Still, you can create folders to place apps and tools inside to cut down on clutter. Glitches aside, the MX's software is pretty hot, filled with nice eye candy like engaging animations when launching apps or opening the keyboard. And while we're at it, let's talk about the MX's keys. The keyboard is sure to get Apple fanboys steaming since it's a virtual replica of the iPhone's complete with buttons that pop out typewriter-style when tapped. After a little time with the layout, however, I found my typing on the MX to be both accurate and fast.
I also found the phone responsive and nimble, navigating Gingerbread with pleasing speed. Frankly, I can't wait to try it out. Also, it'll be tricky to track one of these gadgets down outside of China. Still, it gives me a perverse pleasure carrying a phone that looks like an iPhone but does Android like no other. I recommend you try it yourself.
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Meizu MX 4-core review
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The mystery, however, is that despite the mounting evidence, Meizu won't specify exactly what chip is used. We were simply told that it's named the MX5Q, though a simple Google search matched this chip with the Exynos.
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Even some of the company's marketing materials confirm that this mysterious SoC is a 32nm Cortex A9 wafer clocked at 1. Lastly, it contains radios for Bluetooth 2. If you've perused the spec sheet, you shouldn't expect the 4-core to have a top-notch display. Still, it's actually a little better than the resolution would suggest.
It can't really compete with the Retina display despite having the same resolution on a larger screen or the HTC One X's SLCD 2 panel -- its whites aren't as bright, and its blacks aren't quite as dark. However, it does offer a wide color range and we liked the amount of detail retained in images, though some high-res videos showed slightly oversaturated colors. As the non-PenTile RGB screen delivers a pixel density of roughly ppi, we had a difficult time picking out jagged lines or any form of pixelation.
The viewing angles are so wide that the display remains usable even if you're viewing it nearly edge-on. We could read almost everything on the screen in direct sunlight as long as the display was cranked up to full brightness. The only exception was when we tried viewing detailed images or videos. After booting up the device for the first time, you'll find that Meizu's Flyme OS is not your average Android skin.
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If you think Samsung and HTC have gone too far in their respective Android user interfaces , prepare to shift rather uncomfortably in your chair for the next few paragraphs -- it's going to be a bumpy ride. Indeed, Meizu's homebrewed skin may be a stranger to the Western hemisphere, but it still emits an aura of familiarity despite the fact that it bears virtually no trace of Google's stock UI.
That's because after just a few minutes of playing with the device, we were reminded more of iOS than Android. As we mentioned earlier, this comes as no surprise; we imagine Meizu has been on speed dial in Apple's legal office for several years. Flyme OS, which we've seen on previous Meizu devices, is an interesting mash-up of the two popular operating systems. At first, the lock screen makes it seem like Flyme won't be a drastic departure from stock Android. Date and time are at the top just underneath the notification bar and above the music controls only displayed during playback, of course , while three quick-access icons sit at the bottom of the screen.
When sliding the icons up, Flyme adds in a clever animation that makes it appear as though the destination screen is being dragged up along with the icon itself. The home panel is your typical 4 x 4 grid with the app dock hanging out at the bottom and a larger-than-usual status bar up top. The bar, which is twice as thick as the standard Android option, displays the date and time on the left, with all notifications pushed to the right.
Meizu also threw in the remaining battery capacity on the lower right portion of the bar. As a side note, the status bar shrinks down to the normal size when you enter an application. The app dock is also unique. Up to five icons can reside within it, though only four can be switched around.
The one app that isn't going anywhere is Meizu's very own web browser, which we'll return to in just a moment. Perhaps the most jarring change in the Flyme setup, however, is the omission of an app tray. What's more, you can have up to 12 pages to place your apps and widgets, and each one is created in exactly the same fashion dragging the app as far to the right as you can until a new panel appears. Having so many pages is frustrating, though, because the OS doesn't have a way of jumping to the panel of your choice, which means you have no choice but to swipe from page to page.
What if you just can't live without the app tray? Here's an easy solution: download a launcher that still supports one and your problem becomes a thing of the past. We installed Apex and were able to bring up a very familiar menu, complete with apps and widgets. By the way, multitasking also leans closer to Apple's approach: long-pressing the menu button brings up a horizontal bar with three layers. The middle layer is the most prominent, displaying four app icons at a time. To find more recent apps, just slide your finger to the left and you're treated to another set of four. Above these icons sits a button that enables you to close all of your open apps in one fell swoop.
If you prefer, you can still get rid of them one at a time by long-pressing icons until a large X appears below, after which you just drag and drop it. The bottom layer is reserved for a basic music player, which unfortunately doesn't appear to offer any support for third-party apps. The notification bar is also slightly different than what you'd typically expect. The date and a "clear all" button hang out just above these.
However, the most interesting part is over on the right: a drop-down menu allowing you to switch between WiFi networks and the type of mobile network you can choose between 3G-only, GSM-only or auto. Notifications can still be swiped away one at a time if necessary. Lastly, you can only drag the bar itself down as far as the bottom-most notification; in other words, if you don't have any to look at, the bar will only go down far enough to expose the quick controls found at the top. This may feel jarring to some, but we actually appreciated that the notification drop-down didn't unnecessarily obscure whatever it was we were looking at.
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Despite its Apple-inspired layout, the device runs Ice Cream Sandwich -- version 4. This means you still have access to the Play Store and whatever widgets you want. But without an app tray, where can you find the widgets? They're in the settings menu, under "customize" -- not necessarily the first place you'd think to look, but it's there nonetheless.
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Fortunately, unlike last year's MX, you can place the same widget in more than one spot. Speaking of ICS, there are a few features missing from Flyme. Face Unlock, for instance, is MIA, as is the data usage setting.
Additionally, many of the core apps have been tweaked, the stock keyboard isn't included as an option, Android Beam isn't supported naturally, since NFC isn't onboard and so on. We're glad that third-party keyboard support is allowed on the MX, because we grew increasingly frustrated with the default option. Perhaps we've become spoiled by devices with larger screens, but the keys here are not only difficult to press accurately, they're arranged in left orientation.
Faster typists will be concerned with the lack of autocorrect features, although word prediction is an option. It also took us a while to get used to the placement of the standard punctuation keys: instead of putting them with the other symbols or on a separate button, they're only accessible in the word prediction row when you hit the space bar. As with the previous MX, the Play Store is limited to just one download at a time, contrary to the standard Android style, which provides for multiple streams.
In fact, it seems as though the official Google store has been put on the backburner, since it's tucked away in an obscure folder you can move it while the Flyme App Store sits front-and-center on your home screen. This comes as no surprise, given the prevalence of alternative application markets found in China. Don't worry, these apps can still be downloaded easily enough. Of note is the ability to add your own Flyme account, which allows you to backup and restore your contacts, calendar, messages, call logs and settings whenever you need it.
You also have access to the aforementioned homegrown Flyme Store , which hooks you up with a repertoire of apps geared mainly toward the Chinese market. Don't get too excited, though -- it's relatively small, with roughly 20, apps added to its collection. The remote control feature we saw on the dual-core MX didn't make a return appearance on this particular version, but Meizu tells us that the feature is only taking a brief hiatus and we should be seeing it again in the future. We're hoping to see this re-enabled in a later update, but we won't hold our breath. But enough about cool features that can't be found on the device -- let's discuss some more unique additions that can be used, like Flyme Voicemail.
The service is similar to standard Visual Voicemail in the sense that you don't have to dial into your carrier's voicemail number to listen to your messages. But there are plenty of unique details here to make it a compelling concept in its own right.