Guide for buying a Chinese smartphone (Update December 2014)


There are plenty of great Chinese phones out there which will beat most of the expensive smartphones when it comes to performance and design!

I am going to write about Android powered smartphones from China. UPDATE December 2014!

Scroll down if you want to go directly to “Where to buy?” recommendations.

When buying a smartphone you should take following things in consideration:

  • Screen size
  • Screen resolution
  • Processor power (CPU) & RAM
  • Battery capacity (mAh)
  • Single sim or dual sim
  • Storage and other functions
  • Camera quality
  • Software

Screen size

The screen sizes vary from around 4″ (Inches) to 6″ or more. If you want to use your phone for making and receiving calls and texting with occasional internet browsing then we recommend a smartphone with screen size between 4″ and 4.7″.

If you plan to use your smartphone more for internet browsing, and things which include reading like books or news, then you should consider a screen size from 5″ upwards.

Screen resolution

The same thing I wrote above applies here too. If you plan to use it as an ordinary phone , in many cases you don’t need HD screen, which means that anything with resolution from 480 x 800 px up to 720 x 1280 px should be more than enough.

If you plan reading and browsing on your phone, then you should search for screen resolution from 720 x 1280 px up to 1080 x 1920 px which should give you iPhone Retina experience. There are already devices with even higher resolution.

Processor power (CPU) & RAM

If you are just a basic user of a few helpful smartphone apps, then you will  probably be happy with any dual core processor in your smartphone.

If you are more of a multitasking person and you have a habit of jumping from app to app and plus at the top of that you want to play 3d games, then you need a smartphone stuffed with quad core or even octa core processor. The most famous models are processors from chip manufacturer named MediaTek. You should consider three models:

MTK6589 – This is quad core CPU running on 1.2GhZ – mostly used in really cheap smartphone models, but gives enough power for the above mentioned tasks

MTK6589T – This is quad core CPU running on 1.5GhZ – Slightly optimized and faster than its predecessor. One of the best choices for cheap and powerful smartphones

The above strikethrough text is not relevant anymore because these models are obsolete.

MTK6582 – This is quad core CPU running on 1.3GhZ – Very good choice for cheap and powerful smartphones.

MTK6592 – This is octa core CPU running on 1.7GhZ – Definitely the best choice. Very good choice. Smartphones stuffed with this beast are more expensive, but there are also some of them which are in the same price range as the phones running MTK6589T quad core.

MTK6592T – This is octa core CPU running on 2.0GhZ – This is Turbo version of the MKT6592 and besides the clock speed, everything else is the same.

MTK6595 – This is octa core CPU running on 2.2GhZ – This is a CPU made for high level smartphones. It is a real beast, but phones with this CPU are more expensive

Regarding the RAM, you should look for anything that has minimum 512MB of RAR, which should be usual for a dual core smartphone and a few quadcore models. Users hungry for multitasking and gaming, consider minimum RAM of 1GB with the above mentioned quad core and octa core processors. But if you are not on a very low budget than consider a phone with 2GB or even 3GB RAM.

Battery capacity (mAh)

This is really important decision and you should compare battery capacity according to the screen size. Battery capacity is expressed in “mAh” (milliampere-hour). The higher the number, the better!

Here is a graphic table which shows you which battery capacity smartphone should have according to the screen size:


Single sim or dual sim

Most of Chinese smartphones come with dual sim capability. You can use both sim cards at the same time. This is great if you are quite often in roaming so that feature will relieve you from the need to non stop turn off your device switch the sim cards and turn it back on just to check if you have missed call or a message on your other mobile  number.

This is also great feature if you have one sim card with cheap package for data transfer and other sim card with cheap phone calls and messaging.

If you don’t have the need for dual sim just ignore this feature.

Storage & other functions

Some Chinese phones don’t have much of internal data storage. The good thing is that usually most of them come with possibility to expand your smartphone storage with micro SD cards which can have capacity of up to 64GB.

USB OTG is short for USB On-The-Go. This gives you the possibility to connect your usb flash drive to your phone via special USB adapter so that you can transfer data. You can also use this function to charge other devices via USB cable. This might not be relevant feature for most of the people, but it might come handy in some situations.

HOT-KNOT is a technology developed by Mediatek for easy transfer of files by just placing your smartphone screen onto another smartphone screen.

