Meizu M3 Note Review

Introduction


Unfamiliar to most of the world, Meizu is prominent in its homeland of China where local users have been welcoming the brand's MX, PRO, and M series of handsets. While the former are meant to be the best smartphones Meizu is capable of building, the M series is where the company experiments with delivering the most value possible at a sub-$199 price.

The M series' third-generation flagship device – the M3 Note – goes all out, promising high-end smartphone features like a metal body, a big display, above average performance, a competent camera, and superb battery life. Meizu's undertaking surely has us intrigued with its "too good to be true" character, and by the end of this review, we'll know exactly how much the M3 Note fulfills the brand's ambitions.

Design

A clean-looking and sturdy metal _phone_ with a bit more bulk than what you might expect.

With a 6000 Series aluminum back and a sleek glass-covered front, the Meizu M3 Note is sturdy and good-looking, but also slightly bulky. At 5.75 oz (163 g), it carries a fair bit of heft, and with its 0.32in (8.2mm) thickness, the handset looks unabashedly plump next to the skinny smartphones of today.

Meizu M3 Note Review
Meizu M3 Note Review
Meizu M3 Note Review
Meizu M3 Note Review
Meizu M3 Note Review

Still, the Meizu is comfortable to hold and using it one-handed is a legitimate possibility thanks to its balanced proportions. We also like how the camera on the back is flush with the body, and the antenna lines are incorporated in an aesthetically pleasant way.

The M3 Note features a Home button below the display that doubles as a 'Back' navigation key and fingerprint sensor, a typical move by Meizu. The fingerprint scanner is very fast and accurate, but like the power and volume keys to the right, the Home button feels a bit soft and wobbly.

 

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Front view | Side view
Meizu M3 Note
Meizu M3 Note
6.05 x 2.97 x 0.32 inches
153.6 x 75.5 x 8.2 mm
5.75 oz (163 g)

Meizu M3 Note

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3
5.91 x 2.99 x 0.34 inches
150 x 76 x 8.65 mm
5.78 oz (164 g)

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3

honor 5X
honor 5X
5.96 x 3 x 0.32 inches
151.3 x 76.3 x 8.15 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

honor 5X

BLU Vivo 5
BLU Vivo 5
5.98 x 2.94 x 0.27 inches
151.9 x 74.6 x 6.9 mm
4.97 oz (141 g)

BLU Vivo 5




Display

An adequate screen that has room for improvement.

The Meizu M3 Note features a 5.5-inch, 1080p resolution IPS LCD display that's of decent quality, though the panel comes off as a tad on the dimmer side under bright sunlight, which is one of its main shortcomings. Gamma and color balance are close to where they need to be, but there's a bit of a purple tinge that can be a bit distracting.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
honor 5X 585
(Excellent)
7
(Good)
1:1251
(Excellent)
8021
(Poor)
2.19
2.9
(Good)
6.77
(Average)
Meizu M3 Note 447
(Good)
4
(Excellent)
1:892
(Average)
7124
(Good)
2.15
4.16
(Average)
5.4
(Average)
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 441
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
1:1043
(Good)
7842
(Average)
2.43
4.57
(Average)
5.63
(Average)
BLU Vivo 5 320
(Average)
3
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7976
(Average)
2.3
7.54
(Average)
6.31
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
BLU Vivo 5 46.9%
66.7%
unmeasurable
16.2%
0%
34.4%
37.1%
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 79.8%
80%
73.6%
18.6%
0.4%
41.8%
36.9%
honor 5X 86.3%
85.7%
84.2%
6.6%
0.5%
12.4%
4.3%
Meizu M3 Note 88.1%
75%
85.9%
16.1%
0%
29.6%
18.9%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Meizu M3 Note Review

Introduction


Unfamiliar to most of the world, Meizu is prominent in its homeland of China where local users have been welcoming the brand's MX, PRO, and M series of handsets. While the former are meant to be the best smartphones Meizu is capable of building, the M series is where the company experiments with delivering the most value possible at a sub-$199 price.

The M series' third-generation flagship device – the M3 Note – goes all out, promising high-end smartphone features like a metal body, a big display, above average performance, a competent camera, and superb battery life. Meizu's undertaking surely has us intrigued with its "too good to be true" character, and by the end of this review, we'll know exactly how much the M3 Note fulfills the brand's ambitions.

Design

A clean-looking and sturdy metal _phone_ with a bit more bulk than what you might expect.

With a 6000 Series aluminum back and a sleek glass-covered front, the Meizu M3 Note is sturdy and good-looking, but also slightly bulky. At 5.75 oz (163 g), it carries a fair bit of heft, and with its 0.32in (8.2mm) thickness, the handset looks unabashedly plump next to the skinny smartphones of today.

