Best China phone: Top Chinese Android smartphone picks

There are major misconceptions about Chinese phones. They are often wrongly described as fake and not secure. So, let’s clear some things up. First of all, all the China-made phones that make their way to the western market are absolutely authentic products and not counterfeit devices. If you want to avoid purchasing a fake mobile phone, avoid devices made in Dubai, they are the fake ones.

Another major concern that keeps turns costumers off from is security. Chinese manufacturers are often blacklisted as supplying their devices with the tech to spy on consumers. While smartphones do have the tech for governments to use them to record user activity, governments have done them in the past and will probably continue to do so. But, unless you are someone with sufficient popularity to attract the attention of the governments, with the majority of phone users not falling into that category, there’s no reason to be afraid of smartphones made in China.

Mobile phones manufactured by China-based companies are exclusively Android smartphones and more often than rarely cost less than average iPhone or Samsung phones. However, while China Android phones have a general lower upfront cost, they are rare to find on contract. If you’re blown away from a particular Chinese phone, prepare yourself to be paying the full cost of it at one go.

There are some drawbacks that come along when purchasing a mobile handset from a not-so-popular China-based manufacturer. Faulty devices may be difficult to repair, parts are often not available and need to be ordered online, you may incur import duty that is added to the overall price, and the phone may not work with your network. In some cases, such as with Xiaomi or Meizu phones, Google Play does not come pre-installed and you might have to do that on your own.

Features and specifications

High-end Android phones made in China attract customers from all around the world by blending together the latest mobile processing chipsets, excellent camera sensors often borrowed from Sony or Samsung, offering dual-SIM dual-standby with both SIM cards running simultaneously on 4G network, topped by FHD or HD screens and gesture functions built on top of Android.

Whereas China phones traditionally came equipping MediaTek processors, they are rapidly adapting to running on Qualcomm-made processors that are popular in the US and EU. Specifically, the flagship phones almost exclusively run the fastest Snapdragon 845 SoC, with the exception of Huawei that has its own chipset as capable as the Qualcomm counterpart.

Phone manufacturers from China have adapted to the latest trends in the mobile phone craze by giving to their devices edge-to-edge screens, moving the fingerprints to the rear, with many still being resilient to give up on the headphone jack.

Phones from China offer excellent value for the money. If you want to get one for yourself, these are the best Android phones China has in offer.

OnePlus 6T

OnePlus 6T Hands on review

OnePlus has been providing since long the most popular smartphone alternatives from China. Unlike other mobile manufacturers that just recently managed to unite quality and the affordable pricing, OnePlus has been offering solid smartphones since 2014, where the highly-successful OnePlus one was claimed as the flagship-killer phone.

The new OnePlus 6T further minimizes the notch with a minimalist oval-shaped section on the top of the screen where the 16MP selfie camera and the infrared sensor are embedded. Cameras of the OnePlus 6T are again a 16MP and 20MP sensors on the back and a 16MP camera on the rear. However, the new version performs slightly better than the OnePlus 6.

OnePlus 6T, similarly to its predecessor, the OnePlus 6, runs the Snapdragon 845 chipset with Adreno 630 GPU and has 6GB of RAM with 64GB of storage and 8GB of RAM with 128GB and 256GB of flash memory versions. Internal memory capacity is not extendable, and this device becomes the first OnePlus phone to not support the headphone jack.

The new OnePlus smartphone is larger, the phone sports a 6.41-inch FHD OLED screen that’s protected by the 6th generation of Corning Gorilla glass and it has a fingerprint reader embedded under the display. This phone gets fueled by a 3,700 mAh battery, supports two SIM cards, and despite it offering top-end performance pricing remains to be attractive. OnePlus retails the OnePlus 6T for the starting price of $550.

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HTC U12 Plus

HTC U12 Plus hands on

HTC U12+ is a compact top-end Android that comes pre-loaded with two virtual assistants and runs on Qualcomm’s fastest mobile processor to date, the Snapdragon 845. HTC U12+ has a quad-camera setup, two on the rear and two at the front, an extremely bright QHD+ LCD screen, and it even has touch-oriented gesture functions that simplify usage. It currently is one of the best mobile phones the market has in offer.

The top-end HTC phone features a 6-inch LCD screen with QHD+ resolution and a pixel density of 537 pixels per inch, it is one of the phones with best LCD screens out there. The screen on it doesn’t have the notch, an adjustment made by manufacturers to expand the volume of touch-enabled display on mobile phones but that was found to interfere with user experience and messing things up, specifically when playing games.

