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CES 2014: Hands-on preview with the Meizu MX3

Meizu is coming to the US. This we know – and hopefully the company will find its way to the UK, as well. The high-end Chinese phone maker has an intense cult following in its home country, where founder Jack Wong has made a career of poking at Apple and Samsung, saying that his products have superior design and features.

The MX3 has been on sale since September in China, so it isn't exactly new, but this exact model won't come to the US, a company rep said, although a better version of it might. The sticking point is that the MX3 is 3G-only, while US carriers require 4G LTE. The company is promising announcements at CES here and at Mobile World Congress in February, which I'm guessing will be a one-two staging of pre-announcing a non-existent US phone, and then announcing the actual LTE model for the US and hopefully UK at MWC. We'll see soon enough.

The MX3 is something to envy, considering it starts at $410 (£250) for the 16GB model, $140 (£85) less than an iPhone 5C. It feels very tightly built, made of smooth, high-quality plastic with a gently curved back. There are no physical buttons, and only one virtual button at the bottom; you swipe up from this to wake the phone up into FlyMe, Meizu's very highly stylised Android skin.

The 5.1in 1080p display is bright and sharp. I didn't do anything too extensive with the phone, but screens flipped by pretty swiftly on the 8-core Samsung Exynos 5410 processor. Check out the video above to see the handset in action.

Meizu designs great looking and decently priced phones, but so much of the brand's success in China is about Jack Wong's charisma and mystique. Huawei and ZTE have both tried to become high-end brands in the US and UK, but they’ve faltered; they're still kicking around the lower end of carrier line-ups. Xiaomi, Meizu's nemesis, may be coming to the western world next year with even cheaper high-end smartphones. Can Meizu deliver not only the product quality but the marketing savvy to crack the US and UK? We'll be getting more updates on this over the next few weeks, to be sure.