Gadgets for humans

6 things I learned about the Meizu 17 Pro’s design after our steamy week together

Let's all step in the sauna together. I hope you brought your costume.

header image meizu 17 pro

I’ve been a fan of Meizu phones for the past few years. The devices manage to be reliable, well-built, and reasonably priced — a tough combination to go wrong with.

Anyway, the company recently released the Meizu 17 Pro. And I got my hands on one.

Now, rather than just doing a straightforward review, I thought I’d focus more on the design and user experience. Specifically, in a listicle format. You can’t stop me. HERE WE GO!

The ceramic sides of the Meizu 17 Pro are delicious

Not only do the ceramic sides of the Meizu 17 Pro look great, but I’m a sucker for how it feels while I’m using it. There’s just something extra premium about that design, the way it remains cool in your palm is reminiscent of a stone floor. God, I’m fancy.

Also, the ceramic sides and back should make the phone better at withstanding falls.

I’m dig the color scheme

Over the past few years I’ve grown bored with phone makers finding endless ways to describe “blue” (aqua seabreeze), “green” (emerald forestscape), and a myriad of other bog standard standard colors.

What I do like though is when phone makers put some nice colors together — especially when it’s the white and rose gold combination on the Meizu 17 Pro.

meizu 17 pro white and gold
God, I want to kiss it.

The hole-punch selfie camera is fantastically tiny

It’s a really great bit of engineering to get it so small. The hole-punch disappears into the screen in a way that makes it just look like another icon in the notification bar. Top marks.

meizu 17 pro hole punch selfie camera
SPOT THE SELIFE CAMERA?!?

I also like the aesthetic of its camera array

The centralized camera spread has some retro-futurist style and, while I don’t think it’d work for every phone (I’d mock Apple if they released this), it works with the Meizu 17 Pro.

meizu 17 pro camera array
It’s like a 1950s robot that wants to do me harm

But… I don’t adore the pictures the Meizu 17 Pro takes

While the camera hardware is impressive on paper (a 64MP main, an 8MP telephoto, a 32MP ultrawide, and a time-of-flight sensor), it seems that the software behind it isn’t up to the same level as many other premium-labelled phones, like the Huawei P40.

This isn’t to say the camera is bad, just that if taking pictures is important to you, there are better phones you can get for the $700 entry price. You know, like the Google Pixel 4.

Anyway, here are two examples:

Not a bad shot, but the colors don’t really pop and the close detail isn’t particularly clear.
17 pro photo example 2
I actually like the effect the Meizu 17 Pro created with this, as it has a vintage camera feel. But, technically, the contrast isn’t fantastic, with it getting quite muddy in the darker sections of the photograph.

The software design and user experience isn’t up to standard

So, the Meizu 17 Pro uses Android 10 with the company’s own Flyme 8.1 over the top. And I really don’t like it.

There’s no app tray, I’ve spent the past few days trying to update the phone with no success, there’s a whole load of bloatware and random apps installed, and a lot of the English translations are clumsy.

Basically, it’s just not considered.

For example, despite setting the language to English, my notifications constantly look like this:

flyme 8.1 notifications
Most of this is from the pre-installed bloatware, so is fixable, but it’s still annoying.

And the default theme makes it tricky to actually read what’s going on with the Home Screen without some serious squinting:

flyme 8.1 home screen
Again, it’s easy to change the background, but this sort of thing simply shouldn’t happen with a default skin.

Does it work? Yes, of course. But it doesn’t give the slick or minimal user experience I really want from “Pro” phones these days.

Conclude what you learned about the Meziu 17 Pro’s design

Hardware-wise, I think the Meizu 17 Pro shows elements of great design and is a pleasure to hold and use. It leaves a lot to be desired on the software front though. I could forgive this in a budget model, but for a $700 “Pro” phone? Nah, not for me.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with a self portrait of phone that I liked:

Meizu 17 Pro phone self portrait

Did you know we have a newsletter all about consumer tech? It’s called Plugged In – and you can subscribe to it right here.

Published July 30, 2020 — 13:28 UTC