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Meizu M3E Review - Affordable Photography Phone In Style

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Meizu always has that goal of curating high-quality devices with great affordability in mind. In our unboxing and first impressions of the Meizu M3E, it appears that the company is on the verge of achieving the same feat. Will this be your next affordable phone with premium aesthetics and great image shooting capabilities? Check out of full review!
Meizu M3E Review
The next great affordable phone?


Display Quality

Good type of IPS screen!
Good type of IPS screen!

The Meizu M3E is one of those few handsets from international makers that's not using an HD screen anymore. To be precise, this device is packed with a good type of rightly sized 5.5 inch Full HD panel w/ 401 pixels per inch sharpness.
Multitouch score
Multitouch score

It's a good type of IPS panel that can reproduce close to accurate colors (slightly blueish) with nice color punch and deep enough blacks (for an IPS screen) which can give a pleasurable viewing experience. Dynamic range and viewing angles are also fine and overall quality of display is above-average for the price.

My only "minor" gripe is the display can't go really bright. It's legible under direct sunlight, but it may require more effort to view things better on that condition even on max brightness settings.

It has 10 points of touch and accurate light sensor.

Audio Quality

Speaker holes below
Speaker holes below

Before making smartphones, Meizu is popular with audio in China. That's why we always have high expectations on what this brand can achieve sonically since the Meizu MX4 Pro last 2015.

We were correct, the speakers found on this phone has a very clean audio output for a phone. Bass reproduction isn't that evident (like most phones with small speakers), but tiny details are audible in the mids and highs area. It isn't just that loud, but again, the quality is clean.

The same goes with the headphone audio reproduction. While this doesn't have a HiFi DAC / AMP combo on paper, audio reproduction is neat. Sound signature is flat and it responds very well to tuning or EQ-ing. Bass reproduction is fast and tight (sub-bass is a little lacking though) and layer of vocals and instruments together with their placement is on point. It is even safe to say that it has an entry-level HiFi grade type of quality.

However, soundstage is narrower than my liking and it can't go very loud or drive source picky headphones and in-ear monitors.

Anyway, we liked that it has dual microphones that's great for calls and decent enough for video recordings on quiet places.

Battery Life

Battery score
Battery score

The M3E has 3,100 mAh of battery capacity. On paper, that's good enough to power a 5.5 inch handset with FHD resolution and Helio P10 octa core chip. In reality, it is really good enough.
Battery performance is good enough considering it has a sharper FHD screen!
In our PC Mark work battery life test, we managed to clock 8 hours and 4 mins which is the modern average score that most HD phones we have got. Considering that it has an power hungrier FHD panel, that's a little better than expected. In real life, it'll require us to charge 2x a day on heavy usage and 1x on light to moderate usage.

Speaking of charging, the M3E is equipped with the mCharge quick charging solution. It'll only require you 2 hours and 15 mins from zero to 100 percent. Decent.

Camera

Camera
Camera

We previously stated that we were excited to try the 13 MP f/2.2 Sony IMX258 sensor w/ PDAF and dual tone LED of this handset. Why? There are very few sub PHP 10K phone that's equipped with a midrange grade lens for photography. The other phone in its class that have this is the Next Lite. However, we think that the M3E is a little better. Why? Software and modes are more robust.
Camera modes and settings
Camera modes and settings

Speaking of that camera software, there are different types of modes to choose from. In particular I find the beauty, macro, panorama, and manual more useful than the other features. We also liked that you can even use the grid and level gauge as photo guides at the same time.

Note: The pro camera mode has up to 20 seconds shutter speed, ISO 1600, white balance adjustment, exposure levels, and manual focus.

Focusing speed is nice, taking close-up photos up to 2 inches near is possible, and shooting is speedy enough. HDR mode (around 1 second speed) isn't slow in shooting as well. It's not the fastest or the most accurate, but for an entry-midrange phone we can rate it as excellent.

