Meizu MX 4-core (unlocked) review: Meizu MX 4-core (unlocked)

This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.
 

CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.3
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 6.0
  • Performance: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Meizu MX 4-core is attractive, compact, and flaunts an Apple-like aesthetic. It runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and a fast quad-core CPU. The phone supports nine bands plus comes with 32GB of storage.

The Bad The Meizu MX 4-core is meant for Chinese markets only. For $530, the unlocked handset is pricey. The Meizu's screen is dim and unimpressive.

The Bottom Line The Meizu MX 4-core is a compelling iPhone clone, but there are much better unlocked Android handsets available.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

Editors' note: We recently reviewed the Meizu MX handset. Because of the two devices' similar construction and features, applicable portions of that review will be used in this evaluation of the Meizu MX 4-core.

The Chinese company Meizu has turned copycatting Apple's iPhone style into an art, first with its iPod-like music players, and then by creating a whole Android smartphone line that mimicked the superpopular handset right down to masking the OS in an iOS-flavored skin. The manufacturer's most recent product evolution is the $530 (4,099 HKD) Meizu MX 4-core. This latest addition to the MX line now boasts speedy quad-core power, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), and a roomy 32GB of internal storage. That makes the Meizu MX 4-core a powerful little number, that is, if you can find it outside of mainland China or Hong Kong.

Design
Don't be surprised if the Meizu MX 4-core looks familiar. That's because it's the spitting image of its predecessor, the Meizu MX. This trim and polished handset could also be a twin, or certainly close relative, of the iPhone 3G or an iPod music player.

The phone's front face is all black and is sculpted in the rounded curves that Apple loves. Similar to Apple's uberphone too is the MX 4-core's 960x640-pixel resolution screen that boasts the same pixel count as the iPhone's vaunted Retina Display. The Meizu's larger 4-inch real estate, though, compared with 3.5 inches, means its pixel density is lower.

At just 0.4 inch thick, the MX 4-core is easy to slip into pockets. Sarah Tew/CNET

That said, I found the MX 4-core's screen merely adequate for typical smartphone tasks like viewing text, pictures, and wallpaper. Compared with the recent crop of modern Android handsets such as the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S3, the Meizu's ASV LCD screen can't hold its own.

Side by side with those phones, its display looks dim, lacks contrast, and has a distracting yellow tinge. For instance the Meizu lacks the deep blacks and vibrant colors its competition offers. Plus, like typical LCDs, viewing angles deteriorate quickly when the display is tilted off-axis.

Unfortunately the Meizu MX 4-core's display is dim and lacks much contrast.

Despite its blatant mimicry of a late-model iPhone, the Meizu MX 4-core's design is subtle, even elegant. Above the screen is a minute VGA (0.3-megapixel) camera. Gone, though, is the faint Meizu nameplate written in old-style Chinese characters, which graced the previous Meizu MX.

Underneath the display, however, you'll still find two of the slickest capacitive buttons I've seen on a smartphone. Consisting of clusters of LEDs, or Light Keys as Meizu calls them, the buttons change configuration depending on what's happening on the phone's screen. For instance, within applications, the left key becomes a triangle of three dots, essentially a Back button.

The right key is usually arranged in three dots in a line indicating its Menu function, but when you flip the MX 4-core between landscape and portrait modes, the keys intelligently adjust their orientation accordingly. The keys also double as notification lights, pulsing gently when new e-mails or texts arrive. A more traditional raised circular Home button sits in between the MX 4-core's distinctive Light Keys.

The only other controls are a thin volume bar on the left side, Micro-USB port on the bottom, and a 3.5mm headphone jack plus tiny power button running across the top edge.

Breaking from the iPhone's design theme, the Meizu MX 4-core sports a thin metal bezel around the display along with white plastic edges and back, not the iconic chrome or glass construction. Even so, the 4.9-ounce handset has a solid heft to it and premium-feeling build quality. Measuring 4.8 inches tall by 2.5 inches deep and just 0.4 inch thick, the MX is easy to slip into pockets, too.

While the unit I tested was an engineering sample and not the final run of the product, I don't care for the MX 4-core's glossy back, which feels too slippery and fingerprint-prone for my tastes. I prefer phones with a textured back plate or even a soft-touch coating for a more secure grip.

The Meizu MX 4-core's back is smooth and glossy to a fault. Sarah Tew/CNET

Editors' Top PicksSee All

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy

Meizu MX 4-core (unlocked)

Part Number: CNETMX-4CORE

MSRP: $559.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Combined with With digital camera / digital player
  • Service Provider Unlocked
  • Weight 4.9 oz
  • Diagonal Size 4 in
  • Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM