- How to choose a Chinese smartphone: what to look for
- The best manufacturing companies
- Why reading reviews is important
- Features of the firmware of Chinese smartphones
- Suspiciously low price
- The main criteria for choosing a Chinese smartphone
- Summary: Chinese smartphone selection method
How to choose a Chinese smartphone: what to look for
Among the most important characteristics of Chinese smartphones, which you need to pay attention to when choosing, are:
- Manufacturer – largely determines both the quality and durability of the smartphone, and the availability of spare parts for it;
- Reviews on third-party expert sites and forums like IXBT or w3bsit3-dns.com;
- Firmware. If possible and if you have special skills, it is advisable to download it and disassemble it yourself;
- Specified specifications, especially at a suspiciously low price;
- Actual specifications (processor, RAM, screen, camera, battery).
- Supported cellular standards are also of utmost importance, since China’s 3G and 4G networks operate at frequencies that differ from those used in Russia.
The best manufacturing companies
Among Chinese smartphone manufacturers, there are a number of companies that offer enough quality equipment at a low price:
- One Plus;
- Wiley Fox.
Manufacturers who have both high-quality and frankly disgusting smartphones include:
- TP Link;
To manufacturers whose products it is worth bypassing the “tenth road” due to poor qualitycan be attributed to:
- Oukitel and dozens of similar “brands”.
But even trusted manufacturers often tell lies about their smartphone specifications.
Why reading reviews is important
Chinese smartphone manufacturers often list specs that don’t match reality. So, among the brightest examples of falsification are:
- Smartphone Ulephone Be Touch 2 – the version of the Android operating system is overestimated (5.1 is indicated, in reality 5.0), the battery capacity is overestimated (3050 mAh is indicated, actually 2550 mAh);
- Smartphone Lenovo K3 Note – the screen resolution is too high (1920 × 1080 pixels are indicated, actually 1920 × 720 pixels);
- Tablet Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 – the supported standard of memory cards is overestimated (SDXC up to 64 GB is indicated, actually SDHC up to 32 GB).
Thus, before buying, it is worth studying reviews from real reviewers. The iXBT and XDA portals, as well as the w3bsit3-dns.com forum (namely the forum, not the site) deserve trust.
Features of the firmware of Chinese smartphones
The operating system in Chinese smartphones can be not only poorly optimized. It sometimes becomes a source of problems. So, among the possible disadvantages are:
- Lack of Russian localization. Xiaomi smartphones are especially affected by this. The MIUI operating system installed on them exists in two implementations – China (with exclusively Chinese and English) and Global. It is clear that it is better to buy smartphones with Global firmware, otherwise you will have to “tinker” with reinstalling Android;
- Lack of Google services. A common occurrence for most Chinese smartphones. Even devices from Xiaomi, Huawei and Meizu often come without a pre-installed Google Play Store app store, as well as a contact sync provider and other useful services. In some devices, they can be installed independently, in others – it will not work;
- No over-the-air updates or updates that break devices;
- sales track. When activated, the firmware sends SMS to a short number. Often it is located in China or India, which leads to unnecessary expenses;
- Backdoors built into the firmware are virus tracking programs that collect information about the user and send it to the manufacturer’s servers. Among the smartphones that have been caught spying on the user are products from Xiaomi, Huawei, Lenovo, Alps, ConCorde, DJC, Sesonn and Xido. So, backdoors were found even in Xiaomi Mi4;
- Autodialers built into the firmware. Some smartphones periodically make calls to other countries on their own. This leads to an increase in the user’s costs as for international calls.
- Finding a phone without backdoors, dialers and other “nonsense” is difficult. This will help independent reviews on the above services.
Suspiciously low price
Replica smartphones are regularly found in Chinese online stores. And not only well-known (like the Samsung Galaxy S-series), but also quite unpopular. Often, manufacturers even fake models such as the Lenovo Vibe X2.
