After several hours of research, I finally made my selection of the 9 best Chinese smartphones among more than thirty smartphones available on the market for the moment.
My preference is the Xiaomi MI8 with its quality-price ratio unbeatable.
You will also find at the end of this article a buying guide to help you find the best Chinese smartphone that suits you best!
The Best Cheap Chinese Smartphone
These smartphones may be entry-level, they still offer quite honest performance and can rotate the majority of applications on the market.
1. Xiaomi Mi A2: The Best Cheap
An international version of the Mi 6X exclusive to China, the Mi A2 is available in the market since July 27, 2018.
Three versions of this device are available, one with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, another with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and lastly, a version with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. This is the intermediate version we will discuss here.
The design of this smartphone is more or less the same as that of the Redmi Note 5. It is actually rather difficult to differentiate if they are placed side by side.
The only real differences are the positioning of the photo module on the front and the Android One logo on the back.
As on the model we mentioned earlier, the IPS panel is 18: 9 and occupies 78% of the front of the smartphone. With a very low weight (166 g), this device has excellent finishes. It has an aluminum shell which, not content to be pleasing to the eye, does not retain fingerprints which are very welcome.
The only small defect, the double dorsal photo module that is located in an outgrowth making the device somewhat unstable when placed on a table.
The grip of Mi A2 is very comfortable. On the back of this one, a fingerprint reader is placed so as to fall easily under the finger.
The side volume and unlock buttons are all located on the right side of the unit and are effortlessly accessible (if left-handed).
No microSD card in the program, so you have to do with the 64 GB of storage provided with the device. It is also worth noting that Android One occupies 12 GB on all memory.
The 5.99-inch and 18: 9 screen displays an ultra HD resolution of 1080 x 2160 pixels. The colorimetry, however, sins a little.
In addition, Android One offers only a minimum number of setting options, which prevents any kind of adjustment. The contrast ratio of the slab is average, as is the case for most Xiaomi displays.
In terms of brightness, this device will be very enjoyable for fans of reading under the sun. Indeed it rises to 440 cd / m² and the reflectance is only 10%.
The IPS screen can also go down to 2 cd / m², which prevents night readers from being dazzled.
Regarding the performance itself, this slab has a long afterglow time but has a tactile delay in the mean.
In summary, this device offers a correct screen that should suffice for the majority of users.
At the chip level, we are in the presence of a Snapdragon 660. Even with 4 GB of RAM: this configuration is large enough to run Android and most applications.
It is thus possible to juggle easily between the applications and the temperature never exceeds 35 degrees (except really extreme situation).
This unit has a USB-C socket, but unfortunately, it is at the expense of a 3.5mm mini-jack output. The adapter provided is of average quality to be of real interest. In addition, the speaker is rather average, it saturates easily and lacks clarity.
Finally, let’s talk about the photo. Regarding the clichés in broad daylight, the performance of this smartphone is pretty good.
You get a good amount of detail and the colors are usually well represented. Too bad that the software treatment tends to over-smooth the photos, which gives a somewhat artificial rendering.
In low light, the performance of this camera is also above average.
Finally, this camera has a portrait mode. This allows you to use a blur effect around the people photographed. This effect is rather successful and detracts well people photographed without mixing the subject with the background.
The autonomy is worse than that of most Xiaomi devices, which is a shame but it also takes half as long to recharge (1 hour instead of 2).
Your device holds about a day if it is not too busy, which remains correct.
- Affordable price
- Do not heat
- Fluid operation
- Battery less than the average of the Xiaomi range
The Best Mid-Range Chinese Smartphone
This device will delight demanding users who do not have an expendable budget.
2. Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro: The Best High-End
For those who already knew the Redmi Note 5, no surprise, here we are on an improved version of this model … but how?
Here you have the choice between a 32 or a 64 GB, declined in several colors, is blue, black and pink. I must admit that this is not what I look at first on a phone, but I can understand that for some it is of crucial importance … in which case, the colors available may seem insufficient.
