The young manufacturer Maze brings out two smartphones. One is the Maze Alpha with bezel-less display, comparable with the Mi Mix, the other is our Maze Blade. Special about Maze Blade is the smartphone’s model: most manufacturers are inspired by the design of iPhone, but Blade actually resembles Sony smartphones. This is a breath of fresh air in the Chinese smartphone business.

The price range of 100-150$ is the most competed one. The Maze Blade costs a little more than 100$, but still you don’t have to make compromises. Back and front are huge glass panels, the almost rectangular frame consists of metal in a copper color – just like its model Sony. Even the power button is round and there is an additional button that serves as trigger for the sony camera sensor.

Maze Blade - Sample1

Below the cover you find the good old technology: The MediaTek 6753 8-core processor is often used in this price range. Also you get 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. With an optimized system you get sufficient performance for everyday use. Whether or not Maze managed to learn something by Sony apart from the design and whether Blade is a reliable everyday companion you will find out in this review.

Design

Sony has kept its design for ages now. Such an angular design can’t be found on any other smartphone manufacturer. Reason enough for daring it, is what Maze thought. Blade looks very similar to the Sony phones! They got everything: angular shape, separate camera button, dark copper-coloured frame, and even the logo looks familiar. Bad thing? No. Most smartphones mirror the iPhone concept, therefore Maze Blade is even kind of unique.Maze Blade - Colors

All in all the design is attractive. Front and rear seem to be one panel of glass. The frame has curved edges that make it grippy. The copper as a colour accent is on the frame as well as on the camera lense. On the top there is the audio jack and on the bottom the port for charging as well as speakers, microphone and an eyelet for a strap or similar things. There are two speaker holes, however, it is only mono. The home button serves as fingerprint scanner and is angular, which matches the design. Above the display, there is the front camera, the earpiece, a brightness sensor and a notification LED. This LED only pulses instead of blinking and offers only the colours red, blue and green.

Sadly the buttons are not Maze Blade’s strong points: the buttons in the frame are wiggling strongly, the home button only slightly. Also the plastic inserts in the frame for reception or the frames for the jacks are too big and jut out of the casing. Also Maze Blade wastes space! For a 5.5-inch smartphone it is just too big! The dimensions of 159x77x8mm are close to the Mi Max 2 (174x88x7.6). Blade’s 180g however are okay. This makes it feel of good quality.

Criticism on a high level? Maybe. But being in competition with the Redmi series you have to fight hard as a manufacturer to stay in the race. Apart from that the Maze Blade is one of the most beautiful Smartphones out there.

The scope of delivery is quite small. Apart from charging adapter and micro-USB cable there is only a SIM ejection tool and a user’s manual in the box.

Maze Blade - Scope Of delivery

Display

Maze Blade - Display

The display has 5.5 inches and a fullHD resolution. In this price range this is popular but not necessary. This results in 401ppi which means you cannot detect single pixels with the bare eye. Even concerning brightness we do have nothing to complain about. This holds true for viewing angles, too. Colors and contents are displayed vividly, but it is still not as good as an AMOLED display. There is nothing to complain about with the Maze Blade display. The touchscreen works precisely, it registers 5 points of contact simultaneously and it even offers additional options like MiraVision for your personal settings or the Live Display that lowers color settings in the dark, kind of a blue light filter to go easy on your eyes.

A phone made of glass panels results in a phone covered with scratches you might think. I carried the Maze Blade in my backpack together with my keys. Still the surface stayed unharmed. Its only weak spot are fingermarks that seem to be caught mainly on the rear. The front is protected by a small frame that sticks out so that there is a chance that the display will not crack when you drop your Maze Blade. If it hits the ground with its rear, however, this will be most likely it.

Performance

8 cores and 1.3GHz sound pretty good for starters. The MediaTek MT6753 houses 8 ARM Cortex A53 cores that clock between 300MHz and 1.3GHz. Also there is a Mali-T720 GPU and 3GB of RAM. Maze Blade scored 38.000 credits in the Antutu Score. Therefore, the performance is made for casual users that use their smartphone mainly for everyday tasks.

For occasional gaming the smartphone suffices. For graphics demanding games like Asphalt 3 you have to set the graphic details to a minimum. The hardware struggles a little with the display’s fullHD resolution. For example the Leagoo M7 only scores 25.000 credits in the Antutu Benchmark, but the hardware has to deal with only half the pixels. Little occasional games are not a problem and even time needed for charging is okay. The RAM is not very fast with only 3.6GB/s and the internal storage is appropriate to the price with 191 reading and 79 MB/s writing speed.

