Recent years have seen the smartphone market undergo a transformation of epic proportions. What was once a playground dominated entirely by giants such as Samsung and Apple has now become a much more level playing field. Several new brands have burst on to the scene, all boasting extremely impressive specs and impeccable aesthetics. Most of these new entrants hail from the same place: China.
Improvements in the supply chain and a general drop in component prices have enabled Chinese entities to produce high quality smartphones at a fraction of the cost of their competitors. Adding quality and reliability to the Chinese amalgam of speed and productivity has led to the literal flooding of the smartphone market with a plethora of new products, all boasting very similar specifications and design schemes. In such a crowded and increasingly generic market, getting noticed and standing out from the crowd has become well-nigh impossible!
Several companies have realized this bitter truth, and have kicked off efforts to address this glaring issue. Their R&D and marketing teams have worked in tandem to try and project their products as different from the myriad generic phones clogging up the market, all with varying degrees of success. While several gimmicks, such as Oppo’s decision to offer 2 selfie cameras, and Lenovo and Asus’ models with insane amounts of battery back-up have led to a spurt in sales growth, none of them have truly set the market on fire. With the release of their Pro series, Chinese smartphone maker Meizu seeks to do exactly that!
Meizu: Understated Elegance
The name Meizu is synonymous. Ever since their foray into the market of electronic appliances with the release of their first mp4 player in 2006, Meizu has constantly pushed the envelope regarding both technical brilliance and ease of use. While awareness regarding this brand is still not at the levels of several of its Chinese counterparts, it has shown remarkable performance in the markets in which it is present! The fact that it is the 11th largest smartphone manufacturer in the world is a testament to how effective its products are! Their custom operating system, Flyme has earned rave reviews from tech critics for its simple and beautiful design, and its ability to allow customers to tailor the OS according to their sensibilities and preferences.
Despite entering the phone business in 2007, Meizu enthusiasts had to wait till 2011 to savour the Meizu Android experience, with the release of the Meizu M9. The next years have seen the company grow exponentially both in terms of size and quality, and all these years if experience is evident in their latest offering, the Meizu Pro 7 and 7 Plus!
The news of the development of these smartphones sparked much debate and discussion on several online forums. We at Versus were among the first to distance ourselves from all the conjecture and rumour mongering, and offer concrete news on the possible. Through our collaboration with OnLeaks, we had provided a very comprehensive overview of what the specifications and general characteristics of the models were expected to be. And the release of the phone has confirmed that our predictions were accurate (for the most part)!
Meizu Pro Series: The Age of Dual Screens
The desire to be distinct and noticed are present in every detail of this new edition of phones, especially in its trump card: – the dual screen. While Versus had initially reported the secondary screen to be an E-Ink screen, Meizu has astounded everyone by making the rear display a full colour LCD touch screen with an always-on feature!
While the concept of an additional screen is not exactly path breaking, (it has been a staple of the LG V series since 2015), the 2-inch screen on the back of the Pro series has generated so much interest and marketing mileage for the brand due to its quality, and its potential to alter the way people use smartphones!
The Pro series is available in two broad variants, the Meizu Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus. Versus had initially reported 4 GB of RAM for the Pro 7, and 6 GB and 8 GB variants for the 7 Plus. In hindsight, this was wishful thinking! With the release of the series, we can confirm that the Pro 7 will come in two variants: – the standard one with 64 GB internal storage and a MediaTek P25 processor. The company also offers a premium version of the Pro 7, with a little more performance ‘juice’ under the hood. It boasts of a faster Helio X30 processor and a whopping 128 GB of internal storage. Both these iterations of the model possess an exemplary 5.2-inch full HD Super AMOLED display unit, which carries the 1080-pixel tag with aplomb! Its non-removable lithium battery offers 3000 MaH, which considering the additional load of the secondary screen, may seem a tad less! But if initial reports are to be believed, the battery performs admirably!
The Pro 7 Plus packs 6 GB of RAM under the hood, with its deca-core Helio X30 processor offering plentiful computing power. Both the 64 GB and 128 GB variants run on the same processor, with the ground-breaking Quad HD Super AMOLED screen making even the most mundane and minute details and aspects look breath-taking! Both the variants have a 3500 MaH battery, with the literal brute-force processors facilitating a smooth and seamless smartphone experience
There are some features common to both the Pro 7 and Pro 7 plus models
• Dual rear cameras of 12 MP each, with Sony sensors.
• 16 MP front camera with f/2.0 aperture.
• Support for mCharge fast charging
• 1.9 inch Super AMOLED secondary display.
