I have received a Meizu M3 Note smartphone from PB Tech for review and it's fair to say it's a very impressive device - for the middle-tier price range and superb service by PB Tech (more on this later) this is an excellent choice for our market.
The Meizu M3 Note I have here is the gunmetal grey version - a stylish design with all metal body and a very nice 5.5" screen sporting 1920x1080 resolution. The screen is pretty clear and easy to read. It's powered by an Helio P10 octa-core processor, with 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage - which can be expanded up to 128 GB with a microSD card.
This device also supports two SIM cards (the primary one works on 3G/4G networks and the second one works on 2G networks). I was also surprised to see support for 5 GHz WiFi on this device at this price but it does not support LTE band 28 - meaning in some areas (mainly rural) it may drop to 3G instead. No big deal here.
What was a nice surprise was to find out a fingerprint scanner - again for a mid-price range this is something new and a good move in terms of security. Also interesting is the front button functionality. It works both as home button (if you push it) and a back button (if you just tap it). The multi-task list is brought up when you swipe from the bottom of the screen. This means in effect there's only one button on the front of the screen and no other controls.
The OS is Meizu FGlyme 5.1 which is based on Android 5.1 and in the version available here comes with built-in support for Google accounts including all its services (yes, this means Google Play Store). Updates can be delivered automatically or via downloads from their site - a simple zip file that you can download to your smartphone and install from the file manager.
Another interesting feature is the ability to root the device without losing your warranty. This is accomplished by creating a Flyme account and linking your device to it. Then through settings you enter your password and have your device rooted straight away, no special access required.
In terms of apps FLyme comes with the basic functionality (Calendar, Email, Calculator, Clock, Gallery, Music Player, Video Player, File Explorer, Security, Google Play Store, Google Maps). It also comes with phone manager app that let's you control almost all aspects of the device, including cleaning junk files, track data usage, block messages ("anti-harassment"), configure different power modes and act as an anti-virus. And that's it. No bloat, no telco apps. This is great as you can make it the way you like.
You can also configure which apps are launched at startup and even lock apps from the settings panel so that you can use your fingerprint to allow access to special apps.
During tests I did find a minor problem with synchronising contacts with an Office 365 account but that was solved by using Google Exchange Services instead of the native Exchange account type. This was referred to PB Tech and I expect this to be solved sometime soon.
Other than this, it feels fast when moving from app to app, the fingerprint scanner responds quickly and all the gestures options are more than you can find in higher priced handsets.
The main camera (13 megapixel, f/2.2 aperture) is good, although not the higher quality all around. You will be happy with photos in good lighting conditions but won't be impressed on low light.
Make sure you have a SIM card handy when setting up the Meizu M3 Note: unlike other Android devices, I couldn't login into my Google account, even after a couple of reboots. I thought "There must be something missing"... So I inserted the SIM card and it allowed me to login to Google services. I guess Google requires a SIM to identify country or similar before you can register the device. I haven't seen this on other devices but those were usually country variants.
Add to this PB Tech's swap warranty service: you can take your device to a PB Tech store and in case of a fault a replacement is issued on the spot.
Overall a worthy smartphone for those in the market in the current price range ($300 - 350 incl GST at the time of this review).