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Best Chinese Android smartphones – updated July 2021

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Things made in China often carry a bad rep: after all, being affordable is almost always given as their first and foremost virtue. You can’t deny that being competitive in terms of price is what Chinese companies are great at, but recently they have picked up the pace with their innovation and design. Just look at the chart of the world’s biggest phone makers and you will see the rise of Xiaomi, Oppo, and many other makers of Chinese phones. That’s not a coincidence: the Chinese market has grown hugely, but it is also international buyers that appreciate the work done by its Android phone makers. So here are the best Chinese phones right now!

OnePlus 9 Pro — OnePlus’ premium smartphone with great specs and software
Realme GT — a true flagship killer checking all the boxes
Xiaomi Mi 11 — Xiaomi’s actual flagship — nothing crazy, just solid specs and pretty looks
Xiaomi Poco F3 — an appealing upper-midrange phone that captures the essence of the Poco brand
There are quite a lot of exciting new Chinese phones that you should know of. They offer a ton of bang for your buck, often undercutting the competition while having the same class of hardware inside. On the software side, some Chinese manufacturers like to go crazy with re-skinning the stock version of Android, making their phones look and feel, well, unique. Be warned that some of the phones on this list do not ship with Google Play Store or any Google services for the device (ahem, Huawei).

ZTE Axon 30 Ultra

ZTE launched its latest flagship in April. The Axon 30 Ultra pulls no stops, with a massive camera module, all the top-shelf hardware, and an eye-catching, satin-like finish on its back. It aims to be a contender for the Android crown, with its Snapdragon 888 processor, 144Hz screen refresh rate, 8 to 16GB of RAM, and big 4,600mAh battery with 65W fast wired charging. The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra has a great camera setup as well, consisting of three 64MP cameras and an 8MP periscope sensor. Its price tag is desirable too, starting at just $749. Overall this is an excellent phone which checks all the boxes to be a true flagship, so don’t underestimate it for a second.

OnePlus 9 Pro

This can’t be a list of the best Chinese smartphones without including their king, the OnePlus 9 Pro. This phone was released back in March and it delivers great performance in almost every area. It has a Snapdragon 888 processor coupled with 8 or 12GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of storage. OnePlus smartphones are famous for being speedy, and this one is as snappy as it can get. The 9 Pro offers a gorgeous, 6.7-inch 120Hz AMOLED display with a QuadHD resolution. The premium OnePlus device has a nice quad-camera system too, with a 48MP main shooter and a 50MP ultra-wide camera. In terms of battery life, you won’t be disappointed either, as its 4,500mAh battery with 65W fast wired charging lasts at least a day.

Of course, all of this comes at a price, which might seem a bit hefty for some considering this company used to brag about making phones with flagship specs at affordable prices, but you can always go for the cheaper OnePlus 9, which is a great phone as well.

Realme GT

Realme, an offshoot of Chinese smartphone superpower Oppo, has had great success lately. The Realme GT is an excellent phone undercutting other similarly specced devices. For just around $500 (minus shipping) you get plenty of flagship features, such as a 6.43″ beautiful 120Hz AMOLED screen with an FHD+ resolution, and the powerful Snapdragon 888 chip with at least 8GB of RAM. The battery is big, 4500mAh in size, providing enough juice for more than a day of use. Camera-wise you get a 64MP main camera plus an 8MP ultra-wide, and a macro sensor.

The Realme GT just launched globally, so finding the device isn’t as hard as it used to be when it was first released. This phone is easy to find in Europe, where its price starts at just €449.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

If you want a phone that is gonna turn heads, you can’t go wrong with the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. It’s chock-full with bleeding edge, top-tier hardware on the inside, but what sets it apart is its outer shell. See, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra has a camera module so big, that it even houses a tiny screen on the back there. As for the specs, it has a Snapdragon 888 processor coupled with 8 or 12GB of RAM, a big 50MP main camera sensor, and a large 5,000mAh battery with blazing-fast 67W wired charging.

You can buy a global version (with Google services) Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra from some international resellers for a price between $1,100 and $2,000, depending on the store, memory option, and choice of finish.

