Meitu V6: The selfie phone you’ve never heard of

By | 17th April 2018
Another Chinese phone Josh saw

Recently I was in Asia taking a look at a few of the phones you’ve seen covered here on Android Authority. Traveling out to a different market affords a unique opportunity to look at what’s hot in those markets — much of which will never make it to Western shores. I found one that not only looks unique, but can add unique looks to pretty much any photo it takes. It’s the selfie powerhouse phone many of you may never get your hands on: the Meitu V6.

This phone is only found in China and Taiwan, with the latter edition sporting Google Play Services.

Let’s start off by sharing the phone’s availability, which is very limited. Only China and Taiwan get this phone officially, though imports were found in Hong Kong and surely can be found in neighboring markets. I spent a day with the Taiwan edition, which is why Google Play Services and the Play Store were available.

Read: Best VPNs for China

At first glance, the phone is nestled in a luxurious case totally made of leather. This orange-like color might not be particularly attractive, but a few other colorways are available and they look pretty stunning. Once out of its case, the phone itself is not at all subtly designed, proudly sporting shiny bits on the back like actual 18K gold rivets on the bottom portion and proud metal lines up top. The back is made of leather reminiscent of the LG G4 from a few years back, and the shape of the phone adds some funky angles to the top and bottom edges.

It is not shy in its design — 18K gold, leather backing, and plenty of bezel are proudly displayed.

The front of the device shows some real departures from what we’ve come to expect in the West. This is far from a bezel-less phone. The dual cameras up top (yes, there are dual cameras on both sides) are accompanied by a front-facing flash and the very edges have grills on them. Normally this would signify a dual front facing speaker setup, but they are only for show, as only one of the grills actually houses a sound unit.

At the bottom of the front panel is a home button flanked by programmable capacitive keys. The concave button not only sports a fingerprint reader but also provides haptic feedback. Obviously, all of this means that the top and bottom bezels are sizable. The 5.5-inch screen also bucks the 18:9 aspect ratio trend, despite the body of the phone being far taller than your usual 16:9 phone thanks to those angular ends. It is a Full HD OLED display, meaning colors look pretty great.

The phone is plenty colorful on the inside, but performance purists might not feel so positive about its processing power. The V6 sports a Mediatek processor which is less than ideal compared to the Snapdragons of the world, but the phone makes up for it with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. In the short time I played with the phone, these specifications did not seem to affect overall performance very much.

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The phone runs on MEIOS, which is powered by Android Nougat, and does not have an app drawer. A quick look through the settings shows a few bells and whistles — face unlock is available, on top of the fingerprint reader, and a themes engine can be used to change the look of the interface.

I can see this software not being everyone’s cup of tea in the West, where Asian software without app drawers (like Huawei’s EMUI) has had trouble gaining widespread acceptance. Much like Xiaomi, however, Meitu’s history dates back to software development, and plenty of extra applications have been installed to add to the experience. One of them, in particular, is the powerful MakeupPlus and it is a big reason why this phone is so popular in the East.

The MakeupPlus app is most of the reason why this phone is so popular in the East.

Before we get to that, let’s talk about those cameras. A dual lens setup of 12MP and a depth-sensing 5MP secondary unit can be found on both the front and the back, in the hopes of providing the same quality pictures no matter what side is being utilized.

Pictures from the rear camera are good, though I didn’t really pixel peep them very much. After all, the main story here is that front camera. The same dual lens setup includes a front-facing flash, which already sets the phone apart from most. Depth sensing is supposed to help with portrait modes, where subject cutouts are fairly consistent.

The camera app is pretty standard fare, with plenty of modes including panoramas and manual controls. Selfie shots can benefit from a built-in beauty mode, but MakeupPlus, which we’ll discuss further in a moment, is where the magic is hidden.

What I wanted to showcase in the official camera app is the Movie Mode. This is not a video recording mode, though it can be applied to footage. Instead, it is a setting that adds black bars to the top and bottom of the frame to give it a more cinematic 21:9 feel. This setting is pretty much available across all modes, which is a nice touch.

Okay, on to MakeupPlus. Beauty modes are a bit of anomaly in most in Western markets — we have dabbled with some of them in more widely available Chinese phones to mixed results. The skin softening is usually a little aggressive (like how it removes all of my freckles), while your eyes end up really large like an anime character and facial slimming can be so over the top it makes you see what you want and hate what you have right now. Put all those together and you can look almost completely different in the self-portrait than you do in real life. Self-confidence notwithstanding, that’s all fun and good and totally available in both the camera app and in MakeupPlus.

Where MaekupPlus takes things a step further is with makeup filters that use face tracking to accurately apply the effects to one’s face. The app is fortunately very user-friendly. You don’t even have to use the built-in camera to take the photo, rather, you can just import existing pictures like, for example, those taken with the Movie Mode applied. The sheer number of available filters, categorized based on parameters I may never understand, was surprising. The accuracy of the camera is also a bit staggering, as are the filters themselves. Putting aside the ridiculousness of having this amount of makeup on my own face, the camera and the app actually did a hell of a job.

This doesn’t even take into account the ability to change one’s hair color, which again showed how accurately the camera tracks faces. No pictures like the one above had issues with the color application applying anywhere it shouldn’t. The takeaway was this: if I didn’t know any better, I would think a person using MakeupPlus actually looked that way in real life.

This level of polish and accuracy is a far cry from many of the other beauty modes we have tested. Even within the last couple of years, the effects are so obviously digitized that it takes away from the final result — the best selfie possible. The best part: this app, along with other apps by Meitu like BeautyPlus, are available in the Play Store so anyone can check them out.

Try the app: MakeupPlus by MEITU in the Play Store

The point of this phone is not so much how it looks but how it makes you look.

Taken on its own, the Meitu V6 is a unique device inside and out, but what is so intriguing about this Asia-only phone is how most fans hone in on just the selfie experience. I heard on multiple occasions while out in China that the photos it takes are what mattered most, not Meitu’s styling or the 18K rivets or any of the typical specifications many of us now just take for granted.

In some regards, Meitu didn’t even set out to keep up with the rest of the pack, like how the phone does not even try to minimize its bezels. Instead, it wears every aspect of its design proudly, like a Vertu phone but without the pretentiousness. (Although, admittedly, it does carry a hefty price tag of almost $800 equivalent.)

The point of this phone is not so much how it looks but how it makes you look. That is important to a lot of users all across the world, but the perspective is naturally different in the East. The V6 highlights soft focus, even softer skin with as few blemishes as possible, and the ability to see makeup and hair color in surprising detail before you actually made any of those changes IRL. I can see why this phone has such a cult following. This unique opportunity to check out the Meitu V6 gave me a glimpse into what people in an entirely different smartphone market actually want.

What do you think of the Meitu V6? Would you like to see this phone (or at least aspects of this phone’s experience) make it into more markets? How important are beauty mode features to you? Let us know in the comments, on social media, and over at the video on our YouTube channel!