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10 more Chinese smartphone brands you should be watching

Looking for a budget Chinese smartphone with plenty of features? You might want to look at this list...

Published onFebruary 2, 2019

The Oukitel U18 smartphone.

We first looked at upcoming Chinese phone brands in 2015, covering the likes of Xiaomi, Oppo and OnePlus. Of course, some of these brands have since become household names.

Now, almost four years later, let’s take a look at a few more Chinese phone brands you should keep an eye on.


The BlackView BV9600 Pro.

Founded in Hong Kong back in 2013, Blackview differs from most other manufacturers on the list thanks to its focus on rugged devices. You can actually find these phones in countries like Greece, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the U.K. — not too shabby for one of the lesser known Chinese phone brands.

The manufacturer’s current top-end device is the durable BV9600 Pro, offering a mid-range Helio P60 chipset, up to 6GB of RAM, up to 128GB of expandable storage, and a 5,580mAh battery with wireless charging. The device also offers a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, a notched 5.7-inch AMOLED screen (full HD+), a 16MP+8MP rear pairing, and an 8MP selfie camera.

Blackview also revealed the Max-1 smartphone in recent weeks, which has an ancient Helio P23 chipset, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, and a 4,680mAh battery. But the real selling point is its integrated projector, with a claimed coverage area of up to 200 inches and battery life of up to 4.5 hours. The phone will have a limited price of $400 when it launches on March 1, gradually increasing to $699.


The BLUboo S3.
The BLUboo S3. Bluboo

It’s been around the mobile landscape since 2006, but BLUboo is another company with a reputation for cloning devices (see the Samsung-inspired S8 Plus and Xiaomi-derived D5 Pro). Fortunately, one of its latest phones, the Bluboo S3, might be its best yet.

There’s a 21MP and 5MP dual camera combo on the back, a 13MP selfie camera, NFC, 64GB of expandable storage, a USB-C port, rear fingerprint scanner, 6-inch full HD+ display and a rather unique patterned back. The best feature is the battery though, coming in at a massive 8,500mAh. And yes, it’s also capable of charging your other devices.

It has a few downsides though, such as the ho-hum horsepower (MT6750T and 4GB of RAM) and lack of a headphone jack. But for a sub-$200 device, something has to give, right? However, the biggest downside (as pointed out by Android Authority reader Sned) is the misleading render used by the company.


DOOGEE S90 Review Back

The company’s profile curiously claims it was set up in Spain in 2013, but it’s definitely a Chinese phone brand no matter which way you cut it. Its headquarters are in Shenzhen and its full name is actually Shenzhen DOOGEE Hengtong Technology Co. Ltd..

In any event, DOOGEE made tech headlines last year with its impressive solution to the display notch. The DOOGEE Mix 4 lacks a notch, but has a slider on the back instead, popping up to reveal the front-facing camera and earpiece. And this design has since been used by the likes of Honor, Xiaomi and others. The company is guilty of a few cloned devices (the DOOGEE Mix, among others), but we quite like its varied range of handsets.

Its latest phone is the rugged DOOGEE S90 (seen above), which follows Motorola in allowing hardware add-ons. The phone’s add-ons include a low-light camera, a gamepad, and a walkie-talkie. As for core specs, you can expect a Helio P60 chipset, 6GB RAM, 128GB of storage, a 5,050mAh battery, a 16MP/8MP rear combo, and an 8MP front-facing shooter.


The Hisense H11 Pro
The older Hisense H11 Pro.

Hisense has more of a reputation as an appliance and TV manufacturer, but the company is also one of the more prominent Chinese phone brands around. The phones are mostly sold in the likes of Egypt, France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, and the U.K..The company tends to steer clear of flagship devices, releasing plenty of mid-range phones instead. It’s carved out a niche with affordable water-resistant phones like the C30 Rock and C30 Rock Lite, while also delivering the A2 Pro (featuring an e-ink display on the back).

Hisense also revealed the U30 at CES 2019, and it’s looking like a very capable smartphone. The device is said to offer a Snapdragon 675 chipset, a 48MP+5MP rear camera setup, punch-hole display, and 4,500mAh battery. Now, about a wider release…


The Infinix Zero 5 smartphone.
The Infinix Zero 5. Infinix

It might not be a household name in the West or even a mobile geek’s brand of choice, but Infinix (a brand owned by China’s Transsion Holdings) is one of the most popular players in emerging markets. The company has a massive following in Africa, gaining plenty of users in countries like Kenya and Nigeria.

The brand’s hero device is arguably the Infinix Zero 5, which packs an older Helio P25 chipset, 6GB of RAM, a 16MP front-facing camera, and a 12MP and 13MP dual camera pairing on the back (enabling 2x zoom). The Zero 5 bears a resemblance to the HUAWEI Nova from the back, packing 64GB or 128GB of expandable storage, a beefy 4,350mAh battery, and a starting price of ~$300.