U12 Plus makes an excellent Android phone for games, its hi-res display is extensively bright, doesn’t have the annoying notch, and its processing powers are backed by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 powerhouse with 6gigs of RAM, 128gigs of expandable flash memory, and Android 9.0 Pie OS.

There are four cameras coming with this top-end smartphone from China. It packs the forth UltraPixel camera, a 12MP PDAF focus that combines its capabilities with a second 16MP TelePhoto camera to record 4K videos at 60 frames per second. Two 8MP HDR sensors at the front provide you with one of the best selfie cameras on a smartphone.

It has support for two cameras, features a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and gets its power from a 3,500 mAh battery. HTC’s Edge Sense 2 technology of touch and pressure sensors on the sides make the usage with one hand easier, help quickly rotate the screen, or activate either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa virtual assistant that comes with the handset. The Edge Sense 2 is made to support Android applications and games and improve the user experience.

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Huawei P20 Pro

Huawei P20 Pro hands on review

Kirin 970-powered Huawei P20 Pro is one of the best cell phones from China and the best phone with a front Home button and fingerprint. The P20 Pro runs on Hisilicon Kirin 970 — allegedly the fast processor for mobiles. It has a 6.1-inch OLED FHD screen with a tiny notch and brings in a trio of superb Leica-made camera sensors on the back.

The hi-resolution display on the Huawei flagship has a minimalist notch that shouldn’t create disturbances when playing video games — although the phone is made to have an almost edge-to-edge screen, Huawei managed to maintain a small Home button that also serves as a fingerprint reader at the front. Hi-end flagship smartphones with a front fingerprint are becoming rare, this particular phone has it for everyone that finds it useful or irreplaceable.

The camera setup on this cell phone is amazing. There are a 40MP, 20MP, and an 8MP camera sensors lined vertically on the side of the phone’s back that together can record outstanding videos at 4K resolution. The triple Leica camera setup is not found on the standard Huawei P20 version, it’s only reserved to the Pro version. The selfie snapper is another impressive 24MP FHD camera that has sufficient megapixels to mage the difference when live chatting, video chatting, or snapping selfies.

P20 Pro has versions with 6GB and 8GB of RAM with 128GB and 256GB of respective flash storage models. The internal memory cannot be further expanded via microSD. The battery on this handset is a non-removable unit with a capacity of 4,000 mAh and the phone supports NFC, fast charge, and has single and dual-SIM editions.

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Xiaomi Mi8 Pro

Xiaomi Mi 8 hands on review

Xiaomi has been rapidly growing popularity outside China by manufacturing high-end Android phones that sell affordably. The typical top-end Xiaomi phone will often cost half the price of an iPhone or the latest generation of Galaxy S or Note. The Mi 8 Pro is not as cheap as the Poco F1, but the camera on this phone performs better.

The Mi 8 Pro and Mi 8 are almost identical, they both pack a 6.21-inch FHD AMOLED display with a notch at the top and run the same Snapdragon 845 chipset with 8GB of RAM versions. Despite that, only the Mi 8 Pro has a 256GB of non-expandable flash storage. The main feature that sets these two phones apart is the placement of the fingerprint sensor.

The standard Xiaomi Mi 8 has the fingerprint reader located on the back of the phone while the Mi 8 Pro has the fingerprint reader embedded under the Corning Gorilla 5 glass at the front. Although there isn’t a Home button that you can press and use it as a fingerprint sensor to instantly access your phone, the front-based fingerprint on mobile phones is something not everyone wants to easily give up. The outlook of this phone is very similar to that of the iPhone X, and it can be seen as a twice-cheaper China-made alternative to it.

The Mi 8 Pro and Mi 8 both equip two 12MP cameras on the back that are almost as good as the sensors found on the Galaxy S9. They’re capable of recording 4K videos at 60 frames per second too. For selfies, the Xiaomi flagship houses a 20MP HDR-enabled camera.

Because the Pro edition of the Mi 8 uses the on-display fingerprint recognition technology that requires less power, the phone comes with a battery that has a capacity of 3,000 mAh. It also has NF and support for two SIM cards.

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Asus Rog Phone

Asus Rog Phone

The gaming powerhouse, first Asus smartphone to become part of the company’s Republic of Gamers’ line of gaming devices, and practically one of the very few smartphones specifically designed to support the heaviest of mobile games and provide a gaming experience comparable to consoles.

