IT’S NOT EVERY DAY that a smartphone crosses our desk running Canonical’s open source Ubuntu operating system.
The Linux-based OS already commands millions of installations across desktops and tablets the world over, and makes a welcome change from the endless run of Android-based devices. Anticipation levels were therefore high and, on first impressions, we believed we were in the presence of a truly desirable smartphone.
The Meizu Pro 5 Ubuntu Edition takes design cues from the iPhone 6S Plus and combines it with the innards of a Samsung Galaxy S6, but this isn’t some sort of iOS/Android hybrid as it runs on pure Ubuntu.
The Meizu Pro 5 is well put together handset. The brushed aluminium curves around the sides give it a pleasing feel, interrupted only by the plastic antenna bands.
The dimensions are 156.7x78x7.5mm, larger than most smartphones released in 2016 so far. It weighs 168g, which is 3g lighter than the iPhone 6S Plus.
The sizeable 5.7in AMOLED display pushes the Meizu Pro 5 into phablet territory. The phone maker has also opted to stick with a Full HD 1920×1080 resolution, QHD which is common at this screen size. Saying that, it still manages a laudable 387ppi and, for the most part, it really delivers in terms of colour and contrast. We also appreciate the slight curve of the 2.5D glass finish, an aesthetic that belies the handset’s £280 price.
Take a tour around the phone’s chassis and you’ll find power and volume controls on the right, a headphone jack along the top, and a dual SIM/microSD slot on the left (expandable to a maximum of 128GB). Speaker holes keep the USB Type-C port company on the bottom.
The Meizu Pro 5 ships with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage as standard, but there’s a beefier 4GB/64GB option.
The handset is supposed to be available in silver, grey and gold with a white bezel, or grey with a black bezel. However, only the 32GB model with gold trim has been put up for sale so far.
This won’t be the last time we draw comparisons with Windows Phone in this review, and on this occasion, we’d like to highlight both platforms’ ability to turn the phone into a desktop computer, much like the Ubuntu-powered BQ Aquaris M10 tablet.
Windows Phone’s solution, Continuum, requires minimal effort and works just as you’d expect (with external display, mouse and a keyboard all accounted for). It should be a similar story with Ubuntu’s Convergence, but the Meizu Pro 5 crucially lacks an HDMI port. There is Bluetooth, but the USB-Type C port doesn’t support video or audio, thus making the feature wholly redundant.
As is now the norm, the Home (Menu) button also functions as a fingerprint scanner, but we were disappointed to learn that the Ubuntu OS can’t use fingerprint security at the time of writing.
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