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Meizu m3 note Hands On: Spicing Up the Mid-Range Market

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Meizu’s m series of smartphones usually consists of affordable devices with a few sacrifices here and there, such as a plastic body or an entry-level processor. The m3 note, however, changes things up a bit, although it still retains the core concept of the m lineup: being affordable.

I’ve held the m3 note in my hands, played around with it for a bit, and you know what? I’m impressed with this 799 Chinese yuan smartphone (that’s about RM480). If Meizu Malaysia plays its cards right, this could be a very compelling mid-range device; maybe just as much as the excellent Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 as well.

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On paper, the m3 note is packed with a MediaTek Helio P10 processor paired with 2GB or 3GB of RAM, a 5.5-inch 1080 LTPS display, two storage sizes (16GB and 32GB), a microSD card slot which can accommodate cards up to 128GB, as well as a metal construction, which is quite a change over its predecessor’s plastic chassis. Rounding out the hardware of the m3 note are a fingerprint sensor integrated into the home button, a 13MP rear camera, as well as a 5MP front-facing shooter.

As for design, the m3 note is remarkably similar to the Meizu Pro 5 – it seems to share several design elements of the iPhone as well. Regardless, the m3 note is a comfortable device to hold; I was also rather surprised by its weight, which is quite light for a smartphone with a 4,100mAh battery.

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Unlike other Android smartphones in the market, Meizu devices are unique in the sense that they don’t have a recent apps or a back button. Instead, the m3 note only has a singular home button, which also acts as the back key when it is tapped. I can also just swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see my recent apps. While this will definitely take some time to get used to (I sure did), it is actually pretty intuitive; I don’t have to reach out to the far right or left to access the back or recent apps button, which is a godsend in many occasions. Speaking of the home button, the fingerprint sensor of the m3 note is also quick and accurate.

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Based on the m3 note’s specifications, its main competitor is definitely the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. Both share almost the same set of specifications (such as a metal construction and a fingerprint sensor), but there are a few key differences between the two, such as the processor.

The Redmi Note 3 has the superior and newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 chipset, while the m3 note is powered by the older MediaTek Helio P10 processor. I have yet to put the m3 note through its paces to see just how it compares against the Redmi Note 3, but based on my initial impressions of the former, it has proven to be rather capable. I didn’t notice any stutter or lag while using the device, and apps open quickly without much hiccup either.

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As is always the case with many mid-range devices, the camera of the m3 note appears to be one of its weakest points. In my testing, the camera seems to have some difficulties locking focus, and the colours are also quite saturated, which sometimes result in unnatural-looking images. That said, the m3 note can definitely take some good shots under ideal lighting, although the more interesting question would be the camera’s low-light performance.

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The Meizu m3 note isn’t your average mid-range smartphone: it feels well-built, polished, and most of all, priced very competitively. But then again, the m3 note has some tough competition in Malaysia, which also include the Redmi Note 3. If the m3 note were to be a compelling alternative to Xiaomi’s offering, Meizu Malaysia will have to price this smartphone well.

And therein lies the issue. Usually, Meizu devices in Malaysia are priced slightly higher than their respective price tags in China. If the m3 note were to be priced too closely to the Redmi Note 3 (or even the Redmi Note 2) here, it will be tough for consumers to choose the m3 note over the latter.

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However, the 16GB m2 note is currently going for RM699, so if the same price tag is retained for the m3 note (both the m2 note and m3 note are similarly priced in China), it may just be the right price point for consumers. It’s also worth mentioning that Meizu is planning to bring both the 16GB/2GB and 32GB/3GB models of the m3 note into Malaysia by the end of April 2016. If the Chinese company prices the m3 note right locally, it might just have a winner here. m3-9

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