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The best Chinese smartphones you should know about

Update: Now including the Xiaomi Mi 6 and Huawei P10

Chinese smartphones have emerged from a murky past of iPhone clones and shady software to become a new force in the global market. These phones tend to be a lot cheaper than phones sold in the West, even accounting for import costs, but often have equally good build quality and features. There are some great Chinese phones which are officially sold in the US, but there are many more you may not have heard of which aren't, so we've put together a list of the very best of both for you.

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The best Chinese phones officially available in the US

Honor 8

The Honor 8 is a truly impressive device for its price. It's less than $400, but it manages to perform on par with the $700 flagships of the moment. With this device, Huawei managed to make a top of the line smartphone for half the price and it looks gorgeous.

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The Honor 8's design sets it apart. Plus, it has premium touches, like the glass and aluminum body, strong performance and excellent battery life. Add the dual 12 MP camera system with an optical image stabilizer, double pixel technology and rapid focus to the mix and you can see why we think it's an excellent value phone. Best of all, you can get it in the US easily.

Lowest price: Honor 8

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The Honor 8 / © AndroidPIT

Honor 6X

Again, Honor sets the bar high. The Honor 6X caters to the needs of connected millenials looking for an affordable phone without compromising too much with the specs. It offers most high-end features, but the price-performance ratio is what really sets it apart.

The 6X has a 5.5-inch Full-HD LCD display, 16 nm octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 655 processor and a 3,340 mAh battery. These aspects combined mean you're getting a powerful smartphone that can breeze through a day of normal use without breaking a sweat. It runs the latest version of Android and has a satisfactory 12 MP rear camera, too. 

Lowest price: Honor 6X

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The Honor 6X is the best option at this price. © AndroidPIT

OnePlus 3T

Among the 2016 flagships, the OnePlus 3T really impressed us. The Snapdragon 821 processor plus 6 GB of RAM really outdoes a lot of its more well-known competitors. The flagship killer even earned itself the title of fastest on the market for a brief while. It's at the top end of the performance spectrum, and we've got the benchmark results to prove it in our review.

The design is also pretty sleek, especially if you're not sold on the idea of a glass backed phone. You can get the OnePlus 3T online in the US with no problems, as well.

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The OnePlus 3 is the Ferrari F12 of Android. / © AndroidPIT

Huawei Mate 9

The Huawei Mate 9 is a powerful, yet long-lasting device. It's reliable and visually appealing, as well. The huge 5.9-inch full HD display complements the standard Huawei design dominated by metal and glossy cut edges. Its dual-lens camera comes from the experts at Leica.

This phablet wasn't originally launched in the US, but is now available here as of February 2017. You can get the beast from a variety of outlets. It comes with a 4,000 mAh battery, an octa-core Hisilicon Kirin 960 processor, Android Nougat and 4 GB of RAM.

Lowest price: Huawei Mate 9

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The Huawei Mate 9 is not for those with tiny hands. / © AndroidPIT

The best Chinese phones not officially available in the US

Xiaomi Mi 6

The Xiaomi Mi 6 has taken the place of its predecessor on this list as it has just been released in China on April 28. Unfortunately, this device isn't coming to the US officially, but it may be worth looking into importing one. For between $360 and $435 (plus import costs), you get some of the best specs on the market - on par with those of the Samsung Galaxy S8.

It offers curved glass on the back and front, the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and 6 GB of RAM. To keep the 5.15-inch display going all day, it has a more than adequate 3,350 mAh battery. We can't wait to get our hands on this device to try it out.

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Xiaomi Mi 6: premium design and specs, mid-range price. / © Xiaomi

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Xiaomi Mi Mix

Nowadays, Xiaomi even improves the innovation of what they copy. The Xiaomi Mi Mix recycles the idea of a mid-range phone released in 2015, manufactured by Sharp, the Aquos Crystal. This curious device came and went from store shelves without making any sort of splash. Yet, the same idea in the hands of Xiaomi has become innovative and futuristic. The bezel-less display is remarkable, taking up 91.3 % of the device's surface. The corners of the display are also rounded, which further improves the screen edge. Since there isn’t any space above the display, the front camera has been moved to the bottom, similar to the Aquos from Sharp. This is a truly amazing looking device.

This smartphone went on sale in China on November 4. It has two variants: 4 GB RAM and 128 GB of memory, and 6 GB RAM and 256 GB of memory with gold details.

XIaomi Mi Mix hero
Without any border, the Mi Mix’s display covers 91.3 % of the device's front. / © Xiaomi

Huawei P10

The Huawei P10 replaces the P9 on this list. It has a trendy dual camera, great build quality, powerful processor and a gorgeous 5.1-inch display. The 3,200 mAh battery keeps the impressive Kirin 960 processor and 4 GB of RAM going throughout the day. The phone comes with the latest version of Android, Nougat, plus its internal memory can be expanded with a microSD card.

On notable thing about the Huawei P10 is that its design resembles the iPhone, especially the rear of the device. While it isn't going to be made available in the US, the P10 is a really impressive, beautiful device worthy of your consideration.