Well, the Redmi Note 6 Pro, which runs Android 8.1 Oreo (with the overlay MIUI 10 of the Chinese brand) looks in all respects to its predecessor; just like him, he has a rear face made of metal, except at the ends. I hate fingerprints on my phone (not very aesthetic, we agree), here I am reassured from this point of view: the design of this metal is such that the phone does not keep traces!
It is a pity, however, that such a phone is not waterproof – some would say that it is normal to find such a feature that high-end, and they will not be wrong … but it would have still welcome!
Another important detail, with a phone, is its grip. Nobody wants a device that slips his hands all the way, which precisely prevent the rounded edges on the back of the phone. The buttons on the right edge and the fingerprint reader (located behind) are easy to access.
But, it seems that Xiaomi has not jumped the pace of USB-C and decided to keep the micro-USB. Not very practical, but not harmful … anyway for the moment! Fortunately, the jack, it is there, and it is particularly good: not too much distortion, correct stereo reproduction (although not exceptional). The speaker, on the other hand, sins a little in terms of accuracy once set, which is a shame, especially to play music or videos (but less to make calls, phew!).
Well, it’s precisely on the front of the phone, and more precisely on the screen, that it happens. Here we have an LCD panel over 6 inches, a beautiful definition of 2280X1080, very responsive (88 ms, average), excellent color rendition and brightness that allows it to be readable in direct sunlight. In short, he does not get away with that bad!
Performance side, we remain on a fairly similar to that of Note 5; both have indeed a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC including 8 cores clocked at 1.8 GHz and accompanied by 3 (or 4 GB of RAM depending on the version). For those who would run several apps simultaneously (or would require a great effort), know that there is not too much temperature rise: it is confined to 36 degrees, noticeable on a very small area, at the front the phone. No problem for you!
Gaming level, we are on something very correct, with a graphics chip Adreno 509, which can play most games in the Play Store. Attention, for 3D games, it is possible that you lose a little fluidity …
Here we are finally at the point that demonstrates the progress of the brand on this range, namely the photo. Compared to Note 5, there is no picture: these are main developments … on the software. There are two photo modules at the rear, including the main module with 12 Mpx sensor and optics opening at f / 1.9 and a secondary sensor with 5 Mpx.
The low-light shots tend to suffer from a poorly controlled smoothing … which makes you lose a lot of the details. The brand still has some details to fine tune!
At the front, however, Xiaomi switches the photosensor to 20 Mpx, which is 4 times the number of pixels in the front sensor of Note 5! In terms of quality, however, there is not much difference, especially that the smoothing (as made by treatments “beauty”) is often used in all sauces … The point really well though is that we can more easily capture faces, because we benefit, so to speak, all the time from a good exposure.
Question autonomy, we are not disappointed. We can count on a battery of 4000 mAh, which allows him to hold near 19h27, which ranks it among the most enduring of the market.
It takes about 1:45 for a full charge of the smartphone, which is faster!
- Quality headphone output
- Beautiful finishes
- Good performance
- Still no USB-C
- Pictures in low light not terrible
3. Xiaomi Mi Max 3: The Good Giant
If a few years ago, we were wondering how to manage a “giant” phone, today it has become commonplace. And even: the bigger the screen, the better!
The Xiaomi Mi Max 3 is a giant that has the tooth, with its 6.9 inches! It’s big, almost too much, and of course, you can not use it with one hand (unless you’re Hulk!). A real Goliath, even in front of an iPhone, which does not have to blush its size …
But, surprisingly, it seems that the phone is not too unpleasant in hand, contrary to what one might believe. It is easy to use, especially thanks to its quality construction and finesse.
The aluminum back is impressive for its apparent quality, while the front panel has been optimized to the maximum (with a screen that takes 80% of the surface, with a ratio of 18: 9).
As for the “practical” side, the phone offers a USB-C jack (well, Xiaomi!), A jack, a micro-SD slot + a SIM (or two SIM slots) and a d-sensor. fingerprints, located on the back of the device.
