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Best Chinese Android smartphones (May 2016)

Posted: , by Victor H.

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Best Chinese Android smartphones (May 2016)

Things made in China often carry a bad rep: after all, being affordable is often given as their first and foremost virtue. You can't deny that being competitive in terms of price is what Chinese companies are great at, but recently they have picked up the pace when it comes to innovation. Just look at the chart of the world's biggest phone makers in 2015: 7 out of the top 10 are from China. This is no coincidence: the Chinese market has grown hugely, but it is also international buyers that appreciate the work done by Chinese Android phone makers.

These are the best Chinese Android phones

With rising stars like Xiaomi and Meizu working along with the heavyweights from Lenovo and Huawei, there is quite a lot of exciting new Chinese phones that you should know about.

We bring you just that: these are the best Chinese Android phones in various price tiers: from the premium, top-tier phones to the affordable ones. Take a look.

Higher-end regular-size phones

Xiaomi Mi 5

Price: $400 (¥2,000)

The Xiaomi Mi 5 is the best phone from one of the fastest growing phone companies in the world - Chinese Xiaomi. 

Xiaomi is big in China, but unfortunately, its phones - known for their great value for the money - are not available in the United States. The Mi 5 is particularly impressive: it's the most affordable phone that has the powerful Snapdragon 820 system chip and the feature-rich MIUI custom skin on top of Android 6. The Mi 5 also features very capable camera that can shoot good-looking images in low-light and features a very advanced optical stabilization (OIS) system. However, the best feature of the Mi 5 is just how good it looks and how solidly it is put together, with a level of craftsmanship similar to that of the very best phones out there.

Huawei P9

Price: $630 (€550) | Review

Huawei had phenomenal growth last year, finishing as the world's third-largest phone maker behind giants like Samsung and Apple. 

The P9 is its most important phone for 2016, carrying flagship status and offering an innovative dual rear camera setup. It also features sleek metal design and huge aspirations. But there are a couple of downsides as well: most notably, the custom Huawei interface on top of Android is a polarizing feat that many will find hard to get used to. Then, the camera has a few gimmicks up its sleeve like the Leica brand (it's questionable whether Leica had much of an involvement with the lens here) and simulation of super wide-aperture, f/1.1 lens, but in reality those tricks are no replacement for great camera quality and the P9 is a step below this year's best cameraphones. Still, if you're in the search for a great regular-sized smartphone, the P9 has the performance and good looks to fit the bill. It's also much more affordable than the Samsungs and Apples of this world.

Higher-end phablets

Huawei Mate 8

Price: $630 (€550) | Review

Best Chinese Android smartphones (May 2016)
The 6-inch Huawei Mate 8 might seem big on paper, but in reality it is about as large as the iPhone 6s Plus. And if you value having extra screen space, this is absolutely the phone for you.

Made out of metal with a sleek aluminum construction and a fingerprint scanner on the back, the Mate 8 runs on Huawei's Emotion UI and does so impressively smoothly. It also has a very good camera and is an absolute joy for watching videos on the go or playing games, thanks to its supersized display. As most Chinese phone, this one has a very good price: at $630, it's more than a hundred dollars more affordable than the Samsungs and Apples of this world.

Meizu Pro 5

Price: $400 (¥2,800) | Review

The Meizu PRO 5 was the company's most expensive and most advanced handset when it launched in late 2015. A large, 5.7-inch phone, the Meizu PRO 5 is a phone destined first and foremost for China. In terms of hardware, it features the Exynos 7420 system chip that powers some of the best phones of 2015: the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5. With the Pro 5, Meizu has also made a big jump in the quality of its design: many would be quick to notice that the Pro 5 looks a lot like an iPhone, but we would not go as far as to call it a direct clone. The materials used in the Pro 5 are sturdy metal for the body, with cutouts for the antennas, an overall design style that we’ve already seen on the Meizu MX5.

