Maze Apha is one of the most interesting smartphones this year. The young manufacturer Maze surprised us last month with the Blade: a smartphone in the Sony Xperia series’ style. Alpha however wants to compete in a category that has been defined by Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 last year: Bezel-less smartphones.

Since Mi Mix is still very expensive, other manufacturers take the opportunity to get in this business, too. Maze Alpha stands a good chance! Instead of 5.5 inches it has a huge 6-inch display and therefore also competes with another flagship: the Xiaomi Mi Max 2!

Maze Alpha is available in the sale for about 160$. You get a Helio P25, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Meanwhile, there is also a 6GB RAM version available for about 20$ more. The huge fullHD display, dual camera and 4,000mAH of battery make the everyday companion to a really hot smartphone/phablet candidate. How the Maze Alpha does in the test you can find out in the following review!

Design and build quality

The Maze Alpha has become a real big phone: a huge device, two huge black glass panels and a considerable weight of 225g. But the phone makes a good impression, a very good one indeed! The Maze Blade has a great build quality and Maze Alpha even more! The smartphone is framed by curved black metal. Front and rear seem to be made out of one piece and even the buttons have been ameliorated. Now they don’t wiggle anymore and fit perfectly in the casing. Also the holes for antennas and the jacks are fine now. The dual cam juts out 1-2mm which causes the Maze Alpha to rock when lying on a flat surface. The home button cannot be pressed physically and functions as a fingerprint scanner at the same time. They chose to go without soft-touch buttons and the notification LED fell victim to the design. The front camera is on the lower right side and disturbs the black front a little.

Design and build quality Design and build quality Design and build quality Design and build quality

All in all Maze did a very good job in terms of build quality. But most important: how does a 6-inch phablet lie in your hand? Since our Maze Alpha has a tri-bezel-less display it is not much bigger than a OnePlus 5 with 5.5-inches. Still you can’t reach the display’s top with one hand. You have to change your grip in order to pull down the notification bar and the quick settings. With its 225g Maze Alpha is not very light, in order to handle it safely and for a longer period of time you need a strong hand. At least the 8.1mm depth do not fall into account since the edges are curved and therefore make a comfortable use possible. The rear made of glass, too, makes it easier to hold than a metal rear. Sadly it also attracts finger marks.

Design and build quality Design and build quality

Onehanded navigation and 6 inches – does this match together? No. Despite the bezel-less design the Maze Alpha is a big heavy-weight. It is possible to quickly answer a message or to  set the volume, for everything more than that I needed both hands. Additionally the screen-to-body ratio is only at 78%. Mi Mix reaches 85%, Samsung Galaxy S8 84% and OnePlus 5 73%. Therefore Maze Alpha is not really bezel-less compared to its competitors. Also there is the literally endless frame on the display’s bottom, as it was before on the Maze Blade.

We have to mention that Maze Alpha feels great in your hand. Build quality and feels are now on a premium level. Those who want a 6-inch display have to deal with a correspondingly big smartphone.

MAZE Alpha scope of delivery

Maze Alpha Scope of Delivery

The scope of delivery includes the Maze Alpha, a quick-charge 3.0 adapter, a USB-C cable, a quick guide and two glass films for the front. We would have liked one for the front and one for the rear better.

Display

Instead of the announced 5.5 inches Maze Alpha got a 6-inch display. Therefore it stands out of its competitors. In this aspect Xiaomi leads the ranking in terms of big displays and powerful hardware: Mi Mix, Max 2 and Note 2 which are however expensive.

Maze Alpha - MultitouchMAZE Alpha Display Test (1)

Instead of the announced 5.5 inches Maze Alpha got a 6-inch display. Therefore it stands out of its competitors. In this aspect Xiaomi leads the ranking in terms of big displays and powerful hardware: Mi Mix, Max 2 and Note 2 which are however expensive.

Our Maze Alpha offers fullHD resolution that leads to a 368ppi resolution.The edges are slightly curved, due to the 2.5D glass. This is a nice combination to the frame’s curved edges. The huge glass panels are protected by Gorilla 4 glass. The IPS display registers 5 points of contact simultaneously and responds very precisely. In practice the display does well, but not outstandingly. The 6 inches are illuminated brightly and in the sun there are no problems using the phone. The sole thing to disturb are fingermarks on the glass. The brightness when set to a minimum is a plus. The colors do not shine as on an AMOLED display, but are displayed neutrally. Those who want to change one or the other thing can do so via MiraVision. Additionally Maze Alpha offers goodies like double-tap to wake, gesture unlock and a one-handed mode. A phablet’s priority however is the displayed content. Its size allows to display a lot of content at the same time, which has not been optimized that well by Alpha. The first thing I did was setting the font size to small. Still I think that there should have been more content in the 6-inch display.