The headphone output of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 was not far from excellence, but unfortunately, the power output is too low, which would have a certain impact on the volume of listening … The speaker does not necessarily stand out but will do the trick for hands-free calls (I do not recommend for music, at the risk of not having enough bass!).
Well, it’s a faultless then? Almost. It lacks a seal certification and it would be unbeatable!
On the screen, we may wonder if size matters … Well, we can say that yes, especially for the proposed multimedia with a good rendering side colors. As for legibility, however, it can do better! If you intend to read in full sun, go your way because it tends to hang a little glare; in the dark, on the other hand, it remains correct (1 cd / m²), you will not be dazzled by the screen.
What we note, with pleasure, is the definition Full HD +, which allows living a quality experience, even on a slab of this size! As a bonus, there is no slowing down in use or in the image, which is one of the most important criteria.
When it comes to performance, with its Snapdragon 636 chip and 4GB of RAM, the Mi Max 3 ensures that it performs well for web browsing or for most applications: no slowing down do not tip on the horizon! Well, of course, only the most greedy software can push your phone in its limits (but normal).
On the gaming side, the Mi Max 3 is an incredibly immersive experience thanks to its giant screen and its “game optimizer” that cuts the different alerts (receive a notification that makes the game crash or slows down, especially at the most crucial, it sucks). Note that if most of the titles available on the Play Store are working properly, you will sometimes have to accept some graphic concessions.
We almost said everything, rest the photos! Well, as far as you can tell, we can expect much better, especially given the available sensors (12 Mpx, f / 1.9, 1 / 2.55 “, 1.4 microns and 5 Mpx). The Redmi Note 6 Pro does slightly better with the same kind of configuration, and yet it does not excel in the field!
If the clicks taken during the day are relatively good, with colors and details rather well restored, those of night, by cons, it is not too much joy. Smoothness, grain, and noise affect the quality of the image, especially colors, which appear duller. It’s a shame because it is perfect to capture images in full HD + (it’s up to you to learn how to handle it!).
With a battery of 5,500 mAh, we will not be surprised to learn that it is the most enduring of the moment! Yes, 32 h 53 min, it makes the battery available (well, once loaded, because it must still count 2:30 charge for this monster).
- Huge autonomy
- Performance at the height
- Large screen and well calibrated overall
- Disappointing quality of photos
The Best High-End Chinese Smartphone
These devices will satisfy even the most demanding users. The icing on the cake, they are in a range of fairly wide prices, some even a fairly stunning price-quality ratio!
4. Huawei P20 Pro: The Best High-End
A spearhead of the Huawei brand, the P20 Pro comes with a good dose of strengths.
It has a rather well-designed notch screen with an option available for the “enochophobes” to no longer see it appear by disabling the areas of the screen on each side.
The design of the device is elegant with its metal surround and glass back. On the other hand, the fact that this back is glass has the usual disadvantage of retaining fingerprints.
This device has the good taste to have an IP67 certification (resistant to dust and water up to 1 meter for 30 minutes). This waterproofing has become a hallmark of high-end smartphones.
Too bad that this device also overlooks the microSD port, even if the amount of internal memory is more than comfortable (128 GB).
The screen of the P20 is particularly wide (19: 9). It benefits from Oled technology which gives access to an almost infinite contrast ratio, beating LCD technologies flat.
This is more without having to sacrifice anything to the maximum brightness that ensures no problem reading in direct sunlight. In the dark, this camera is not left with a brightness designed to not damage your eyes.
The responsiveness of this device is somewhat above average with a touch delay of 69 ms and a zero remanence, Oled requires.
The device has a Kirin 970 chip with 6 GB of RAM, which ensures excellent performance for any type of use. It will really look for the little beast to find a fault during the use of this device.
However, this smartphone has some signs of heating when it is subjected to heavy tasks, which is a shame. Fortunately, the temperatures come down very quickly!
The Mali-G72MP12 graphics chip is one of the most powerful on the market and allows you to play any game, even the most graphics performance.