Mid-range phones

Xiaomi Mi 4s

Price: $350

The Xiaomi Mi 4s is a somewhat strange device. It's only slilghtly more affordable than the Mi 5, but comes with the much weaker Snapdragon 808 system chip (compare against the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 820) and much less inspiring design.

Nonetheless, if you want to save those few bucks, the Mi 4s is not a bad phone: it offers a fingerprint scanner on the back and solid performance with the MIUI custom interface. It lacks the super fast auto-focus from the Mi 5 and a few other premium features, so we would really advice you to spend a few bucks more and get the higher-end Mi 5, it's worth it.

Best Chinese Android smartphones (May 2016)

Xiaomi Mi Note

Price: $283 (¥1,800)

The Mi Note is the best phone of one of the fastest growing phone companies in the world - Xiaomi.

Once known for making Apple knock-offs, Xiaomi's flagship phone is an original design that not only looks great, but seems to be the inspiration for others (that's only a theory, but just look at how similar to it the new Galaxy Note looks!). The Mi Note is an exceptional value for the money: it has that sharp visual style, but also a very-well polished MIUI skin with tons of features and a very smooth performance, it has a great camera, and very good battery life. The big issue with it is that it's not officially available in the United States - you can import it for a slight premium, though, to have a phone unlike any others.

Meizu MX5

Price: $300 (¥1,900) | Review

Best Chinese Android smartphones (May 2016)
The MX5 is a device with a sturdy all-aluminum frame that exudes a premium feel, it features a very typical for Meizu design and the clean and good-looking Flyme user interface (now running on top of Android 5 Lollipop). The Meizu MX5 is a great value for the money: it's a 5.5-inch phone with a (not so great) AMOLED screen, and it's powered by the MediaTek Helio X10 system chip - an octa-core Cortex A53 affair clocked at up to 2.2GHz, and with 3GB of RAM. The phone features a 20-megapixel main camera and a snappy fingerprint scanner as well. While we do have some gripes about this phone, it remains an extremely solid choice for price conscious buyers.

Affordable phablets

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3

Price: $190 (¥1,100)

The 5.5-inch Redmi Note 3 phablet arrived just several months after the launch of the otherwise identical in terms of specs and silicon Redmi Note 2. Unlike its predecessor, though, the Redmi Note 3 features a much better-looking metal design at the same price point, plus it comes with a fingerprint scanner.

Under the hood, it has the MediaTek Helio X10 system chip. You can get it in either its 16GB storage / 2GB RAM version, or beefed-up 32GB storage / 3GB RAM model. It's not just the processor that catches the eye in the Redmi Note 3, though. It's also got a 13-megapixel camera with ultra-fast phase-detection auto-focus, a feature previously reserved for costlier devices.

Honor 5X

Price: $200 | Review

Best Chinese Android smartphones (May 2016)
Honor, a sub-brand of Chinese Huawei, delivers a stylish metal phone with a 5.5" 1080p display, a fingerprint scanner and the very decent Snapdragon 615 system chip for a very alluring price. 

The only downside to this phone is the somewhat unusual and a bit clunky user interface, but for all else this is a really good-looking device that packs much more style than other affordable phones and is worth consideration. 

Honor 5X

Honor 5X

Meizu M3 Note (Note3)

Price: $220 (¥1,100)

The Meizu M3 Note is a re-fresh on an already familiar Meizu design. With a great-looking 5.5-inch 1080 x 1920-pixel display with the traditionally fast Meizu interface, and with a well-performing camera, the M3 Note checks all the essential boxes. Plus, it has very good battery life.

Affordable regular-size phones

Xiaomi Redmi 3

Price: $150 (¥600)

The Xiaomi Redmi 3 is a beastly lil' thing: while a 5-inch 720p display does not sound like cream of the crop, when you pair it with a massive for this size, 4,100mAh battery, the result is truly outstanding battery life. The handset also looks good: it's made out of metal, comes in a choice of three iPhone-like colors, and looks very stylish, especially when you consider its price tag. 

