The Meizu M3 Max is an elegant phablet with a massive battery life and a very competent camera. At just $325, it is also excellent value for money.
The Chinese company's M series is known for offering powerful features at a low price. Although the M3 Max falls squarely into the budget category, Meizu has done a lot with the design of the phone.
Overall, it has an iPhone-esque aspect, with flat, unobtrusive design elements. The front of the phone is devoid of branding, and the bezel flanking the 1,080p screen is svelte.
The only accent is an oblong-shaped home button-cum- fingerprint sensor, which is ringed in rose gold.
Flanking the top and bottom of the phone's back cover are two antennae lines, similar to the iPhone 6, which give radio waves a conduit through the otherwise-metal shell. The 13-megapixel rear camera sits top-centre, with a flash and the Meizu logo just below it.
Even though the M3 Max has a relatively large six-inch screen - half an inch bigger than the iPhone 7 Plus - it feels light and manoeuvrable enough to be operated with one hand.
To me, the best part about the M3 Max is its outstanding battery life. The 4,100mAh battery is a beast, and can handle almost two full days of use on a single charge. This also means a very long standby time. I stowed the M3 Max away in my drawer for about a week and, when I finally retrieved it, its battery was still over 90 per cent full.
This is also thanks to the Mediatek MT6755 Helio P10 processor, a battery-efficient chip that can handle most everyday tasks without a hitch. Loading apps, messaging and browsing on the phone were also always smooth.
The phone's rear camera is also a pleasant surprise and is one of the best I have encountered on a sub-$400 phone.
When I snapped a picture of my dog from about a metre away, the image was clear enough for me to pick out individual tufts of fur, while colour reproduction is faithful and well-balanced.
The phone comes with Meizu's Flyme UI, which is based on Android 5.1. I find the overall design of Flyme quite appealing, as it uses minimalist, impressionistic icons.
The default music player is represented by a red circle ringed by black - resembling a vinyl record - while the App Store is a blue square with a white curved handle on it, which hints at a shopping bag.
However, Flyme sometimes takes its stab at modern art a little too far. The browser icon is a blue circle with a needle inside - its take on iOS' Safari icon - but the way it is rendered makes it look like a clock.
It also does not have an app drawer, and comes with quite a number of pre-installed apps, such as TaoBao, Weibo, QQReader and Qunar Travel. The good thing, though, is that uninstalling these apps is just a matter of dragging-and-dropping, and any user who buys an M3 Max will have an easy time cleaning up the home page.
Price: US$236.99 (S$325) from wwww.joybuy.com
Processor: Mediatek MT6755 Helio P10
Display: 6-inch; 1,080 x 1,920 pixels
Camera: 13-megapixel (rear) with phase-detection autofocus and dual-LED (dual tone) flash; 5-megapixel (front)
Operating system: Flyme UI (Android 5.1)
Memory: 64GB of storage and 3GB of RAM
Battery: 4,100mAh non-removable
Value for money: 5/5
Battery life: 5/5
Verdict: A phone with a very good battery and camera and excellent value for money.
This article was first published on October 12, 2016. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.