2014 so far – the rising tide of the Chinese smartphone manufacturer

by: Jonathan FeistApril 26, 2014
Chinese phones oneplus one vs oppo find 7 aa (13 of 15)

As 2014 rolls on, we are beginning to see a number of Chinese smartphone manufacturers working their way into the global spotlight, and we couldn’t be more pleased. The last week alone has seen the official announcement of the OnePlus One ‘flagship killer’ and big news from Xiaomi – three new products and an expansion of device sales to 10 new countries.

Xiaomi started out building Android powered smartphones back in 2011. Despite stellar sales in China, Xiaomi’s official global sales have really only managed to expand to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. In a recent announcement, Xiaomi shared their plans to expand to ten new countries by the end of the year, including new markets like Brazil, India, the Philippines and Russia, Xiaomi puts themselves in front of millions of new users.

Xiaomi’s new devices announced this past week do not include smartphones or tablets. With a new WiFi router, Chromecast-competitor media unit and a full blown media server with 1TB of storage, Xiaomi works to expand the ecosystem in your home around your Xiaomi Android powered devices.

Xiaomi Mi WiFi Mini Box Pro April 2014

Another Chinese smartphone manufacturer that we see making waves on a global scale is a company called OPPO. OPPO has been selling their Find 5 smartphone for a while, added the N1 a while back, announced the updated Find 7 in March and just announced an NFC lense-style camera.

Should the ‘big’ Android phone manufacturers be scared?

Simply put, OnePlus, OPPO and Xiaomi are hungry companies, looking to stir the pot and compete on the international level. They are continuing a trend that Google has been pushing of late with their Nexus line of devices, making top-notch devices and selling them for affordable prices. Let’s take a look at what these three are bringing to the table:

OnePlus One – starting at $299.00

oneplus one aa hands on (17 of 33)

With the mantra of “never settle,” the OnePlus One is one of the most powerful device on the market right now. With the 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 5.5-inch 1080p screen and a slew of other specs that make us swoon, we very much enjoyed reviewing this unit at the official launch this past week. There is some debate that OnePlus failed to deliver on all of their promises for the Cyanogen powered One. Even with a few shortcomings, there is no question that this is one of the best phones for its price, and possibly one of the most sought after devices of the year.

OPPO Find 7 – starting at $499.00

oppo find 7 7a unboxing first impressions (18 of 27)

OPPO offers two variants of their new Find 7 Android powered smartphone. With many similar specs, the higher end of the two sports the 2.5 GHZ Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM and a 5.5-inch display. Sounds pretty familiar so far. OPPO has gone ahead and rocked the boat by using that 5.5-inch display to throw Quad HD at you. That’s 2560 x 1440 resolution, for 538 ppi. Checkout our hands-on to get all the details, but rest assured, the OPPO Find 7 is an impressive device.

Xiaomi – Mi 3 and Redmi Note – starting at $327 and $129

Xiaomi Mi3 Singapore Launch


Xiaomi may not be in the race for the most powerful devices around, but with a starting point of just $129 for the Redmi Note, it is no wonder that the company has two phones on top 10 sales lists. The 5-inch, Snapdragon 800, 2GB RAM Xiaomi Mi 3 first launched last year. Sales expanded to Singapore in early 2014, marking the first stage in their global expansion led by ex-Googler Hugo Barra.

Xiaomi is looking to expand its Hongmi line, which was renamed Redmi for sales outside of China. In addition to Redmi, Xiaomi is releasing the Redmi Note, which will be available for sale next month in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, with 10 new markets anticipated later this year. The Redmi Note will come with 2GB of RAM on a 1.7GHz processor for $159, or drop down to 1GB of RAM and a 1.4GHz processor for $129.

Xiaomi Redmi Note

There are plenty of other smartphone manufacturers around the globe that have been positioning themselves to put phones in pockets. We hope to see big things from Alcatel, Blu and ASUS soon. Lenovo is another name we should keep eyes on, with their recent acquisition of Motorola, the two combined stand to make a significant dent in the global smartphone market. So far, it may be hype more than sales numbers, but 2014 is proving to be a big year for Chinese smartphone Manufacturers.

When you go shopping for a new Android phone, do you consider where it was manufactured before purchasing? If you had to choose from OnePlus, OPPO and Xiaomi, which brand would you most like to see become a household name?

  • Kyle Ong

    Its Redmi….not Redmi Note

    • Hiki

      Yes, think the writer mixed up the two. The current one on sale in the top 5 is Redmi for US$129 while the Redmi Note is due for release with a bigger screen.

      • Jonathan Feist

        Thank you guys. I was provided differing info. I’ll look into it and update as required.

  • Guest123

    At the moment I’m pushing for OnePlus, though they really are a subsidiary of Oppo, most likely.

    The reason being? Cyanogenmod. I believe CM can bring better long term support and features that are truly designed for the customer instead of corporations — things like Privacy Guard.

    One of the biggest problems with Android devices from China thus far has been poor software support — devices are often released with a year old, or more, version of Android and generally will never see an update. We’ve reached a point where mobile hardware should last for a few years, except for the enthusiast, thus long term software support is a necessity to recommend a device. . . and the OnePlus is the only one who has given a commitment to that — CM stated two years for software support.