Under the hood, it features the Snapdragon 616 system chip with 2GB of RAM, runs on Android 5.1 Lollipop with the custom MIUI skin, has a 13-megapixel, f/2.0 camera with fast, phase-detection auto-focus, and comes with 16GB of internal storage. It feature a hybrid dual SIM card slot, so you can use either two SIM cards or use it as a single-SIM phone with a microSD card. 

Meizu m3

Price: $150 (¥600) 

The new Meizu m3 is a direct answer to the stellar Xiaomi Redmi 3. And boy, what an answer: with a similar price, the m3 has a very refined and likable design, and adds the fingerprint scanner many Meizu phones don't have. It runs the custom Meizu skin that is particularly fluid and runs well, it offers a very good camera and great iconography. Not bad for such an affordable phone, is it?

Meizu m3

Meizu m3

Super affordable phones

Xiaomi Redmi 2 Pro

Price: $110 (¥500)

Xiaomi's contender in the ultra affordable phone space is the Redmi 2 Pro. It is a much needed upgrade to the original Redmi 2, as it arrives with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, and that ensures much faster performance and better experience over the original 1GB RAM/8GB storage model. The Redmi 2 Pro has the MIUI custom skin on its side - a powerful, feature-rich skin that runs impressively smoothly, and it captures great looking images. Plus, it features above-average battery life for nearly two-day longevity.

Xiaomi Redmi 2 Pro

Xiaomi Redmi 2 Pro

Lenovo K3

Price: $95 (¥450)

The Lenovo K3, the smaller sibling of the popular K3 Note, comes with the same lemony yellow color option (and a more conservative white). It brings the company's likable user interface with its mostly smooth performance and overall good camera to the bottom of the affordable phone class. Here, the name Lenovo alone counts, but it's backed up with a phone that is overall a good performer with no huge compromises.

Lenovo K3

Lenovo K3

  • Options

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 07:41 44

1. Ahsan (Posts: 37; Member since: 09 Jun 2011)

i hope this explain why samsung is falling down in China.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 13:07 41

22. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1345; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)

It's what I said yesterday. It's not touchwiz bringing down Samsung; there are so many good phones on the market right now. The true winner here is Android.

posted on 15 Feb 2016, 06:15

100. phonearenarocks (Posts: 360; Member since: 26 Mar 2015)

You still seem to be living in 2014! Get back to present!!

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 11:22

106. Good-Is-Better (Posts: 80; Member since: 12 Nov 2015)


WELL IT IS DISABLED FOR THIS OTHER POST: Best smartphones you can buy right now: March 2016. "The comment section has been disabled for this story".

And we all know why!

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 13:11

109. MSi_GS70 (unregistered)

PA u forgot vivo phones !

posted on 29 Mar 2016, 07:44

116. laryluv82 (Posts: 1; Member since: 29 Mar 2016)

hi yes what happen to blu and their very nice phone thier have come a long way from the past in know because i own the blu pure xl an amazing phone it has so many featue that more high price phone and more blu give more for less just take time to check out the line up from blu

posted on 08 Apr 2016, 09:53

117. MSi_GS70 (unregistered)

these best (except mate 8) Pa u wanted say worst ?

DA BEST china smartphones are :
1. Huawei P9 P9 Plus
2.Vivo Xplay5 Ultimate
3.Vivo X5Pro
4.Oukitel U10
5.Oppo R9 plus
6.Vivo X6S Plus

posted on 09 Apr 2016, 16:19

124. poptart (Posts: 45; Member since: 28 Nov 2014)

Absolutely xiaomi, lenovo, ZTE and especially Vivo can compete with anyone. Great list btw

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 13:45 10

23. NexusX (Posts: 507; Member since: 16 May 2013)

are samsung and apple cutting deals with regulators to bar these chinese smartphones from entering the US?
the amount of competition in the smartphone market can easily lower the prices of current flagship smartphone by $200 if they open the floodgate for the chinese.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 16:54 21

27. alrightihatepickingusernames (Posts: 474; Member since: 29 Dec 2013)

My assumption is that most of these OEMs either don't have the resources to penetrate the US market, or they fear the US market because of all the patent lawsuits they'd face.

posted on 26 Nov 2014, 03:37 1

37. joey_sfb (Posts: 5741; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)

China itself is a huge market for them. So they are hardly saturating their own market.

posted on 19 Nov 2015, 01:54 6

83. kabhijeet.16 (Posts: 805; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)

US is a small market compared to China & India..