Although not ranked first, Asus Rog Phone is way more powerful and has many more shiny features and gestures than any other phone on this list. Its Snapdragon 845 chipset is overclocked to 2.96GHz and has 8 gigs of RAM. There are models with 128GB and 256GB of extendable flash storage.

The 6-inch FHD AMOLED display on the Rog Phone has a mind-boggling contrast ratio, 90Hz refresh rate, and 1ms pixel response. Its rear-mounted ROG logo flashes and changes color as you play, and it supports a variety of extensions like the TwinView Dock that converts the phone into a console with two screens, side-mounted ultrasound touch sensors that enable the phone to behave like any gaming controller, and more. Read more about features and supports of Asus Rog phone.

The first Rog gaming phone packs a 4,000 mAh battery and a 12MP and an 8MP camera sensors on the rear to snap 4K videos at 60 frames per second and another 8MP selfie taker at the front. This handset specifically designed for games also has a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, NFC, Quick Charge, and a socket for you to plug the headphone jack.

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Oppo Find X

Oppo Find X hands on review

Find X is Oppo’s best phone to date and one decent Galaxy Note 9 alternative as it is one of the few smartphones with the curved edge display that are still continuing the boundless viewing experience on mobile phones.

The Oppo Find X is a large phone, its edge-to-edge OLED FHD touchscreen display measures 6.42 inches in diagonal and has edge curves on both sides. Oppo not only made its top-end flagship phone to become a worth-considering Samsung Galaxy S9 alternative but it also made it one of the top phones without a screen notch. The only thing wrong with this phone is the absence of the headphone jack support. It would need that to become an all-in-one smartphone.

The Find X is made from glass panels sandwiched together via a minimalist aluminum frame, the curves on the edges further highlight the bezel-less outlook. It runs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 processor and has only an 8GB of RAM model with versions carrying 128GB and 256GB of non-extendable internal memory.

The Oppo premium smartphone has a unique camera function that isn’t found that often on the line of hi-end handsets. Its 16MP and 20MP sensors that serve as rear cameras and the 25MP selfie snapper are placed on both sides of a motorized module that sits between the screen and the back glass and also serves as the upper edge of the phone. When not activated, it blends within the phone and it remains invisible. But once you turn on the camera, the module flips up and reveals the dual cameras that were hidden behind the two Corning Gorilla Glass 5 panels. Oppo implemented the motorized module tech to avoid a notch on the phone’s screen, and it seems to have worked.

Oppo Find X gets its power juice from a 3,700 mAh battery and features face recognition to securely access the phone content. Unfortunately, there is no fingerprint. In case you’re curious about how good this phone really is, check out this video where Oppo Find X meets Samsung Galaxy Note 9. There’s not very much difference in function, in some challenges it even beats the Samsung powerhouse, except for challenges related to photography. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy S9+ are the phones with the best cameras.

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Asus ZenFone 5Z

Asus ZenFone 5Z

The ZenFone 5Z is Asus’ ace under the sleeve top-end Android handset. This outstanding phone features a 6.2-inch FHD LCD edge-to-edge touchscreen display with a notch at the top. This, another cell phone coming from China that runs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 SoC has 8GB of RAM versions with 256gigs of extendable internal memory. Other versions have 4GB of RAM with 64GB memory and 6GB of RAM with 128GB storage. MicroSD is supported for all editions of the Asus ZenFone 5Z.

Besides housing the Snapdragon 845, the ZenFone 5Z also has a 12MP and 8MP dual camera setup on the back that features AI to deliver smooth and responsive photo shooting performance. There’s another 8MP sensor located on the screen notch and it is perfectly placed to not limit the performance of the selfie camera. The AI on the cameras allows you to teach the phone your unique style of taking pictures to adjust camera settings for future shots. This AI-related support ensures that the cameras on your Asus phone will always snap photography in the way you like them to be taken.

Zenfone 5Z is one of the top phones with the headphone jack. It houses a rear-mounted fingerprint reader, supports NFC with enabled Google Pay, packs the DTS Headphone X audio technology, and gets powered by a 3,300 mAh battery.

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Vivo Nex

Vivo Nex S hands on review

Vivo Nex S is another mobile phone from China to feature a creative design. It utilizes a pop-up motorized module that pops up to reveal the 8MP selfie camera. A similar gadget can be seen on the Oppo Find X, but with the Vivo flagship, only the selfie sensor sits on the module. By utilizing the motorized pop-up camera, Vivo Nex S is blessed with a true edge-to-edge touchscreen-enabled display panel.

