11/11: Today is Singles Day, China's 'Black Friday' that brings huge deals on exotic Android phones
If you like holidays and festivals, you'd love China's Singles day: an entertaining, made-up holiday claimed by young singles that quickly turned into a shopping craze when online retailer AliBaba turned it into a huge sale in 2009.
Singles Day is also referred to as Double Eleven, or Guanggun Jie in Mandarin, and is symbolic for one person finding another one person, so that they can join together on this special date with so many single digits on the calendar. However, what it has quickly become is the world's biggest online retail event. Alibaba's biggest Chinese retailer sites Tmall and Taobao netted $5.8 billion in sales on Singles day in 2013, grew that to $9.3 billion in 2014, and an impressive $14.3 billion in 2015. This year, figures are already closing in on last year's record, but we're yet to hear about final figures.
And while nobody in the United States knows about this peculiar Holiday, for those few enthusiasts that are fascinated by exotic Chinese brands like Xiaomi, Meizu, or even more cryptic ones, this is a perfect opportunity to buy one of their products at a great discount.
Phones like the Xiaomi Mi 5 and Meizu Pro 6s have received mostly positive reviews, and we also like the great value for the money offered by those devices. After all, a lot of those made-for-China phones have prices that undercut mainstream flagships often by half. Can we whole-heartedly recommend them, though? Not really.
Unlike Black Friday in the US, Singles Day is an online retail crazeThere are a few important factors to take into account: many of those phones do not support proper 4G LTE band support in the United States, meaning that you'd likely be limited to much slower 3G speeds. There is also absolutely no official support and something as common as dropping your phone and shattering your screen will likely result in long waiting times for repairs as you have to send the device either back to China or to a third-party repair shop that is not guaranteed to do a proper job. Many of those otherwise very alluring deals also do not mention poor English translations and a host of other issues could arise. The simple fact that you'd have to wait long weeks to have a device shipped in many cases is disheartening.
However, if you know all that, you've done your research, and you're ready to take a plunge and be unlike all the rest: today is your day. You probably already know all the outlets, but if not you can take a look at some of the better known places for Chinese gadget imports: GearBest, Pandawill, Banggood, GizChina's Shop, and others all hold 11/11 Singles day deals on phones by Xiaomi, Meizu and the rest. We can't vouch for those stores, though, so proceed at your own caution.