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June 16, 2017

Maze Alpha: Everything you need to know

by John_A

Why it matters to you

True bezel-less screens on smartphones are the future, and a new company is about to make its mark by introducing one that costs a lot less than the competition.

Update: Now you can pre-order the Maze Alpha, we’ve updated our story with all the official details

The Xiaomi Mi Mix is one of the most striking smartphones we’ve seen in the last year or so, breaking from design convention and including technology we expect to see more of in the future. However, it’s not the only one looking to make a splash with an edge-to-edge display on a smartphone. Step forward, industry newcomer Maze, which has announced a phone called the Alpha.

Details about the phone have been teased since March, and now, after a short delay from the originally planned April announcement, the Maze Alpha is available to order. The phone is being sold online through Chinese electronics importer GearBest, but Maze is targeting Europe with the phone, and has included 4G LTE connectivity using the most common bands. Unfortunately, U.S. 4G LTE bands aren’t supported by the Alpha, but 3G signals should be fine.

The standout feature of the Maze Alpha is its borderless screen, which in the final photos is revealed to be a slightly different take on the style to other manufacturers. There is a very small bezel at the top of the device, housing the speaker, but none appear visible down the sides. Unusually, a fingerprint sensor sits beneath the screen, rather than on the back like the Mi Mix and the Essential PH-1.

It’s a hefty phone in every way. The metal framed device weighs 225 grams, and measures 8.1mm thick, while the IPS LCD screen measures 6-inches. It has a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, and a piece of curved 2.5D Gorilla Glass 4 over the top, with the end result being an 83 percent screen-to-body ratio and a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Flip the phone over and you’ll find a dual-lens camera in the top corner, because what self-respecting phone doesn’t have one in 2017? One lens has 13 megapixels and the other 5 megapixels, but we’re not sure how they will operate yet. Maze says the f/2.2 aperture lenses add more detail and color to pictures, which makes us think they will work like the two lenses on the Xiaomi Mi5S Plus, and may not provide telephoto or bokeh effect features. There’s electronic image stabilization, autofocus, and HDR, plus on the front is a 5 megapixel selfie camera with an 84 degree wide-angle lens.

Maze has chosen a MediaTek Helio P25 processor for the Alpha, and paired it with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM, depending on whether you buy the 64GB or 128GB storage version. There’s a MicroSD card slot to give either number a boost. The Helio P25 started arriving in phones at the beginning of 2017. The good news is the Maze Alpha runs Android 7.0 Nougat, and apparently doesn’t deviate far from Google’s OS, which bodes well. Other features include a big 4,000mAh battery, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and USB Type-C with fast charging capability.

How much for all this? It’s a very competitive $180, or about 145 British pounds, a price set for the duration of the pre-sale which runs between now and June 30. This is for the 4GB/64GB model, and the 6GB/128GB version is expected to arrive in August. Maze is a newcomer, but there’s considerable muscle behind the project. It’s part of a larger corporation based in Shenzhen, China, with more than 850 employees, an 80-person-strong research and development team, and partnerships with everyone from Qualcomm and Samsung (which supplies the rear camera technology) to Japan Display and MediaTek.

We like what we see so far, but hope the Alpha ends up being less of a slippery little devil than the Mi Mix.




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