running Android Pie. Our review unit was running the June 2018 security patch which is severely outdated. We tried looking for updates but the phone told us we were running the latest version that Meizu has to offer. In comparison, this phone's closest competitor, the OnePlus 6T ships with Android Pie and has received multiple timely updates so far.
The 3.5mm headphone jack is present on the M16th
Flyme has been customised quite a bit and might take some time getting used to. Meizu offers themes to let you customise the UI. We could also choose between a vertical and a horizontal multitasking layout. Gesture navigation lets you navigate by swiping from the bottom of the screen. Once we got a hang of it, we preferred this to the standard Android navigation buttons. There is one other navigation method called mBack that requires user to tap a tiny navigation bar to go a step back, or hold it down to jump to the homescreen.
We did find some bloatware preinstalled on the device. There's Meizu's own App Store, TouchPal keyboard, Weather, Migratool (a data migration app), and a Toolbox app. Flyme OS does not have an app drawer, and as a result, all app icons are shown on the homescreens.
Meizu M16th performance, battery life, and cameras
The M16th is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC and so we had a fair idea of what to expect from this smartphone. We found the performance to be snappy and did not notice any lag during our use. The 8GB of RAM does help while multitasking, and you can have multiple apps running in the background.
We did notice that the phone got warm under load, which was a little surprising since other devices with the same specifications don't have any such issue. The in-display fingerprint scanner is slow compared to a traditional fingerprint scanner. Meizu also offers face recognition which works much quicker and can unlock the phone in most lighting conditions.
In-Display fingerprint scanner on the M16th
The M16th scored 2,86,365 in AnTuTu, and 2,377 and 8,902 respectively in Geekbench's single-core and multi-core tests. It managed to score 4,556 in 3DMark Slingshot Extreme and 61,722 in 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited.
We did play Asphalt 9: Legends and PUBG Mobile on this smartphone to see how it fares. It could play PUBG Mobile at the High setting without any stutter. Asphalt 9 also ran fine at its default settings. We observed heavier than usual battery drain while playing these games, so you might want to keep that charger handy to top it up.
Battery life is average on the M16th. In our HD video loop test, it managed to run for 11 hours and 8 minutes which is less than what the OnePlus 6T managed. With our day-to-day usage consisting of an hour of gaming, navigation using Google Maps for 40 minutes, and active GMail and WhatsApp accounts, we ended the day at around the 20 percent mark. The charger is capable of topping this phone up quickly but we did notice the phone getting warm while charging.
Meizu has gone with a dual rear camera setup on the M16th consisting of a 12-megapixel primary camera and a 20-megapixel secondary one. The primary camera has an f/18 aperture, while the second one has an f/2.6 aperture.
The camera app on the M16th looks minimalist and has plenty of quick toggles in the Photo mode. You'll find toggles for HDR, the timer, filters, and beautification. There are also Portrait, Pro, Panorama, Slow-mo, Scan, and Time-Lapse modes. The Scan feature is quite handy, and lets you scan barcodes directly from the camera app.
Photos taken with the Meizu M16th have good detail, and the phone is quick to focus. It was also quick to enable HDR if the scene required it. Photos taken in daylight had good detail. The app's AI capability boosts colours, making them pop. Objects at a distance were sharp and recognisable. Macros are easy to take, as the phone manages sharp results with good separation between the subject and the background.
The M16th is quick to switch night mode on when it detects less-than-adequate lighting. Low-light shots were good but we found that the phone keeps the shutter open for slightly too long, resulting in blurry photos if you aren't patient while shooting.
Switching the phone to portrait mode puts the second camera to use to gauge depth. Face detection is available by default, and the phone manages good edge detection. We noticed that the Bokeh effect wasn't uniform in a few photos. The app also applies beautification to portrait shots, and we couldn't find a way to turn this off.
Selfies taken with the Meizu M16th in favourable lighting had good detail. This phone also has beautification options that you can enable before taking a shot. What it lacks is a selfie flash and surprisingly even a screen flash, which makes it hard to take good selfies in low light.
Video recording maxes out at 4K for the primary camera and 1080p for the selfie shooter. Videos shot at 1080p with the rear camera were not stabilised, and we couldn't find the stabilisation option in the settings.
Meizu is trying to make a comeback in the Indian market, and is targeting a wide range of price points. As the company's current flagship the M16th is well designed and has flagship-grade hardware. There are several things that hold it back, though. Flyme OS isn't particularly impressive, and the camera and battery life need improvements to be at par with other similarly priced smartphones.
Considering all that, the price of the Meizu M16th doesn't work in its favour. At Rs. 39,999, it feels overpriced, as the OnePlus 6T (Review) and LG G7+ ThinkQ (Review) both offer superior experiences. Meizu does not have a strong brand presence in India either, and buyers might prefer to go with the more established players.