Xiaomi Mi 11

OK, this is the actual Xiaomi flagship right now — not the super-charged Ultra and not a money-saver like the Mi 11 Lite. The Xiaomi Mi 11 has top-tier hardware and performance, a fantastic screen, and a striking industrial design look. Spec-wise you once again have the Snapdragon 888 processor with 8 or 12GB of RAM. The main camera is a 108MP sensor. A 4,600mAh battery keeps the lights on. Xiaomi Mi 11’s global version has all the Google services every Android user needs, so no worries there.

Huawei Mate 40 Pro

The Mate series is Huawei’s camera-centric smartphone line and it’s not shy to show it. The design of the phone is…not everyone’s cup of tea, but one can not argue that it is unique.

The phone itself is a fantastic performer. Being a 2020 model, its refresh rate tops out at 90Hz, but it’s still decidedly smoother than the 60Hz experience of times past. The camera itself is fantastic — certainly capable of rivaling the iPhones and Galaxies of the world. It’s just a bummer that it doesn’t come with Google services and it’s a bit hard to obtain in Western markets. Its successor, the Huawei P50, should be announced soon, so stay tuned for that as well.

Oppo’s Find X series always presents a flagship with an “experimental twist”. In the case of the Find X3, it’s a microscope camera, showing all these macro cameras how it’s done. But that’s in no way the only thing that the Find X3 has going for it. This is a pretty-looking, super-performing smartphone with a very decent camera system, a beautiful 120Hz OLED screen, and a bunch of software features. ColorOS, on top of Android 11, is chock-full of little enhancements that make the user experience quite fun with this phone. It also has an international version that comes with Google services, so it’s most surely worth a look, though, it’s not super-easy to obtain.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

The Redmi series consists of Xiaomi’s mid-range and budget-friendly phones. A step below their flagship Mi phones, the Redmis still have powerful hardware and good cameras at super easy-to-swallow prices. The Redmi Note 10 Pro has pretty decent specs and a 120Hz screen. While we haven’t gotten ahold of it yet, you can check out our review of the Redmi Note 9 and Redmi Note 9 Pro phones to get a general feel for what you will get with this here jewel.

Huawei Mate X2

Foldable phones are pretty much the pinnacle of technological achievement in the smartphone space right now. That is not to say that they are good enough to warrant their sky-high pricing, no. But they are certainly a marvel to admire from afar.

Such is the case of the Huawei Mate X2, which costs an arm and a leg, while it is crippled by the lack of Google services on the phone. Well, at least to westerners — Huawei is still doing well in China.

The Huawei Mate X2 ditched the outward fold idea of the original Mate X and went with the inside fold instead. Much like the Galaxy Z Fold 2, the Huawei Mate X2 has a regular, hard glass-protected screen on the outside shell for normal smartphone usage, while the soft and vulnerable big screen is well-defended inside and ready to work whenever you need it.

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Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC

Poco is Xiaomi’s off-shoot brand that focuses on budget phones. Of their current portfolio, the Poco X3 NFC sits squarely in the middle — it offers an upper midrange processor and a 6.7-inch 120Hz LCD screen. The X3 NFC is the global variant of the device and is easily obtained for a very good price. The software onboard is Xiaomi’s MIUI, slightly modified to fit the Poco brand.

Xiaomi Poco F3

One of the newest Poco phones, the F3, strives to be a true flagship killer. The Poco F3 is the best phone the company currently offers – it has a flagship caliber Snapdragon 870 processor and a gorgeous, 6.68-inch 120Hz AMOLED display with an FHD+ resolution. As for memory, it has either 6 or 8GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. This phone is sold globally by Poco, and its price makes it a lot more appealing than some of its competition. In Europe, the Poco F3 can be found for as low as €300, depending on the storage version you choose.

Conclusion

So there you have it, the best Chinese smartphones you can currently get. Even smaller brands like Realme and Poco have caught up to the competition, and large manufacturers in the face of Xiaomi and Oppo are breathing down Samsung’s neck. There are plenty of excellent Android phones on this list, and most of them truly emphasize what a flagship smartphone should be.

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