Hands-on in Hong Kong with the Meizu MX.

The first day of the new year saw me in Hong Kong’s Mongkok district — more specifically the Meizu flagship store there, selling its inaugural shipment of the MX Android-powered handset. You can read more in-depth reviews of the MX here and here. What follows is my own impressions of the device, along with the hype surrounding it.

About the hype… because the first MXes in Hong Kong had to be pre-ordered online I don’t think anyone had to camp out beforehand to secure one. But by the time of my midday visit the queue of customers was so long and the store so busy that I wasn’t allowed inside to even look at the device.

I returned to the store for an informal hands-on with a display unit a few days later. The two standout features of the MX seem to be (1) the contextual “soft keys” on either side of the physical home button, and (2) a very aggressive price — the equivalent of about $400 USD for a dual-core Android device. Other good stuff includes:

The only real gotcha is Meizu’s choice to go with a micro-SIM instead of a standard SIM card. I’ve a feeling this was a decision driven expressly by the desire to woo iPhone users.

Now it’s been a few years since a friend in Japan showed me Apple’s Asian character input for touchscreens, but it was apparently quite revolutionary for its time. And not speaking or writing Cantonese myself I can’t tell you how text input on the MX compares; instead, how about I show you and you tell me?

Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to switch the handset I was looking at over to English, but Meizu’s Flyme OS looked a lot like MIUI, another Chinese take on the Android platform. Flyme goes perhaps a step further than MIUI in offering its users an online locker for media and such.

With the Galaxy Nexus priced at more than $700 CAD locally it’s no wonder the Meizu MX is drawing such crowds. It’s fast, well-built and optimized for the local market. Were it not for the micro-SIM I might have brought one back as a souvenir.