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Meizu Pro 6 review: This 10-core smartphone sacrifices Android functionality for Apple aesthetics

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The Meizu Pro 6 looks a lot like an iPhone.

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6.9

Meizu Pro 6

The Good

The Meizu Pro 6's 10-core processor delivers speedy non-gaming performance, the phone has premium touches like USB-C and a fingerprint sensor and its sub $400 price is relatively cheap.

The Bad

A jarring copycat iPhone design, poor gaming performance and awkward navigation that makes the Pro 6 clumsy to use.

The Bottom Line

The Meizu Pro 6 packs impressive specs into a relatively cheap frame, but it loses key Android functionality in its attempt to look like an iPhone.
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One of these phones is not like the others.

Dave Cheng/CNET

The similarities can be hard to get over, but that's likely by design, given the energy the Chinese vendor has clearly put into making an iClone. And though it houses some respectable tech, the Pro 6 tries too hard to be an Apple product to really excel at being an Android.

The three main areas the Pro 6 is a let down are clumsy navigation, an operating system not fit for western users and, despite having a 10-core processor, surprisingly weak gaming capabilities.

The conspicuous absence of a return (back) button is perhaps most bothersome. With no button, you swipe across the home button panel to go back (or forward). You can also use "smart touch", which puts a small thumbstick on the screen which you can tap to go back, toggle side-to-side to navigate between apps, and so on. Both methods are functional but feel awkward. I never noticed how important the back button of an Android was until I didn't have one.

Meizu's customized software layer, FlyMe 5.6, is a modified version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It's designed to look a lot like Apple's iOS operating system, with almost identical lock-screens and, as is typical of many Chinese phones, no app drawer -- that means that app icons spread out across multiple home screens. Unlike iOS, though, you can add widgets.

Meizu packs USB-C and other premium touches into this low(ish) cost Android (pictures)

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FlyMe works well, but is built for the Chinese market. Apps will push notifications in Chinese, even with English set as the default language. There's also no support for Google services, like the Google Play Store. All of this can be fixed by manually installing the Play Store and a custom launcher, but it's bad news for those who want a phone they can unbox and use right away.

One considerable downer is the phone's poor gaming performance. It scored low in our benchmark testing, and 3D games like Sonic Dash didn't feel completely smooth to play.

Meizu's new flagship isn't officially available in the US, UK or Australia, but you can buy it online. It comes in black, gold and silver variations, and retails in China for 2,499 yuan, which converts to roughly $385, AU$510 and £265.

How is the Meizu Pro 6 to use?

Navigating through apps is silky smooth, thanks to the aforementioned deca-core MediaTek processor. Impressively, its performance in Geekbench's multi-core test outdid even Samsung's Galaxy S7.

And while it loses points for looking so much like an iPhone, the Pro 6 retains the premium feel of an Apple product. Its metal frame gives it a substantive weight, and it's just 0.2mm thicker than the iPhone 6S. Speaking of, the only big giveaways that this is in fact not an iPhone are the Pro 6's oval-shaped home button, the placement of the rear camera (it's centred instead of in the left corner) and antenna lines that stick to the phone's rim rather than wrapping below the camera, as in the 6S' case.

If nothing else, Meizu deserves props for managing to sell a device with such power and quality feel for the Pro 6's low price.

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Dave Cheng/CNET

The screen is sharp, but could be brighter. The camera can capture some great photos under good light, but isn't so effective in the dark. It can, however, shoot GIF images (think Apple's Live Photos, but more easy to share) of up the six seconds, which is a nice touch. Battery life is on the weaker side, lasting 9 hours and 40 minutes playing a looping video on airplane mode.

There are some premium touches though, like a snappy fingerprint sensor on its home button and a USB-C port. The screen also supports 3D Press, like Apple's 3D Touch, but it only works on apps native to Meizu's FlyMe OS, like Calendar and Map.

The Pro 6 is relatively cheap, has solid specs and certainly isn't a bad phone. But between the awkward navigation, lack of native Google support and its iPhoney design, Meizu's latest feels like less than the sum of its parts.

If you're looking for a great smartphone for a low cost, check out Xiaomi's Mi 5 or the OnePlus X.

Performance benchmarks

Meizu Pro 6 11,303 1,711 6,293Oppo R9 11,079 882 3,330Samsung Galaxy S7 29,031 2,323 5,429Xiaomi Mi 5 30,430 2,316 5,390
  • 3DMark Ice Storm (unlimited)
  • Geekbench 3 (single-core)
  • Geekbench 3 (multi-core)
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Meizu Pro 6 vs. Oppo R9/F1 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy S7

Meizu Pro 6Oppo R9/F1 PlusSamsung Galaxy S7
Display size, resolution 5.2-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels5.1-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels
Pixel density 423ppi401ppi576ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.81 x 2.79 x 0.29 in5.98 x 2.93 x 0.26 in5.6 x 2.7 x 0.3 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 147.7 x 70.8 x 7.3 mm 151.8 x 74.3 x 6.6 mm142 x 69.6 x 7.9 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.64 oz (160 g)5.11 oz (145 g)5.4 oz; 152g
Mobile software Android 6.0 MarshmallowAndroid 5.1 LollipopAndroid 6.0 Marshmallow
Camera 21-megapixel13-megapixel12-megapixel
Front-facing camera 5-megapixel16-megapixel5-megapixel
Video capture 1080p HD1080p HD4K
Processor Deca-core Mediatek Helio X25 2.0GHZ octa-core Mediatek MT6755 Helio P102.15GHz + 1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapgradon 820 processor
Storage 32GB/64GB64GB32GB, 64GB (varies by region)
RAM 4GB4GB4GB
Expandable storage Up to 128GBUp to 128GBUp to 200GB
Battery 2,560mAh battery (nonremovable)2,850mAh battery (nonremovable)3,000mAh (nonremovable)
Fingerprint sensor Home buttonHome buttonHome button
Connector USB-CMicro-USBUSB-C
Special features Fast charging, Dual-SIMFast charging, Dual-SIMWater resistant
Price off-contract (USD) 2,499 yuan (converts to $385)$425AT&T: $695, Sprint: $650, T-Mobile: $670, Verizon: $672, US Cellular: $672
Price (GBP) Converts to £265 £299£569
Price (AUD) AU$520AU$599AU$1,149
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6.9

Meizu Pro 6

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 8Performance 8Camera 7Battery 6