Performance

The combination of a Helio P25 processor, Mali T-880 GPU and a good RAM might establish as the new middle-class! More and more manufacturers count on that combination with success. The Vernee Mars Pro and Elephone P8 as well as the also bezel-less smartphones Bluboo S1 and Doogee Mix did well in the test.

Our Maze Alpha is in this list as well. The hardware is about the same even with “only” 4GB of RAM – which shouldn’t be a deterrent for anyone. The Maze Alpha offers enough performance for the everyday use. The Helio P25 consists of 8 ARM Cortex-A53, a performance and power saving cluster. Four cores clock at 2.4GHz and supply enough performance, the other four cores clock at 1.7GHz. MediaTek has brought out an awesome CPU with the P25: the performance still can’t compete with the Snapdragon top devices, but it offers more than enough performance for all tasks in combination with the Mali T-880 GPU. And it doesn’t need much power thanks to the 16nm manufacturing process and the power saving cluster.

Helio P25 is one of the best chips by MediaTek! In the Maze Alpha it does an excellent job and shines especially with its combination of sufficient resources and efficient operation. Despite the 6-inch display Maze Alpha has a long battery life. While gaming our phablet still did a great job: the hardware was able to run Asphalt 8 in highest graphics settings and this even for longer sessions. While gaming the Maze Alpha only heated up in the upper part, but not disturbingly, with ca. 40°C.

Multitasking is perfectly possible since the 4GB of RAM are more than sufficient. In idle there are still 2.6GB available and it reaches an average speed of 4.5GB/s – a good mediocrity. Even the Maze Alpha version with 6GB of RAM is now available. It then costs 20-30$ more – which will be worth it only for a couple of users. The 4GB are already a good dimension and I never fully used them. The internal storage has 64GB which should really be sufficient for most users. Also there storage expansion of 128GB is possible by microSD card but there is only a hybrid slot. Internal storage reaches 151MB/s reading and 218MB/s writing speed. These are very good values.

So where can we position Maze Alpha? Its performance is convincing. The 6-inch phablet does not beat its competitors but offers excellent performance. Xiaomi did not make its display-champion superior in terms of performance this year, which makes Maze Alpha a worthy competitor.

Android

Just like Maze Blade, the operating system is pure Android style. We liked Nougat very much on the Maze Alpha. There is no bloatware, only an adapted launcher is pre-installed: there is no app drawer, therefore the apps are depicted directly on the home screen. With the Google Now launcher you get back the well-known design. Updates come via OTA on a regular basis. During the test there were two updates and the safety patch by Android is up-to-date.

Maze Alpha - Einstellungen

The Maze Alpha has a good working speed albeit it is not on the top four smartphones’ level. Still there are no lags in everyday use. The additional features are considerable. Apart from knick-knacks there are also useful features like the option to swipe along the upper part of the display with your hand which causes scrolling between the single pictures in the gallery. Gestures with more than one finger are very useful if you get used to them. Making a screenshot with three fingers is already popular. You can also edit the screenshot directly after taking it like cutting or drawing on it.

Most of all I liked the option to hide the on-screen buttons. You can configure the home button/fingerprint scanner in two ways: for short and for long press. For example, this is perfect for shortcuts to music player or you can configure short press as “back” and long press as “home” – this is perfect! Only the multitasking access is missing then. For this I swipe up the on-screen buttons for a moment and down directly afterwards. This way you have even more from your 6-inch display.

Camera

The Maze Alpha follows the recent dual cam trend. So they used one 13MP sensor by Samsung and one by GalaxyCore with 5MP. For the front camera Maze again counts on Sony, the IMX 135 with 5MP and an f/2.8 aperture. Maze Blade produced good pictures with the single camera by Sony.

While taking pictures the Maze Alpha performed great! The images look good on the “small” smartphone display. Even autofocus works quickly and shoots moving motives sharply. Maze’s camera app is designed intuitively and offers all modes needed. Also there is a Pro mode that makes marvellous images especially in low light.Maze Alpha - Kamera Pro Mode

Opening the photos on the computer you will notice the flaws: they appear coarse-grained towards the edges. Colours are depicted very life-like and are not changed to a more vivid tone with high contrast. Landscapes do not turn out that pretty with Maze Alpha. If there is not much sunlight during dawn, there are high ISO values that cause image noise.

