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12 Best Chinese Smartphones to Buy in 2014

by Frank Tu 13

If you have been following the Chinese smartphone market, you would know that things have changed a lot in the past few years. Earlier, Chinese phones were considered to be cheap, low quality products, but now manufacturers like Xiaomi and OPO have proved that even these phones are no less than the phones launched by international manufacturers like Samsung and Sony.

Today, we have plenty of options to choose from, all well built, feature packed and affordable at the same time. And with so many options for the consumers, we decided to take a look at the best Chinese smartphones that you can buy at the moment.

Believe me, you have so many good options, that you’ll have a hard time narrowing down the list to one.

So, without wasting any more of your precious time, we take a look a the best Chinese smartphones to buy in 2014.

NOTE: ( In case you are wondering, the list has no particular order)

MEIZU MX4 PRO

Meizu MX4 Pro

The Meizu MX4 which was released a few weeks back, clearly wasn’t enough for many users out there which meant the company had something better in store for them, the new MX4 Pro.

MX4 Pro comes with a 5.5 inch Sharp 2K display, thereby joining the premium class of smartphones that features resolutions above 2560×1536 pixels. This means the display will be extremely good, and we don’t think you’ll have anything to complain about in this category.

Meizu has incorporated a Samsung Exynos 5430 Octa Core CPU inside its new flagship along with Mali-T628 MP6 GPU and 3GB RAM. So, there’s no doubt that the MX4 Pro will be one of the best smartphones available to buy today.

There are three storage variants to choose from, namely 16GB / 32GB / 64GB. While the smallest storage version will save you a few hundred dollars, note that the device does not come with a MicroSD card slot, so if you like storing a lot of movies, apps and high res pictures on your device, make sure you get atleast the 32GB version.

Even the camera on the MX4 Pro is top of the class. It features a 20.7MP Sony IMX220, f/2.2 camera on the back , which should definitely give you one of the best images captured by an Android device. According to the company, their camera team worked closely with professional photographers to calibrate the rear camera on the device, so color reproduction too should be good.

Finally, coming to the software, you get the new Flyme 4.1 on top of Android 4.4.4 Kikat.

To sum up, Meizu MX4 Pro is truly a Pro version of the MX4 and is currently one of the best Android smartphones that you can get in the market. The device starts at $410 for 16GB, $440 for the 32GB and $510 for the 64GB. However, its still not available to purchase and we’ll update the article shortly once the retailers start accepting pre-orders which should be soon.

Check out our initial impression on the MX4 Pro here.

SUMMARY
Display 5.5 inch 2K
Processor Samsung Exynos 5430 OctaCore + Mali-T628 MP6 GPU
Memory 3GB RAM + 16/32/64GB Internal storage
Cameras REAR: 20.7MP Sony IMX220 f/2.2 with 4K Video SupportFRONT: 5MP OV5693 f/2.2
Battery 3,350 mAh (non-removable)
Size and Weight 150.1 x 77 x 9 mm, 158 grams
OS Android 4.4.4 + FLYME 4.1
Price $410 – 16GB, $440 – 32GB, $510 – 64GB
Free Gift None

Xiaomi Mi4

xiaomi-mi4-e

One of the most popular smartphones of 2014, Xiaomi Mi4 managed to exceed all expectations when it launched back in July this year.

The device comes with a beautiful design which some claim is inspired from Apple’s iPhone lineup. You get a 5 inch Full HD screen up front, with a solid metal frame and a glossy back cover.

Inside, you get Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Soc with a 2.5GHz Quad Core Krait-400 processor. There’s 3GB RAM onboard along with Adreno 330 GPU which makes sure that the device is capable of heavy multi-tasking.

Mi4 runs on Xiaomi’s MIUI on top of Android 4.4 Kitkat. MIUI is considered as one of the best interfaces on Android currently in the market and has extensive support. The UI makes the most out of the Android platform and hence, MIUI would be a great replacement for your traditional stock Android look. You also get a 3080 mAh Li-ion battery on board which can be charged up to 60% within 30 minutes using Quick Charge 2.0

Finally, coming to the price, Xiaomi is known for its affordable and value for money devices, hence, its no surprise that the Xiaomi Mi4 retails for $399. Oppomart has currently listed the device with a $50 discount, so you can head over to the website to buy the device for just $349.

Check out our comparison of Mi4 with OnePlus One here.