The Leagoo S10.

Leagoo shot to prominence in 2017 after its sponsorship of the Tottenham Hotspur football club. So what makes the company stand out?

The Chinese phone brand serves up a mix of original and cloned designs, as this enlightening Engadget interview reveals. The clones are apparently a financial necessity for the company, but it has a few original devices too, with 2017’s T5C being its most intriguing phone.

The T5C is powered by a Spreadtrum SC9853i chipset, which is essentially an octacore Intel Atom processor. Other noteworthy figures include 3GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage, a 3,000mAh battery, 13MP and 2MP rear camera setup, and a 5.5-inch full HD screen. Sure, the chipset isn’t really a match for the Snapdragon 625, but you got a good amount of phone for under $150.

Leagoo has also jumped on the in-display fingerprint bandwagon in recent months, with its imaginatively named Leagoo S10. Aside from the in-display sensor and OLED screen, you’re looking at a Helio P60 chipset, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a rather wide notch, a 20MP/5MP rear combo, and a 4,050mAh battery. Not too shabby for $350, then.


The Oukitel K10.
The Oukitel K10. Oukitel

One of the first major Chinese phone brands to play the “we’ve got the biggest battery” game, the Oukitel K10 000 made tech headlines thanks to its 10,000mAh battery. Since then, the company has made a name for itself by churning out long-lasting phones.

Their most prominent device, the Oukitel K10, makes for an impressive phone at ~$300. It sports a Helio P23 processor, 6GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, and a 6-inch 2,160 x 1080 18:9 display.

The list of features doesn’t stop there, as you also get an 11,000mAh battery, four cameras in total (21MP and 8MP on the back and 13MP and 8MP for selfies), USB-C support, an NFC chip, and a leather back. It unfortunately runs Android 7.1, though.


Smartisan R1 - Chinese smartphone brands
The Smartisan R1. Smartisan

Ridiculous name aside, Smartisan has quietly been making phones with quite a few premium features since 2012. Aside from the iPhone-style M1 and M1L, its phones tend to be relatively unique. However, no matter how unique it might be, we could do without names like the Smartisan Nut.

The company also made tech headlines in May 2018 for its Smartisan R1 device, packing a Snapdragon 845 chipset, a 12MP and 20MP rear camera setup, and up to 1TB of internal storage. This variant didn’t come cheap, at $1400. Alternatively, you could just grab the model with 6GB of RAM and 64GB memory for $550.

Smartisan also has the Pro 2S, which packs a Snapdragon 710 chipset, 4GB to 6GB of RAM, 64GB to 128GB of storage, and a 3,600mAh battery for a starting price of 1,798 yuan (~$266). Toss in a 12MP+5MP rear pairing, a 16MP selfie camera, and a full HD OLED screen, and you’ve got a pretty reasonable proposition.


The Tecno Phantom 8.
The Tecno Phantom 8. Tecno

Tecno has been a fixture in various African markets for years, starting as a feature-phone brand in 2006 before transitioning to smartphones. In fact, the combined marketshare of Infinix, Tecno and Itel (all owned by Transsion Holdings) reportedly made the parent company number one on the continent.

The company has a few noteworthy devices, starting with the Phantom 8, which seems like the aforementioned Infinix Zero 5 in new clothing. The only major differences here are the smaller 3,500mAh battery, slightly smaller (but still full HD) 5.7-inch display, and higher resolution 20MP selfie snapper.

Tecno has also recently launched the Camon 11 Pro, offering plenty of bang for ~$215. Your cash gets you a 24MP selfie camera with pixel-binning, a 16MP+5MP rear setup, and AI-powered scene detection and beautification. The company hasn’t revealed any chipset details, aside from saying it’s a 2Ghz octa-core processor (complete with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage). Nevertheless, you can also expect a 3,750mAh battery, a rear fingerprint scanner, and a 6.2-inch 720p display.


The Ulefone Armor 6.

One of the more established Chinese phone brands, Ulefone has consistently delivered a variety of budget-priced smartphones. On the odd occasion, the company also serves up budget wares inspired by others (like the Ulefone Mix and Mix 2).

Ulefone has a few solid phones available, with the Armor 6 being its latest high-profile device. A rugged phone with IP68 and MIL-STD 810G ratings, the phone packs a Helio P60 chipset, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 13MP/21MP rear camera setup, and a 5,000mAh battery with wireless charging.

The phone’s spec sheet doesn’t stop there, as it’s also offering NFC, a rear fingerprint scanner, and a UV sensor to warn users of sunburn risk. Ulefone’s device is available for $360 at the time of writing, but it usually has a $460 price tag, the manufacturer claims.

We think these are the most interesting Chinese phone brands you’ve probably never heard of, but what do you think? Did we leave any off the list? Let us know in the comments below!

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