Now, three years later, let’s take a look at a few more Chinese phone brands you should keep an eye on.
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 company’s current flagship is the BV9000 Pro. It runs on a Helio P25 chipset with 6GB of RAM, a 4,180mAh battery, 13MP and 5MP rear camera setup, and a 5.7-inch 2,160 x 1,080 18:9 display — all inside a rugged, IP68-certified body for ~$330.
Blackview recently launched a $60 Android Go handset too, called the A20. This packs a 5MP and 2MP dual camera setup, VGA selfie camera, a practically ancient 32-bit quad-core chipset (MTK6580M), 1GB of RAM, 8GB of expandable storage, and a 3,000mAh battery.
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, its latest phone, 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 Type-C port, rear fingerprint scanner, 6-inch full HD+ display and a rather unique patterned back.
The best feature is the battery, coming in at a massive 8,500mAh. 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?
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 this 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. It’s probably one of the better solutions we’ve seen yet, even if it does add to overall thickness.
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 BL9000, which delivers a 9,000mAh battery, Helio P23 chipset, wireless charging, USB Type-C, 6GB RAM, and 64GB storage. Meanwhile, photography duties are handled by a 12MP and 5MP rear pairing and an 8MP selfie camera with “moonlight flash.”
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..
More recently, Hisense revealed the H11 Pro and the A2 Pro (featuring an e-ink display on the back). The former device has a Snapdragon 630 chipset, while the latter is powered by the ever-popular Snapdragon 625.
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 a 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.
Leago shot to prominence last year after its sponsorship of the Tottenham Hotspur football club.
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 the T5C being its most intriguing phone.
The T5C is powered by the new 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 quite a match for the Snapdragon 625, but you get a good amount of phone for under $150.
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. The company was founded in 2007 and developed a reputation for churning out long-lasting phones.
Their latest 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 Type-C support, an NFC chip, and a leather back. It unfortunately runs Android 7.1, though.
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 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 doesn’t come cheap, at $1400. Alternatively, you could just grab the model with 6GB of RAM and 64GB memory for $550.
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) 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 jumped on the tall screen trend, launching the Android 8.1-equipped Camon X Pro. For 20,000 Naira in Nigeria (~$250), you get a Helio P23 chipset, 6-inch full HD+ display (2,160 x 1,080), 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, 3,750mAh battery, a 16MP main camera, and a 24MP selfie shooter with flash.
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).
Nevertheless, Ulefone has a few decent phones on the market, the Ulefone Power 5 being our top pick. A brick of a device, the Power 5 has a gargantuan 13,000mAh battery, wireless charging, a 21MP and 5MP rear camera setup, 13MP and 5MP front-facing camera pairing, and a Helio P23 chipset. Not bad for under $350.
You’ll also want to keep an eye out on the T2 and T2 Pro, revealed at MWC 2018. Ulefone says the latter will have a Helio P70 chipset and in-display fingerprint scanner — very ambitious, so we’ll wait and see. The T2 shares a few features with the T2 Pro (such as a 5,000mAh battery and 21MP and 13MP camera combo), but offers a Helio P60, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
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!