Best Chinese smartphones you can buy in the US right now (February)

Best Chinese smartphones you can buy in the US right now (February)
Chinese smartphones are increasingly becoming the best value-for-money efforts in the mobile industry, offering great specs and at times even good design for their price tag. Consider that a Xiaomi, Huawei or Lenovo flagships run 20-30% less than a similar offer from Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC and other more popular names, while in the midrange scenario they might start you at half off compared to the competing brand juggernauts, and it's not hard to grasp why the Chinese brands are grabbing more and more market share from Samsung and the rest.

The relatively unknown Xiaomi, for instance, used to be lumped in the "Others" category just in 2013, while this year it is projected to be the world's fifth, and maybe even fourth maker. Huawei is also doing pretty well, raising its market share about two percentage points in the span of two years. Lenovo's Motorola acquisition quickly catapulted it to third place with a 7.4% market share forecast for the year, and, overall, the ascend can only be attributable to the Chinese phone makers getting stronger, with Samsung getting weaker.

Well, that's market forces at work for you, but the problem with getting Chinese brands is usually accessibility and the fact that they are rarely offered on contract from major carriers - the way here in the US phones are predominantly bought. With the advent of T-Mobile's and other prepaid offers, however, buying a handset directly instead of tying yourself on a lengthy expensive contract in exchange for some phone subsidies, is becoming increasingly attractive. What better value-for-money in such scenario than the Chinese brands, that's why we have compiled a list of the best phones from Xiaomi, Lenovo, Meizu, Huawei that you can buy in the US right now, pop your SIM card in, and go. These puppies are all in stock and can be bought from the linked credible stores (Amazon, Expansys, Newegg) directly right now.

Xiaomi Mi4 ($399)


The Xiaomi Mi 4 comes with a 5-inch 1080p, fully laminated display and top notch hardware: it runs on the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 system chip clocked at up to 2.5GHz, and comes with a plentiful 3GB of RAM. The battery is a sizable 3080 mAh pack that can last around a day and a half according to Xiaomi, more than most other 5-inch flagship phones. The Mi 4 also supports quick charging, so you can juice it up to 60% in less than an hour. In terms of cameras, the Mi 4 boasts a 13-megapixel rear one and a high-res, 8-megapixel shooter with a Sony sensor up front. The Mi 4 comes in two versions: one with 16GB of internal storage, and another one that makes a jump directly to 64GB, skipping a 32GB model. The storage is also of the fastest eMMC 5.0 kind.


OnePlus One ($395)


The OnePlus One sports Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974-AC), clocked at 2.5GHz, 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and a 3100 mAh cell. Connectivity options include 4G LTE, 2.4G/5G Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0. Wrapped within a magnesium chassis, the One is a relatively compact 5.5-incher, measuring 152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm, and weighing just 162 grams. The 1080x1920 pixel resolution screen is literally slapped on top of the chassis, so the top and bottom bezels are actually recessed. At the back we have a 13-megapixel Sony IMX214 sensor with 6 lenses and a wide, f/2.0 aperture. Lastly, the OnePlus One is powered by a customized version of CyanogenMod OS, which has been redesigned with a minimal, completely flat UI.


Meixu MX4 ($365)


Meizu's MX4 is offered at a great price and can now be ordered directly. It comes with Android 4.4.4 KitKat, with Meizu's own Flyme 4.0 on top of it. It sports a large 5.36" display, MT6595 octa-core CPU with four Cortex-A17 cores, clocked at 2.2 GHz, and four Cortex-A7, running at up to 1.7 GHz each. 2 GB of RAM are on board. The device does not offer a microSD slot for external cards and comes in three storage space variants – 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB. The MX4 also offers a 20.7 Exmor RS camera and a 2MP front snapper.


Huawei Honor 6 ($346)


The Honor 6 features a 5-inch 1080 x 1920-pixel Full HD display, an 8-core Kirin 920 processor, 3 GB of RAM, and a 13MP main camera, as well as a secondary 5 MP one, all in a thin and light body, what's not to like at this price tag.


ZTE Nubia Z7 mini ($365)


The ZTE nubia Z7 mini sports a 5-inch 1080p display, 13 megapixel shooter with flash and two SIM card slots. The device is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chip featuring a 2GHz quad core processor and 2GB of RAM. The available storage space equates to 16GB and is expandable via a microSD card slot.

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