Lowest price: Huawei P10

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The Huawei P10 / © AndroidPIT


Meizu Pro 6

When you want to import the best Chinese smartphone, features are an important thing to take into account. In principle, Chinese smartphones offer a good value for money, and this is indeed the case with the Meizu Pro 6. The smartphone is impressive on many fronts but it has two weak points to take into account: no 800MHz 4G and a unique UI.

The phone is well-designed, but that's only because it's an iPhone clone. Fans of stock Android might get scared away by the unique FlymeOS, which is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The 5.7-inch display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. Under the hood, there's a Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 32 to 64 GB of internal storage. It also has a 21 MP rear camera and a 5 MP selfie camera.

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The Meizu Pro 6 was definitely inspired by the iPhone's design. © AndroidPIT

Lenovo ZUK Z1 

You may not have heard of the ZUK Z1, but you'll wish you had. Backed by Lenovo, the ZUK Z1 has outstanding battery life, a rock-solid fingerprint scanner, good performance and a very decent camera, all for the low price of $220.

The ZUK Z1 also features a 5.5-inch Full HD display, Snapdragon 801, CyanogenMod OS 12 (based on Lollipop), 64 GB internal storage, 3 GB of RAM, a 4,100 mAh battery and 13 MP Sony sensor. Not bad at all.

Lowest price: ZUK Z1

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lenovo zuk z1 screen

The Zuk Z1 is a great all-rounder. / © AndroidPIT

Lenovo Vibe P1

Lenovo's Vibe P1 has one feature that will absolutely destroy what you thought was possible for a $160 phone: a 4,900 mAh battery. That's not a typo, the Vibe P1 has a battery that's double the size of many other smartphone batteries right now.

But that's not all – the Vibe P1 also delivers super fast-charging technology to get that monster battery charged pronto, as well as a fingerprint scanner, 5.5-inch Full HD display and Android Lollipop. Did we mention this thing only costs $160?

Lowest price: Lenovo Vibe P1

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The Lenovo Vibe P1 has a battery double the size of most smartphones. / © Lenovo

How do I get one of these phones?

Where there's a will, there's a way. In our device reviews, we always provide info on the best price for a device and share links for where you can buy one (just make sure you check the phone's LTE frequencies to ensure they will work with your carrier before you buy).

There are also a bunch of excellent online retailers in China willing to ship a device globally, many of which can be found in our article on how to buy Xiaomi phones in the US

61 comments

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  • I'm surprised that Cubot phones are not mentioned ? They seem quite easily available in the UK. We have been using 3 Cubot phones in our business for over 3 years now and they just seem to work and keep on working . We changed due to frustration using the branded others just seemingly always falling down when you really need them most out on the road.

  • I have a mate 9, following on from my old note 4. Its been very good, love the flat screen, battery time is great, last all day and more. No issues with hd display, on normal day to day use i cannot tell the very slight difference to qhd. Having used one i would definitely consider the next model over a Samsung.

  • Chinese phones can sometimes be good or bad as Ebay is offering loads for sale, they All seem to use Stock Android, its the pricing of these phones that makes consumers give these phones a chance or buy these phones as back up phones, Cubot phones is the one i check up on, as they offer Dual sim cards, Removable Batteries and Micro Sd Card slots, they seem to be very affordable phones and with decent cameras and show improvement every year plus reliable phones, even you tube shows reviews of there phones and would recommend them to anyone

  • I guess you could always argue about the selection being made here, and yes several other phones are also worth mentioning (personally I really like my Vernee Apollo). However, the article focuses only on hardware but a phone consists of software too. Sometimes the chinese phones contain quirky software and special Android adaptations that are far from perfect. In my experience those who offer a stock Android version are the best. Also, stay away from phones that still use Android 5.1 or even 5.0.

  • All those details are very important and when companies today lunch a new device they show all of those qualities to the public; all the possibilities and technology the device is capable of and the chipset. Most of the major players like apple, Samsung and LG (and many others) manufacture their devices in the east Asia; Singapore, China, Korea, etc. this happens mostly because the manufacturing costs in this area are much lower and that with many years of experience the plants and workers there acquired knowledge that allows them to make better, smarter phones. Many of the Chinese phones in the market even surpass the known brands like the famous Apple. The Chinese brands are manufactures in the same plants as the oversea brands’ phones are. The branding issue brings us to an entirely different subject – marketing and publicity. I will publish a separate article about the subject later on.
    Today, thousands of people personally import cheap Chinese mobile phones using the large e-commerce sites available like aliexpress.com, Chinese-phone.com, ebay.com, amazon.com (and those are just the larger ones).
    If I gave you a chance to forget about the brands, and value the phones only by their quality and their component’s quality. How would you feel?
    I believe you would have used the same methods as I do – price vs performance.
    I presented before two Smartphone's to compare. One of them is a known brand’s phone and one is a Chinese company’s phone.