The speakers of this unit are of an honest quality, with a good stereo and a comfortable enough power to watch a movie or a series or even the limit to listen to some music. It is still better not to push the volume too loud or you will end up with distortion on the most acute sounds.
The quality of this camera’s photos in daylight is excellent and competes with the best smartphones in this field. In low light, we obtain an honest result without being absolutely exceptional.
Here is a smartphone that deserves its classification upscale and delights even the most demanding users!
- Good photos even in reduced brightness
- Good quality screen
- A little expensive
5. OnePlus 6T: For Exceptional Photos
Compared to other smartphones in this comparison, this OnePlus 6T has an excellent fingerprint recognition system. It is included in the display of the device and reacts to the finger and the eye (or rather the finger in this case hehehe).
Level design, the 6T offers an elegant appearance, with a notch shaped tear.
Although OnePlus finally decided to use the glass for this 6T and fired the jack for headphones, the company still decided not to set up a wireless charger. Strange.
The display of this device is of excellent quality and rivals even with smartphones that are twice its price. Its large AMOLED panel (2340 x 1080) is slightly larger than the One Plus 6, but the most noticeable difference is the notch that is less intrusive.
Its OLED display is of excellent quality. It is not exactly as good as the Galaxy Note 9 for example, but for this price, the display is absolutely excellent.
But now let’s talk about the photo of this smartphone. It offers a dual-focus camera with a 16 MP and 20 MP lens and a 20 MP front lens.
A brand new Night Mode has been included, which allows you to capture more detail in low light places. Unfortunately, this one does not always work wonders and the photos sometimes end up with too much grain. Night mode is not really useful.
In the light of the day, the colors offered by the 6T are realistic at will. Level Portrait, this smartphone does not fare too well, but still tends to over-smooth the details.
The 6T has 8 GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 845, allowing it to offer performance worthy of a Galaxy Note 9 for example, as well as it can run anything without problems!
At the OS, we are in the presence of an OxygenOS overlay of Android that has more than one trick in his bag. One of its advantages, Smart Boost, allows this smartphone to start much faster than its predecessor. The OS has two navigation modes, which can be changed in the settings.
Gaming level, this device is a war machine that beats even phones like the iPhone XR or the Pixel 3 XL! It’s quite impressive when you see the difference in price between these devices!
The battery of this smartphone is also first class, it can last almost 20 hours without a charge with moderate use. The charge is also in the game with the “Dash Charge” system which is incredibly fast, allowing you to charge your OnePlus from 0 to 60 percent in just 30 minutes!
The value for money of this device is simply crazy and it rivals much more expensive models! If you are looking for a photo smartphone that is ok at a reasonable price with many other tricks in your bag, look no further!
- Incredible price for such a performance
- Excellent for gaming
- Night Mode Unconvincing
6. Honor 10: Excellent Value For Money
Honor 10 has a nice screen occupancy of about 80%. The design of the device is very nice with its elegant glass shell, but unfortunately, it also means that it catches fingerprints.
The edges of this smartphone are slightly curved to offer the device an excellent grip. If the design itself is not revolutionary, the finishes are excellent.
Unlike other devices in this comparison, Honor 10 has its fingerprint reader on the front. The mechanism is responsive and effective.
Small shadows on the board: no seal certification which is strange for a high-end device and especially this one, does not have a microSD port, which is unforgivable in the current Android universe. Users wanting more than 64GB will have to shell out more to buy the 128GB model …
Despite its upscale positioning, Honor decided to opt for an IPS and not Oled screen. This has some technical limitations, but the brand has really paid attention to the quality of its screen.
Level readability, things are going well. The maximum brightness allows to see clearly even in full sun and the minimum allows you to read without hurting your eyes at night. The only slightly disappointing point is the contrast, but it’s really looking for the little beast.
Level of responsiveness of the screen, this Honor 10 is one of the good students. The Full HD + definition of the 5.8-inch screen is largely sufficient for 90% of uses and allows a clean display.
