Meizu's Flyme OS is simplified done right

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| January 7, 2014

I have a secret "thing" for minimalism. I don't know exactly what it is about being plain as day, but when it comes to technology I feel like a minimalist design can go a long way in terms of design and functioning well... as long as it's done right. In some of my articles I've been pretty blunt how I feel about a certain operating system heading in a more flat and minimalistic direction and feeling like they really overshot their target. I'm not naming any names here, but when it comes to iOS things could have looked a little better and a little less gradient. 

There seems to be a real push throughout the industry to create minimalist ideals in our operating systems. It's easy to see when you compare earlier versions of iOS and Android to what they look like now:

In my opinion, Android really needed the facelift from versions like Cupcake or Donut, where iOS has always looked appealing through each major iOS update. It rarely ever changed design up until iOS 7. While I do think that iOS needed the change in order to keep people interested, I have to admit that the design changes they did make actually made me lose interest in iOS. In my opinion, their attempt at a more "flat" design was only flat in the sense that it fell flat. There's too much going on, and the colors are somewhat inappropriately strewn about the UI. It's a minimalism that I'm not fond of looking at.

The Consumer Electronics Showcase, or CES, is taking place right now in Las Vegas. During this showcase, many smartphone manufacturers use the showcase to demonstrate their products and show off to the public what they plan to unveil this year. One of the companies that I've been interested in for the past month or so has been Chinese manufacturer Meizu, who plans to enter the U.S. market for the very first time during Q3 of this year. Intrigued by the company that I never had a reason to be interested in before hearing of their plans, I decided to do some further research into what we could expect to see from them. Would they be high-end devices, low-end devices, maybe a little of both? How do other countries perceive this company? Above all, what new features would they be bringing to the table - what will make customers want to choose this little-known company over names like Samsung, HTC or any of the other brands that are already making strides here?

There are a few things that struck me as interesting about the phones that I saw from Meizu. The first phone that I saw, and coincidentally one of the devices that will debut here in the U.S., is their popular MX3 device. This device, from a first glance, looks clean to say the least. There's a single capacitive button on the front along with a front-facing camera, the device has extremely narrow bezels, it's thin and it has an extremely crisp screen. To be quite honest, it has one of the most simplistic and beautiful designs I have ever seen on a smartphone - and fortunately the good things I've seen from this device doesn't stop there.

Meizu's OS, which is called Flyme, is a customized version of Android. The MX3 ships with Flyme 3.0, which runs on Android 4.2. Although Flyme is currently running on an outdated version of Android, I have to admit that Flyme's design is what really drew me in to Meizu. Flyme is a truly simplistic version of Android that both looks good and seems to function in an iOS/Android hybrid sort of way. Flyme is just one of those skins that looks good right out of the box, and I think this will be really appealing to people who have had interest in Android but weren't sure whether they wanted to take the plunge or not. Not only is the look of the UI simplistic, but so are the gestures and toggles throughout the device judging from review videos. Compared to some other Androids on the market, Meizu looks like it would be a lot easier to operate while still holding on to good specs and, more importantly, speedy performance.

I'm really excited about Meizu. What they have to offer with the MX3 seems to fit in with what consumers in the U.S. want to see right now. Minimalism, high amounts of memory, small bezels, big screens and thin devices. Check, check, check, check and check. Aside from "Flyme" sounding like something you cough up when you have a bad chest cold, they seem like a winner to me - now we just have to wait and see how things go for them in Q3, and what their newer flagships going forward will look like compared to emerging competition.

Readers, what are your thoughts on Meizu entering the market? Do you have any interest in a Meizu device? Do you think Flyme OS will be able to compare to other popular Android skins like HTC's Sense or Samsung's TouchWiz? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Image via Engadget