Software

The software Meizu includes with the m3 Note is an unfortunately outdated version of Android, loaded with a custom skin they call Flyme. Despite Android 6.0 having been released more than 8 months ago, the m3 Note is still loaded with Android 5.1. Meizu says that the phone will be updated to Android 6.0, but this update is already so late that I don’t have much faith it will actually be released before Android 7.0 ‘Nougat’ is available.

This could be a problem for some people, particularly those concerned with security. Again, I doubt Meizu will be providing the m3 Note with frequent security patches, which is something you do get from Nexus devices and the larger manufacturers like Samsung. What the m3 Note has shipped with will likely be what it has a year from now.

Putting aside the outdated software, there are some aspects to Flyme that I like. The visual style throughout the launcher and its apps is pleasing, which surprised me as I was expecting a “Chinese” feel with poor translations and issues throughout the software. You’re not getting anything of the sort: Flyme is polished, consistent, and well designed.

Flyme doesn’t include bloatware or duplicate apps, but unlike the HTC 10, Meizu has gone the other way by only including one Google application on this device out of the box: the Play Store. This means you’ll have to download popular apps like Gmail, YouTube, Maps and so forth, which is unusual for modern Android devices but keeps the bloat away.

The visual style of Flyme is quite different to stock Android, but it retains enough elements that it fits in reasonably well with 3rd party Android apps. It does some things differently to stock Android – such as having no app drawer and an app switcher accessible by swiping up from the bottom of the display – but nothing is completely out of the ordinary.

The notification pane has been altered in Flyme, with a decent visual style, large notification previews, and a handy section of easily-accessible quick toggles. I don’t like how the OS changes the icons for notifications from some apps, which can cause confusion, but other than that the notification panel is decent.

Flyme includes a couple of handy applications, firstly the Toolbox, which includes things like a flashlight, compass, mirror, ruler and more. I like Meizu’s approach here of bundling these features within a single app, rather than cluttering up the OS with a bunch of individual apps. Huawei is particularly bad at this.

There’s also a Security app which includes an “accelerator” and “anti-virus” along with useful things like a harassment blocker, a permissions manager, and a way to easily free up storage. Like the Toolbox and many of the apps included with Flyme, the Security app is well designed and includes neat animations throughout.

Around the OS there aren’t a whole lot of unique features, as Flyme seems mostly concerned with skinning Android. There’s a “SmartTouch” navigation system that seems largely redundant, decent theming abilities (although not unique to Flyme), a do not disturb mode, and a few other little tweaks like the ability to display network speed on the status bar.