Camera quality

This is a feature which you will have to investigate on your own. Most of the phones which come with cameras from 8 mega pixel upwards should have a good picture quality when taken outdoors. You should always check for picture samples taken with smartphone you are interested in. You should look at the samples taken indoors and outdoors, with flash and without flash. Also check which video resolutions are available. Off course the best is to look for smartphones which have full HD recording capability (1920 x 1080 px).


When it comes to Android powered smartphones they are giving you really much space to play around with customization and plenty of apps. For some people Android OS has too many options compared to iPhone. If you don’t like the look of Android system, you can check out Android based system from China named MIUI which reminds much more on iOS from Apple’s iPhone. There is some work needed to be done when you want to personalize your smartphone system, but I guarantee you that once you do it, you will probably be more satisfied with Android powered smartphone rather than iPhone. And the best is that it can be few times cheaper compared to the big brands.

Where to buy

There are a lot of Chinese websites where you can order from. If you are concerned about secure payments check out this list of websites for which I can confirm that is 100% safe to order from: – I was ordering a lot of stuff from this website, including my smartphone. They have good prices and friendly customers service which usually responds in period of 48 hours since the moment you ask them something. They also have frequent discount offers on different items including smartphones.
5% off for your first order if you refer us. Before checking out click on “Recommender” and input “geekify”, then you will get 5% off. – They are a bit more expensive from the others, but they have a lot of additional accessories for your smartphone, like batteries, cases, screen protectors, etc. They have slower customer service where you have to wait sometimes few days to get a response. – I guess they are even bigger than the other two. Their processing and shipping time can be longer but the customers service is really friendly and quick responsive if you have an issue.

I have ordered a lot of stuff from both of these websites, and they never failed to deliver me the products I ordered. Off course there are other websites too, which may offer even better prices, but these are the top ones which I trust the most.

We are not responsible for any possible bad experience you might encounter from our advices. Please use these advices at your own risk.

7 thoughts on “Guide for buying a Chinese smartphone (Update December 2014)

  • David Coleman

    I own two independent cell phone stores in Toledo and Sandusky OH. It gets harder every year to compete with fewer and fewer options and higher costs for inventory. What can you suggest for a lineup of phones from cheapest flip to hi end phablets. I’m not afraid to compete with unknown products if they are decent, I just don’t know where to start. Does any one import these and who are they? I would interested in repping or master dealer status.

  • Michael Neville-Turner

    I was so pleased with the Cubot One that I bought that I created an Amazon website to promote them. The phones are great value for money – for around £100 or less than a couple of hundred dollars you can get a quad core 5 inch smarphone with dual sim capability 13 Mp camera – with a current Android system. The range also includes octa core devices.

    Also US site –

    These sites will take you to the respective Amazon pages – or US. Your order will be fully processed by Amazon with all the ususal protection that provides.

  • HiPhile

    Thanks for this list. You should probably mention or make an update to the radio compatibility for USA Cell phone networks. If you buy a phone and you’re expecting it to work with 3G or 4G you may be in for a surprise when it doesn’t work. Here’s what I found regarding AT&T’s cellular network, and since 3G is already almost being phased out by 4G it would be nice to know what the phone supports:

    AT&T 4G HSPA and HSPA+ use 850Mhz(Band 5) and 1900Mhz(Band 2) bands but it all depends on area if they own a license. LTE uses Band 17(700Mhz), Band 5(850Mhz), Band 2(1900Mhz), Band 4(1700/2100Mhz) currently.

    • admin Post author

      I will make a new update on this topic, and also about new upcoming hardware for smartphones. Thank you for your support.

  • Tymek

    nice article, but I have one more question: How good is the quality of the Chinese phones? I would like to buy a Xiaomi phone, but I don’t know whether it will last for more than a few months. And what about the other cheap phones?
    Thanks in advance.

    • admin Post author

      I have THL W200 for around 18 months so far and it is still working fine. It belongs somewhere in the low-mid class range. Despite the processor demanding apps it can still run almost anything you can download from the play store. As for the xiaomi it is mid-high class range an I guarantee you that you will love their MIUI interface and that you will be happy with it for the next 2-3 years. As for the cheaper phones like mine there is a small risk that sometimes they don’t make a good quality control and that something can go wrong. On mine the camera does not work every time so I have to restart the phone so that the camera gets detected. I’ve bought a new battery after a year and since it a stronger battery (2000mAh) I have enough power for the whole day of heavy use. So to conclude, if you want to go for a cheaper stuff like me then look for anything you like that has octacore cpu, 2GB of RAM, 2500mAh or more battery capacity, and at least 1280x720px screen resolution if you go for a 5 inch or higher screen size.


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