MEIZU m2 note unboxing and first impressions: a small, but significant upgrade

“The MEIZU m2 note is the successor to the popular m1 note. Here’s a first look at the device and its box contents”

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In December last year, Chinese smartphone maker MEIZU announced its new ‘Blue Charm’ line-up to compete against Xiaomi. The first device to be launched under the new range was the m1 note, an iPhone 5c-lookalike in a larger 5.5-inch body. Following the success of the sub-brand (MEIZU says it’s sold five million Blue Charm smartphones already), the company launched the m2 note in Beijing this week. An upgraded variant of the m1 note, the m2 note packs in a number of small enhancements under the hood, and is priced more affordably to boot. MEIZU launched the m1 note (unboxing and first impressions) in India last month, and will be bringing its successor to the country in the coming weeks. We were at the launch event of the m2 note in Beijing, where we got our hands on an international variant of the smartphone. Here’s an unboxing and first impressions.

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The MEIZU m2 note comes packed in a square white box with blue accents on the sides. Lifting up the lid, you’ll see the smartphone cradled in a tray on top. Pasted next to it is MEIZU’s trademark sim ejector tool, which features Flyme (its proprietary UI) branding. Under the smartphone you’ll find the warranty and user guide. Lifting up the tray reveals a two-pin wall charger and USB cable. As with the m1 note, there’s a third empty slot in the box, which contains a piece of foam labelled ‘earphones not included’. Since we’re using a demo variant, there could be a slight variation in the box contents of the retail units.

Moving over to the smartphone, the m2 note looks identical to its predecessor, save for the new mBack home button on its chin. The device features a glossy polycarbonate shell that’s non-removable, and is available in blue, pink, white and a new grey colour. Our review unit is clad in white. The smartphone measures 8.7mm around the waist, and coupled with its rounded edges and corners, is quite comfortable to use with a single hand. At the front of the device you’ll find the 5.5-inch display bearing full HD resolution, equating to a pixel density of 403ppi. The display is manufactured by Sharp, and while it doesn’t get a protective coating, it is made of tempered glass which should help to shield it from drops and scratches. 

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Above the screen you’ll find the earpiece, front 5MP camera and sensors. On the chin below you’ll find the mBack home button, which looks very similar to Samsung’s home button. The button registers both capacitive and mechanical touch, meaning you can either tap or press it to perform various functions. Tapping the button mimics the return function on Android, taking you to the previous screen. Pressing it takes you to the homescreen, while a long-press locks the phone. MEIZU is working on adding more functionality to mBack, so we should see different uses for it in the coming months.

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Coming to the port and button placement, the power button and volume rocker are located on the left spine. On the right, you’ll find an ejectable tray that can hold two nano-SIM cards. The first slot is a hybrid one, also accepting a microSD card. The microSD card slot addresses a major pain point of the m1 note, which disappointed many users with its non-expandable storage. On the bottom edge you’ll find the micro-USB port, primary microphone and loudspeaker. The top edge is home to the 3.5mm headphone jack and secondary microphone.

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Moving over to the rear is where you’ll see the 13MP primary camera and dual-tone LED flash on top, and MEIZU branding at the bottom. While the camera configurations are the same, MEIZU has added an ISP (Image Signal Processor) to the rear camera to improve photo quality, and has upgraded the beauty mode on the front snapper as well.

Powering the m2 note is a 64-bit octa-core MediaTek MT6753 chipset, paired with 2GB of RAM and a Mali T720-MP3 GPU. The m1 note on the other hand, features a 64-bit 1.7GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6752 chipset and a Mali T760-MP2 GPU. The smartphone is available in 16GB and 32GB storage variants, but we have the former in our labs. Out of the available memory, a little over 11GB is available on a fresh reboot. The microSD card slot supports expansion by an additional 128GB.

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While the m1 note runs Android KitKat, MEIZU has launched the m2 note with Android 5.1 Lollipop, with Flyme 4.5 on top. In China, Flyme doesn’t come with any Google services, but on our international demo unit, the Play Store came pre-installed. The major Google apps however were missing, so these will have to be downloaded and installed manually. We’re assuming that the final retail units will come with all Google services preloaded.

Flyme doesn’t feature an app drawer, so all apps displayed across the homescreens. There’s a drop-down notification bar and quick settings menu on top. Swiping up from the bottom brings up the multi-tasking menu, from where you can switch between or clear recent apps. Flyme’s Personalise app which features a bunch of themes and wallpapers is loaded on the smartphone, but all the content is in Chinese.

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Both SIM card slots on the MEIZU m2 note support both LTE bands in India, which is a big improvement over the m1 note, which supports only FDD-LTE (band 3). Plus, it offers dual-standby. The other connectivity features include dual-band Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS. 

Despite its improved hardware and software, the m2 note has been launched at a cheaper price than its predecessor in China, priced at around Rs 8,200 for the 16GB version and around Rs 10,200 for the 32GB variant. While we don’t have an exact date, MEIZU representatives confirmed that the brand would be launching the device in India soon after it goes on sale in China on June 12th, and we expect it to be priced more affordably than the m1 note when it does. We’ll be putting the device through our usual tests before that to help you decide whether it’s worth adding to your shopping list.

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