Best smartphones from AliExpress / China

Chinese phones are no longer just a cheaper option, they are a much cheaper alternative. What this means, is kissing goodbye overpriced iPhones and Galaxies, and saying hello to their counterparts from the Middle Kingdom.

The benefits outweigh the doubts: you don't have to be locked to a certain provider, most of them support dual SIM-cards and all have expandable storage, and they can be just as fast for a fraction of the mainstream brands' prices. These smartphones from China are an absolute game changer.

Since a few month back, I started using a Chinese-branded phone myself, Blu One X, and I have only positive things to say about it. It's really fast, the 5.0″ Full HD screen is beautiful, the camera takes pretty decent footage, and the battery does not disappoint.

The reason I waited so long is because my phone provider uses AWS frequency, which Chinese providers (and frankly, most other countries) don't use. But then I found this phone sold locally on Craigslist, with the seller claiming that it'll work on any network. I decided to try it out, and, to my surprise, it worked flawlessly.

Of course, better smartphones cost more than others, and that's why I decided to separate them by 3 categories: Intro-level (sub-$100), Mid-range ($100-300) and Top-tier ($300+). You will see some of the more recognizable manufacturers like Letv, Huawei and XiaoMi, along with a few others.

The specs are in accordance to their respective categories, but expect them to surprise you in comparison to the established industry leaders.

 


Best Smartphones from China

(You can use willmyphonework.net and frequencycheck.com to check if the phone will work in your country)


 

3 intro-level under $100

 

Blueboo Xfire 1 and 2
Blueboo Xfire 2

Blueboo Xfire is a simple phone that will do everything you'll expect from an entry-level smartphone, but it gives you more beyond that. It has a quad-core processor, 5.0″ IPS display, and 1 GB of RAM to deal with your basic app needs.

Quick specs:

  • Android 5.1
  • Quad-core MTK6735M 1.0 GHz or MTK6580 + Snapdragon MSM8226 1.2 GHz depending on the model
  • 5.0″ IPS 960*540 display
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB ROM
  • Dual SIM
  • 2750 mAh battery

Purchase link: http://ali.ski/9il-q

 

Homtom HT7

HOMTOM HT7

Homtom HT7 is another entry-level smartphone. But compared to the Blueboo Xfire, it has a bigger resolution screen (1280*720 vs. 960*540), and a better battery (3000 mAh vs. 2750). There also is a slightly cheaper HT3, that comes with a smaller screen than HT7 – 5.5″ vs. 5.0″.

Phone specs:

  • Quad-core MTK 6580 1.3 GHz
  • 1280*720 display
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB ROM

Purchase link: http://ali.ski/l6mG2

 

Doogee X5

Doogee X5

(Reddit review made by another user)

Doogee makes vacuum-cleaners, and apparently phones too.

  • Android 5.1 out of the box
  • 5″ 1280×720 IPS display
  • Mediatek MT6580, 1.3ghz Cortex A7 x4
  • 1GB RAM, 8GB ROM , MicroSD slot
  • 2400mAh removable battery
  • Sensors: Proximity, Accelerometer, Light, compass. No NFC.
  • Cameras: 5MP rear, 2MP front  (advertised as 8MP/5MP through software interpolation)

Purchase link: http://ali.ski/Om1N6R

 

4 mid level 100-300

 

Elephone P9000

Elephone P9000

Elephone P9000 is the first Helio P10 Octa-core smartphone of that brand. P9000 uses the Helio P10 MTK6755 processor, has 4GB RAM, 5.5″ 1920*1080 screen, runs Android 6.0 OS and packs a 13MP Sony IMX258 rear camera.

Purchase link: http://ali.ski/cSIsz8

 

Ulefone Power

Ulefone Power

UleFone Power is called that for one simple, yet a very good reason: under the optional wooden panel it packs a 6500 mAh battery, which is 2-2.5x more what you normally see. And, of course, this phone works as a power bank too.

It also has an MTK6754 Octa-core processor, 3 GB RAM, and a 5.5″ 1920*1080 display.

Purchase link: http://ali.ski/95l9hx

 

LeTV 1s X500

Letv 1S

Letv is another brand that has been gaining a lot of attention lately. LeEco, also known as Leshi started as an online platform, that produces excellent TV's and other smart gadgets, and develops internet-linked cars and large-screen applications to various industries.

This phone has amazing specs, especially for its price point, and even a fingerprint reader!

  • CPU: 64bit Helio X10 Turbo Octa Core 2.2GHz, GPU: PowerVR G6200
  • 5.5 inch FHD 1920 x 1080 pixels IPS capacitive touch screen
  • eUI 5.5 OS; 3 GB RAM + 32 GB ROM.
  • 5.0MP front camera, 13.0MP back camera with flashlight and auto focus

Purchase link: http://ali.ski/B9fMdg

 

Xiaomi Mi4C

Xiaomi Mi4C

Mi4C is a mid-level smartphone from XiaoMi, that still has a lot to offer for a sub-$250 phone.