  • Well as per wholeseller of worldwide in mobile phone category i can say there is a phone from oukitel model u20 plus which has dominating price and best features dual camera and all check it out at shoptadka.com

  • I would include the ZTE Axon 7. Excellent build quality; 820 processor with 4Gb of ram and 64Gb of expandable storage; dual, front-facing speakers; non-intrusive software skin; excellent 5.5 inch display; solid battery; decent camera; and $400 price (got mine on sale for $350). Really solid device.

  • I had xiaomi mi 3 , very good stable phone, still can use it at this moment and it will work impressive . I had to give up on it because of 16 gb memory with no sd card ( the biggest minus) , the design , look like a brick , no 4 g ( but 4g developed afther that) and no fast charging , but like i said very.. Very good phone at his price 220 euro new with warranty in my country.
    I have replaced with a meizu pro 5 , and the cpu is not clocked at 2.5 , that is a erorr..cpu is a Octa-core (4x2.1 GHz Cortex-A57 & 4x1.5 GHz Cortex-A53) .
    I saw that in the Chinese top is mentioned meizu pro 6 at place 5 in the top. Well definitely pro 5 is above pro 6 , in almost any way (exynos vs mediatek, DAC vs no, 5.7 vs 5.2 , sd card vs no - very important )so i think pro 5 is neck to neck with
    one + 3, and we don't talk about benchmarks just day to day ussage. Of course one + have new chipset and will perform better in benchmark . And when you put the price 330 euro ( bought at a good discount) with 2 years warranty in my country with 550 ( one + 3 ) i think we know who is 1 st place , off course that is my opinion. I tested the xiaomi mi 3 and the pro 5 in different aps , the diffrence was insesisable , the pro 5 was an upgrade? Well yes , with all the features ..design, 4g, sd card, fast charging, DAC But in the end the price matters. Mi 3 good as his price at that time way above galaxy s 4 at half price, pro 5 same as the Samsung Galaxy note 5 with + and - on both sides at almost half price .
    That is the beauty of Chinese phones , high specs at low price.

  • LeEco Le 3 pro, Vernee Apollo ? Worth buying?

  • You are missing zuk z2 and Zuk z2 pro. Bad article, incomplete

  • Wakfu 7 months ago Link to comment

    I think chinese phones are the best. Look at this! They are amazing, gorgeous, performant,...the best!!!

  • Ashok K. 7 months ago Link to comment

    Huawei mate 8, 360 Q5 plus, ZTE Z11 MAX, Huawei note 8 etc are great new phones having nice features including huge batteries that could be added to the list. Very nice phones though underrated..

  • "ok Google" how many smartphones in the world ?
    2 billion give or take..
    i wonder how many have Chinese components..
    Android without Chinese manufacturing would be like Android without Google..

  • Dragon is going to eat more then 90% of mobile market, where is the rest world?

    • Hi Mukesh, thank you for your comment. Even if a company is from another country most of their components are manufactured in China. I think the rest of the world does need to step up but the applicable countries can only be near China (geographically), at least at the moment due to availability of components.

  • Alex P. 9 months ago Link to comment

    First of all I didn't like the Title Chinese smart phones as they seemed a lot better than the so called High range Products and secondly people know all these phones why are you always repeating the articles in the site I know it's different people posting but all people see is an article so please make sure you don't repeat your articles.

    • HendrikJB 9 months ago Link to comment

      Yes you are correct. However I find most the AmeriCAN reviews very biased which show that they are still just AmeriCANS. Their world is too small to accommodate the views of others and you can see that most socalled "reviewers" are just young kids without proper life experience and thus insight.

  • HendrikJB 9 months ago Link to comment

    It is very obvious from the reviewer that AndroidPIT personnel is biased. May I speculate that it is because they don`t get kick-back from UMI etc?

  • Not sure where the author got his pricing info for the Lenovo Vibe P1. I followed the link and it is not priced under $160 US. It's more than Double that price and it specifically states there is NO WARRANTY. At least that's what it says on Amazon. One thing about these Chinese phone manufacturers that is very revealing and insightful. They proved that companies like Samsung and Apple along with our beloved phone carriers are overcharging us on high quality phones and if anyone just insists on having phones like that, they should get them from one of these chinese phone manufacturers. I do have to admit they are truly awesome looking. And their price points could put a real big damper on sales for Samsung, iPhone, and others. I for one would love to see the mighty Samsung get kicked back a few notches so they might gain a little more humility. I have used nothing but Samsung for my carriers for years but after friends let me see how their Meizu and Xiaomi phones functioned, I feel I've been getting ripped off for buying Samsung's top rated models. The S7 does not impress me at all. As soon as it slips out of my hand, the repair cost might be more than buying one of these phones here. I still think phones with removable backs are better. They are more easily serviced and upgraded. This new trend is gimmicky and costly. Not at all sensible from a financial standpoint and definitely not for the avid user who likes control of their hardware and software. Upgrade options among other useful things are slowly being eliminated from alot of phones and yet the cost of new phones just keeps going up. The amount of additional cost for a manufacturer to give you a high end spec and eloquent external appearance is likely only 10% of the ridiculous additional premium they add to the price to have those things. At least these phones have brought better pricing compared to well known brand name.

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