Moreover, often fake manufacturers not only visually copy eminent smartphones, but also port the firmware. As a result, the device seems to be equipped with a sufficiently large amount of RAM and a powerful processor, but in practice it slows down and “lags” when launching any applications.
Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to distinguish a fake smartphone from the original one. You can thoughtfully study each item of technical specifications – but it is possible that a cunning seller or manufacturer simply copied them from some site. Therefore, reviews become important again.
After the purchase, you can evaluate the compliance of the declared technical characteristics with the real ones using applications such as Antutu or AIDA64.
It is almost impossible to protect yourself from fake when buying a smartphone in a Chinese online store. But if some famous brand is sold for mere pennies – most likely, this is a replica, but not the original. A suspiciously low price should confuse the user, not arouse buying interest.
The main criteria for choosing a Chinese smartphone
When choosing a Chinese smartphone, you should pay attention to the various technical characteristics of the device.
It is worth making a reservation right away – it is better not to take smartphones on Allwinner, Spreadtrum, Broadcom and Rockchip processors, no matter how cheap they are. In addition to disgusting performance at the “only calls” level, they are also distinguished by a complete lack of updates.
MediaTek periodically releases updated drivers for their processors. But rarely. It is easier for this company to release a new processor than drivers for an old one. Therefore, smartphones equipped with MediaTek chips practically do not receive operating system updates – or updates go in the same Android branch (this is often the case with models from Xiaomi – various major versions of MIUI are based on the same “bucket”).
The best solution would be to buy a smartphone with a NiSilicon Kirin processor (exclusive to Huawei) or Qualcomm Snapdragon. A little less successful – on NVIDIA Tegra (consumes a lot of energy) or Intel Atom (consumes a lot of energy and does not work well).
The best processors for 2017 for budget phones:
- MediaTek MT6735, MT6732, MT6732M, MT6752, all from the Helio series;
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 600 and 800 series.
These processors are recommended for the following reasons:
- A good built-in modem with support for a wide range of frequencies (perhaps it will work even in the Russian Federation);
- Fast and accurate GPS operation;
- High performance, including for games;
- Relatively low power consumption.
Unfortunately, processors that would simultaneously work quickly and consume a minimum of energy simply do not exist. Even an active decrease in the technical process does not lead to a “painless” reduction in electricity consumption.
The more RAM, the better. The minimum required amount is 1 GB. With less RAM, the smartphone will unload applications right in the process of using them.
- With 1 GB of RAM, the smartphone can be used for simple operations, as well as work with a small number of applications. At the same time, for example, it can store about 2-3 web pages in the cache, but they will be unloaded after switching to another program.
- With 1.5 GB of RAM, almost all applications will run smoothly enough. Only programs that have not been used for a long time are “unloaded”. However, with active switching between applications, recent ones can also be unloaded.
- 2 GB is the optimal amount of RAM for everyday work. Better, of course, more. But modern versions of the Android operating system are able to optimize their work on smartphones with 2 GB of RAM.
The minimum amount of permanent memory with which you can “live” in 2017 is 8 GB. Such an internal drive will be enough to install almost all the necessary applications. But user data (photos, music, etc.) will have to be stored on a USB flash drive.
- Therefore, when buying a smartphone with 8 GB of permanent memory, you should make sure that it has a microSD card slot.
- The best option would be to purchase a smartphone with 16 GB of internal memory. Approximately 10 GB will be available from it for applications and user data, which will allow you to store not only applications, but also, for example, a couple of music albums.
- The most practical solution is to buy a smartphone with 32 GB of internal memory or more. But such devices are expensive.
Screen performance is affected by the type of matrix and resolution.
Chinese smartphones use matrices of the following standards:
- TN, TN+film are the most budget options. They have poor color reproduction, disgusting viewing angles (less than 60 degrees) and fade in the sun. Definitely not recommended for purchase;
- IPS is the most common option. Color reproduction, depending on the specific model, can be both good and optimal. But they have wide viewing angles (up to 180 degrees). Recommended for purchase.