A Hexa-core (4×1.4 GHz Cortex-A53 & 2×1.8 GHz Cortex-A57) processor with a Qualcomm MSM8992 Snapdragon 808 chipset, 1920*1080 IPS screen, and a mere 132 gr. weight.

Purchase link: http://fas.st/1IDX1Q 

(GearBest link, not available on AliExpress)

 

Top tier Chinese phones

Huawei mate 8

Huawei Mate 8

This phone was regarded by the maker company, that has made its presence in the Western markets more and more resonant lately, as an iPhone killer. Its impressive specs put it at liberty to such claim. It also comes with a roomy battery, too.

  • IPS-NEO LCD touchscreen, 16M colors
  • 6.0″1080 x 1920 pixels (~368 ppi pixel density)
  • 3 or 4 GB RAM
  • HiSilicon Kirin 950 Octa-core (4×2.3 GHz Cortex-A72 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex A53) processor
  • 16MP rear and 8MP front camera (Leica optics)
  • 4000 mAh battery

Purchase link: http://fas.st/tYqjmn (GearBest, n/a on AliExpress)

 

Huawei P9

Huawei P9

Huawei P9 is another great phone in the top tier category. It has very similar specs to the Mate 8, the notable differences are the battery (Mate 8 has 4000 mAh on the P9's 3000), P9 is lighter (144 vs. 185 gr.) and the screen size.

P9 has a 5.2 display, while Mate 8 has a 6.0″ one.

Purchase link: http://ali.ski/H3Vlo

 

Xiaomi mi5

Xiaomi Mi5

It's hard to shop on AliExpress, and not know about XiaoMi. At the end of December 2014, Xiaomi became the world's most valuable technology start-up after it received a staggering US$1.1 billion funding. Valued at US$46 Billion, they have been killing it on the Chinese and International market lately.

There are two versions of this phone: Xiaomi Mi 5 (32GB) and Xiaomi Mi 5 (64GB).

  • 1.85GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 or 2.15GHz + 1.6GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
  • 32GB or 64GB
  • Video quality: 2160p@30fps (yes, 2K!), 1080p@30fps, 720p@120fps
  • 3000 mAh battery

Purchase link: http://fas.st/ZpSxLE

(BangGood link – not available on AliExpress)


It's best to avoid Star, GooPhone, Hero, HDC, No. 1 (clones of other chinese brands). Also, make sure to test your phone thoroughly before leaving feedback / closing the order.

And please let me know in comment if you have a Chinese-branded phone, and how well does it work for you.

P.S.: Concerned about the adware apps, or the foreign intelligence tinkering with your privacy? Root + ROM that shit. Just be aware it will void the warranty.

But it's not like you would have been sending your phone back to China for a warranty repair anyway…


Best Electronics Brands on AliExpress

 

Best tiny cameras from AliExpress

9 Comments

  1. VictorPi8 August 16, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    I bought the Asus Zenfone Max 32Gb on AliExpress. Really great ! The camera is correct, it’s not the best anywhere but it does everything I ask. The best part is the really amazing battery ! I’ve been using it for 3 month now, really good for less than 150$.

    Reply
    1. Admin August 17, 2016 at 7:00 am

      Nice! Did you have any problems with the adware apps? Did you notice anything else sketchy that came preinstalled on the phone?

      Reply
  2. Maarten August 17, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Hey there. You made a nice list. Its sad to see that most of the mobiles only supports 3g, not 4g. I also found this mobile: https://aliho.lc/2b1JfOD

    Any experience with this one?

    Reply
    1. Admin August 18, 2016 at 5:54 am

      Hi, thank you! I personally am not a huge fan of the design, I prefer sleeker phones. But I have seen it before, I like the steel frame, 10,000 mAh battery and that it’s not really that heavy as you would expect.

      Reply
      1. Maarten August 18, 2016 at 6:35 am

        Yeah, thought so. Read in some reviews that it lags a lot too.

        Anyway, thanks! Maybe you can make a list like this of gamecontrollers! There are some really cool designs on Ali.

        Cheers and have a nice day.

        Reply
        1. Admin August 24, 2016 at 5:40 am

          You should still try a Chinese phone if you find one with the specs you like, it’s hard to come back from them! Thank you, cheers!

          Reply
  3. Akyenyi October 29, 2017 at 8:00 am

    Am new here,how can order for Letv 1s x500 or Elephone p900,and how much will it cost?

    Reply

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