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 21:53 1

114. iushnt (Posts: 1687; Member since: 06 Feb 2013)

But the most profitable one..

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 10:31

102. Chuck007 (Posts: 1109; Member since: 02 Mar 2014)

Huawei will do great in the US if they continue their partnerships with the industry's top players (Google then Leica). I'm still not a fan but who knows if their devices will be popular in a couple years. People thought I was nuts when I bought a Samsung TV 12 years ago.

posted on 26 Nov 2014, 01:23

33. Ashoaib (Posts: 3229; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)

I hope it will happen soon and the prices will be lowered $200. imagine note 4 in $500 launch price, thats not bad

posted on 26 Nov 2014, 05:54 2

38. techsavvy.jaz (Posts: 153; Member since: 07 Feb 2012)

Thing is these OEMs play safe game, they don't want to bite something they can't chew. They just want to sell the current stock before manufacturing the next batch. The other thing is, the USP of these mobiles is price to specs ratio, but trying to get their foot in other countries they have to make sure that, at least people know little bit about them, and that means marketing, and that results some spending, ultimately they wont be able to sell at the price, yeah there are local regulations as well.

posted on 09 Oct 2015, 14:16

64. coldspring22 (Posts: 311; Member since: 28 Feb 2015)

Maybe if you buy a boat load of these phones, US customs will stop it. I ordered few phones from Chinese e-tailors and there was no issues getting it delivered directly to my address in US.

posted on 10 Oct 2015, 20:49

72. sinalia (Posts: 3; Member since: 10 Oct 2015)

When I wanted to get nexus smartphone from USA. it's really difficult from our side

posted on 26 Nov 2014, 00:11 26

32. WcdinChina (Posts: 2; Member since: 25 Nov 2014)

I am chinese living in China ,i'm using samsung note 2 right now,but i won't buy samsung for my next phone.Meizu is great ,i don't like Xiaomi cause it's really difficult for us to buy ,20 seconds and it's all sold. Usually we need 4000+ renminbi(CNY) to get a samsung flagship smartphone(galaxy note/galaxy s),but now I can get a meizu mx 4 with 1799,and for mx4 pro,it's 2499.I think it's better than samsung in some ways.Please ignore those mistakes i made in writting English ,i just want you to know how i think about this.

posted on 01 Jul 2015, 17:27 1

58. Natural-George (Posts: 1; Member since: 01 Jul 2015)

I swear, I really like you. Also, you I love chinese in conjuction with china. You have spoken well. Nice to meet you, we gat to have a better talk on facebook. facebook.com/youcallmeyoung

posted on 09 Oct 2015, 12:56 3

62. afegit (Posts: 45; Member since: 12 Feb 2014)

nice subtle troll with the facebook in china

posted on 09 Oct 2015, 10:46

60. JunitoNH (Posts: 1775; Member since: 15 Feb 2012)

Actually, you did a pretty good job, considering. Only thing I noticed, just use spaces after your punctuation to make things more legible; other than that, great job, and welcome :)

posted on 09 Oct 2015, 14:11

63. coldspring22 (Posts: 311; Member since: 28 Feb 2015)

You can't buy Xiaomi phones in China in retail shops? If it's only sold online, I see that Xiaomi phones are available to buy in many e-tailer sites in China. So it's not necessary to buy in a flash sale unless you want lowest price. In fact that's how I bought my Xiaomi phone for use in US.

posted on 10 Oct 2015, 21:06

73. sinalia (Posts: 3; Member since: 10 Oct 2015)

So compared to phones in us, what do u think of xiaomi made in China

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 10:54

104. maddy996 (Posts: 81; Member since: 06 Jan 2014)

Same repeated Comments... :-D

posted on 12 Oct 2015, 02:59

75. MSi_GS70 (unregistered)

None of these I like.. except P8

posted on 11 Mar 2016, 13:06

108. MSi_GS70 (unregistered)

caple need fall down.. too

posted on 03 May 2016, 16:17

131. PhoneFixer (unregistered)

Phone Arena do you know what Vivo company is ?