Meizu M3 Note Review
Meizu M3 Note Review
Meizu M3 Note Review
Meizu M3 Note Review
Meizu M3 Note Review

Still, the Meizu is comfortable to hold and using it one-handed is a legitimate possibility thanks to its balanced proportions. We also like how the camera on the back is flush with the body, and the antenna lines are incorporated in an aesthetically pleasant way.

The M3 Note features a Home button below the display that doubles as a 'Back' navigation key and fingerprint sensor, a typical move by Meizu. The fingerprint scanner is very fast and accurate, but like the power and volume keys to the right, the Home button feels a bit soft and wobbly.


Front view | Side view
Meizu M3 Note
Meizu M3 Note
6.05 x 2.97 x 0.32 inches
153.6 x 75.5 x 8.2 mm
5.75 oz (163 g)

Meizu M3 Note

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3
5.91 x 2.99 x 0.34 inches
150 x 76 x 8.65 mm
5.78 oz (164 g)

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3

honor 5X
honor 5X
5.96 x 3 x 0.32 inches
151.3 x 76.3 x 8.15 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

honor 5X

BLU Vivo 5
BLU Vivo 5
5.98 x 2.94 x 0.27 inches
151.9 x 74.6 x 6.9 mm
4.97 oz (141 g)

BLU Vivo 5




Display

An adequate screen that has room for improvement.

The Meizu M3 Note features a 5.5-inch, 1080p resolution IPS LCD display that's of decent quality, though the panel comes off as a tad on the dimmer side under bright sunlight, which is one of its main shortcomings. Gamma and color balance are close to where they need to be, but there's a bit of a purple tinge that can be a bit distracting.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
honor 5X 585
(Excellent)
7
(Good)
1:1251
(Excellent)
8021
(Poor)
2.19
2.9
(Good)
6.77
(Average)
Meizu M3 Note 447
(Good)
4
(Excellent)
1:892
(Average)
7124
(Good)
2.15
4.16
(Average)
5.4
(Average)
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 441
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
1:1043
(Good)
7842
(Average)
2.43
4.57
(Average)
5.63
(Average)
BLU Vivo 5 320
(Average)
3
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7976
(Average)
2.3
7.54
(Average)
6.31
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
BLU Vivo 5 46.9%
66.7%
unmeasurable
16.2%
0%
34.4%
37.1%
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 79.8%
80%
73.6%
18.6%
0.4%
41.8%
36.9%
honor 5X 86.3%
85.7%
84.2%
6.6%
0.5%
12.4%
4.3%
Meizu M3 Note 88.1%
75%
85.9%
16.1%
0%
29.6%
18.9%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Interface

Android Lollipop is outdated, but the smartphone handles well and is ready to go right away.

The Meizu M3 Note ships running Android 5.1 Lollipop with the manufacturer's Flyme 5.1 user interface. Outdated it may be, but the software experience is fast, straightforward, and easy on the eyes. We're fond of Meizu's stock apps, and theming is also an option, with a sizable selection of skins available to try out. Unlike many Chinese handsets we've been testing lately, the Meizu M3 Note comes fully localized, devoid of bloatware apps, and with Google's ecosystem installed. It's good for use straight out of the box, just the way it should be!

Processor and Memory

The M3 Note is quick and responsive, but lacks the processing muscle for intense gaming.

The star of Meizu's affordable range is powered by MediaTek's Helio P10 processor, a 64-bit chip with an octa-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU and ARM Mali-T860 GPU. The M3 Note's 16GB version (which we tested) has 2GB of RAM memory, while the 32GB one has 3GB RAM. The internal storage is expandable with a microSD card, although popping one in will occupy one of the two available SIM slots.

While the P10 is designed with efficiency rather than performance in mind, the M3 Note is fluid and responsive. Alas, it's unreasonable to expect flagship-level gaming performance out of it, for its benchmark scores are below average and games with graphics quality beyond that of the typical casual title will drag and stutter.

Meizu M3 Note Review

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 75698
Meizu M3 Note 41906.66
BLU Vivo 5 38346
honor 5X 35183
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 2574
Meizu M3 Note 1114.66
BLU Vivo 5 1172
honor 5X 1108
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 4217
Meizu M3 Note 2455.33
BLU Vivo 5 2960
honor 5X 2327
JetStream
Higher is better
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 49.425
Meizu M3 Note 27.747
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 32
Meizu M3 Note 13
BLU Vivo 5 20
honor 5X 15
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 9.4
Meizu M3 Note 2.5
BLU Vivo 5 8.6
honor 5X 6
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 1407
Meizu M3 Note 864.33
BLU Vivo 5 859
Geekbench 3 single-core
Higher is better
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 1413
Meizu M3 Note 796.66
BLU Vivo 5 641
honor 5X 696
Geekbench 3 multi-core
Higher is better
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 3552
Meizu M3 Note 2907.66
BLU Vivo 5 2862
honor 5X 3028
View all

Connectivity

The phone has all the bases covered, but U.S. carrier compatibility is a no-go.

