In 2017, a new smartphone manufacturer was born: the company Maze. Very little is known about the manufacturer so far. Maze have their own design when it comes to smartphones. It is much nicer if not all Chinese smartphones look like a Galaxy S8 or an IPhone. The manufacturer’s first model, Maze Blade, convinced with good build quality and a low price; its design resembled a Sony phone, but it only offered basic hardware. Maze Alpha surprised us: the hardware is a lot faster and the design is similar to Xiaomi Mi Mix’s style. The smartphone is popular, but it is also quite heavy and a bit unwieldly. Therefore, the phablet was renewed and got a facelift to a 18:9 dimension. Whether the plan worked out or not you’ll find out in the following review.
Design, build quality and scope of delivery
The first thing you notice, once the Maze Alpha X is unboxed, is the rather heavy weight. With 209g, it is 16g lighter than Maze Alpha, as the width was reduced. The dimensions are 74.6×156.4×8.1mm. Therefore, it is as thick as its 16:9 counterpart, but the width was reduced by 7.9mm, so you can hold the phone better in the hand. However, a one-handed operation is impossible with a 6-inch display. The front has again a lower frame, but with 1.35cm it is not as “edgeless” as it was the case with Maze Alpha (2cm). The smartphone is available in black, blue and silver.
The smartphone has perfect build quality. As it also was the case with Maze Alpha, you just won’t let go of the smartphone. You rarely have a smartphone that seems as if it was made out of one piece. The slightly rounded off, lusterless frame leaves a fine impression, just as the smartphone’s glass-coated rear, which is made of polycarbonate. There are no gaps and you actually think you’re holding a premium model in your hands. Power button and volume control are firmly attached to the casing and can be operated well. The home button is identical to the previous model and it also serves as fingerprint scanner. However, it cannot be pressed, which requires getting used to. There are no soft touch buttons; the smartphone has on-screen buttons instead. If you want to have more space on the screen, you can also hide the 3 common Android buttons, which appear when swiping up.
Fortunately, this time Maze managed to include a notification LED at the upper left side of the display despite the bezel-less design. When the smartphone is being charged, it shines red; as soon as the battery has regained 100%, it shines green. The LED shines blue at any notification. All of the sensors are located above the display as well. Because of the design, the front camera had to be put at the bottom of the front side again. In order to take a selfie you have to turn the smartphone upside down.
Power button and volume control are located on the right and can be reached well. The SIM tray can be found on the opposite, left side. It’s nice that Maze Alpha X offers an audio jack above the metal frame. The casing is interrupted by 2 gaps for the antennas, which you however barely notice. The USB Type-C port is located at the middle of the bottom. At the left and right side of the port you find the loudspeaker and the microphone. The main camera is located on the rear and juts out about 1mm of the casing. Next to it, there is the LED flash. The rear is designed in a minimalist way, which fits perfectly into the overall concept of Maze Alpha X.
The scope of delivery of Maze Alpha X contains:
- USB Type-C cable
- Adapter for the cable
- Screen protector
- Operating instructions
- SIM ejection tool
In case you’re missing some additional accessories, we have to disappoint you. Looking at the scope of delivery of Maze Alpha X, we noticed that we’ve been slightly spoiled by other Chinese smartphone manufacturers. In contrast to the latest trend, Maze did not include a protective cover (bumper), unfortunately. It would have been nice for this device especially, but we do not count the missing protective cover as a negative point. If Apple included a cover (“iBumper” or “iCase” ☺) for every device, the smartphone would cost 200$ more. Smartphones, whose rear is partly made of glass, have the problem that they are more likely to break and it increases the weight as well. Furthermore, the smartphone is sometimes so slippery that it moves as if by magic when you put it on a couch with uneven seat squab for example. Therefore, I recommend buying a protective cover.
Maze Alpha X’s build quality is outstanding; it’s the same quality as with Maze Alpha. Thanks to the 18:9 display, it feels better now while holding it in the hand. Some users are surprised that the smartphone has a 6-inch display. “It will never fit into my trouser pocket!” – but that’s not true: thanks to the tri-bezel-less display, the phone is barely bigger than a OnePlus 5. However, you still need both hands to operate it well. The relatively heavy weight of 209g may bother some users instead. On the bright side, it is still lighter than the Oukitel Mix 2 (240g). Of course, the rear is susceptible to fingerprints because it is partly made of glass.
