I took one look at the Meizu Pro 7 and I knew I wanted to try it out. You see, unlike other folks at GadgetMatch who look to specs and features as basis for wanting to try a phone, I look at form factor and novelty. A phone with a secondary AMOLED display was obviously right up my alley.
But, what good does a secondary display do? How does it work? Does one actually need a second display and if so, when will one ever need it? I spent a few days with the Pro 7 in an attempt to answer all these questions.
Secondary AMOLED screen
Meizu’s secondary display is a cute little panel on the back of the phone (which I will, from here on, call “cutie screen”). It’s around the size of a big person’s thumb or a lipstick tube — but just right for displaying time and phone notifications with a certain pizzaz.
The screen isn’t always on; you can activate with a double-tap. Initially, the display will show you the time, but a swipe right will give you the temperature in your location and another swipe will display the pedometer. When turned on, phone actions like charging will also randomly show on the cutie screen with different animations.
My favorite function, when it comes to this display, would be its selfie capability. A swipe up will activate the rear camera and the cutie panel turns into a display! Swiping will switch through the three modes available: blur which is the bokeh mode, beauty mode, and original. A tap on the screen triggers the shutter after a countdown of three seconds. Think of all the selfie possibilities!
Unfortunately, the camera view on the cutie screen doesn’t support video — a shame since this was something I was looking forward to using; just think of all the vlog possibilities if this were doable! I also wanted to customize the standby screen animation or wallpaper, but the phone wouldn’t allow me to do that, so I was pretty much stuck with the serious-looking preset clock face and a blank screen on downtime.
As expected, I did enjoy the extra selfie screen — it helped with framing, and selfies were generally easier to take, though you can’t really see much detail on such a teeny screen. Size does matter at the end of the day, at least for selfie screens!
The Pro 7 is equipped with a 16-megapixel front-facing camera plus a dual-cam setup at the back with two 12-megapixel shooters. These numbers are never really indicative of how good a camera is so you know what that means: shootout!
The selfie camera is, of course, equipped with a beauty filter that may be toggled according to your filter preference. Unlike other selfie smartphones, the Meizu Pro 7 only has one beauty mode setting that you’re stuck with — no separate toggles for skin smoothening, face thinning, or complexion. Not that I’m complaining; the filter does its job.
Of course, if that’s not enough for you, the phone also has a built-in beauty edit feature which allows you to make certain changes to your selfies — just make sure not to go overboard!
The rear dual-camera setup allows for monochrome photos and a bokeh mode. By experience, however, the front-facing camera does a better job with the beauty filters, as the rear camera filter is too subtle for my taste.
Here are other sample shots of my fabulous life (ha ha ha!) taken with the Pro 7:
The Meizu Pro 7 boasts a monochrome function owing to the dual-cam setup, though I was not really impressed by it — especially after seeing other brands do it better.
Look and feel
I’m pretty particular about how a phone looks and feels in my hands. The Meizu Pro 7 has a sleek aluminum back and a good weight to it; this makes it feel pretty premium.
Meizu phones run on the Flyme operating system on top of Android, and this particular one runs on Nougat, which means a distinct phone interface. But, the most peculiar thing about the Pro 7 — and Meizu phones in general — is the fact that there is only one home button on the phone’s front that’s used for most commands. This one physical button to rule them all, equipped with a fingerprint reader, is something that may need a little getting used to.
The Pro 7 also has a USB-C port and headphone jack. Of course, the second display screen is a beautiful, unique touch.
Unlike the Pro 7 Plus powered by a MediaTek Helio X30 processor, the Pro 7 is powered by a Helio P25. Now, my non-techie friends, stay with me: All you need to know is that this phone is comparable to most new midrange smartphones in the market today (Examples: OPPO R11, Moto Z2 Play, ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom).
On the other hand, the Meizu Pro 7 Plus’ X30 processor puts it on the same range as most flagship smartphones now (Examples: Xiaomi Mi 6, OnePlus 5, HTC U11 which all run on a Snapdragon 835). Though there are Meizu Pro 7’s equipped with the X30, you’d be hard-pressed to find one, since they’re only available in China.
This shouldn’t be a problem at all because as it stands, the Meizu Pro 7 gives a pretty smooth user experience for my needs — I’m a fairly heavy smartphone user, though my apps aren’t that demanding. On this phone I could have 15 to 20 apps all open in the background without issue, although some of them refresh when I reload the app. Our specific Pro 7 has 4GB of memory and 64GB of storage, for reference.
With a capacity of 3000mAh, the battery on this thing is good, too. It goes from zero to 100 percent in around an hour and thirty minutes, and it lasted me a whole day’s use (8 to 14 hours depending on my needs). Turning the second AMOLED screen off does very little difference to battery time, but as I mentioned earlier, that cute second display only does so much at this point, so I wasn’t really expecting a significant difference.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
The Meizu Pro 7 is a definite show-stopper because of the extra screen. Though I did expect much from the cutie screen, I was a bit let down by its limited capabilities. But, that definitely doesn’t mean I was not impressed by it, nor am I giving up hope that the secondary features will be improved on in the future. *cough*second screen video selfie mode*cough*
Do I need the second cutie screen? My answer: Does it matter? Meizu played this well; there were no sacrifices made for this additional display, and that makes it a welcome feature whether you’d want it or not. And really, at the end of the day, you could always just turn it off.
For what it’s worth, the Pro 7, even without the cutie screen, is a pretty decent phone. As of writing, international pricing has not been released, but if priced the same way as in China at CNY 2,880 (US$ 425), it’s definitely a phone you should consider.