Speaking of the quality of photos, it resembles color profile and sharpness compared with the Next Lite, but a little better. It's a little bit more vibrant, hues are better, and dynamic range is detailed. Grains aren't that visible, though there are times that 

Shooting in the dark will give you some struggles, but if you know how to work your way using the pro mode on tripod, results are very crisp and surprising. The flash is useful in the dark and doesn't overexpose close-up shots as well.

Rear Camera Samples

Auto and HDR
Auto and HDR
Crispy and punchy daylight snap
Crispy and punchy daylight snap
Auto night
Auto night
Long exposure 1
Long exposure 1
Long exposure 2
Long exposure 2


On the other hand, the 5 MP f/2.0 (a little brighter) is quite decent too. It has several levels of beautification and can detect your face with ease. It just doesn't have touch to focus and screen flash for shooting in lowlight conditions.

Quality is punchy, sharp, and detail on daylight shots. It's just a little soft and washed on very bright conditions. In lowlight, struggles are obvious. Even with the brighter f/2.0 lens, grains, loss of detail, and dynamic range is visible.

Selfie Camera Samples

Auto selfie
Auto selfie
Beautify mode
Beautify mode
Semi-lowlight selfie
Semi-lowlight selfie

For videos, both the main camera and the selfie camera has the ability to shoot in 1080p quality at 30 frames per second. We just find the main camera to be more stable in shooting videos. Both are shaky due to lack of stabilization though.

See also: How To Take Screenshot Using Meizu M3E?

Performance

Benchmark scores

The M3E boast the midrange grade 
1.8 GHz 64 Bit Helio P10 octa core processor and Mali T860 graphics. It's the SoC setup we commonly see in sub PHP 15K phones. What's impressive here is Meizu was able to put that setup (for an international brand) in the sub 10K range to PHP 7K if on sale. It's paired with 3 GB of RAM for multitasking and 32 GB of enough storage that's even expandable with the use of a micro SD card.
Performance is stable and speedy!
Speaking of speed, opening and closing of apps and switching from an app to another is breeze. Hiccups and slow-downs are rare and loading light even to some heavy apps is possible.

In gaming, the likes of Asphalt 8 and Modern Combat are playable on high-settings. For NBA 2K17, you'll need to tweak the graphics settings to medium and low w/ player high for a playable experience. Frame drops will be experienced once the phone heats up (warm) though.
FlyMe OS skin!
FlyMe OS skin!

In terms of software, the M3E comes with a heavily modified version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS by using FymeOS 5.2.1 skin. We find that skin clean and intuitive, but there's a lot of learning curve before you'll master the use of it.

For example, taking a screenshot is different, there's no Android on-screen keys, you'll use the fingerprint scanner / home button for navigation, and there's no Playstore at first (I
'll be available once the Google services is installed via Meizu's own App Store).

Then like what we said before, y
ou'll need to turn the screen on first before unlocking the device using the fingerprint sensor.

The rest of the telephony experience like making calls, doing SMS, Bluetooth sharing / pairing, Waze (GPS), OTG, and LTE, works wonderfully. It's gyroscope sensor also worked when we played Pokemon GO. Due to our limited time with the device, we failed to test it on VR though.

Pros - One of the best build / aesthetics for the price, sharp full HD screen, good and speedy performance, functional UI (once mastered), and great main camera

Cons - Long learning curve, need to turn on the screen first before unlocking, outdoor legibility

Verdict

Considering the sub PHP 10K price tag, the Meizu M3E is beautiful, capable, and can shoot very good photos using the main camera. There are very few phones on its caliber at this price point which makes it one of the top dogs in its class. Overall, we can consider this handset as a steal at PHP 7K (on sale) or a decent buy at PHP 10K (on regular SRP).

Build / Design - 4.25
Display - 4
Audio - 4
Battery - 4
Camera - 4.25
Performance - 4

Average - 4.08 / 5
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