Alpha X has a 6.0-inch Full-HD display with a 1080×2160 resolution by LG. This results in 403PPI. The bezels (tri bezel-less) are very slim with less than 2.5mm. According to the manufacturer, the screen-to-body ratio is 89.6%. The rendered product pictures do really represent the distance between edge of the display and LCD. Sometimes customers are fooled, as displays of some Chinese smartphones seem to be bezel-less on the images, but in reality the bezels are bigger than expected. Maze does not cheat here.
The sides are slightly rounded off because of the use of 2.5D glass on the front and rear side. Therefore, the display perfectly matches the rounded-off metal frame. Gorilla Glass 5 protects the display. The rear uses Gorilla Glass 4 instead. The touch screen registers up to 10 points of contact simultaneously. If you activate the function “three-point-screenshot” (a screenshot is taken if you touch the display with 3 fingers) in the system settings, only 3 points of contact are registered at the same time. However, this is more the Android system’s fault than the smartphone’s.
All inputs are registered fast. The display diagonal is perfectly illuminated. The display reflects in bright sunlight, but thanks to the high brightness, all contents on Alpha X’s display are still well readable. It has nice viewing angles; there are no changes of color and contents are readable from any angle. Thanks to MediaTek’s MiraVision tool, you can customize contrast, brightness and color value.
Long story short: Maze Alpha X’s display is big, bright and almost bezel-less.
The hardware is Mediatek middle class. Maze Alpha offers an octacore Helio P25 processor, which is currently the second fastest processor by Mediatek. Only the Helio X is faster. 4 of the 8 ARM-Cortex-A53 cores clock at maximum 2.5GHz, the other 4 clock at 1.6GHz. The SoC is supported by a Mali-T880 and awesome 6GB of RAM. Compared to the “normal” Alpha, Maze added 2GB of RAM extra for Alpha X. Of course, the performance is not as good as that of a top Snapdragon processor by Qualcomm, but the combination of CPU, GPU and RAM offers a sufficiently fast system. The SoC does a reliable and fast job. It even managed demanding games such as Modern Combat 5 or Asphalt 8. The Alpha X does not slow down when using any of the games, even with maximum graphics settings. Heat development is okay.
The big internal storage (64GB or 128GB, depending on the version) should be enough for stashing all of your apps, data and music on your phone. If it isn’t enough, don’t worry! You can expand the storage via a SD-card by maximum 256GB. Because of the hybrid slot, you then have to go without one of the Nano-SIM slots. The internal storage has a good reading/writing speed of 115/196MB/s. The RAM has a speed of 4.6GB/s, which is on average and comparable to Maze Alpha.
Just like Maze Alpha, also Alpha X uses the same processor, and rightly so! The hardware is surely not high-class, but it offers (just like Maze Alpha) enough power for any application. Multitasking is not a problem for Alpha X. Those who like playing games a lot will not be disappointed either. In the Antutu benchmark, the device scored 64,000 points. In the Geekbench it scored 3,814 points in the multi-core and 815 in the single-core. Although other manufacturers use the same SoC, it seems like Alpha X is running a bit faster. The performance is a bit smoother than with other smartphone which have the same hardware. Basic tasks like surfing, WhatsApp, Facebook and watching videos are processed perfectly. Other Chinese manufacturers should definitely see Maze as a serious competitor.Antutu Result Geekbench Multi Result Geekbench Single Result 3D Mark Result
Maze Alpha uses a clean Android 7.0. All standard Google apps are preinstalled and there is no bloat- or malware. The device gets updates via OTA. Our testing device currently has the security patch from November 2017. The system is clean and all inputs are carried out immediately. Nothing slows down. Stock Android lovers will be very happy with this device.
As it was the case with “Alpha”, users are provided with several additional features as well. For instance, it is possible to go to the next picture in the gallery via swiping over the upper part of the display. You can also directly edit a screenshot after it was taken and mute a call via turning the phone over. Via tipping twice on the home button (on-screen button), the smartphone is set in stand-by. If you tip twice on the home button when you’re in a menu or in the browser, you return to the previous menu or website. It is also possible to hide the on-screen buttons. Therefore, you can use the whole 6-inch display for reading contents. Of course, the “one-hand-mode” is a must-have when you consider the size. Awesome! Unfortunately, you cannot customize the home button, as it was the case with Maze Alpha. We also miss the “Double-tap-to-wake function”, which was available in the previous model.
Thanks to the combination of a clean Android Nougat and the fast hardware, operating the phone is great fun. There are no annoying additional apps, but you have a system that pleases every user instead. It would be great if Maze made the update for version 7.1.1 available. During our test, Maze did provide an update that brought some changes.
