14 compromises with Chinese smartphones to watch out for

14 compromises with Chinese smartphones to watch out for
With the majority of spots on the Top 10 ranklist of smartphone vendors now occupied by China-based companies, it's fair to say that the times are changing. And while most of these makers operate mainly outside of premium Western markets, they're making inroads by offering tempting hardware for half the price demanded by mainstream manufacturers. 

But is all that specs flexing just a facade? Thankfully, no, but there's still a massive market for white box, unbranded, or just low quality handsets from China, and almost without exception, they involve significant compromises. Sure, these may seem warranted given the price tag, but you'd do well to remember that these are local companies in the business of making money, not losing it. This isn't to say that great deals aren't out there, but rather an opportunity for us to pass on years worth of experience playing with dozens upon dozens of Chinese devices from all strata.

Here's what to consider/look out for if you're thinking of buying a cheap Chinese handset:

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38 Comments

1. Kruze

Posts: 1285; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

I don't need to worry lol, I live in Asia.

12. itsdeepak4u2000

Posts: 3718; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

Yeah, and China is in Asia... :P

37. yoosufmuneer

Posts: 1518; Member since: Feb 14, 2015

I also live in Asia lol.

2. maqhoz

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 04, 2014

I think, the Chinese companies have different levels of quality, Xiaomi for example, have a great design and internal parts, i use the MI3 for more than 1 year with out a problem. Is an excellent choice if you don't have the money to get a Samsung or HTC.

4. Diezparda

Posts: 941; Member since: Oct 23, 2013

Lucky you cause some of my friends find some bugs in their mi device. They are one of the top chinese manufacturer, in terms of hardware specs it's the best you can get without spending too much, the camera quality is good even better than my poor m8.

9. neela_akaash

Posts: 1239; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

In terms of bloatwares, Korean and Japanese phones are far more flooded in comparison to Chinese smartphones.

6. Felix_Gatto

Posts: 942; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

Most of chinese smartphones are not as good as Xiaomi, Huawei, and ZTE. The majority of them still have all or at least most of the compromises mentioned above.

27. coldspring22

Posts: 349; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

Xiaomi Redmi Note is great too at rock bottom prices ($160).. Been using one in San Francisco bay area for few months. Great android phone on T-mobile.

3. Moose

Posts: 418; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

These comments are very biased. Yes, there are low end Chinese phones out there but many are just as good or better than the big brand names. The only legitimate issue raised in this post is the network bands. This is not an issue in Canada as we have two major carriers that offer LTE band 7, which most Chinese phones offer. Secondly many Chinese retailers will send you the electricity plug appropriate for your country. Thirdly, yes, some do not have Google Play Store but that is dead easy to install from your computer.

5. Seong-gyun

Posts: 5; Member since: Jul 19, 2015

I like this article. I think this is the best way to enlighten all people who have tendency to overrate those low quality products with cheap price. Why do you risk all your hard earn money on products that you aren't familiar with at all? How about spending a bit more buck on the super quality and reliable products from titans like Samsung, LG, etc. and sleep tightly?

7. Felix_Gatto

Posts: 942; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

Another Korean fanatic, l see.

13. Kruze

Posts: 1285; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

Titans? More like Titanfall.

26. lJesseCusterl

Posts: 96; Member since: Apr 27, 2015

Snip snap.

8. macawmatt

Posts: 133; Member since: Feb 20, 2012

The bit about headphones, I can't remember the last time I got headphones with my new phone, but I blame VZW for being cheap on that one.

11. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

The last smartphone I've had that has come with headphones was my HTC Touch Diamond in 2008, and I've had some pretty high-end phones since. I wasn't aware that headphones were supposed to be standard...

14. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The Galaxy S comes with headphones, the Note doesn't. Can't blame the carrier if a phone doesn't have headphones.

34. Anthony6612

Posts: 20; Member since: Sep 24, 2013

My S3, Note 3 and Note 4 all came with headphones. I'm on T-mobile.

19. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

Headphones are commonly included with phones in Europe, since many countries require hands-free phone use while driving. PA is a European site.

24. T-rex unregistered

I bought a LG G2 recently from Dubai and there were no headphones in the box

10. seban1988

Posts: 9; Member since: Nov 06, 2013

I would add the poor battery quality. After few battery cycles, they lose their charge capacity and discharge very quickly.

22. Simona unregistered

yeah same like iphone half day ahaahh :)

16. WallStreet

Posts: 256; Member since: Sep 21, 2014

Good article although some points are less valid as the Chinese manufacturers sell the phones to the global consumer.

17. carlemillward unregistered

Xaiomi and Huawei are slowly going to become more Western like in a few months time.

18. almostdone

Posts: 426; Member since: Sep 25, 2012

Chinese phones are not cheap. If they used the same high quality compnonents there won't be much difference in price compared to say a Samsung, LG, Sony or HTC etc flagship. The mediatek CPU's used in many chinese phones are quite poor in performance especially graphically. They're more like mid range power than top end. They also tend to use cheaper screens and camera sensors. Again good for mid ranger. The very best Chinese phones are really only mid range (to upper) compared to flagships from the well known top brands. I would like to point out they're becoming better but the prices are also rising. Haven't you noticed recently the Chinese flagship phones are creeping up in prices.

20. KaptainKlutch

Posts: 23; Member since: Jul 16, 2015

I own an Oppo Find 7a, the lack of case is what gets me tight, other things I can deal with. Also, some Chinese phones have that partitioned storage which is also really annoying, so keep an eye out for that.

23. Simona unregistered

well set the apps to sd card NOT to the file system ..

21. msaeed90

Posts: 14; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

these problems are all actually very geniuine and were present in chinese phones (specially the rebranded ones and not the famous ones) that costed less than 200 dollars one to two years back . But now technology has matured and these problems though persistant are present only in sub 100 dollar chinese phones (from actual hand on experience)

25. Monoo

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 05, 2014

Ha ha, another Samsung sponsored post?

29. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

If you have money to burn, go get unbranded China phone. Even with XiaoMi, Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo. Please buy them with both eyes open! Pay special attention to RAM size, and internal storage.

30. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

My OnePlus One only has "compromises" 3 (I just use my BlueBuds X headphones with it) and partially 8. The capacitive button lighting is dim, but properly aligned/distributed (a.k.a. looks nice), plus if it's a problem, I have the option of using on-screen buttons...still enjoying the capacitive buttons. The compromises are minor, IMO, compared to the compromises of a jailbroken iPhone (which I switched from), even more minor compared to an official iPhone...

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