China smartphones serve up some serious contenders

China smartphones serve up some serious contenders

I'm sure by now you and I are already sick of looking at Samsungs and iPhones.

It's no secret I always dislike the iPhone, but Samsung is getting on my nerves with its similar products in different sizes as well.

The HTC's, Sony's and LG's are a rarity these days for whatever reason.

Last month, I went to China for the first time since 2002, and I was interested to see what the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) had to offer.

The country being one of the biggest parts manufacturers in the world for mobile technology, I was optimistic China should have a healthy variety of handsets, and I wasn't wrong.

Vivo X Play

At around 2998 yuan ($625) the X Play immediately caught my attention because of two things: its 5.7-inch 1080p screen and the 3D user-interface which is a heavy skin over Android 4.2.

The X Play confirmed that China's mobile market is erupting, with almost every phone in full High Definition screens in different shapes and sizes to choose from.

The X Play has excellent specifications such as a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600-series 1.7 GHz quad-core processor; 2GB of RAM; Adreno 320 graphics; and either a 16GB or 32GB memory to go with it.

On the rear, you have a 13-megapixel camera from Sony, surrounded by a pair of speakers, while the front is equipped with a 5-megapixel camera.

I got the chance to play with the X Play for about 10 minutes. I was close to buying it, but I decided to play it safe as I was unsure that its 4G/LTE radio frequency would match the one in Brunei.

But as a GSM phone, it's definitely a beast.

The camera is top-quality and the display is beautiful with 500-nits and an extremely good viewing angle.

The battery is a generous 3,400mAh, which will be good enough to last on standby for two to three days.

All this is just 7.99mm thick. Coupled with an extremely thin bezel, the X Play has a one-hand usability function.

iOcean X7

iOcean has been a constant in the Chinese market with legacy phones and it is slowly moving into smartphones.

Its line of products has evolved, but prices still remain cheap. At 998 yuan ($208), the X7 is a 5-inch full HD, 1.2GHz quad-core processor mobile phone.

It comes with 1GB of RAM, 4.2.1 Jelly Bean Android, 12-megapixel rear camera and a 4GB internal memory with an external storage slot which is expandable up to 64GB.

Sadly, this phone is 3G only, but at $200, it is a little hard not to spend money on if you see it in person.

Physically, the phone is plastic with a rubbery-finish, making it easy to hold, and is fairly light at just 150 grammes.

Display-wise, it is not as good as the $625 X Play, but it is good enough bearing in mind the price. With a high-megapixel rear camera, the X7 takes extremely good picture in good light, but as most phone cameras, it becomes just average in low light.

Oppo Find 5

Oppo is currently the maker of the best looking smartphones coming out of China, hands down.

As the name suggests, it features a 5-inch phone with full HD display.

Internally it houses a Qualcomm 8064 processor, which is a quad-core 1.5GHz and has 16/32GB of memory.

This phone has caught my eye since late last year, but sadly, the mobile-landscape is changing so fast that 5-inches is already somewhat out-dated and is too small for my liking.

Again, the Find 5 uses a 13-megapixel Sony Exmor camera, which has a fast f/2.2 aperture lens, making the whole package pretty impressive.

But, the Find 5 costs $550 and has no 4G/LTE radio which will probably be a deal breaker at this day and age.

However, for that price you get an extremely well built handset, a user-interface that you will find no-where else, and basically, it is beautiful on the inside and out.

Huawei Ascend Mate

This 6.1-inch Chinese-made phone is also 2998 yuan, but when I saw that it only has a 1280x720 resolution screen, it immediately fell behind the Vivo X Play.

At the same price and just 0.4-inch larger, it's hard not to overlook a 720p screen.

Specs-wise it has a 1.5GHz quad core processor and 2GB of RAM, which confuses me because if everything internally is premium, why is the screen non-premium?

Especially when priced close to the premium smartphone territory, the Ascend will be a little hard to make your mind up on.

Unless you absolutely like a super large phone with a battery large enough to match (4,050mAh), perhaps other Chinese-made phones would make better choices instead.

Lenovo K900

Going down this list makes me really sad that we don't have this many phones to choose from in Brunei. At around $700, the Lenovo K900 is one of the best in the Chinese market.

With 5.5-inches, full HD and 401 pixels per inch, the K900 also has a Corning Gorilla Glass 2 screen to protect it.

Lenovo is best-known for its working laptops, for the office and rugged conditions, but did you know that its smartphone is one of the first to make use of an Intel processor (2GHz dual-core)?

The K900 definitely has a premium feel courtesy of a unibody steel alloy shell with polycarbonate. It also has a 13-megapixel camera, but one thing that is disappointing is Lenovo's Android skin which looks really tacky, as though it's trying too hard to look professional.

Again, there is no 4G radio, which I think may be because the Chinese market doesn't actually have LTE yet. But we must bear in mind that the K900 has been launched for quite a few months now, and its direct competitor, being the Galaxy Note 2, already has an LTE variant.

Conclusion

So if you're wondering where to buy some of these handsets, some of which are extremely affordable, you'll have to resort online. Or if you go to Hong Kong, be sure to stop by Shenzhen where most of the mobile manufacturers are located.

Personally, I've got my eye on the iOcean X7 as a back-up phone just because of its ridiculously cheap price.

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