SUMMARY
Display 5 inch IPS 1080p HD (441 PPI)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Soc 2.5 Ghz Quad Core + Adreno 330 GPU
Memory 3GB RAM + 16/64GB Internal storage
Cameras REAR: 13MP 1/3″ sensor with 2K Video SupportFRONT: 8MP with 1080p Video Support
Battery 3,080 mAh (non-removable)
Size and Weight 139.2 x 68.5 x8.9 mm, 149 grams
OS Android 4.4.4 + MIUI 5.0
Price $349 – 16GB, $449 – 64GB
Free Gift None

OnePlus One

oneplus one

Another Chinese smartphone which took the world by storm is the ‘One’ from the company called OnePlus. You may have never heard of their name before ‘One’ became popular, but that doesn’t matter as its flagship is currently regarded as one of the best smartphones of 2014.

OnePlus One (OPO) comes with a 5.5 inch Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel display which translates into 401 pixels per inch. Just like the Mi4, it comes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 Quad Core processor clocked at 2.5 Ghz. As for the memory, you have 3GB RAM and 16GB/ 64GB internal storage options. Unfortunately, there’s no MiroSD card slot on the device so you have to be careful while choosing the storage variant.

The 13MP rear camera produces some great pictures, and the 3,100 mAh battery makes sure that the device is up and running till the end of the day.

The phone is well designed and well built like a true flagship and is available in Silk White and Sandstone Black finishes.

OPO is available for just $349  which is a great price for a device with such specifications. Like the Mi4, its available on Oppomart for a discount of $50, so you can get it for just $349.

Meanwhile, to help you decide, we have a full review of the OnePlus One here.

SUMMARY
Display 5.5 inch IPS 1080p HD (401 PPI)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Soc 2.5 Ghz Quad Core + Adreno 330 GPU
Memory 3GB RAM + 16/64GB Internal storage
Cameras REAR: 13MP 2K Video SupportFRONT: 5MP with 1080p Video Support
Battery 3,100 mAh (non-removable)
Size and Weight 152.9 x 75.90 x 8.90 mm, 162 grams
OS Android 4.4.4 + CyanogenMod 11S
Price $349 – 16GB, $429 – 64GB
Free Gift Official protective cover for each OnePlus One

 

OPPO N3

oppo-n3_2

OPPO N3 is not just a flagship smartphone, its a remarkable piece of technology. The company is quite famous in China for its well built devices and the latest flagship doesn’t disappoint at all. It comes with top of the line specifications with a beautiful and practical design.

On the front, there’s a 5.5 inch 1080p display, (we would have loved a 2K display given its expensive price tag) which means the screen is more or less like the other competitors available in the market.

Internals too are similar as it comes with a Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5 Ghz and Adreno 330 GPU along with 2GB RAM.

However, you won’t buy this phone for its internals but for the various special features that it brings to the table. For example, OPPO N3 can charge from 0% to 75% in under 30 minutes, thanks to VOOC charging. This coupled with a large 3000 battery makes sure, you don’t have to carry around a charger wherever you go.

Secondly, it does have a MicroSD card slot, which is something that’s absent from many flagships available today.

Then there’s the interesting 16MP Omnivision rotating camera that acts as the rear as well as the front shooter. So, selfie addicts could definitely use this feature for beautiful shots.

Other features include a fingerprint sensor, O-Click 2.0 Bluetooth Remote and special software features that come with Color OS 2.0.

But you get these features at a price, as OPPO N3 is the second costliest flagship that we have covered in the list.

The device is available for pre-order for $654. That’s almost $200 more than the basic version of MX4 Pro and $300 more than both OPO and Mi4.

So why would you pay this much for a Chinese phone? Well, OPPO is a well established brand, now available in a number of international markets. Chinese consumers love OPPO which is why its not surprising to see that it received more than 2 million pre-orders in the first week itself.

SUMMARY
Display 5.5 inch IPS 1080p HD (403 PPI)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Soc 2.5 Ghz Quad Core + Adreno 330 GPU
Memory 2GB RAM + 32GB Internal storage (MicroSD Card slot: YES)
Cameras REAR: 16MP OmniVision rotating camera, 1/2.3 inch sensor, 2K Video Support
Battery 3,000 mAh (non-removable)
Size and Weight 161.2 x 77 x 9.9 mm, 192 grams
OS Android 4.4. + Color OS 2.0.1
Price $654
Free Gift None

 

ZTE NUBIA Z7

zte-nubia-z7

The new Nubia Z7 is yet another costly flagship from a well known Chinese manufacturer. In fact, its the costliest phone that we have covered in this list.

For the $699 price tag, it does have some additional features as compared to the Oppo N3. For example, the 5.5 inch display up front features 2K resolution which means, the phone has a pixel density of over 538 PPI.

