How to choose a Chinese smartphone

Chinese mobile electronics manufacturers are releasing smartphones that can be both very successful and outright nonsense.

How to choose a Chinese smartphone

How to choose a Chinese smartphone: what to look for

Among the most important characteristics of Chinese smartphones that you need to pay attention to when choosing, you can highlight:

  1. The manufacturer largely determines both the quality and durability of the smartphone, and the availability of spare parts for it;

  2. Reviews on third-party expert sites and forums like IXBT or;

  3. Firmware. If possible and if you have special skills, it is advisable to download it and disassemble it yourself;

  4. Specified specifications, especially at a suspiciously low price;

  5. Actual specifications (processor, RAM, screen, camera, battery).

  6. Supported cellular standards are also critical, as China's 3G and 4G networks operate at different frequencies from those used in Russia.

The best manufacturers

the best manufacturers

Among Chinese smartphone manufacturers, there are a number of companies that offer fairly high-quality equipment at a low price:

  1. Huawei;

  2. Xiaomi;

  3. LeEco;

  4. Meizu;

  5. OnePlus;

  6. WileyFox.

The manufacturers who have both high-quality and frankly disgusting smartphones include:

  1. Highscreen;

  2. Lenovo;

  3. Alcatel;

  4. TP-Link;

  5. Fly;

  6. Elephone;

  7. Ulephone.

Manufacturers whose products should be bypassed by the 'tenth road' due to poor quality include:

  1. Newman;

  2. Doogee;

  3. UMI;

  4. vkWorld;

  5. Oukitel and dozens of similar 'brands'.

But even trusted manufacturers often lie about the specs of their smartphones.

Why reading reviews is important

Chinese smartphone manufacturers often indicate specifications that do not correspond to real ones. So, among the vivid examples of falsification are:

  1. Ulephone Be Touch 2 smartphone – the operating system version is overstated Android (5.1 is indicated, in reality 5.0), the battery capacity is overestimated (3050 mAh is indicated, in fact 2550 mAh);

  2. Smartphone Lenovo K3 Note – the screen resolution is too high (1920 × 1080 pixels are indicated, in fact 1920 × 720 pixels);

  3. Tablet Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 – the supported standard of memory cards is overestimated (SDXC is indicated up to 64 GB, in fact SDHC up to 32 GB).


Thus, before buying, it is worth studying reviews from real reviewers. The portals iXBT and XDA, as well as the forum (namely the forum, not the site) deserve trust.

Features of the firmware of Chinese smartphones

Features of the firmware of Chinese smartphones

The operating system in Chinese smartphones may not only be poorly optimized. She sometimes becomes a source of problems. So, among the possible disadvantages are:

  1. Lack of Russian localization. The company's smartphones Xiaomi are especially affected by this. The operating system installed on them MIUI exists in two implementations – China (with exclusively Chinese and English) and Global. It is clear that it is better to buy smartphones with Global firmware, otherwise you will have to 'mess around' with reinstalling Android;

  2. Lack of Google services. A common occurrence for most Chinese smartphones. Even devices from Xiaomi, Huawei and Meizu often come without a pre-installed Google Play Store app store, as well as a contact sync provider and other useful services. In some devices you can install them yourself, in others it will not work;

  3. No 'over the air' updates or updates that break devices;

  4. SalesTrack. When activated, the firmware sends SMS to a short number. It is often located in China or India, resulting in unnecessary costs;

  5. Backdoors built into the firmware are viral tracking programs that collect information about the user and send it to the manufacturer's servers. Among smartphones that have been caught spying on users are products from companies Xiaomi, Huawei, Lenovo, Alps, ConCorde, DJC, Sesonn, and Xido. So, backdoors were found even in Xiaomi Mi 4;

  6. Automatic dialers built into the firmware. Some smartphones periodically make calls to other countries on their own. This leads to an increase in user costs for international calls.

  7. Finding a phone without backdoors, dialers and other 'crap' is hard. This will help independent reviews on the above services.

Suspiciously low price

Replicas of smartphones are regularly found in Chinese online stores. And not only well-known (like Samsung Galaxy S-series), but also quite unpopular. Often, manufacturers even counterfeit models such as the Lenovo Vibe X2.

