The Meizu M5 runs on Meizu’s Flyme OS 5, which is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. However, the phone doesn’t seem to have received any recent security patches from Google as the last update is from October 2016. We tried reaching out to Meizu for clarity on this and for any commitment to future Android updates, but didn’t get any conclusive response.
The custom navigation method takes some getting used to since there’s no way to enable onscreen navigation buttons. There are a bunch of customisable gestures to choose from and a feature called SmartTouch, which is like AssistiveTouch on the iPhone. Our unit didn’t have the Google Play Store preinstalled so we had to add it manually using the Hot Apps app.
The single-layered interface on the Meizu M5 runs smoothly for the most part. The Themes app lets you change the look of the phone, although we didn’t find anything of real interest here. The Security app has tools for cleaning up junk files, monitoring data usage and blocking contacts, and even a virus scanner, all in one place. The Toolbox app has features like a flashlight, mirror, compass, level, ruler and magnifier. The Meizu M5 also has its own app store, which is a bit redundant if you have the Play Store.
Meizu M5 performance, camera, and battery life
The Meizu M5 performs smoothly when you first set it up but after a few days of normal usage, we noticed slight lag when scrolling through webpages and switching between apps. It isn’t consistent but it’s definitely noticeable with daily usage. Apps don’t load very quickly. Another peculiar thing we came across was that when we signed in with our Gmail account, the standard security alert told us that we’ve signed in from a Leagoo 2.5D Arc. Leagoo is another Chinese smartphone manufacturer, but once again, we couldn’t get any satisfying explanation for this from Meizu.
We found that the Meizu M5 gets a bit warm when watching videos, including those streamed from YouTube. Video playback is restricted to 1080p although we had no trouble playing our high-bitrate video files. FLAC audio is also supported with the stock music player, which is nicely designed. However, the built-in speaker is weak, which makes it hard to hear your media files clearly. Things are better with headphones but there isn’t any audio enhancement or equaliser app to tweak the audio.
Tap to see full-sized Meizu M5 camera samples
The cameras on the Meizu M5 are what you’d expect from a smartphone in this segment. They capture acceptable photos during the day but really struggle in low light. The rear camera has a 13-megapixel sensor, with a f/2.2 aperture and PDAF. Thanks to the latter, focusing is fairly quick under adequate lighting. The sensor isn’t able to capture good details in landscapes or macro shots, no matter how steady your hands are. Light metering isn’t the best either, as whites tend to bloom easily.
In low-light, there’s lots of compression artifacting and colour reproduction is poor. The front 5-megapixel camera on the Meizu M5 also does a passable job under good lighting but suffers in low-light. The camera app on the other hand is well designed, with toggle switches for the timer and flash, effects on the left and shooting modes and the shutter button on the right. Shooting modes include panorama, GIF and manual. Once again, the back of the phone ran pretty warm when we used the camera app.
The 3070mAh battery on the Meizu M5 delivered 10 hours and 17 minutes of runtime in our HD video loop test, which isn’t bad. However, during actual usage, we noticed big dips in battery life when using the camera or gaming for a bit. There’s also no fast charging support, so charging it fully is a long wait. The bundled 10W power adapter is compact and easy to carry.
The Meizu M5 starts at roughly Rs. 7,000, for the 16GB model we tested, but the price varies a bit across online stores. The 32GB version is priced at Rs. 9,499 after receiving a recent price cut shortly after it was launched. While Rs. 7,000 is generally considered a good price for a smartphone with this feature set, its overall performance still puts it behind the Xiaomi Redmi 4.
The Meizu M5 could have been a good budget contender but it has too many shortcomings, like the lack of FM radio and VoLTE, average camera and system performance, and the fact that the back of the phone runs warm very often. We’re also uncertain that this phone will receive necessary software and security updates. With better options available, we recommend giving this one a miss.