Configuration level, this device is equipped with the chip Kirin 970, accompanied by 4 GB of RAM. Android has no trouble turning on the machine and all applications run at a fast speed.
Nothing to report looking at the temperature. And this after a long game session or photo and video captures. No overheating is to be deplored.
Gaming level, this phone has no problem running any game on the Play Store even with the maximum graphics options.
The camera sins a little about sound quality. Indeed, even if the rendering is rather clean thanks to a broad dynamic, the mobile still lacks power.
It will be necessary to bring you a suitable helmet if you want to enjoy a sound experience worthy of the name. On the other hand, the rendering of the bass is correct with the speaker, which is rare enough to be specified.
For photos, this camera is doing pretty well. In daylight the photos are nickel and the details stand out very well with minimal degradation on the corners of the stage.
At night, smoothing is well thought out and manages to erase the digital noise, but it also drools a few textures.
About autonomy, Honor 10 is doing very well. The smartphone is about two days in moderate use. In addition, it only takes 2 hours to recharge.
The phone is managed by the Android 8.1 system supported by Huawei’s own EMUI overlay.
All in all, for all this, is an excellent high-end device at a price that is very reasonable for a material of this quality.
- Quality photos
- High Battery Life
- Sound little weak
7. Xiaomi Mi8: Excellent Pictures, Even at Night
The Mi 8 has been designed to compete with the iPhone X with an unbeatable price. It is available in France only since August 20, 2018.
First, its design. The device offers a finish of excellent quality. It has a curved glass back surrounded by a frame made of aluminum. Too bad this device keeps fingerprints so easily.
At the front, we are in the presence of a 6.21-inch OLED slab with an 18.7: 9 ratio that occupies 86% of the facade. In the front, apart from the speaker and the front photo module, there is also an infrared device to provide an unlocking system with face detection. It is unfortunately not immediately available and you will have to wait for the next update.
The ergonomics of this device is excellent. The fingerprint sensor is placed perfectly under the finger, as well as the side buttons and it is left-handed or right-handed!
It is a shame that this device does not benefit from the microSD port, which means that it will be content with 64 or 128 GB of internal memory. It should also be noted that Android still occupies 8 GB …
No mini-headphone jack on this device. An adapter is still provided to be able to connect one, otherwise, you have to be content with a Bluetooth headset, a bit unfortunate, but not entirely serious if you are equipped with the right equipment!
Xiaomi offers here a quality Oled panel with excellent resolution (402 dpi) and an infinite contrast ratio thanks to the Oled technology. The screen occupies 86% of the facade.
The Oled screen of Mi 8 poses no problem of brightness. Indeed, this device offers a maximum brightness of very high quality with a very low reflectance, only 7%. Night readers also do not have to worry about anything because the minimum brightness is more than comfortable.
Reactivity level and performance, this screen is excellent with zero afterglows and a better than average touch delay.
In terms of performance, this device is uncompromising. It is indeed equipped with a chip Snapdragon 845 aided by 6 GB of RAM. In addition, the device barely reaches 36 degrees during heavy use.
Unsurprisingly, this device is able to easily manage all games in the Play Store without suffering any slowdown and with optimal graphics.
The speaker proves to be of rather good quality despite its slightly saturated sound.
Regarding the clichés in daylight, the main module of this device offers a rather positive result. The final rendering is rather good despite contrasts sometimes a little forced.
On the other hand, and this is a trademark of Xiaomi, the image processing smooths considerably (if not too much) the image. Note that the device has beauty and beauty pro modes accentuating this effect.
But where this camera shines especially, it is at the low-light photos. The set still suffers from this smoothing, but apart from that, the camera captures as much light as possible to provide both colorful and detailed legible photos.
The portrait mode seen on the Mi A2 is back and is just as effective.
Level autonomy, the Mi 8 is doing pretty well. It will hold about two days with moderate use.
Charging, however, takes a little over two hours, which is a shame when the competition sometimes comes out with only an hour and a half.
In conclusion, it is an excellent device that will delight even the most demanding users.