    • Woe, Is [S]unjay

      Two years if official software support….many more years of 3rd party support. Open source, ftw.

  • trwb

    This site is really getting ridiculous. Taking you off my bookmarks.

    • bwrt

      Why because they support Chinese manufacturer? The fact is the Chinese are coming they are doing better and cheaper than the bigger OEMs who just seem to screw the consumer for profit. Also Vivo and Meizu are two other Chinese manufacturers to watch out for.

      • K2

        Better? How are these phones better than the phones from samsung or apple or nokia?

        • Airyl

          In almost every way, actually. Let’s start with the OnePlus One and compare that to the iPhone 5S. The One has a larger display, larger battery, higher res display, similar camera, more RAM, a customisable system and is about $300 more expensive. Not impressed yet? Take all of that, add a microSD card slot, charging innovations, removable battery, a load of featuresand the ability to take 50MP pictures. That’s the Find 7. I hope you understand now.

          • K2

            Larger display mans automatically better. A lot of people find a 4-5 inch display better than a 5.5 inch display. And larger displays more likely than not need a larger battery.

            And samsung, nokia, and iphones have higher better responsiveness, have a longer life and have better service and support than local companies, and finger print scanner, heartrate sensor.

          • Airyl

            First of all, thank you for replying in a calm manner and presenting your thoughts instead of getting angry.

            Yes, I do realize that some people find smaller displays easier to use and handle. Smaller displays also do not need higher resolutions and can have longer lasting battery life. However, let’s not forget that there are a lot of smartphones that are as small as the iPhone as well. For example, the Xiaomi Mi2S has a 4.3 inch HD IPS OGS display. It also gets constant updates, has a fast processor, 2GB of RAM, a fantastic camera and costs nearly $400 less than the iPhone 5.

            As for quality concerns, phones from larger brands like Xiaomi and Oppo have very, very good build quality. Anyone who has used a Xiaomi or Oppo phone can vouch for their performance and responsiveness. It’s pretty much iPhone level by now. OppoStyle has pretty good service from what I’ve heard, but others like Xiaomi and OnePlus have yet to do much about service. This is changing though, with Xiaomi and Oppo opening stores in a lot of countries where you can send your phone for service. And yes, these phones may not have fingerprint scanners or heart rate monitors, but they make up in other useful ways as well, like OnePlus having CM, Oppo having VOOC and Xiaomi with their amazing prices and quality.

    • Jonathan Feist

      Are you also experiencing a large pop-up ad? We’re looking into it, sorry for any inconvenience.

      Otherwise, Chinese Android phone manufacturers are a big deal. Not stating they are the best phones, that is for each user to decide for themselves, but we cannot rightly ignore them. Any new Android gear/phone/manufacturer is exciting to us.

      Sorry that you are displeased. All the best.

      • simpleas

        Awesome service John. I recently told phandroid im taking them off my favorites due to all the late biased reviews and they removed the comment lol. (well they are now gone. took off verge years ago too lol)

    • xclusiv8

      Why? What about this article made you upset?

  • Xavier_NYC

    Why does this pop up on every page for this website now? It’s getting really annoying..

    • Mf Lye

      what pop up???? never see this before

      • Chicken Luvva

        probably has some nice spyware extension installed on the browser.

    • Jonathan Feist

      I will run this past our devs. But I do not believe we are working with Undertone for any ads, it is possible you have something else on your machine providing the ad?

    • Bean bon

      I also didn’t get any popup. I used Opera Next.
      Oh I get it, perhaps because I still use WinXP, popup refused to show :P

      • KillEmAllx

        You still using Windows XP? Man, change to linux ;)

      • rubber luvva

        xp?? dude!

    • wat

      People on a tech blog that don’t even have adblock installed? My God the irony.

      • Xavier_NYC

        Never needed to before, it’s a work computer so I need windows to pop up sometimes and add blockers block them.

        • deV14nt

          More like antivirus. ESET has good malware blocking. Smart Security package blocks malicious website connections. MalwareBytes should remove what you got though. Or call up IT…

    • I have forwarded this to our advertising department. Apologies for any trouble this may have caused, rest assured I will ensure any type of these ads will never appear again.

    • Jesse Afolabi

      dude install adblock extension for chrome

  • Mystery Man

    OPPO AND ONE PLUS ONE (OPO) are the same companies.

    • Jonathan Feist

      This was actually a bit of a decision – in the end, I still consider Lamborghini to be its own company, despite being owned by Volkswagen (Audi,) so I chose to consider OnePlus its own company as well. Is that the wrong move?

      • Adam Koueider

        They aren’t. One Plus, is the company name. The ‘One’ is the name of their new smartphone. One Plus is actually a start up created by former employees of Oppo, but not attached to Oppo in any way.

        • Jonathan Feist

          That’s what I thought too, Adam. But it was pointed out that despite our perception, over on the ever-trustworthy Wikipedia, OnePlus is designated as a fully owned subsidiary of OPPO. Hence my Lambo reference.