Moreover, fake manufacturers often not only visually copy famous smartphones, but also port the firmware. As a result, the device seems to be equipped with a sufficiently large amount of RAM and a powerful processor, but in practice it slows down and lags when launching any applications.

Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to distinguish a fake smartphone from an original one. You can carefully study each item of the technical characteristics – but it is possible that the cunning seller or manufacturer simply copied them from some site. Therefore, feedback is important again.

After purchase, you can evaluate the compliance of the declared technical characteristics with the real ones using applications such as Antutu or AIDA64.

It is almost impossible to protect yourself from counterfeiting when buying a smartphone in a Chinese online store. But if some eminent brand is sold for mere pennies – most likely, this is exactly a replica, but not the original. A suspiciously low price should confuse the user, not generate consumer interest.

The main criteria for choosing a Chinese smartphone

Criterias of choice

When choosing a Chinese smartphone, you should pay attention to the various technical characteristics of the device.


It is worth making a reservation right away – smartphones based on Allwinner, Spreadtrum, Broadcom and Rockchip processors are better not to take, no matter how cheap they are. In addition to disgusting 'call-only' performance, they also have a total lack of updates.

MediaTek periodically releases updated drivers for its processors. But rarely. It is easier for this company to release a new processor than drivers for the old one. Therefore, smartphones that are equipped with chips MediaTek practically do not receive updates to the operating system – or updates go in the same branch Android (this is often the case with models from Xiaomi – various major versions MIUI are based on one 'bucket').

The best solution would be to buy a smartphone with a NiSilicon Kirin processor (exclusively for Huawei) or Qualcomm Snapdragon. Slightly less successful – on NVIDIA Tegra (consumes a lot of energy) or Intel Atom (consumes a lot of energy and does not work well).

Best processors for 2017 for budget phones:

  1. MediaTek MT6735, MT6732, MT6732M, MT6752, all from Helio series;

  2. Qualcomm Snapdragon 400th, 600th and 800th series.

These processors are recommended for the following reasons:

  1. A good built-in modem with support for a wide frequency range (it may even work in the Russian Federation);

  2. Fast and accurate GPS operation;

  3. High performance, including for games;

  4. Relatively low power consumption.

Unfortunately, there are no processors that work fast and consume a minimum of energy at the same time. Even an active reduction in the technical process does not lead to a 'painless' reduction in energy consumption.

RAM size

The more RAM, the better. The minimum required volume is 1 GB. With less RAM, the smartphone will unload applications while using them.

  1. With 1 GB of RAM, the smartphone can be used for simple operations and work with a small number of applications. In this case, for example, it can store about 2-3 web pages in the cache, but they will be unloaded after switching to another program.

  2. With 1.5GB of RAM, almost all applications will run fairly smoothly. Only programs that have not been used for a long time are 'unloaded'. However, with active switching between applications, recent ones can also be unloaded.

  3. 2 GB is the optimal amount of RAM for everyday work. Better, of course, more. But modern versions of the operating system Android are able to optimize their work on smartphones with 2 GB of 'RAM'.

Persistent memory

The minimum amount of permanent memory that you can 'live' with in 2017 is 8 GB. This internal storage will be enough to install almost all the necessary applications. But user data (photos, music, etc.) will have to be stored on a USB flash drive.

  1. Therefore, when buying a smartphone with 8 GB of permanent memory, you should make sure that it has a slot for microSD cards.

  2. The best option would be to purchase a smartphone with 16 GB of internal memory. About 10 GB will be available from it for applications and user data, which will allow you to store not only applications, but, for example, a couple of music albums.

  3. The most practical solution is to buy a smartphone with 32 GB of internal storage or more. But such devices are expensive.


The operating parameters of the screen are influenced by the type of matrix and resolution.

In Chinese smartphones, matrices of the following standards are used:

  1. TN, TN + film are the most budgetary options. They have poor color rendering, disgusting viewing angles (less than 60 degrees) and fade in the sun. Definitely not recommended for purchase;

  2. IPS is the most common option. Color rendition, depending on the specific model, can be either good or optimal. But they have wide viewing angles (up to 180 degrees). Recommended for purchase.

