Meizu’s Flyme 5 Update Breaks Google Play Services and Adds Bloatware You Can’t Uninstall (Updated)

Meizu sent out an email informing users of the new update’s availability

This article has been updated with a fix (2016–09–15) — see below.

Meizu released Flyme OS version for international users of some of their devices this week — and on first look, it’s not pretty. It’s out now for the Meizu PRO5, M1 Note, M2, M2 Note, MX4 PRO, and MX5.

I downloaded and installed the official release from the Flyme OS website for my m2 note, since it still wasn’t available via the built-in update app.

While it includes the standard bug fixes and a bit of polish here and there, not only does the update break Google Play services, you also get uninstallable bloatware such as Opera Max and the “Hot Apps” app, as well as Meizu’s own Weather app.

Goodbye, Google Play?

On first boot, Hot Apps gives you a notification that whatever Google Play-related apps and services you may have had previously installed have been removed, and that you can immediately install it using via Hot Apps.

I did as the app recommended, but after the required reboot, nothing actually got installed, and I got the same notification from Hot Apps to do the exact same thing all over again. I tried a few more times, but got the same result: nothing.

Since that didn’t work, I tried installing the Google Services Installer instead, which, in theory, should help you install the other basic Google Play apps such as Maps, the Play Store, and a couple of core apps fundamental to the Google-centric Android experience.

It didn’t work —at least not completely, anyway. I tried a few times, but Maps and the Play Store would always show the “File Corrupted” status, and I couldn’t get anywhere with trying to get them installed.

The Google Services Installer app has an option to try and “Fix” the corrupted files and continue with the installation, but it ultimately went nowhere. When I tried the “Uninstall” option — having in mind to try and reinstall after a fresh reboot — the progress bar would just freeze at 25% (along with the app), stymieing any attempts to get back to and connect with the Google mothership.

So at the moment, there’s no easy way to get that done and get access to Android Apps via the Play Store. Let’s hope this gets fixed sooner rather than later.

Hello, Uninstallable Bloatware

I don’t really mind Meizu’s new weather app, since it’s fairly benign and can easily be tucked away in a folder with the rest of the other Flyme apps that I don’t use. What I don’t appreciate are third-party apps that you didn’t ask for that you can’t uninstall (if you’re OK with that, well, good for you, I guess), like Opera Max.

Opera Max is a data usage and app monitoring tool that seems a bit redundant, since Meizu’s own Security app has similar functions that allow you to set permissions on a per-app basis.

If a user really wanted something like this, he or she can easily just find it— or could easily just find it— on the Google Play Store, and in that case, it could be uninstalled should it be something that the user ultimately wasn’t happy with. Apparently, you’re stuck with this one, since you can’t uninstall it.

Funny thing too — I didn’t even realize it was installed until I got a notification from it. There was no app icon anywhere on my home screen that would have given me any indication that it was a newly homed, unwelcome resident of my phone.

And then we have the Hot Apps app. Since it keeps failing to install Google Play Services, it’ll keep nagging me to do it every day, until it sees I have it on my phone, gleefully ignorant of its own failings to get the job done.

You had one job, Hot Apps.

Was This Really Necessary, Meizu?

I don’t know why Meizu found it necessary to have to remove Google Play services and apps, only to immediately suggest to the user that he or she install these on first boot. Even if it did work without any issues, why was that necessary? How does that benefit the user in any way?

Hopefully, the update works better for other users and doesn’t break anything the way it broke stuff on my phone. In any case, this has soured me a bit on Meizu as a whole.

Update — Fixed

I’ve managed to get the Google Play store back (along with everything else having to do with the Google ecosystem) by doing a factory reset. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap on “About Phone”.
  3. Tap on “Storage”.
  4. Tap on “Factory data reset”
  5. Tap on “Factory reset”, and tap “START RESET”.

Note: this will erase all data on your phone (but not the SD Card), so consider backing up before going through with this.

Once my phone finished the reset and rebooted, I just went through Meizu’s setup process, connected to the Internet, updated a few key apps, and was able to install everything I needed (relevant to Google Play services) without any issues, save for having to reinstall my apps and re-adding my accounts.

Hopefully this works for everyone.