Regarding the screen, Vivo Nex S has a lot of it in offer. Its OLED display measures a whopping of 6.59 inches diagonally and it is touchscreen enabled from edge to edge. The primary camera on this phone is a12MP OIS PDAF sensor that works together with a 5MP depth-detection camera to record 4K videos at 30 frames per second. The motorized pop-up selfie shooter is an 8MP camera sensor. Vivo Nex S is one of the best photography phones out there.

The backbone of any high-end mobile handset is its processor. Vivo brings the Snapdragon 845 chipset with 8GB of RAM to the Nex S. There are versions with 128GB and 256GB of storage, unfortunately, there is no support to extend the built-in memory. A 4,000 mAh battery powers it up, there’s a fingerprint sensor embedded under the display, and a 3.5mm headphone jack enables you to listen to music via your favorite non-wireless wired earbuds.

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ZTE Nubia X

ZTE Nubia X smartphone hands on review

ZTE phones with two screens are back. Last year’s Axon M had two screens but it never actually became a thing. A good portion of the screen at the top and the bottom always stood dark and had no use and despite it having a decent processor such as the Snapdragon 821, its utterly ugly outlook prevented it from becoming a thing.

ZTE has redesigned the dual-screen smartphone concept and has come up with a much better and aesthetic device. The ZTE Nubia X. The new ZTE Android flagship has a 6.28-inch FHD LCD screen at the front with no notch. It doesn’t have a selfie camera, thus, the need for a screen notch is dropped. It has a second 5.1-inch OLED HD screen at the back where the dual 24MP and 16MP PDAF cameras are positioned horizontally to each other and the dual-tone LED flash. As with the dual-screen ZTE Nubia X phone, you can take selfies and video chat and have everything you do seen on the rear-mounted screen, it might just be one of the best smartphones for selfies. After all, there aren’t many phones out there to shoot 4K videos with their front camera. Swapping from front display to the rear is easily done by squeezing both edges of the phone in the middle.

The new ZTE Android flagship runs the Snapdragon 845 backed by either 6GB of RAM with 64GB of non-extendable memory or 8GB of RAM with 128GB and 256GB of flash storage with Android Oreo having Nubia UI 6.1 skin on top. This phone has two side-mounted fingerprint readers, supports two SIM cards, and gets powered by a 3,800 mAh battery.

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Meizu 16 Plus

Meizu 16th Plus smartphone hands on review

Meizu celebrated its 15th anniversary with a smartphone that bore 15 as its name, in less than three months, the company updated the flagship with another that became known as Meizu 16. The better and the larger of the Meizu 16th series, the 16 Plus, looks identical to its sibling with the only differences being the size and a version with more internal memory.

Meizu 16th and 16th Plus drop the front-mounted fingerprint found on the 15 series and replace it with an under-glass fingerprint reader and they run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 SoC with 6GB and 8GB of RAM versions and up to 256GB of built-in non-expandable storage capacity. They’re also better designed with the FullView touchscreen display and small curves on the edges that make it resemble to a Samsung Galaxy Note phone. The 6.5-inch FHD OLED screen of the Meizu 16th Plus does not have a notch.

A 12MP and 20MP dual camera setup on the rear capable of recording 4K videos at 30 frames per second and a 20MP front-mounted FHD sensor offer decent photography support, support for the headphone jack lets you listen to music on your favorite wired earbuds, and a 3,750 mAh battery keeps the phone going throughout the day.

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Xiaomi Pocophone F1

Xiaomi Pocophone F1

The Poco phone by Xiaomi undisputably deserves a place as one of the best mobile phones made in China. The Snapdragon 845-powered Pocophone F1 is the best phone for the value. Period.

Tagging a lower price than the average midrange smartphones, Pocophone F1 is highlighted by the onboard Snapdragon 845 chipset with 6GB and 8GB of RAM versions with the internal storage being as large as 256gigs. In addition, the phone does have support for a microSD and you can extend the memory with up to another 256GB.

The 12MP and 5MP cameras on the rear do a really good job to capture colors even when the available light is limited. A 20MP front-mounted selfie snapper will satisfy your selfie and video chat needs. A 4,000 mAh battery powers this budget-friendly flagship while it sports a rear-mounted fingerprint, face recognition, and the headphone jack.

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