  3. Better than IPS only AMOLED, but they are expensive, so they are practically not found in Chinese smartphones.

Screen resolution:

  1. 800 × 480 – very small, the picture is blurry, the pixels are visible to the naked eye;

  2. 960 × 540 – small, but tolerant, suitable only for completely undemanding users;

  3. 1280 × 720 – optimal resolution, suitable even for 5-inch screens;

  4. 1920 × 1080 – high definition. Provides good picture quality, but drains the battery quickly. However, if the smartphone is equipped with a screen with a diagonal of more than 5 inches, it is recommended.

But the screen diagonal should be chosen based on your personal preferences.


Expecting good photography from Chinese smartphones is a bit pointless. Manufacturers do not always have time to properly configure the camera, as a result of which even sensors with 13 MP and f / 2.0 can shoot 'soapy'.

The solution to the problem is Camera2 API support, which is now implemented in almost all Chinese smartphones. This library gives access to the camera to third-party applications that can customize photography the way the user wants.

But if you don't want to play around with the camera settings and don't want to install third-party photography applications, you should pay attention to smartphones from the following brands:

  1. Huawei (especially the Mate line);

  2. Wileyfox and Fly flagship models;

  3. Xiaomi;

  4. Meizu.

The rest will not be able to provide the proper quality of shooting.

In addition, if you plan to use your smartphone for photography, you should pay attention to models with flagship processors. They will provide fast enough focusing and high-speed image capture from the surface of the camera sensor.


Everything is simple here. The higher the battery capacity, the longer the smartphone will 'live' without recharging. The minimum required in 2017 is 2300 mAh. With such a battery, the smartphone can work for 3-4 hours of active use (with the screen on).

It is recommended that the battery capacity is over 2800 mAh. Such a battery will last for a whole day of mixed use (when the smartphone is actively working, then it lies on its table in a 'sleeping' state).

Since manufacturers like to overestimate the battery capacity, before buying a smartphone, you should study reviews for it on independent sites.

3G and 4G bands

Since the frequencies at which mobile networks of the third and fourth generation operate in the Russian Federation differ from those used in China, it is worth making sure that the smartphone supports the bands used in our country at the hardware and software level.

The hardware layer is the physical support for the respective bands. They are usually indicated in the specifications for the device. So, in Russia the following frequency ranges are used:

  1. 3G – 1920-1980 MHz, 2110-2170 MHz. In very rare cases, the CDMA 450 – 453-457.5 MHz, 463-467.5 MHz range is used. In Moscow and the region, 880-915 MHz and 925-960 MHz can be used;

  2. 4G – 719-862 MHz, for Moscow and the region – 2570-2620 MHz.

In the specifications of the smartphone, these frequencies are designated as WCDMA B1, B2, B5 (2100, 1900, 850, respectively) and LTE B5, B8, B7 (850, 900 and 2700, respectively).

The implementation of support for the frequencies of the mobile Internet used in Russia at the software level is indicated in the firmware version. If it is specialized for China (marked as China), then these frequencies will not work, even if their hardware implementation is declared. They work on international firmware (Global).

Some manufacturers allow you to switch from a local to an international version of the operating system. But this will require an independent flashing.

Summary: the method of choosing Chinese smartphones

When choosing a smartphone from a Chinese online store, make sure of the following:

  1. If this is a smartphone of an eminent brand and is suspiciously cheap, you should not take it, perhaps it is a fake;

  2. Study reviews on forums and third-party sites. Reviews in the online store itself can be falsified;

  3. Smartphone firmware must be international (Global) or at least support Russian;

  4. Specifications should meet your needs or at least the minimum required at present;

  5. The smartphone must support the 3G and 4G bands used in Russia.

  6. It is also advisable to examine the online store for the availability of spare parts for the smartphone. Screens and batteries are most often affected.

In the following articles, our experts will tell you how to choose a phone with a good camera and the secrets of choosing a quality smartphone.

Attention! This material is the subjective opinion of the authors of the project and is not a purchase guide.

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