Moving on, it has an extra gig of RAM as compared to OPPO N3, but its the same as the 3GB RAM found on the earlier three flagships which were much cheaper than this.

It comes with the same processor as other competitors i.e. Snapdragon 801 with 3GB RAM and 32GB ROM. Camera too is of 13MP with OIS. There’s a 3,000 mAh battery on board which coupled with the power efficient processor should last an entire day.

Unfortunately, the device is not yet available for purchase and we’ll update the article as soon as it releases worldwide.

SUMMARY
Display 5.5 inch 2K (538 PPI)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Soc 2.5 Ghz Quad Core + Adreno 330 GPU
Memory 3GB RAM + 32GB Internal storage (MicroSD Card slot: NO)
Cameras REAR: 13MP OIS camera with 2K Video SupportFront: 5MP
Battery 3,000 mAh (non-removable)
Size and Weight 153.2 x 75.7 x 8.9 mm, (Weight – Undisclosed)
OS Android 4.4.2 + Nubia UI 2.0
Price $699 (estimated)
Free Gift None

 

 

HUAWEI HONOR 6

huawei-honor-6-black

If you are looking for something cheap yet don’t want to settle for less than a flagship, Huawei Honor 6 is probably your best bet. The company is well known, operates in a number of international market and is known to release affordable and well built devices.

The latest Huawei Honor 6 brings all the standard features you would expect from a flagship device at a price that would only get you a mid range device, had it been an a well known international manufacturer like Samsung or Sony.

But this is Huawei we are talking about so you get an Octa Core HiSilicon Kirin processor clocked at 1.7 Ghz. You have 3GB RAM onboard along with 16/32GB internal storage option, which like the OPPO N3 can be expanded using an external MicroSD card slot.

There’s a 13MP rear camera sensor along with a 5MP front shooter, both capable of taking decent pictures.

Heating may be its biggest issue, but most smartphones these day heat up to some extent, hence we don’t feel this should stop you from buying the device.

Remember, this a 5.0 inch 1080p phone just like the Xiaomi Mi4, so if you don’t like phablets, this is a good option.

Huawei Honor 6 is currently available for a discounted price of just $339 on Oppomart instead of the regular $399 .

By the way, check out our full review of the Honor 6 here.

SUMMARY
Display 5 inch IPS 1080p HD (445 PPI)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Soc 2.5 Ghz Quad Core + Adreno 330 GPU
Memory 2GB RAM + 16GB/32GB Internal storage (MicroSD Card slot: YES)
Cameras REAR: 13MP with 1080p Video SupportFRONT: 5MP
Battery 3,100 mAh (non-removable)
Size and Weight 139.6 x 69.7 x 7.5 mm, 130 grams
OS Android 4.4.2 + Emotion UI 2.3
Price $339 – 16GB, $399 – 32GB
Free Gift None

 

LENOVO VIBE Z2 PRO

Lenovo K920-01

If you like large devices and by large we mean, even bigger than 5.5 inch phablets like OPO, then you’ll like Lenovo’s VIBE Z2 PRO flagship. It features a large 6 inch 2K screen with a pixel density of 490 PPI. That’s pretty impressive given that the phone is so large that some may even called it a tablet.

The device features a brushed aluminium unibody design which gives it a unique place in the market filled with plastic competitors.

This is yet another Snapdragon 801 device and comes with 3GB RAM onboard along with 32GB internal storage.

It features a 16MP 2K camera and has a large 4,000 mAh battery at the back. This should be more than enough for a day’s usage even with its large and vibrant 6 inch screen up front. Check out our full review of the Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro here.

SUMMARY
Display 6 inch IPS 2K (490 PPI)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Soc 2.5 Ghz Quad Core + Adreno 330 GPU
Memory 3GB RAM + 32GB Internal storage (MicroSD Card slot: NO)
Cameras REAR: 16MP with 2K Video Support + OISFRONT: 5MP
Battery 4,000 mAh (non-removable)
Size and Weight 156 x 81.3 x 7.7 mm, 179 grams
OS Android 4.4.2 + Vibe UI 2.0
Price ???
Free Gift None

 

IUNI U3

iuni u3

IUNI U3 is one of the best value for money devices that you can get at the moment. The device features a metal body with very thin bezels which makes it look like a premium device.

When it comes to specifications too, the U3 shines well ahead of other competitors. Unlike some of the devices we have mentioned here, like the OPO and Honor 6, U3 comes with a 5.5 inch 2K Quad HD display. This translates into an impressive pixel density of 538 PPI.