For a smartphone for about 100$ the performance is satisfactory. We expected a smartphone for the average user and this is exactly what we got. Everyday tasks are handled easily by Maze Blade and it can also handle demanding tasks, however only with cuts.

Android

As operating system Maze Blade uses Android 6. Unfortunately, they have not announced an update to 7, yet. At least the installed Android is unchanged and it only has additional settings. The system runs smoothly with the octacore processor and due to the 3GB of RAM multitasking is a piece of cake. Only while scrolling through the Google Playstore there are tiny jerks. You can start the system in 34 seconds and unlock the phone in a maximum of 1 second. Maze Blade offers the Smart Wake feature as well as unlocking it directly via fingerprint scanner.

The fingerprint scanner needs to be set at first, but there is no possibility to choose this in the settings. Only after having added my fingerprint to the system this was possible. Also there is an additional software installed that makes it possible to protect apps from others. When having set this setting you have to identify yourself by masterpassword/individual password/fingerprint. A useful function for people with children around.

Operating Android is easy. The system provides enough performance for most users! Still I had some trouble operating the phone with only one hand. Since Maze wasted space, as mentioned before, the use has become unhandy. I was able to operate every phone well with one hand, no matter if it has 5 or 5.5 inches. With Maze I had some problems. The design isn’t round enough, the bezel on the bottom is enormous. Also the back-key is on the left side. Therefore we see the operation as a clear disadvantage.

Camera

In terms of camera Maze is again close to Sony. My first mobile phone by Sony Ericsson already had a damn awesome camera. But enough of nostalgy; Maze Blade houses an IMX 214 sensor by Sony. It has a 13MP resolution and does a good job. The images are of good quality.

It is the same with most of the current smartphone cameras: in sufficient daylight, or better in sunshine, you get beautiful images. At dawn or in low light much noise occurs – just as with our Maze Blade! During the day the pictures have all details. In bad light you can help yourself with the HDR mode. This is followed by good pictures and new saturation and sharpness.

The camera app is mainly by Android, only the trigger buttons were adapted. Having a separate button as a trigger is somehow nostalgic. However, the risk of making the images blurred by pressing the button rises. It has not two phases but triggers directly – normal cameras focus first when pressing it gently. An advantage of the camera button is caused by the mirroring rear: you can take selfies with the 13MP main camera instead of with the 8MP front camera.

Connectivity

Maze Blade supports the following frequencies:

2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G: WCDMA 900/2100MHz
4G: FDD-LTE 800/900/1800/2100/2600MHz

You can use dual SIM as it is common with China phones. However it only offers a hybrid slot, that means you have to choose between a second SIM card or storage expansion. Considering the 32GB internal storage, this is something you can get over.

However, whoever had the job to build the SIM tray mechanism needs to be fired. I hope this only occurred with our device since there the mechanism seems to be kind of stuck. It works, but for inserting the SIM ejection tool you need bare force.

Maze Blade - GPS

Maze Blade has a good reception, but I also have already had phones that did better (AGM X1). Conversation was perfectly possible. Volume of the upper speaker reaches a good level. However talking hands free was disappointing. As it often occurs in this price range, on the upper volume level especially it becomes unstandable. In terms of music it was still ok, though.

At least Maze Blade connects very fast with GPS satellites. Reception is on average, which is perfectly sufficient for car navigation. For pedestrian navigation, however, the signal was too imprecise. We often were displayed a couple of meters away from our position and we missed a compass.

Apart from the mobile internet, you get in the WLAN network by n-standard. From our 100.000 line I got through 40.000, that’s good. There is nothing to complain about concerning the Bluetooth module. Maze Blade connects with Bluetooth 4.1. Range is just alike to other devices. It houses the three common sensors: acceleration, proximity and brightness sensor.

Battery

Maze Blade - PC Mark Battery

Well, they fit only a 3000mAh battery in the shell. Considering the phone’s size I hoped for a bigger one at the first hands-on. The 5.5-inch display is the most power-consuming part of the phone with its fullHD resolution. So battery life is pretty short. You get through the day with your Maze Blade with 3 to 4 hours of active use. It made it through 5 hours and thirty minutes in the Battery Mark test. Also it offers a good stand-by optimisation that makes the Maze Blade only lose 7% during the night. To make it through two days with only one charge will be difficult for power users. Maze Blade has become a phone that needs to be re-charged every night.

Maze went without a quick charge function – however this function is very rare within this price range. You get to 50% within 65-70 minutes. Until fully charged it takes three hours. The last 15% need almost one hour.

Conclusion and alternative

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