        • Ben Edwards

          Documents have come to light showing OnePlus is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oppo, which should come as no surprise since the company is made up almost entirely of “ex-“Oppo staff and the OnePlus One looks nearly identical to the Oppo Find 7.

          • Airyl

            It’s like Lenovo owning Motorola. They’re still two separate brands, it’s just that one owns the other.

          • Ben Edwards

            I don’t think it’s quite the same, it seems like Oppo have created OnePlus as more of a marketing scheme than anything – looking at the last few articles that have been published about the relationship.

          • Airyl

            Don’t see how this possibly going to benefit Oppo though.

    • sam

      there are stuff that i will buy from china and there are stuff that i whont buy from china a smart phone is what i will never buy from china that is my oppinion that is how i feel

      • Besbes Souhaieb

        are you aware that most smartphones come from china?

      • Airyl

        But why?

    • wat

      Wrong. They are both under the same parent company but that does not mean they “are oppo”, that is just retarded. They stayed under the same parent company as Oppo to ensure manufacturing and distribution was there.

  • Kal-el

    When you talk about chinese android phone, you should also talk about after-sales service.
    That’s one thing prevent me from buying any chinese phone.

    • David Starkie

      This is the one thing I’d like to know more about before diving in. I’d strongly consider the OnePlus as it looks great, the specs are great and having Cyanogen on board should help future updates. However, what do we do if the phone has to be sent for repair?

      • K2


    • K2

      Very very very very good point. Not just chinese though but any local brand phone.

    • Airyl

      Some countries do have service centers for Chinese Android phones, like how the Netherlands has a Zopo store. I do agree that they need to work on their service though.

  • Chicken Luvva

    its ok until they piss of the likes of apple who then start suing them over every little thing they can find and because they don’t have the massive money or resources that Samsung or Google has they could end up losing badly which is the problem with anyone using Android.

    • N4

      Unless Apple start a new assembly plant, they will have to thread carefully when suing Chinese manufacturers.

    • Android Developer

      Samsung lost quite a lot on the recent trial…

      Its money and lawyers didn’t help.

  • Luka Mlinar

    It would take just a local branch of Sony to make a green competition in reference to Smash The Past to tear both OP and OPPO and maybe even Xiaomi a new one. As much as OPPO benefit from OnePlus’s campaign. Things can just as well go sour for both.
    These company’s are still nowhere close to be a stand alone name and not be compered to each other or come as a package in articles.

  • wezi427

    I used to be a big Motorola fan because they were an American company. Every phone made today is Chinese made in some sort of way. Whether it’s through parts or assembly.
    Blu is a company I would like to see succeed, but when are they going to step move beyond 3G?

  • Shubham Singh

    the only concern with buying OPO is after sales, if one got a faulty unit it would be hard to get it repaired(like the other Chinese phones mentioned here). .

    • K2

      Tech blogs are so obsessed with looks and specs that they sometimes forget everything else. Not just AA but other blogs too.

    • Airyl

      My guess is that you need to send it back to them. Such is the case with Oppo and Xiaomi as well.

      • Shubham Singh

        return policy doesnt works very well in my country. One should look for affordable phones rather then dirty cheap or else you might hae to pay the difference with visiting service center and you time.

  • Habib

    Why has anyone and everyone forgotten rhat Oppo also support cm mod and other third party roms. I have emailed them asking if there will be any official support from cm mod for the find 7a and the said that there will be.

  • Jesse Afolabi

    you left pipo, ramos, fnf ifve, cube….etcetra these are chinese oems that offer top notch android devices at great prices chrck this one out for example http://www.pandawill.com/fnf-ifive-mini-3-tablet-pc-quad-core-rk3188-79-inch-android-42-retina-screen-16gb-p85909.html

  • Matthew Hannan

    The specs on the these phones along with the pricing seem very impressive and got my attention. But, I don’t think I can feel good about buying from a Chinese manufacturer. I’d prefer a device that was at least partly American owned or a device made in S. Korea. They likely get the phones to be so cheap by using lower quality parts or by using next to slave labor.

  • Andrew White

    Can’t see importantly any support/marketing being provided by local telco’s in my country for non-mainstream manufacturers regardless of specs vs price in the short-term.
    It will take years to introduce the majority of buyers in the west and elsewhere, in terms of marketing etc, to really become familiar with these common and not so common, Chinese brandnames.
    In 3-5 years however I see Oppo, Lenovo and others gaining more acceptance. On-line sales and a more informed public, will I believe steer many away from traditional brands and means of payment.

  • Tommy

    As cheesy as the name sounds (and confusing, if you were to start referring it as just the One), this 5.5-inch quad-core smartphone is actually pretty good. I’ve been using an early model that’s very similar to the final product, bar some slight cosmetic alterations, and I must say I’m impressed. And if you have decided to become a proud owner of this device, perhaps you’re in the market for a solid and beautiful protection case as well.


  • Tommy

    The OnePlus One is not the perfect, everything-to-everyone phone that its creators might like you to think it is. But it is an amazingly powerful and versatile device, even before you consider its staggeringly low price. And if you have decided to become a proud owner of this device, perhaps you’re in the market for a solid and beautiful protection case as well.