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May 26, 2019
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Meizu

The Meizu 16s offers flagship features at a mid-range price

in Android/Delhi/Gadgets/Hardware/India/Meizu/mobile phones/Politics/Qualcomm/smartphone/smartphones/snapdragon 855/TC/United States by

Smartphones have gotten more expensive over the last few years even though there have only been a handful of recent innovations that really changed the way you interact with the phone. It’s maybe no surprise then that there is suddenly a lot more interest in mid-range, sub-$500 phones again. In the U.S., Google’s new Pixel 3a, with its superb camera, is bringing a lot of credibility to this segment. Outside the U.S., though, you can often get a flagship phone for less than $500 that makes none of the trade-offs typically associated with a mid-range phone. So when Meizu asked me to take a look at its new 16s flagship, which features (almost) everything you’d expect from a high-end Android phone, I couldn’t resist.

Meizu, of course, is essentially a total unknown in the U.S., even though it has a sizable global presence elsewhere. After a week with its latest flagship, which features Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855 chip and under-screen fingerprint scanner, I’ve come away impressed by what the company delivers, especially given the price point. In the U.S. market, the $399 Pixel 3a may seem like a good deal, but that’s because a lot of brands like Meizu, Xiaomi, Huawei and others have been shut out.

It’s odd that this is now a differentiating feature, but the first thing you’ll notice when you get started is the notchless screen. The dual-sim 16s must have one of the smallest selfie cameras currently on the market, and the actual bezels, especially when compared to something like the Pixel 3a, are minimal. That trade-off works for me. I’ll take a tiny bezel over a notch any day. The 6.2-inch AMOLED screen, which is protected by Gorilla Glass, is crisp and bright, though maybe a bit more saturated than necessary.

The in-display fingerprint reader works just fine, though it’s a bit more finicky that the dedicated readers I’ve used in the past.

With its 855 chip and 6GB of RAM, it’s no surprise the phone feels snappy. To be honest, that’s true for every phone, though, even in the mid-range. Unless you are a gamer, it’s really hard to push any modern phone to its limits. The real test is how this speed holds up over time, and that’s not something we can judge right now.

The overall build quality is excellent, yet while the plastic back is very pretty, it’s also a) weird to see a plastic back to begin with and b) slippery enough to just glide over your desk and drop on the floor if it’s at even a slight angle.

Meizu’s Flyme skin does the job, and adds some useful features like a built-in screen recorder. I’m partial to Google’s Pixel launcher, and a Flyme feels a bit limited in comparison to that and other third-party launchers. There is no app drawer, for example, so all of your apps have to live on the home screen. Personally, I went to the Microsoft Launcher pretty quickly, since that’s closer to the ecosystem I live in anyway. Being able to do that is one of the advantages of Android, after all.

Meizu also offers a number of proprietary gesture controls that replace the standard Android buttons. These may or may not work for you, depending on how you feel about gesture-based interfaces.

I haven’t done any formal battery tests, but the battery easily lasted me through a day of regular usage.

These days, though, phones are really about the cameras. Meizu opted for Sony’s latest 48-megapixel sensor here for its main camera and a 20-megapixel sensor for its telephoto lens that provides up to 3x optical zoom. The camera features optical image stabilization, which, when combined with the software stabilization, makes it easier to take low-light pictures and record shake-free video (though 4K video does not feature Meizu’s anti-shake system).

While you can set the camera to actually produce a 48-megapixel image, the standard setting combines four pixels’ worth of light into a single pixel. That makes for a better image, though you do have the option to go for the full 48 megapixels if you really want to. The camera’s daytime performance is very good, though maybe not quite up to par with some other flagship phones. It really shines when the light dims, though. At night, the camera is highly competitive and Meizu knows that, so the company even added two distinct night modes: one for handheld shooting and one for when you set the phone down or use a tripod. There is also a pro mode with manual controls.

Otherwise, the camera app provides all the usual portrait mode features you’d expect today. The 2x zoom works great, but at 3x, everything starts feeling a bit artificial and slightly washed out. It’ll do in a pinch, but you’re better off getting closer to your subject.

In looking at these features, it’s worth remembering the phone’s price. You’re not making a lot of trade-offs at less than $500, and it’d be nice to see more phones of this caliber on sale in the U.S. Right now, it looks like the OnePlus 7 Pro at $669 is your best bet if you are in the U.S. and looking for a flagship phone without the flagship price.