- Only AMOLED is better than IPS, but they are expensive, so they are almost never found in Chinese smartphones.
- 800 × 480 – very small, the picture is blurry, the pixels are visible to the naked eye;
- 960 × 540 – small, but tolerable, suitable only for completely undemanding users;
- 1280 × 720 – the optimal resolution, suitable even for 5-inch screens;
- 1920×1080 is high resolution. Provides good picture quality, but drains the battery quickly. However, if the smartphone is equipped with a screen with a diagonal of more than 5 inches, it is recommended.
But the screen size should be chosen based on your personal preferences.
Expecting good photography from Chinese smartphones is a little pointless. Manufacturers do not always have time to set up the camera with high quality, as a result of which even sensors with 13 MP and f / 2.0 can shoot “soapy”.
The solution to the problem is support for the Camera2 API, which is now implemented in almost all Chinese smartphones. This library opens up access to the camera for third-party applications that can customize photography the way the user wants.
But if you don’t want to play with camera settings and install third-party photography applications, you should pay attention to smartphones from the following brands:
- Huawei (especially the Mate line);
- Wileyfox and flagship Fly models;
The rest will not be able to provide the proper quality of shooting.
In addition, if you plan to use a smartphone for photography, you should pay attention to models with flagship processors. They will provide fairly fast focusing and high-speed image capture from the surface of the camera’s sensor.
Everything is simple here. The higher the battery capacity, the longer the smartphone will “live” without recharging. The minimum required in 2017 is 2300 mAh. With such a battery, the smartphone will be able to work for 3-4 hours of active use (with the screen on).
It is recommended that the battery capacity be greater than 2800 mAh. Such a battery will last for a whole day of mixed use (when the smartphone is either actively working or lying on the table in a “sleeping” state).
Since manufacturers like to overestimate battery capacity, before buying a smartphone, you should study reviews on it on independent sites.
3G and 4G bands
Since the frequencies on which mobile networks of the third and fourth generation operate in the Russian Federation differ from those used in China, it is worth making sure that the smartphone supports the bands used in our country at the hardware and software level.
The hardware level is the physical support for the corresponding bands. They are usually specified in the specifications for the device. So, in Russia the following frequency ranges are used:
- 3G – 1920-1980 MHz, 2110-2170 MHz. In very rare cases, the CDMA 450 range is used – 453-457.5 MHz, 463-467.5 MHz. In Moscow and the region, 880-915 MHz and 925-960 MHz can be used;
- 4G – 719-862 MHz, for Moscow and the region – 2570-2620 MHz.
In the specifications of the smartphone, these frequencies are referred to as WCDMA B1, B2, B5 (2100, 1900, 850 respectively) and LTE B5, B8, B7 (850, 900 and 2700 respectively).
Implementation of support for mobile Internet frequencies used in Russia at the software level is specified in the firmware version. If it is specialized for China (marked as China), then these frequencies will not work, even if their hardware implementation is declared. They work on international firmware (Global).
Some manufacturers allow you to switch from a local to an international version of the operating system. But this will require an independent flashing.
Summary: Chinese smartphone selection method
When choosing a smartphone from a Chinese online store, make sure of the following:
- If this is a smartphone of a famous brand and is suspiciously cheap, you should not take it, perhaps it is a fake;
- Read reviews on forums and third-party sites. Reviews in the online store itself can be falsified;
- Smartphone firmware must be international (Global) or at least support Russian;
- Specifications should meet your needs or at least the minimum required at the present time;
- The smartphone must support the 3G and 4G bands used in Russia.
- It is also advisable to study the online store for the availability of spare parts for the smartphone. Most often, screens and batteries “suffer”.
In the following articles, our experts will tell you how to choose a phone with a good camera and the secrets of choosing a quality smartphone.