It is this last feature that has garnered the most attention and applause. Meizu has not compromised even a little on quality here, and by choosing to make it a fully functional colour touch screen, they have resigned all other phones with secondary screens to the status of ‘also rans’.
Both these smartphones have also successfully incorporated Meizu’s hugely popular mBack hardware- software set up. In essence, this feature integrates both the home and back navigation options into a single button, with sufficiently different inputs so as to avoid confusion. Tapping on the button takes the user back while pressing down on the button takes the user ‘home’. This move on the part of the Meizu engineers exudes ingenuity and a willingness to experiment, which the Pro series is an epitome of!
Versus had estimated the retail prices of the 7 and 7 Plus at 410 and 500 USD respectively, the actual prices of 430 and 530 USD are eerily close. These are comparable to several premium smartphone options, and with its virtually unlimited array of features and treats for the user, the Pro series is sure to give its more established counterparts a run for their money!
Changing How We View Smartphones, And Ourselves!
The decision to place the secondary display on the back is a masterstroke, for myriad reasons. This move shows the amount of research Meizu has done into user preferences, and what most modern day users look for when purchasing a phone. The recognition of the universal nature of the selfie phenomenon is definitely one of the primary factors behind this design decision. This design has the potential to revolutionize the way people click selfies.
Swiping down on the secondary screen takes the user to the camera viewfinder, showing the user what the rear camera sees. Tapping on the screen captures this image. This feature enables you to use the more proficient rear cameras to capture your selfies. Since rear cameras are generally the better cameras, this feature guarantees users a better class of selfie! The dual sensors also allow users to focus on objects of their choice and give them a larger degree of control over the end product. The dual sensors also help add an element of depth and sophistication, which are absent in selfies captured by most major competitors.
The actual front camera of the phone is by no means a slouch! This 16 MP shooter with a f/2.0 aperture is particularly adept at capturing selfies in low light, and an immaculate level of detail and sharpness is guaranteed in each click.
Another major issue addressed by this series of phones is ease of access to the phone, especially in delicate situations. In several forums, especially meetings and public gatherings, it is considered rude and uncouth to be constantly hooked to your phone. Hence most people keep their phone face down when they head into such meetings, mostly to avoid the temptation of looking at your phone.
Any implement that reduces the effort required to gather and assimilate information is widely appreciated, and the secondary screen does precisely this! The secondary screen displays integral information such as the time, temperature, etc. It also shows your notifications as you get them. This enables you to stay connected and aware through just a cursory glance. This feature reflects how fast paced our lives have become, and how important seamless interconnectivity is to overall growth and productivity. This feature is sure to become a great hit among the youth.
Another major issue it could help eliminate is excess battery consumption. With super AMOLED primary displays of gargantuan sizes of 5.7 and 6 inches, firing up the screen just to check a message represents a disproportionate use of a battery, which could be funnelled to several other more demanding operations. The secondary screen could be the answer to this eternal quandary. By displaying essential notifications and other general information, it helps users minimize the use of the power hungry display. This results in improved battery life, and helps lower overall energy consumption of the phone by a significant amount!
Descriptions of this feature till now have painted it as a purely functional and pragmatic addition to the repertoire of the phone. But this feature sends the fun factor of the phone soaring through the roof! Replacing empty area on the back screen with a high resolution display adds to the aesthetics of the phone. There is also an option to customize the screen according to the users’ preferences, with wallpapers and screensavers of their choice. Adding so much detail to an element that is still considered a luxury is indicative of how important Meizu considers this secondary screen to be. It isn’t supposed to be just another feature on its already burgeoning list. This feature is genuinely expected to change people’s perception of smartphones, and could end up shaping customer expectations for years to come!
Verdict: Win-Win for Both Segment And Company
The fact that even if the Pro series were stripped of its dual display concept, it would still be a very strong smartphone, is proof of how far the smartphone industry has advanced! Both the variants are extremely good looking, with Meizu’s reputation for durability and aesthetic excellence very much on display here! The latest edition of the Flyme OS, version 6, laced over Android Nougat is an absolute delight to use.
By being pioneers in this relatively new field of dual interactive displays, Meizu has surged ahead in the race to redefine smartphones. While this company lags behind other industry heavyweights in terms of global visibility, its recent advancements and brave decisions are proof that it has the tools to succeed, and the guts to match it!
With the Pro series dropping in August 2017, it is only a matter of time before we come to know whether dual displays are the next big thing or just another fad which will fizzle out in no time. Regardless of the outcome, the heart and endeavour showed by Meizu to even attempt something as outlandish as this is an encouragement to all future innovators and free thinkers!