The processor is the almost as same as other models in the list i.e. Snapdragon 801 clocked at 2.3Ghz and 3GB RAM.

On the back, there’s a 13MP Sony Camera with f2.0 while on the front, you have a 4MP Ultra Pixel camera. Battery’s decent too and at 3,000 mAh, the device should easily last for an entire day.

IUNI U3 is one of the best looking devices in the market at present, which at $399 offers a great deal of features at an amazing pricetag.

Currently, the U3 is listed on Oppomart for $399 and is in stock. Check out the product page for more details. Also, check out our full review here.

SUMMARY
Display 5.5 inch Sharp 2K (538 PPI)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Soc 2.3 Ghz Quad Core + Adreno 330 GPU
Memory 3GB RAM + 32GB Internal storage (MicroSD Card slot: NO)
Cameras REAR: 13MP Sony IMX214 with 1080p Video Support + OISFRONT: 4MP UltraPixel
Battery 3,000 mAh (non-removable)
Size and Weight 145×74.9×10.3mm, 176 grams
OS Android 4.4.2 + IUNI OS
Price $399
Free Gift None

 

HUAWEI ASCEND MATE 7

huawei_Ascend_Mate7_23

If you don’t like Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro’s brushed metal finish, then you can go for the new Huawei Mate 7. Its the same size as the Vibe Z2 Pro, but features only 1080p resolution as opposed to 2K on Lenovo. However, still at 390 PPI, the screen is bright and vibrant and should display and images with great clarity.

Huawei went with its own Hisilicon Kirin 925 Octa Core CPU and Mali-T628 GPU. For memory, you have two options 2GB for the 16GB internal memory version and 3GB for the 32GB version. Interestingly, the device does have a MicroSD card which supports cards up to 128GB in size.

It comes with the same Sony Exmor EX214 13Mp rear camera as seen on most other flagships in the list along with a 5MP front camera. Huawei has also made sure that the 6 inch phablet lives for more than a day as it comes with the biggest battery pack in the list, a 4,100 mAh.

However, for the larger battery and the bigger screen, you have to pay around $100 extra than other competitors. You can purchase the device directly from Oppomart for $499.

SUMMARY
Display 6 inch 1080p (390 PPI)
Processor Hisilicon Kirin 925 Octa Core CPU + Mali-T628 GPU
Memory 2GB RAM for 16GB, 3GB RAM for 32GB (MicroSD Card slot: YES)
Cameras REAR: 13MP Sony IMX214 with 1080p Video SupportFRONT: 5MP
Battery 4,100 mAh (non-removable)
Size and Weight 157 x 81 x 7.9 mm, 185 grams
OS Android 4.4. + Emotion 3.0 UI
Price $499 – 16GB, $599 – 32GB
Free Gift None

 

Vivo XShot

vivo-xshot

If you plan to replace your smartphone as your everyday camera, then the new Vivo XShot looks like a good option.

It comes with a 13MP f/1.8 aperture camera with OIS which takes great pictures. The dual tone dual LED flash also makes sure that the color reproduction is also accurate. The front camera too isn’t shabby and at 8MP you can get some great self portraits with it.

Inside, you have a Snapdragon 801 SoC with processor clocked at 2.5Ghz and 3GB RAM on the flagship version but only 2GB on the elite version.

On the front, you have a 5.2 inch screen with 1080p resolution. The battery pack is of 2,600 mAh which should be enough to last for a day with this relatively small screen.

Vivo Xshot starts at $499  for the elite version and will soon be available on Oppomart. Check out our full review of the phone here.

SUMMARY
Display 5.2 inch 1080p (424 PPI)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Soc 2.5 Ghz Quad Core + Adreno 330 GPU
Memory 2GB RAM for 16GB, 3GB RAM for 32GB (MicroSD Card slot: YES)
Cameras REAR: 13MP Sony IMX214 f/1.8 aperture with 2K Video SupportFRONT: 8MP
Battery 2,600 mAh (non-removable)
Size and Weight 146.5 x 73.3 x 8 mm , 149 grams
OS Android 4.4. + FunTouch OS 1.2
Price $499 – 16GB, $599 – 32GB
Free Gift None

 

OPPO Find 7

find-7-astro-black-international-version

Although its been a while since OPPO announced the Find 7, its still one of the best devices in the market. The device comes with the OPPO brand name, which is of value especially in China due to its great build quality and innovative features. It also comes with the fast charging VOOC feature which can charge the phone 4 times faster than other competitors. With this technology, you get 75% charge from 0% in under 30 minutes.

