Meizu M3 Note Review: Smooth But Not Problem-Free

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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Meizu M3 Note Review: Smooth But Not Problem-Free

Today we've got something very unusual; our friends out at Proexpo sent out a Meizu M3 Note smartphone for us to review, and it's a Chinese-make device. I've had more than a little history with Chinese devices, and though they can be a little odd to those of us used to North American devices, they've also got a lot going for them. My time with the Meizu M3 Note shows that there's been little change in that, for better...and for worse.

The Meizu M3 Note offers up a 5.5 inch full-HD display, backed up by a Helio P10 octa-core processor, your choice of 16 or 32 gigabytes of memory, and your choice of two or three gigabytes of storage. Also included is an ARM Mali T860 image processor, a 13 megapixel rear camera with panorama shooting capability, a five megapixel front camera for video conferencing, a fingerprint recognition system with capacity sufficient for five fingerprints, a magnetic sensor, gyroscope, IR proximity sensor, digital compass and more. It operates on the Flyme OS, and works with the Google Play store, though that may be one of the device's biggest shortcomings. More on that directly.

The first thing I noticed about working with the Meizu M3 Note is that it has an absolutely buttery-smooth interface. Seriously, it's crazy. I picked up this phone and was working with it easily in a matter of minutes with absolutely no instruction manual help. Finding the included tools was easy, and there were no shortage of tools. Included flashlight app with multi-level brightness, a mirror program for the user-facing camera, a level--no, seriously, a level. I discovered all my kitchen counters were canted about one degree down bubble thanks to that, a bit of a shock but still plenty nifty. Starting the device with my Wi-Fi connection went likewise smoothly and every bit as easy as an Apple device. I was immediately impressed by its efficiency, user-friendliness, and its sharp aesthetics. Even video on this device looked and sounded great.

But then I tried to get into Google Play.

An app built conveniently into the front screen points right to the Google Play store, and I thought I'd whip in and get a free game to see how the screen handled high amounts of touchscreen manipulation. But then, several attempts to connect over the two days that followed were stymied. I figured that one day might have been the store was down, but two days? That was a little odd. What's more, comments on GSMArena revealed that I was not the only one to have trouble connecting to Google Play with a Meizu M3 Note. This suggests a much larger problem: that somehow this phone plain old can't handle Google Play. That fundamentally limits its usefulness; this thing should be able to handle Google's own app store, and if it can't, there shouldn't be a shortcut right on the front screen to this to begin with. One important note: when I tried to get in through the device's mobile browser, there was much less problem. So it seems to be only the app shortcut that has issues.

That's a problem. Virtually every function this thing had built in was impressive by any standard, and worked nicely. This thing was practically a Swiss army knife; I don't remember the last time I saw a compass built into a smartphone, and one that worked so well. But when the biggest app store is only accessible by workaround, now, that's a problem.

It may be that this will be addressed in future versions, or that this is primarily meant for areas that don't mainly work with Google Play. But still, that's one big handicap for a smartphone potentially meant for release in North America. If this is fixed, the Meizu M3 Note will likely be able to hold its own against a variety of devices. If not, the phone's value is significantly hamstrung despite a fairly attractive price that varies depending on options selected and store used.

Pros: Terrific interface, intuitive use, sharp aesthetics

Cons: Difficult to use Google Play

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