You can pre-order Meizu’s crazy phone with no port for $1,299

in Delhi/Gadgets/India/Meizu/Politics by

If you’re interested in Meizu’s insane smartphone that doesn’t have any port or button, you can now pre-order it on Indiegogo for $1,299. Supply is limited as the company is only selling 100 units for now.

The Meizu Zero looks like any modern phone at first sight. But if you look beyond the display, you’ll notice that there’s absolutely zero port or button.

The volume button has been replaced with a touch-sensitive surface. The fingerprint sensor is integrated in the display. Wireless charging is the only way to charge the device. And if you’re thinking about putting your SIM card in the phone, there’s no SIM slot either — I hope your carrier supports eSIM cards.

There’s no speaker grille either. Meizu is using the screen as a speaker by sending vibrations through the display. It also works as a microphone, apparently.

It’s unclear if this is just a giant joke or an actual product. But it’s an interesting experiment. For $1,299, you get a phone with a 5.99-inch AMOLED display and a Snapdragon 845 system-on-a-chip. The company expects to ship the device in April 2019.

Behold, a smartphone devoid of buttons and ports

in Delhi/Hardware/India/Meizu/mobile/Politics/zero by

Some call it madness. Others call it the next logical step in smartphone evolution. Meizu calls it, fitting, the “Zero.” It’s equal parts fascinating and maddening. And while being “totally seamless” with “a truly uninterrupted design” is probably not going to enough in and of itself to get people to purchase the thing, it’s hard to shake the idea that all handset manufactures are all heading in that direction anyway. So good on Meizu for getting there first, I suppose.

So, no Sim card slot, and no charging port — thank goodness for eSIM tech and wireless charging. There’s a fingerprint sensor under the front glass and the physical buttons have been replaced with virtual ones. As for the speaker grilles, those have been replaced by something the company calls “mSound 2.0,” which appears to utilize the screen for sound.

How well that will function versus a more traditional method remains to be seen. Honestly,  it sound like a phone created on a dare, but an impressive feat nonetheless. Other specs include a 5.99 inch AMOLED screen and a Snapdragon 845 processor. The rest of the relevant info, like price and if/when it’s coming to the States are still very much up in the air.

Mobile World Congress next month seems as good a time as any to announce all of that. 

Report: Chinese smartphone shipments drop 21% to reach lowest level since 2013

in Apple/Asia/China/computing/Delhi/huawei/India/Meizu/mobile/Politics/Samsung/vivo/Xiaomi by

Analysts have long-warned of a growth crunch in China’s smartphone space, and it’s looking like that’s very much the case right now.

China’s smartphone growth has been the feel-good story for domestic OEMs who have clocked impressive figures as the billion-plus population has rushed online via mobile devices. However, the market reached saturation point in 2017 — when sales stopped growing for the first time — and the first quarter of this year is already showing savage results.

In a report released today, Canalys claimed that shipments across the industry fell by 21 percent year-on-year in Q1.

The total number of mobile devices shipped in China dropped below the 100 million market in a quarter for the first time since late 2013, the firm added.

“Eight of the top 10 smartphone vendors were hit by annual declines, with Gionee, Meizu and Samsung shrinking to less than half of their respective Q1 2017 numbers,” the report read.

Ouch.

Of the field, only Xiaomi the firm tipped for an IPO at a $100 billion valuation — was able to post positive momentum as its numbers grew by 37 percent to reach 12 million. That was enough to see it overtake Apple into fourth place, but Xiaomi numbers are still heavily reliant on its $150 Redmi range, which isn’t as lucrative as its higher-end products.

Huawei, Oppo and Vivo led the market. Somewhat incredibly, those three firms plus Xiaomi now account for a very dominant 73 percent of all shipments, which Canalys believes is bad for consumers and smartphone aficionados in China.

“The level of competition has forced every vendor to imitate the others’ product portfolios and go-to-market strategies,” analyst Mo Jia said in a statement. “While Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi must contend with a shrinking Chinese market, they can take comfort from the fact that it will continue to consolidate, and that their size will help them last longer than other smaller players.”

There might be a bright spark coming soon. Canalys anticipates growth in the second quarter as Oppo, Vivo and Huawei trot out new flagship devices. But China’s once-booming industry is now having to contend with the same issue as the U.S.: consumers don’t upgrade their phone as frequently as carriers would like.

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