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Meizu Pro 6 Plus review: A very likeable phablet (but the price still remains mysterious)

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
400
inc VAT (we think)

With the phablet field looking pretty weak, Meizu provides an excellent alternative to Huawei

Pros 
A quality phablet at a decent price
Stylish design
Good, long battery life
Cons 
Not great colour accuracy
Lack of Android buttons takes some getting used to
No expandable storage
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Update: A month after we reviewed this, and we are still none the wiser to the official retail price, with no stockists listing the phone yet in the UK. 

That leaves us in something of a bind, because as we make clear in the review, it's a lovely smartphone, but how lovely depends on the price you pay. The Meizu would be a "bite-your-hand-off" bargain at £200, but a "steer clear" at £600. Our estimate of £400 feels about right, and means it's solidly recommended, but this is meeting them more than half way to come up with that figure.

We'll continue to monitor the situation, but just be wary if you buy the handset from different channels that our recommendation is very much based on our expectations of RRP... so shop accordingly.

The original review continues below.

Go into any high-street phone shop and it’s pretty clear that Samsung and Apple are the big hitters here in Britain. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll see handsets from Sony, LG, HTC and the like.

For those keeping track of that list like an Olympics medals table, that’s South Korea, USA, Japan, South Korea again and Taiwan. But that doesn’t tell the whole story, if you look at the world in terms of global market share: Chinese handsets are coming, and they’re getting very good indeed. Huawei is making consistently great smartphones, and Alphr's current favourite is the OnePlus 3T.

Meizu may not be a household name over here, but the Pro 6 Plus is a very capable phone indeed. The company couldn’t confirm UK pricing with us yet, but we’re working on the assumption it will be around £400 based on US pricing and UK prices for Meizu’s other handsets. And on that score, it’s a nice little handset.

Meizu Pro 6 Plus: Design

Well, I say “little”. As you may have guessed from the handset’s name (which I keep confusing with a popular brand of caffeine tablets), this is a big old phone – 5.7in, to be exact – and no, you’re not imagining it. It does look a lot like an iPhone 6s Plus, albeit 0.2in larger.

Much of this is pure happenstance and down to the fact that – spare a massive flip-phone recovery – all handsets look kind of samey these days. But it’s not entirely the reason. For one thing, Meizu has completely ditched those staples of Android life, the home and back buttons, giving the Pro 6 Plus the streamlined single button of the iPhone, which also doubles as a fingerprint sensor. That has a knock-on effect on usability, but more on that later.

Flip it over, and things diverge a little more. For one thing, the back is ever so slightly curved, and for another, the Pro 6 Plus’ camera lens sits squarely where you’d expect to find a big embossed apple shape. And, of course, it charges and connects via USB Type-C rather than Lightning. The parallels are definitely there, though, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Meizu Pro 6 Plus is an attractive handset.

That said, not every imitation of Apple is positive. While Meizu has implemented its own take on 3D Touch, allowing you to preview certain things with a long press, the handset has also taken a leaf out of the iPhone’s book in having no expandable storage slot. However, that slightly bitter pill is somewhat sweetened by the fact that the Pro 6 Plus only comes in 64GB and 128GB flavours.

There’s not too much competition left in the phablet space now that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is no more, and this handset feels like it fits in nicely. It’s comfortable in the hand, and slim in design, so it won’t poke out of the pocket too much. HTC, take note.

Meizu Pro 6 Plus: Screen

That 5.7in Super AMOLED display outputs a resolution of 1,440 x 2,560, which means every icon is sharper than you’ll ever need from a distance, and VR content will look as good as it can on a mobile platform – unless you’re viewing it through the lenses of a VR headset, in which case 4K would be better. However, its pixel density of 515 pixels per inch is a match for most modern flagship phablets.

And it’s a competent screen, too, although what it gains in reasonable brightness (414cd/m2 isn’t bad for AMOLED, but it can’t match the best IPS screens), sRGB coverage (99.9%) and contrast ratio (perfect as it’s AMOLED), is lost a little in its colour accuracy, which is pretty poor out of the box. The reds are the main offenders – they’re extremely bright, but all colours suffer to some degree.

Meizu Pro 6 Plus: Performance

The Meizu Pro 6 Plus is no slouch when it comes to specifications. There are slight variations, depending on whether you buy the 64GB or 128GB version of the handset (2GHz for the former, 2.3GHz for the latter), but both are powered by octa-core Samsung Exynos 8890 chipsets backed with 4GB of RAM. Ours was the 64GB model.

This leads to a day-to-day experience that is suitably smooth, even when multitasking – although the lack of home and back buttons takes some getting used to. Instead of pressing “menu” to bring up all the open windows, the Pro 6 Plus forces you to slide a finger upwards from the bottom of the screen.

But I digress: back to performance. First of all, here are the Geekbench scores, compared with a number of similarly sized and similarly priced handsets: the OnePlus 3T, the Huawei Mate 9, Huawei Nova Plus and – given it’s an aesthetic dead ringer – the Apple iPhone 6s Plus.

Single-core

Multi-core

Meizu Pro 6 Plus

1,477

3,840

Huawei Nova Plus

833

3,021

Huawei Mate 9

1,843

6,244

OnePlus 3T

1,903

4,274

iPhone 6s Plus

2,396

4,006

These are pretty decent results for the Pro 6 Plus, comparatively, although it’s worth noting that it’s roundly beaten by the OnePlus 3T – which comes in at the same expected price – and by last year’s iPhone 6s Plus model. The Huawei Mate 9 is a really strong multi-core performer, but retailing for £600, you’re paying much more for the benefit.

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