Close shots and macros are the camera sensors strength. Details are depicted clearly, the background fades in bokeh style and the images simply look good. Portraits with a blurred background do not turn out that well, however. The person’s shape is not registered and blurred and sharp are depicted in a circular shape. Shooting matching objects/under good conditions the effect turns out well.

All in all the images’ quality is still on a considerable level and they can compete with the other devices in the middle-class. Compared to an older upper-class model like Mi5s the images by Maze Alpha cannot compete.

The front camera is okay for selfies. The images are comparable to those of Maze Blade. Videos are recorded by the rear camera in fullHD and videos turn out quite well.

Connectivity

MAZE Alpha Empfang und Netz

Maze Alpha offers the following frequencies:

2G: GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
3G: WCDMA 900/2100 MHz
4G: FDD-LTE 800/900/1800/2100/2600 MHz (Band 1/3/7/8/20)

Reception is satisfying. The hybrid slot is a niggle, however it is not too bad because you have 64GB of storage. You can insert two nano SIM cards. You get in your Wi-Fi with the most recent standard and Bluetooth 4.1 is available as well. Nothing more. No NFC, no inductive charging. Calling quality is on a good level so that you can confirm the phone’s quality. I couldn’t hear any differences or flaws, everything works perfectly fine and your partner can understand you just as clearly. Talking hands-free works good on a short distance, but if there is a bigger distance between you and the phone the speaker is not sensitive enough and it sounds tinny.

In terms of physical jacks you will find USB-C. The port feels good when plugging it in and the plug fits well. We can mention the audio jack positively as well, since you don’t have to use any adapters. Also our Xiaomi in-ears Type-C is identified by Maze Alpha without any problems. The fingerprint scanner works perfectly, it recognized 9 out of 10 attempts directly – at the last attempt we changed from thumb to index finger. Unfortunately, it sometimes reacts too sensitively and sometimes registers a failure attempt in your pocket.

Maze Alpha - GPS Test

Apart from GPS there are A-GPS, GLONASS and BDS available. Therefore the phone has a good positioning. After a couple of seconds it finds your position and after a moment it identifies it with a 2m precision. The electronic compass even ameliorates this. Hence you can use Maze Alpha perfectly for car navigation: in the holder you still can see the content well on the 6-inch display, the speaker sounds nice, reception is reliable and you will get to your destination with certainty.

Maze Alpha houses the three standard sensors: acceleration, proximity and brightness. Apart from the already mentioned compass there is a gyroscope in order to use VR apps.

 

Battery

Maze Alpha - BatteryMark

Last but not least Maze Alpha can also score in terms of battery life. The 6-inch display is supported by a 4,000mAh battery. This way you will easily make it through the day. On average you can get through 6.5 hours of display-on time. In practice you would need a 60 minute fullHD YouTube video via Wi-Fi to kill 12% of battery with display brightness set on medium. One hour of Asphalt 8 takes 18%. Normal users will therefore have to charge their phone only every two days. In the PC Battery Mark test the smartphone made 8h 29min. A good value, which however still doesn’t reach Xiaomi’s records.

You charge your phone via USB-C. You even get a Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 adapter even though it isn’t even supported. In the test the phone charged evenly: 1% per minute. Until it reaches 80% it takes about 1h 20min. The last 20% will need 60min.

Conclusion and alternative

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Erik Zürrlein:

Maze Alpha is somewhat special in a way that makes it impossible to put it down. It is the combination of great build quality, premium materials, bezel-less design and above all the 6-inch display that cause this fascination! Maze Alpha therefore convinced us. Maze learned from their mistakes with the Blade and corrected flaws like the wiggling keys. The components chosen for Maze Alpha are great: the Helio P25 does a great job and does not consume too much of the battery. The battery’s performance is great as well and gets Maze Alpha a buying recommendation. If you are looking for a phablet or you need more than 5.5 inches, Maze Alpha is just the phone for you for 160$. In the phablet-class there isn’t a big competition: there is Xiaomi’s Max 2 that has an even bigger display and a battery life of 3-4 days. If 5.5 inches are sufficient for you, you have more options to choose from like Vernee Mars Pro or Xiaomi Mi5X.

85%
  • Design and build quality 90 %
  • Display 100 %
  • Performance 80 %
  • Camera 70 %
  • Communication and connectivity 90 %
  • Battery 80 %

Price comparison

201 USD*
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*Prices include shipping and toll. Intermediate changes of prices, ranking, delivery time and costs possible. Prices last updated on 20.11.2018

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