The device (6GB/64GB) takes photos with 13MP at maximum. It features an IMX258 sensor by Sony. The front camera also uses a Sony sensor (IMX219) with 8MP. Videos are recorded with full-HD quality at maximum. According to the manufacturer, the other version with more storage (128GB) offers a 16MP main camera by Omnivision (OV16880) instead.
It is nice that Maze does not go with the PR trend to feign to offer a dual-camera. Well, maybe there wasn’t enough space (for a dummy) anyway due to the design, but it’s great that we don’t have to test the faked bokeh effect. Maze concentrates on the essential things.
The photos taken by the main camera look nice on the smartphone. On a bigger screen, however, you notice that objects in the distance are blurred. If you’re holding the phone still and give the sensor enough light, image quality is quite good. Thanks to the “pro-mode” you can manually adjust the ISO value between 100 and 1600. Colors are represented naturally and do not seem “artificial”. The autofocus works precisely and fast. Close-ups turn out very nicely.
Overall, image quality is on a good level and can keep up with other middle class devices. However, comparing the Alpha X to devices like Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus, Honor 9 or Oneplus 3T, it clearly loses the battle.
Until now, I rarely had to say something negative, as there was no reason to nag. However, there is one thing that really annoys me with Maze Alpha X: the position of the front camera! If you want to take selfies, you have to keep in mind 4 things simultaneously:
- First, you have to turn the phone over in order to get a good angle for your face. Every time you go back to the front camera you receive a note that reminds you to turn your phone. You have to close that note every single time. Well thanks, but any chimpanzee would have understood it after the third time. 🙂
- The heavy weight in combination with the smooth as glass surface make it quite difficult to hold the smartphone while taking a selfie.
- If you want to take a picture in landscape format, it is highly likely that you instantly turn off the phone, as you press the power button by mistake.
- All that it left to do is to try to press the release button. Phew.
Those who would like to take a spontaneous selfie have to deal with people’s skeptical looks, while trying to take a nice picture and paying attention to all points mentioned above. However, you can take good pictures with enough light and some patience.
Connectivity and communication
If you’re not using a micro-SD card for storage expansion, you can use 2 Nano-SIMs at the same time (hybrid-slot). The device supports all networks. Reception is very good. I’ve never had any problems with the reception during the testing period. The Wi-Fi module supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks as well as the standards a/b/g/n.
The smartphone offers Bluetooth 4.1, but you have to go without NFC and inductive charging. Fortunately, Maze used an up-to-date USB Type-C connection. The port is firmly attached to the casing. A headphone jack is available as well.
The fingerprint scanner works perfectly. The device recognized all 10 attempts and unlocked the phone right away. If you use your thumb for unlocking, be careful to position it exactly as you did when setting it up, otherwise you will have some problems. P.S.: although the system suggests otherwise, the fingerprint is integrated in the physical home button.
Besides the American GPS and A-GPS, Russian Glonass and Chinese BeiDou are also used to determine the position. In daily use, it works really well. After activating the position, it is determined in about 2 seconds. After another few seconds you get the position up to 2m precise. You can use Maze Alpha X perfectly as a navigation system in the car. Only when using the pedestrian navigation the direction of the arrow does not always match the actual direction of sight. However, you will always get to your destination.
The smartphone provides all common sensors like brightness, acceleration and proximity sensors. In addition, Maze offers a compass, a gyroscope and an echo sensor. All sensors do a reliable job.
Voice quality during normal telephoning as well as when using the speakerphone is good. The volume, however, could be a bit higher. If you’re in a big city for instance, it might happen that you do not understand the caller well. The speaker has a sufficient volume. When listening to music, the sound is a bit tinny, but that is normal for the price range. However, the speaker is sufficient for calling, watching videos or playing games.
Maze Alpha X houses a 3900mAh battery. In the Battery Life Test, it is not possible to reach high DOT values (display-on time) with this capacity. Alpha X lasted for almost 7 hours with activated Wi-Fi and mobile communications. Maze Alpha lasted 1 ½ hours longer with a 4000mAh battery, but it was used with no SIM card and deactivated Wi-Fi. You’ll have no problems to get through the day with the smartphone. If you’re not a power user, you can also get 2 days of run time. A 1-hour-YouTube video consumes 15% of the battery with medium brightness settings. The phone is charged with 5V/2A via USB-C. It is fully charged in 2 hours and 20 minutes.Battery lifetime Result Unit: hours