I decided to pick up a secondhand Meizu phone to replace the Nokia 3 I bought two months ago.
While somewhat an unknown brand here in the Philippines, this Chinese company actually produces decent smartphones on par with its peers from Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo.
I got this used Meizu M5 Note for 6,000 pesos from TipidCP. It came complete with the box and accessories. The phone felt almost brand new with no dents or scratches.
For a thousand peso less than the brand new Nokia 3, I got a phone that beats the Nokia in most of the item in the spec sheet:
• 5.5" 1080p LCD screen
• Mediatek MT6755 Helio P10 (Octa-core)
• 3GB RAM, 16GB internal storage
• Rear Camera: 13MP with flash | Front Camera: 5MP
• Fingerprint scanner
• Gyroscope, 4G/LTE
• Non-removable 4000mAh battery
• Flyme 6 (based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow)
The only things Nokia 3 got going for are its 8MP front camera and the fact that it runs Android Nougat.
Aesthetically, the phone almost looks like an iPhone or Samsung S7 with its metal-lined home button at the bottom which doubles as a fingerprint scanner. Even the arrangement of headphone jack, microUSB, and speaker feels reminiscent of an iPhone 6. Compared to the Nokia 3, it feels just as premium with the 2.5D screen covered with Dinorex glass protection.
The most baffling thing about this phone is the lack of the typical navigation buttons found on all other Android phones. There's no on-screen back, home, or recent apps button. Instead, the lone button acts as a back button when tapped and as a home button when pushed. Recent apps can be accessed by swiping up from the left or right corner of the screen. It took me a while to get used to this.
While the phone is dual SIM capable, the tray is shared with the microSD card unlike Nokia 3's separate trays.
The Meizu M5 Note runs on Flyme 6, a custom firmware based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Unlike with most custom firmware, the phone comes with only a few bloatware from Meizu. In fact, the launcher feels barren as it's missing ALL Google Apps!
This might worry some users as to why there's no Google Play app on their phone. To save you the technical backstory, Meizu is not authorized to ship with Google services.
But fear not as you can get the Google Mobile Services installer from Meizu app store. This will include the Google Play store.
However, this can turn off casual users who are already skeptic because of the Google Play Store's omission. True enough, I did encounter quirks when working with Google apps on this phone. For example, my Gmail app crashes when downloading an attachment. I have to use Google's new email app, Inbox.
The camera is a notch better than the Nokia 3 but still struggles in low light situations like the sample image below. In daylight, it can shoot superb photos. Also unlike the Nokia, the Meizu can shoot videos in 1080p 30fps.
The Meizu M5 Note was released almost a year so it is not surprising if it won't get an Android Nougat update. I definitely miss the multi-window and the timed Do Not Disturb option.
Overall, the Meizu M5 Note is a capable secondhand budget phone if you're willing to jump through hoops just to get Google Play working.