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 07:44 13

2. HugoBarraCyanogenmod (limited) (Posts: 1133; Member since: 06 Jul 2014)

Kudos to PA for making this article

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 07:51 6

5. HugoBarraCyanogenmod (limited) (Posts: 1133; Member since: 06 Jul 2014)

And long live China!!

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 08:35 5

9. Settings (Posts: 1591; Member since: 02 Jul 2014)

Long live the land grabbing country! Stay away from Spratlys! Lol!

PA! What the heck! The Solo Launcher ad is annoying! It always open the Play Store.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 11:10 11

18. dimas (Posts: 2124; Member since: 22 Jul 2014)

What the f**k is that stupid land grabbing country comment? That's off topic, stick to phone issues will ya?

posted on 26 Nov 2014, 01:26 14

34. Ashoaib (Posts: 3229; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)

if china is land grabbing then US is war grabbing, its US which goes to war every where. Atleast china is giving us great phones in lowered prices

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 19:19 1

28. Venkatramanan (Posts: 310; Member since: 15 Aug 2014)

Not only china, All the nations in the globe should live long..

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 09:27

12. Cicero (Posts: 870; Member since: 22 Jan 2014)

Did you saw how many mistakes are presented on descriptions on oppomart. 5430 is 64bit processor there??? If the phones are like this I have some doubts buying this. Plus the aftersale service. Theoretical it sounds good but in practice I think it is an adventure to buy that phones being from other region with no support for this.

posted on 26 Nov 2014, 01:33 1

35. Ashoaib (Posts: 3229; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)

yup! you got it... sometime they put wrong specs. I bought a chinese phone once, 13mp camera was written on the box and 32gig micro sd included but it was 8mp and card was 8gb too. ironically, 32gb class 10 was printed on the card. The name was XSmart and it costed me only $120 including shipping

posted on 26 Nov 2014, 06:07 1

39. niye11 (Posts: 3; Member since: 19 Nov 2014)

It must be a knockoff, manufacturers of those phones mentioned in the article don't do this anymore.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 07:48 4

3. AfterShock (Posts: 3698; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)

Some kick arse phones there, I had no idea they had that much firepower that looks good too.
Now if these were marketed to the world, it'd be a different game now.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 14:27

25. UglyFrank (Posts: 1649; Member since: 23 Jan 2014)

Did they really say that a mali450mp4 @700mhz had chart topping performance? Haha

posted on 15 Feb 2016, 03:15

91. ibend (Posts: 4579; Member since: 30 Sep 2014)

at least its powerfull enough to run 95% games on playstore at 30fps(HD) :-/

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 07:50 11

4. Martin_Cooper (Posts: 1413; Member since: 30 Jul 2013)

It really does. Why buy a plasticy overpriced sammy phone in Asia where a salary is s**t compared to EU/USA when you can save your precious money and get one of these beasts.

posted on 19 Feb 2015, 07:05 13

52. maherk (Posts: 3724; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)

If Samsung phones are overpriced, what would the iPhone be considered then?
your typical iSheep.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 08:00 1

6. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 3718; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)

Mi4, OnePlus One and Huawei Ascend G7 for price, design and features IMO.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 08:10

7. jan25 (Posts: 470; Member since: 26 Feb 2012)

hardware wise, they are great. the software on most of these is (likely) disappointing. it is the only thing holding from buying Xiaomi or the Meizu.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 08:58 15

