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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While we wait on news about the US availability and price for the OnePlus 6, it may be worth considering the predecessor, the OnePlus 5T, which is surely due a price drop. There are two variants, each with differing RAM and internal storage amounts. The 64 GB / 6 GB of RAM version goes for $499 at the time of writing, while the 128 GB / 8 GB of RAM version is just $559.
With such an overkill amount of RAM, the phone has fantastic performance, and the Dash Charge keeps it juiced up well. The camera performance is perfectly adequate, and best of all, it's easily available in the US.
The Honor View 10 is a truly impressive device for its price tag. With this device, the Huawei sub-brand managed to make a top of the line smartphone for half the price and it looks gorgeous.
If you're following the brand, you may notice that this is the most expensive Honor device to come to the US, but nevertheless, it boasts many premium features that make it an attractive option. The specifications are impressive: Kirin 970 chipset, 6 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, dual camera, a modern design working towards the bezel-less display, running at least Android 8.0 Oreo or possibly even Android 8.1 Oreo.
The device comes in Navy Blue or Midnight Black and a protective silicone case. Luckily for fans of the headphone jack, it still has one.
Again, Honor sets the bar high. The Honor 7X caters to the needs of connected millennials 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 7X has a 5.93 inch Full-HD LCD display, 2.3GHz octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 659 chip 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.
The dual camera on the Honor 7X body features two 16+2MP sensors. The two sensors allow the bokeh effect to be used. Don't expect to shoot 4K videos. The front camera offers 8MP shots. For under $200, the Honor 7X is a stylish steal in the mid-range.
The Huawei Mate 10 Pro 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 had an awkward journey to the US, especially after major carriers backed out of deals to offer the Chinese flagship after pressure from the federal government. But all is not lost. Huawei will be selling the unlocked Huawei Mate 10 Pro through Best Buy, Amazon, Microsoft, Newegg and B&H for under $650.
Since Best Buy have stopped ordering new Huawei stock, you might want to get one of these beasts while you still can. The Mate 10 Pro comes with a 4,000 mAh battery, an octa-core Hisilicon Kirin 970 processor, Android Oreo and 6 GB of RAM.
While we don't know if Honor plans to release the Honor 10 in the US for now, I'm keeping my fingers crossed, because it's a fantastic device that looks stunning. The way the light reflects off the back is even more mesmerizing than its predecessor, the Honor 9, thanks to the gorgeous color gradient. In addition to the design, the new flagship has great performance specs.
The Honor 10 boasts the same Kirin 970 processor as the Huawei P20 (for a lower price) and 4 GB of RAM, in addition to a 3,400 mAh battery capacity. In our review, that translated to smooth performance and average battery life. The camera is feature-packed and provides great results, although the AI 'improvements' to snapshots might not be to your taste, you can toggle this feature on and off (likewise with the display notch).
If you like the look and feel inspired to buy this phone, you can wait and hope it comes to the US officially or try to import it from Europe, the UK or China, at the equivalent price of about $600.
With the Mi Mix 2S, Xiaomi manage to achieve what other manufacturers apparently find impossible: a bezel-less smartphone without that annoying notch! Yes, it's true. The smartphone pushes the limits of the 18:9 format with a front face is almost entirely covered by an AMOLED screen of 5.99 inches in Full-HD+ resolution (2160 x 1080 pixels).
The bezel-less display is simply beautiful, even with the slightly thicker 'chin'. 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. It's also worth noting that the dual rear camera has been improved, matching the iPhone X in DxOMark rankings. This is a truly amazing looking device.
The Mi Mix 2S is available in several variants. While all carry the latest Snapdragon 845 chipset, RAM is either 6 or 8 GB, and you can get 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of storage inside.
Now, while we know that Xiaomi has ambitions to enter the US market officially by 2019 don't hold your breath for the Mi Mix 2S just yet. It's likely that the Chinese brand will test the waters in the entry-level or mid-range markets before risking setting its flagships against Apple.
Nonetheless, if Xiaomi does decide to be bold, the Mi Mix 2S will be a prime example of the quality it can offer.
The Huawei P20 Pro represents the current pinnacle of the ambitious Chinese manufacturer, and its exclusion from the American market is likely to leave a few US citizens looking over the Atlantic with envy.
The Chinese flagship has a groundbreaking triple camera, great build quality, powerful processor and a gorgeous 6.1-inch display. The 4,000 mAh battery keeps the impressive Kirin 970 processor and 4 GB of RAM going throughout the day. The phone comes with the latest version of Android, Oreo, and an roomy 128 GB memory, although sadly this cannot be expanded with a microSD card.
The P20 Pro is a worthy rival to the latest Samsung Galaxy S9 or iPhone X, with the unique selling point of the triple lens camera. While it's unlikely to become officially available in the US due to political clashes with China, the P20 Pro is a really impressive, beautiful device worthy of your consideration.
OPPO, the more obscure sibling company of OnePlus, isn't just making the low-end devices anymore. The OPPO R15 has a striking design thanks to an aluminum frame with a glass back that feels absolutely great in your hand. Even though OnePlus sells officially in the US, its prices climb ever higher, so maybe it's time to look elsewhere in the family.
The R15 and R15 Pro design (known as Dream Mirror Edition on Chinese soil) differ in the rear frame, which is flat on the standard edition and slightly curved on the sides in the Pro edition. As a result, the aluminum frame is also slightly thinner in the Pro version, which allows for the curve on the rear.
The Super-V display of the OPPO R15 covers an impressive 90% of the front surface and consists of a 6.28-inch OLED panel with FullHD+ resolution (2280 x 1080 pixels) in a 19:9 ratio. All great, if you can stomach the ubiquitous iPhone X style notch.
Both versions feature 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal memory that can be expanded via a MicroSD up to 256GB. The smartphone has dual SIM functionality via a hybrid slot, so you can choose whether to use a second SIM card or use a memory expansion card.
The regular R15 carries a Mediatek chipset, which isn't great. We'd advise to get the Pro (Dream Mirror Edition), which uses a SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 instead. The camera is also a big selling point for the Pro, which is the equivalent to what we will see on the OnePlus 6.
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.
Have you imported a Chinese smartphone? Let us know what you think of it in the comments!