Meizu M3 Max review: Connectivity
The Meizu M3 Max is a dual-SIM phone that works in dual-standby mode. Or at least it can be, provided you don’t want to add a microSD card. UK users should note that it supports 4G LTE only via the 1800- and 2600MHz bands (aka bands 3 and 7). This means there is no support for 800MHz/Band 20, which is the only frequency used by O2, Giffgaff and a handful of other mobile operators in the UK. If you are a customer of one of these networks you will not be able to get anything faster than 3G connectivity in the UK. Also see: How to tell whether a phone is supported by your network.
The Max can also cater to dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS and GLONASS, but there’s no IR blaster or NFC - the latter is necessary for making mobile payments.
Meizu M3 Max review: Cameras
In common with many Chinese phones around this price point the M3 Max is fitted with a 13Mp Sony IMX258 camera with a five-element lens, f/2.2 aperture, PDAF and a dual-LED flash. For the money it’s a decent enough camera, although we are not talking flagship quality.
The camera app is basic, but sometimes uncomplicated can be a good thing. If you want to point and shoot, you just point and shoot - or point, tap to focus, and then shoot. If you want access to more settings you’ll find HDR in the Settings menu, and shooting modes such as beauty and manual via the icon to the left of the shutter. Running across the top of the interface are icons for accessing real-time filters, a countdown timer, the flash and switching the camera view.
Press the latter icon and you can access the 5Mp f/2.0 camera at the front of the M3 Max, which is as good as any other selfie or video chat camera. Also see: Best camera phone
Given good lighting the M3 Max can take a decent enough shot. Below you can see our standard test images of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, first with Auto settings and second with HDR. In the first we’ve entirely lost the sky, but the level of detail is reasonable and colours very true. The HDR shot is a clear improvement (with clouds and everything), although the traffic running down Euston Road caused problems given the time it took to capture the image.
Meizu M3 Max review: Software
The Meizu M3 Max runs Flyme OS, which is a custom version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. By default there are no Google Play services preinstalled, but as soon as we connected to Wi-Fi we were prompted to install Google services via a notification. The phone downloaded the file, rebooted itself and we were good to go. We simply clicked on the new Play store icon to log into our Google account and start downloading the apps we required.
This is an improvement over the last Meizu phone we reviewed, the M3 Note, which didn’t allow us to run Google Play services at all, and for which we argued that it was potentially not a good buy for UK Android users. Although you are provided with Meizu’s own apps for music, videos, security, weather, email and more, plus themes and apps stores, it’s just not the Google Maps and YouTube setup we’re familiar with. Fortunately, with Google Play support you can add these things; unfortunately, you still can’t uninstall the apps preinstalled within Flyme OS. Our advice is to stick them all in a folder out the way (just drag the home screen icons on top of each other).
A key difference between this and a standard Android phone is the removal of the app tray, which means absolutely everything can be found on one of multiple home screens or within the Settings menu (which is itself fairly standard). Pull down the notification bar and you also get some customisable quick-access toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and so on, plus a screen brightness slider.
We can handle the lack of an app tray - if nothing else you will know exactly where to find everything, and particularly if you’re an ex-iPhone user, but we thoroughly dislike the removal of the back and multi-tasking buttons either side of the home button. This multifunctional home button is truly Apple-esque, and it’s not a feature we want Android to borrow. Why have one confusing button plus a SmartTouch workaround when you can have three simple buttons for which operation just makes sense? They don’t need to be labelled or even visible as long as they are there.
The M3 Max supports a handful of gestures, such as double-tap to wake and slide up to unlock. You can also draw characters onscreen in standby mode to wake the screen and instantly launch an app of your choice, which is a timesaver only so long as you remember which letter represents which app.
Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017
Meizu M3 Max: Specs
- 6in full-HD (1920x1080, 368ppi) IPS display
- 1.8GHz Helio P10 (4x 1.8GHz Cortex-A53 + 4x 1GHz Cortex-A53) octa-core processor
- ARM Mali-T860 GPU
- 3GB LPDDR3 RAM
- 64GB storage (plus microSD up to 128GB or second SIM)
- mTouch fingerprint scanner
- dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.1
- dual-SIM dual-standby (2x Nano-SIM)
- 4G FDD-LTE 1800/2100/2600MHz
- GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
- 13Mp Sony IMX258 rear camera with five-element lens, PDAF, f/2.2 aperture, dual-LED flash
- 5Mp front camera with four-element lens, f/2.0 aperture
- 4100mAh battery (9 hours GPS, 10.2 hours video) with mCharge (45% in 30 mins)
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