It has been one year since our previous review of an Ubuntu Phone, namely examining the, and the time has come for us to take a look at the best handset powered by Canonical’s Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system that you can buy right now, the Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition.
When we reviewed the Meizu MX4 last year in July, we told you that it was the most powerful Ubuntu Phone on the market. Well, that’s not the case anymore because Meizu is always on top of things, releasing new smartphones, with the most recent technologies. Unfortunately, not all of its phones are offered as an Ubuntu Edition, but the existing ones are among the best on the market, and not only among those powered by Ubuntu.
As usual, we’ll be making an analysis both of the device itself and the Ubuntu Touch operating system, even if you’ve probably read by now several reviews of Meizu PRO 5 with Android. First, a few general specs of the phone. It comes with a Samsung Exynos 7420 Octa-Core processor and a MALI T760 GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), a 5.7-inch re-tuned delta cool color AMOLED display with Full HD (1920×1080) resolution and Corning Gorilla Glass 3, 3GB RAM, a 21.16MP rear-facing camera, a 5MP selfie camera, and 32GB internal storage.
The Meizu PRO 5 is not the latest smartphone from Meizu, but that doesn’t mean its build quality is something to overlook. Every time we get our hands on a Meizu phone, we experience the same feel of premium build quality, and the best thing about Meizu PRO 5 is that it’s made of brushed aluminum. In no way does that make it look cheap, but unfortunately, it does make it a little bit heavier than other devices, such as Meizu MX4, which had a plastic back. So if you have small hands, you might have a hard time using the handset due its large, 5.7-inch screen.
Display and hardware
Not much to say here about the hardware. If you’re curious to know what’s under the hood of Meizu PRO 5, you should check out the specs above. However, we would like to mention a few essential things. We said it before, and we’ll say it again: Meizu PRO 5 is currently the best and most powerful Ubuntu Phone money can buy right now. Another noteworthy point is that it’s a dual-SIM device. Last but not least, this is the first and the only Ubuntu Phone to offer a fingerprint reader, even if it’s not yet available at the moment of writing this article (coming in the OTA-12 software update).
As for the display, we already know it’s a full HD one with the standard 1080×1920 pixels resolution, but offering approximately 386 PPI pixel density, which makes it crystal clear and very sharp. Also, contrast, color rendition, and viewing angles are excellent, thanks to the AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with 16M colors. Of course, Meizu PRO 5 also comes with the industry standard Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection for that gorgeous display that you’ll love from the second you power on the smartphone.
As you’ve read at the beginning of the review, Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition comes with a 21.16MP camera on the back and a 5MP one on the front, for selfies, what else?!
While the front-facing 5MP unit takes really cool and sharp selfies with a nice wide-angle view, the rear-facing 21MP camera will help you capture astonishing photos wherever you are, no matter if it’s day or night. Of course, that’s only possible thanks to the 31mm f/2.2 lens with dual-LED (dual tone) flash, phase detection, and laser autofocus. Video recording is also good, but you won’t get 4K support just yet in Ubuntu Touch.
Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition comes with a non-removable Li-Ion 3,050 mAh battery, which is a little less powerful than the one inside the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition. Still, that doesn’t mean it will fail on you when you need it the most because the Meizu PRO 5 features newer technologies, starting with the AMOLED display that’s known to drain less power than the IPS LCD one.
During our two-week test, the phone proved it is able to offer pretty good battery life, but as expected, that will depend on numerous things, such as if you’re using the handset to listen to music for several hours, watch videos, take a lot of photos, browse the Internet, talk and chat with friends. As usual, the battery will last less the first time your use the phone because you’ll have to set up a lot of things and get familiar with the operating system.
The life of the battery will also depend on whether the handset is connected to Wi-Fi most of the time or 3G/4G mobile networks, whether Bluetooth is enabled, whether the brightness is in automatic mode, and so on. So, as with any other smartphone out there, the battery can last half a day with hefty usage, or up to two days if you only use it for a couple of hours on voice calls.
This is the most important part of the review for many of you reading it. It’s worth knowing that Canonical has made huge improvements to its mobile operating system since OTA-5, the version that was made available a year ago, when we reviewed the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition. The current stable version of Ubuntu Touch is OTA-11, so in one year, Canonical offered no less than six OTA (Over the Air) software updates to Ubuntu Phone users, each one with new features, many improvements to existing applications and settings, as well as many bug fixes.
Probably the best thing about Ubuntu Touch is the fact that every new OTA update is available for all the supported devices, old and new. It’s a known fact that other vendors drop support for older devices when they release a new major update of their operating system, but that’s not the case with Ubuntu Touch. Unfortunately, even with the new features introduced during all this time, Ubuntu Touch is not yet considered an alternative to the big players in the smartphone market, Android (also powered by the Linux kernel) and iOS.
However, Ubuntu Touch is usable for many common tasks, the first one being voice calls, of course, and browsing the Web with its tabbed browser. Furthermore, it comes with unique features that aren’t available on the other mobile operating systems, which some of you might find useful after a few days of use. Again, the weakest part of Ubuntu OS remains the app ecosystem, which is very limited at the moment, and some applications that you might think are available actually come as Web Apps, not native ones.
+ Beautiful screen
+ Very good battery performance
+ Efficient back camera
+ Faster than any other Ubuntu Phone
+ Very good build quality