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.



1. Rydsmith unregistered

Good luck using most of these in the U.S. with the bands they support (outside of the One Plus).

4. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

True. This article would be much more useful if it said what carriers are partially or fully supported. Ideally it should point out the carrier names rather than band number or frequency because it makes more sense.

6. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

A guide on setting APNs and making sense of the freq bands would be a nice future article too. I'd love to get US 3g only smartphones to basically throttle my kids.

12. neela_akaash

Posts: 1239; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

I don't know that how many times the PA will say "relatively unknown company named Xiaomi".

18. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

Phone enthusiasts don't count, so they'll be saying that for a long time ;)

2. itsdeepak4u2000

Posts: 3718; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

OnePlus One images are linked with Huawei Honor 6. All are great options, but Flyme OS looks cool so I'll choose Meixu MX4.

3. dorianb

Posts: 617; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

Did anyone else get the OnePlus gallery when they got to the Honor?

5. Oceans11

Posts: 12; Member since: Sep 26, 2013

I picked up Android phone from Yippz. The phones they sell are Dual Sim and is also manufactured unlocked. I can use any MVNO carrier. I love not being stuck in a contract!

7. alannyny

Posts: 30; Member since: Jun 27, 2012

It would be nice if all PhoneArena reporting on Chinese phones, even those marketed only in China, explicitly stated which other major worldwide markets the device could (or could not) be fully used on.

9. sacasn

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 23, 2015

The author can't even get the pricings right. Oneplus One is $299 for 16G and $349 for 64G.

10. alannyny

Posts: 30; Member since: Jun 27, 2012

Huawei Honor 6 sounds like a great value here. Too bad the linked Amazon page has a review that states that the phone doesn't support 3G/4G on US GSM. I'd that reviewer correct?

11. alannyny

Posts: 30; Member since: Jun 27, 2012

*Is* that reviewer correct?

13. ZeljkoBoskovic

Posts: 3; Member since: Mar 21, 2013

iPhone is still the Best Chinese phone ;-)

14. paramorejrack

Posts: 2; Member since: Feb 23, 2015

It's said nothing good comes out of China. Chinese made smartphones are the worst. They all have worst quality. We all remembered #Bendgate very well. Besides, all Chinese made smartphones are tagged with China's spying bugs to spy on the users. Why do we have to pay for China's low quality phones tagged with spying chips to collection your personal information? It doesn't make any sense.

15. paramorejrack

Posts: 2; Member since: Feb 23, 2015

China is the leading thief in the world. China's cyber espionage costs US economy and taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars a year. We should not buy anything made in China because it encourages China to steal our modern technologies. Last year, China stole our modern F-22 stealth fighter design. We American taxpayers paid billions of dollars for its researches and designs, and China stole it all. Shame on China. Boycott all Chinese made products until China stop stealing our American modern technologies.

16. Simona unregistered

There SHOULD be Honor 6 Plus But anywway am gonna wait for BEST of BEST Huawei P8 !! futuristic phone ..

17. Gsmalltheway

Posts: 278; Member since: Aug 15, 2009

The OnePlus will work in LTE with ATT and TMobile All others except the honor 6 WILL work on ATT with HSPA+

19. soldier820

Posts: 115; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

beside the ONE+1, all other phones are close to garbage.... In my opinion at least.

20. rites

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 24, 2015

most of the above phones work on US 3g gsm bands and the LTE bands from at&t. if you want to find out more, its not hard to doa lil research. as for the comment on "chinese tracking chips", paranoid much? first of all, the average joe doesnt have anything on their phone worth tracking. those that do have anything worth tracking wouldnt buy a low-end/budget phone anyway. second, there are tracking and information gathering already going on in the phones being sold right here in the US, Verizon being the biggest culprit of this. this is what the article really boils down to: there are other options out there than what the carriers want you to believe, just do a lil research and you can easily save money on a phone with roughly the same specs as those the carriers are gonna push down your throat for about half the price (or better). why pay $700+ for a phone ($1200 after financing options) when you can get a comparable phone for $350?

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