- Nice design
- Excellent low-light pictures
- A bit slow to load
8. Xiaomi Mix 2S: The Standard Bearer Of Xiaomi
Xiaomi brand standard-bearer, this Mix 2S does not do things in half with an even more aggressive price-performance ratio.
Like the first Mi Mix, this device takes the screen design without notch while still managing to cover up to about 82% of the front of the smartphone.
This is one of the highest scores on the market.
It will not be possible to use it with one hand, due to its 6-inch screen …
The design of this device has excellent finishes with no defects.
The design is simple and has a ceramic back that does not retain fingerprints.
The slightly rounded edges of the back face are designed to make the trip pleasant. In addition, this unit is accompanied by an elegant metal surround.
The back of the device contains a fingerprint reader which as usual with Xiaomi devices falls perfectly under the index.
What is unfortunate, however, is that this device offers neither microSD port or waterproofing certification, yet essential thing on the high end.
This unit contains a 6-inch IPS display. It has a Full HD + definition of 2160 x 1080 px for an 18: 9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 403 dpi.
The only complaint we can make is that Xiaomi has not opted for Oled technology, forcing the contrast ratio to remain at a value that remains average for IPS technology.
The camera is perfectly readable in full sun thanks to its brightness of excellent quality and a minimal rate of light reflection. In the dark too, this device does not hurt your eyes with its brightness up to 2.1 cd / m²
Reactivity level, the device is average with a touch delay of 89 ms and persistence of 16 ms. About the configuration, this device features the Snapdragon 845 chip and a 6GB RAM, allowing it to run any application without any problem.
In addition, this device has an Adreno 630 graphics chip that is one of the most powerful on the market in order to run all games in the best possible conditions.
The speakers have a bit of a performance level. After 70% of the maximum volume, the accuracy falls sharply.
Photo level, this device offers excellent performance. Indeed the photos in broad daylight offer an excellent dynamic and a plethora of details.
In low light, the Mi Mix 2S is also doing very well by using a mixture of smoothing and accentuation to bring out the contours.
Standby level, this device can take two days in standard use.
- Nice design
Run any application
- Sound quality a bit feeble
How To Choose Your Chinese Smartphone?
Here is a guide in a few points to help you find your way when buying your smartphone.
The processor is the brain of your device. The more powerful it is, the more flexible the editing of the photos, the applications will open faster and of course, the game will be without lag. Today, the most powerful processor is Snapdragon 845.
The Graphics Card
The graphics card is responsible for the gaming performance of your device. It’s an integral part of the processor and you should not worry too much about it because you just can not choose it.
Smartphone processors are coupled to a graphics card that complements their performance.
The Size Of The Display
The size of the display roughly determines the size of your device. It is measured in inches.
The bigger the display, the bigger is the smartphone but the more immersive is the experience.
The Type Of Display
Modern smartphones use either IPS-LCD or OLED technology for display purposes. IPS technology is perfect for people wanting to do a lot of video editing on their phone, but if you want vibrant colors, HDR video and better battery life, a smartphone with OLED technology will be better. choice.
More RAM = better multi-tasking.
The more RAM your phone has, the more your smartphone will be able to do what you ask for it at any time.
The RAM of smartphones is measured in GB and you can have smartphones with 1GB, 2 GB or even 6 or even 8 GB.
The Building Material
In general, a smartphone made of metal will be stronger than a plastic smartphone. Glass is the most fragile building material, but it is also the one with the best appearance and allows the phone to charge wirelessly.
Also, the glass is a magnet with fingerprints.
Resolution is the number of pixels your camera has. Beware of the myth of “more megapixels = better images”. The best performance is given by resolutions of about 12 – 14 megapixels.
The Operating System
All smartphones come with either Android or iOS. There is a multitude of Android phones, each offering unique features for hardware and software.
Brand-specific Android versions with additional features can be bundled with the device (such as Xiaomi’s MIUI for example).
It is better to have a recent operating system if you want to run the applications you need.