Although MediaTek has been producing capable modems as of late, the Meizu M3 Note won't shake hands with most networks in the United States. At best, you'll get limited 2G and 3G support, while LTE is out of the question. European and Asian users, though, generally don't have to worry, for the handset supports most GSM, WCDMA, and 4G-FDD-LTE frequencies in operation. Still, we advise checking with your carrier before mashing the big 'Order' button!

This aside, the M3 Note is a dual-SIM handset (though inserting a microSD card sacrifices one of the slots), and is up to speed with modern Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity standards. There's no support for NFC and FM Radio, though, which might be a bummer for fans of mobile payments and radio shows.

Camera

The M3 Note can land some decent shots, but most of the time, its photos are utterly average and videos are shaky.

Meizu M3 Note Review

The M3 Note has a 13MP main camera with phase detection auto focus and a two-tone flash. The front camera is a 5MP unit. It's a competent camera setup on paper, but does it deliver the goods? If there's something about the Meizu M3 Note that directly corresponds to its cheap price, it has to be its inconsistent camera.

Meizu M3 Note Review
Meizu M3 Note Review
Meizu's camera app acts fast, being quick to open, focus and snap a photo. It also features enough filters and shooting modes to handle most moods and occasions. However, it is also prone to quitting unexpectedly when tapping to focus.

In automatic mode, the camera doesn't expose images reliably. White colors, in particular, often exhibit an unnatural glow. Details turn out murky and indistinct more often than sharp, and colors can be bland, despite the hint of warmness added by the image processing. Mind you, the M3 Note is capable of landing some clean and nice-looking shots in good light, but it might take more work than you expect and the results will leave something to be desired.


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Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Meizu M3 Note 1.6
3.6
707
552
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 1.8
3.2
734
611
BLU Vivo 5 2.5
No data
546
418
honor 5X 3
3.5
556
506
View all

Video recording


The M3 Note is limited to 1080p video resolution videos for both cameras. While image quality is decent, the scenes are shaky and the automatic exposure is very abrupt. There's no automatic auto-focus – only manual tap to focus, which doesn't work reliably. On the other hand, the noise filtering and sound quality are surprisingly okay, but at times, audio tends to randomly drop from the left or right channel, which is strange.



Multimedia

The big display and decent audio will make for good times with music and videos.

Meizu M3 Note Review
Meizu M3 Note Review
While the Meizu M3 Note's frail 3D performance will let passionate gamers down, its qualities are sufficient for smooth browsing and playback of music and videos. The big display and the speakers' decent audio output will give all that you need to enjoy your favorite shows and albums. The stock multimedia applications aren't superb, for the music player is full of foreign content and the video app is very sparse, but they can still do the job for non-demanding users.

Meizu M3 Note Review
Call quality

A phone that's certainly fine for talking purposes.

Voices from the M3 Note come strong and audible, but also a bit muffled for some reason. Both the earpiece and loudspeaker are sufficiently loud so, most of the time, you should be able to handle calls just fine.

Battery life

The M3 Note does last long, but it's fairly slow to charge.

With its large 4100mAh battery and economical processor, the M3 Note lasted for 11 hours and 6 minutes of constant on-screen use in our battery test, which is an excellent result. The smartphone takes 2 hours and 27 minutes to charge from zero to full with the bundled charger – that's fairly slow, but acceptable given the battery's imposing capacity.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 12h 36 min (Excellent)
Meizu M3 Note 11h 6 min (Excellent)
BLU Vivo 5 8h 3 min (Excellent)
honor 5X 6h 54 min (Average)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 153
Meizu M3 Note 150
BLU Vivo 5 107
honor 5X 170
View all

Conclusion


Meizu M3 Note Review

A functional smartphone, but hardly a low-cost miracle, the Meizu M3 Note does deliver a few pleasant surprises, but it doesn't evade all the flaws typical of phones in its price range. We are fond of its clean and sturdy metallic design, the fast fingerprint scanner, the pleasant bloat-free interface, and the strong battery life, in particular. The same can't quite be said for its below-average gaming performance, inconsistent camera with shaky videos, and dated Android version. Moreover, the phone is incompatible with U.S. LTE networks, which means American customers should probably cross it off their lists.

Can we forgive the M3 Note's flaws when we also consider its price? We think we can, but there are other options you might consider. The handset starts from $180 for the 2GB RAM/16GB model, but that's prior to potential shipping and import taxes, and you most likely won't be getting warranty and customer support.

At this price, one can consider an older flagship phone like the Moto X, or better spec'd out and supported ones like the ASUS ZenFone 2 and the BLU VIVO 5, although neither has the M3 Note's 11 hour battery life or a fingerprint scanner. And if one can stretch their pockets a bit farther, the $250 ASUS ZenFone 3 seems like a more compelling choice that's worth the additional expense.

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