Hands on with the Meizu M5s - an affordable alternative to the iPhone 6

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  • Editors' rating
    8.8 Outstanding

Pros

  • Solid aluminium casing
  • Rapid charging time
  • Curved glass

Cons

  • Micro USB not USB C charging cable

The M5s was released in February 2016 as an 'affordable and intuitive stylish mid-end device'. It certainly looks more than mid-end to me.

At first glance, the packaging is similar to the M3Max and M5 Note I tested recently and strongly reminded me of the iPhone unboxing experience.

At 5.2 inches, the M5s has a a smaller HD screen than the Pro 6 Plus and the M5 Note. Resolution is less than the M5 Note at 1280 x 720 - due to its smaller screen - but the IPS display is crisp and sharp across a wide view angle.

The '2.5D' curved glass edges give the device a nice feel. It has an eye-care protective mode to help reading in low light and dark environments.

Like all Meizu phones, the M5s three piece metallic body is made from aluminium alloy, using CNC fabrication (computer controlled laser assisted cutting). The phone is available in grey, silver, champagne gold and rose gold.

Inside, there is a 64-bit 8-core MT6753 processor with 8 x ARM cores of A53 1.3GHz, ARM Mali-T720 GPU, and 3GB LPDDR3 memory. The phones are available in either 16 or 32Gb internal storage which is extendable to 128Gb with a micro SD card.

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I loved how fast this phone charges. In fact, all of the Meizu phones I have tested seem to quickly charge. The M5s has mCharge technology which charges the battery '60 percent faster than the industry average' according to Meizu.

I noticed that from completely flat the 3000mAh battery charged to 100 percent within a couple of hours - if I used the correct Meizu micro USB charging cable that came with the device.

Meizu say that at a peak power of 18W it takes 30 minutes to charge the battery from 0 percent to 56 percent. It took me over an hour to charge the phone to 56 percent.

To be fair, I was using another charging cable to charge and got to 20 percent before I realised my error. Like the Pro 6 Plus, there are a range of battery saving options in the Flyme OS to extend battery life.

I found the phone lasted for days on a single charge when using apps. I could start multiple apps without any overhead. GPS does drain the battery more quickly, but I did not feel that this was an issue on this model.

This phone has a 13 megapixel, ƒ/2.2 aperture, Sony PDAF image sensor for high speed auto focus, with a 5 element lens rear camera.

It has a 5 megapixel ƒ/2.0 aperture 5-element lens front facing camera. These specs are higher than the more expensive Pro 6 plus I reviewed last month.

Picture quality is excellent and the inbuilt level gauge is really useful. The camera can also be accessed by swiping up from a corner of the lock screen which is handy when you are in a hurry to take that shot

Like other phones from the Meizu stable, the M5s has an ArcSoft beautification algorithm (to slim your face and make your eyes larger), and Face AE smart facial brightness adjustment.

Fingerprint recognition is fast at 0.2 seconds and recognises up to five different fingerprints. I now never need to use the unlock code on these phones as fingerprint recognition on the phone is so fast.

I had concerns that with a smaller phone, the audio would be as quiet as the M5 Note seemed to be but I was pleasantly surprised.

This phone is as loud as the Pro 6 Plus. I can hear the phone when I am outside the car. Music is clear and loud. I am very impressed that such a small device packs such a sound punch.

The Flyme OS build is 5.2 running on Android OS version 6, which was patched in January. Its 'Hot apps' icon enables you to download the apps of your choice - including Google Services and the Google Play Store.

Meizu says it has released almost 30 smartphone models across the PRO, MX and M-series and sold 22 million smartphones worldwide in 2016.

With the M5s the company has delivered a credible, affordable phone that has not compromised on performance. I have been impressed with the build quality on each phone, and the Flyme OS improves with each new model.

I like this phone. I like the feel of the case, and the laser cut holes for the microphone and speaker feel sharp and well made. The curve of the screen makes this look like an expensive phone and the solid build quality feels really good.

I was a little disappointed that the charging cable was Micro USB and not USB C. This is not a huge problem, but device manufacturers seem to be moving to USB C, and it is already standard on the Pro 6 Plus.

I think that if you are looking for a premium smartphone at an affordable price, then the M5s gives you the look and feel of a top-end phone but at a little over $200, you will have cash to spare.

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