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The Meizu Pro 6 looks a lot like an iPhone.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Meizu Pro 6||Oppo R9/F1 Plus||Samsung Galaxy S7|
|Display size, resolution||5.2-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels||5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels||5.1-inch; 2,560x1,440 pixels|
|Dimensions (Inches)||5.81 x 2.79 x 0.29 in||5.98 x 2.93 x 0.26 in||5.6 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 mm||142 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 Marshmallow||Android 5.1 Lollipop||Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
|Video capture||1080p HD||1080p HD||4K|
|Processor||Deca-core Mediatek Helio X25||2.0GHZ octa-core Mediatek MT6755 Helio P10||2.15GHz + 1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapgradon 820 processor|
|Storage||32GB/64GB||64GB||32GB, 64GB (varies by region)|
|Expandable storage||Up to 128GB||Up to 128GB||Up to 200GB|
|Battery||2,560mAh battery (nonremovable)||2,850mAh battery (nonremovable)||3,000mAh (nonremovable)|
|Fingerprint sensor||Home button||Home button||Home button|
|Special features||Fast charging, Dual-SIM||Fast charging, Dual-SIM||Water resistant|
|Price off-contract (USD)||2,499 yuan (converts to $385)||$425||AT&T: $695, Sprint: $650, T-Mobile: $670, Verizon: $672, US Cellular: $672|
|Price (GBP)||Converts to £265||£299||£569|