Meizu C9 review: Bright screen with rich colour, good rear camera make it a good offering
The C9 is powered by a quad-core Unisoc, previously Spreadtrum processor.
Rating: *** 1/2
Specifications: 5.45-inch 18:9 display (1440 x 720 pixels), 1.3Ghz octa-core Spreadtrum SC9832E processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage (expandable), dual SIM slot, 13MP f2.2 rear camera, 8MP f2.2 front camera, 4G with VoLTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, Android 8.1 with face unlock, 3,000mAh battery, 150 grams
Pros: Bright screen with rich colour, good rear camera, above average front camera, removable battery, loud speaker, stock interface with no bloatware
Cons: Interface tends to get sluggish, face unlock setup is cumbersome, face unlock is slow and fails to work half the time, weak low light camera performance
Meizu has been missing in action since mid 2017. However, they just made a comeback with three new smartphones for India. Of the three, the Meizu C9 is their entry-level offering which is available at a special price of Rs 4,999 at the time of writing.
For an entry-level device, the C9 feels well-built even though it has a matte finish plastic body. The back does tend to pick up smudges quite quickly though. The removable back cover and battery is getting rarer now — even on budget phones. Up front is a 5.45-inch IPS display in 18:9 aspect ratio and HD resolution. We liked the display — it has good brightness levels making it easy to read even under direct sun. It shows rich colours plus has great viewing angles. The bezels are quite sizeable, but one can overlook this considering this price.
The C9 is powered by a quad-core Unisoc (previously Spreadtrum) processor coupled with 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. Unisoc says their processor is much better than other entry-level processors. The processor might be capable but performance is limited by 2GB RAM. We noticed that the interface gets sluggish if there are more than 5 apps in the background. The phone has a 3,000mAh battery which lasts from 9 am to 9pm regularly with moderate use. There is no fast charge but again it’s something we don’t expect at this price. One of the things that always impressed on Meizu devices is the camera and the Meizu C9 is no different. It has a 13MP rear camera with f2.2 aperture that takes images with crisp detail and natural colours in daylight as well as indoors. You get various shooting modes including manual, panorama, burst, night shot and scene selection (action, portrait, scenery etc.). Video recording is available in 1080p resolution at 30fps but the phone lacks EIS support which would have been a welcome addition. Front 8MP selfie shooter also takes good images in daylight but when used indoors, selfies are soft and grainy. Both the rear and front camera suffer from visible noise when used in low-light — a common problem with entry-level smartphones. However, overall we found the camera performance to be much better than competing phones at this price point.
The big change on the Meizu C9 is on the software front — instead of their custom Flyme UI, the C9 runs stock Android interface. The icon pack is changed, but the interface is stock with zero preloaded apps. For security, the Meizu C9 comes with face unlock feature but lacks a fingerprint scanner. One of our big complaints is that face unlock is poorly implemented. Setting it up took several tries and once it was setup, it doesn’t work every time _ it is slow and failed to work most of the time.
At the current asking price of Rs 4,999, this is one of the cheapest smartphones with an 18:9 aspect ratio display. You will not find any other device that matches the Meizu C9 at this price point for the features and performance on offer. Once the price goes up to Rs 5,999, then you have a lot of other options to choose from including the Redmi 6A, Asus ZenFone Lite L1 and Honor 7S.