The other specifications are pretty much what you expect from a top end device. You get a 5.5 inch 2K screen, a 2.5Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Soc with 3GB RAM, Sony Exmor214 13MP rear camera and 3,000 mAh battery which is removable.

So, if you are looking for a well built device from the OPPO family, the Find 7 will suit you well.

The device is listed on Oppomart at a discount of $30 at $569.

SUMMARY
Display 5.5 inch 2K (534 PPI)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Soc 2.5 Ghz Quad Core + Adreno 330 GPU
Memory 3GB RAM + 32GB (MicroSD Card slot: YES)
Cameras REAR: 13MP Sony IMX214 with 2K Video SupportFRONT: 5MP
Battery 3,000 mAh (non-removable)
Size and Weight 152.6 x 75 x 9.2 mm , 171 grams
OS Android 4.4. + ColorOS UI
Price $569 – 32GB
Free Gift Free Official Smart Case with Find 7

 

ZOPO 3X

zopo-3x

We have seen 11 top chinese phones of 2014 till now and we would like to end it with the cheapest device of the list, the ZOPO 3X. Its the mini version of the flagship, ZOPO ZP999, but don’t be deceived by the name as only the internal storage is smaller and all the rest of the goodies found on the top end flagship makes it to this device.

Surprisingly, it is the first Mediatek Powered handset that is on the list as most others have the Snapdragon 801 SoC onboard. It comes with a  MediaTek MT6595 octa-core processor clocked at 2.2Ghz along with 3GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. The phone has a memory card slot too, so the low inbuilt storage won’t be a big issue.

On the front, you get a 5.5 inch Full HD screen while on the back lies a 14MP f/2.0 aperture camera. You have a large 2,700 mAh battery too, which should be more than enough for a whole day’s usage.

The best thing about the ZOPO 3X is its pricetag. It is currently available for $299 on Oppomart which is a great price for a device with such specifications. You also get some free goodies like the official leather case and screen protector, which should save you some after purchase cost.

So, if you are looking for a cheap flagship with great specifications, you should consider buying the ZOPO 3X. Check out our full review of the device to get more details.

SUMMARY 
Display 5.5 inch 1080p (401 PPI)
Processor 2.2GHz MediaTek MT6595M octa-core processor + GPU: PowerVR G6200, 600MHz
Memory 3GB RAM + 16GB (MicroSD Card slot: YES)
Cameras REAR: 14MP Sony IMX214 with 2K Video SupportFRONT: 5MP
Battery 2,700 mAh (non-removable)
Size and Weight 151.6x 76.3 x 9.2mm , 145 grams
OS Android 4.4.
Price $299
Free Gift Official Leather Case & screen protector

 

 

Buy Xiaomi Mi5
  • Yury

    Frank, IUNI U3 have snap 801 with 2.3GHz.

    • Frank Tu

      sorry, it’s a typo, as an apology, we will launch a giveaway contest for the people who find the most typos at gizmochina in the next week…

      • Tadej

        great to hear that and looking forward to it!

  • Nahúm Pérez Mesa

    The real ZTE that merite apear here is not the Z7, the real killer with a affordable price is the little brother the ZTE Z7 mini… (for me with the IUNI U2 and normal Meizu MX4 are the best)

    • Frank Tu

      As this post is about the “Best Phones”, and I personally think the best phones must have the best features. Z7 mini and IUNI U2 both have battery life issue(as you can imaging 1080p display with a 2200mAh battery) and Meizu MX4 is too much alike with Meizu MX4 pro so I have to make Meizu MX4 pro to be the best as well as zopo zp999 and zopo 3x, I will write the another post about the phones with good Cost-Performance Ratio soon.

  • chloe pebbles

    Great review must have took some time to put together, although a mention whether its dual sim or single sim would have been a bonus.

  • Marek

    Frank, could you prepare similar review, but with smaller phones? I mean something that would fit in a pocket – 4.0″-4,3″.

    I understand it would not be “the best of” but I think many people would appreciate…

  • Ivan Jensen

    If it is about best futures, why leave out 1 touch Fingerprint scanner on the Mate 7.

    • Frank Tu

      I mentioned.

      • Ivan Jensen

        Where…?

        • Frank Tu

          Sorry, I thought you mean I didn’t write mate7 to be the best phone, yes, it’s a great feature on Huawei Mate7.

  • Ethos Evoss

    YOu forgot Vivo X5V best

  • Tibor Kovács

    I love this kind of tex design. The only thing that could improve it (IMHO) is some kind of opening/closing of the phone “panels”. So if the reader is not interested in some of the devices, he/she can close it, so he/she doesn’t has to scroll down a lot.