10. Victor.H (Posts: 658; Member since: 27 May 2011)

I disagree. The software on some of these is outstanding. The MIUI skin is particularly rich in features, without being too cluttered. I've recently been using the Oppo Find 7 again, and its Color OS is one of the fastest and most likable Android skins I have ever seen. Personally, I do like those skins a lot better than TouchWiz and about as much as HTC's Sense efforts. So I do recommend you to try them out before jumping into conclusions.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 22:51

30. laughmi (banned) (Posts: 283; Member since: 28 Oct 2014)

MIUI's cube app launcher looks awesome better than Samm n HTC

posted on 26 Nov 2014, 01:39

36. Ashoaib (Posts: 3229; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)

Victor I strongly agree with you bcoz I have interest in chineses and used many.. their take on android is great, thats a separate thing that they try to look more like ios instead of android but their UIs are really fast, usually bug free and without cluttering. It is also note worthy that they provide low level permission control

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 08:22

8. Malhar (Posts: 45; Member since: 29 Dec 2012)

Oppo Find 7 two times @ 18 & 10.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 09:37 2

13. Victor.H (Posts: 658; Member since: 27 May 2011)

Ha! I was wondering why my countdown to 20 had surprisingly gone overboard to 21. Thanks, will fix.

posted on 09 Oct 2015, 10:51

61. JunitoNH (Posts: 1775; Member since: 15 Feb 2012)

Where can you purchase these devices in the US? I know it can be Google. However, I rather obtain a reference from someone experienced.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 09:04 2

11. Tziggy14 (Posts: 443; Member since: 02 Sep 2014)

You gotta give it to Google creating and evolving Android. Half of these Chinese companies wouldn't exist(or at least be as big) today if it wasn't for them forking Android's customizable nature.

Now i'm interested in Xiaomi and Huawei releasing their latest phones in the U.S. they're the only phones from China i really curious about.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 09:41 1

14. NexusX (Posts: 507; Member since: 16 May 2013)

the chinese have been making smartphones with stylus for chinese handwritting way before android.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 09:43

15. xtroid2k (Posts: 517; Member since: 11 Jan 2010)

Hey does those phones come with that girl in the photo or at least her phone number. God damn she's hot!

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 11:00 1

16. Sealblaighter (Posts: 220; Member since: 26 Jan 2014)

One thing is certain:Chinese people CAN make great looking smart phones. I wonder why Samsung for example can't?
Chinese engineers are working hard to be acknowledged by the West, and they are already acknowledged. I think Lenovo and Xiaomi could be the 2 best Chinese company. About Lenovo we know they are doing well in the Laptop race.

posted on 10 Oct 2015, 02:32 1

68. youling (Posts: 10; Member since: 18 Sep 2015)

as a chinese I don't think so.Lenovo is likened to a US company in China,because the same devices sell more expensive with inferior after-sales service.especially cell phone,Lenovo has soddish reputation.Lenovo cell phone=sheer muck.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 11:06

17. dimas (Posts: 2124; Member since: 22 Jul 2014)

I skipped reading on a phone model whenever I see the word mediatek at their specs. Any owner here of mediatek phones that can tell me their experience in using one? Owner of Z3 compact, gonna try buying one of the phones listed here. Thanks.

posted on 19 Nov 2015, 00:29

82. villagerguyz (Posts: 93; Member since: 22 Jul 2015)

I have Xperia E4 here (with MT6582).

Generally, this phone performs very well. I can get about near 6 hours of screen on time. The performance is ok, too.

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 11:27

19. jsjammu (Posts: 84; Member since: 13 Nov 2014)

Would any of these work in US in for either ATT or TMO on the LTE bands besides the Huawei Ascend Mate 2?

posted on 25 Nov 2014, 12:34

20. Neo_Huang (Posts: 1067; Member since: 06 Dec 2013)

The U.S. versions of the Oppo N3, Oppo Find 7 and OnePlus One do.

posted on 20 Feb 2015, 00:29 1

56. Jason78 (Posts: 241; Member since: 10 Apr 2013)

I followed some of the links on a couple of the phones I found interesting. They didn't have the correct LTE bands and one didn't even have the correct HSPA+ bands. It would have been GSM only in the USA! No thanks.

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