Cheap Chinese phones have offered an amazing way to get a powerful Android phone for bargain basement prices. Companies like Gearbest offer hundreds of phones from wacky named brands like Bluboo, UMIDIGI and Doogee, then there is the $100 billion super brand Xiaomi that no one can pronounce (SHOW-mee).
The problem with Gearbest and the like is the long delivery times, questionable VAT/Duty status and practically no warranty. So, it is understandable that people don’t always want to use them.
However, if you don’t mind paying a little extra, you can get a lot of these phones on Amazon, or eBay. If it is sold under Amazon prime you will get the backing of Amazons amazing customer services and a 30-day return policy.
There are plenty of options but here are the top 10 I have found that are worth checking out.
This is one of the models I have been debating for myself. It has reasonably good reviews but the most impressive part is the 5000mAh battery.
On top of that, you get an MT6750T Octa Core CPU with 4GB RAM, 64GB ROM, Fingerprint, GPS. Dual SIM.
The cameras are a 13MOP front facing camera with a 16MP rear-facing camera.
The edge to edge display is 5.7 inch, 1440 x 720 Pixel screen.
Not much imagination goes into the name or design of some of these Chinese phones. This is an S8 clone with a MTK6750T Octa-core 1.5GHz CPU, 3GB RAM and 32GB ROM.
The display is 5.7-inch bezel-less 18:9 1440*720 pixels.
The camera is 16MP at the rear and 8MP up front.
The battery is 3450mAh
I noticed UMIDIGI popping up a lot a bit over a year ago. They seem to be really pushing the specs and prices of there phones, but reviews tend to be mixed, and this is why I would buy from Amazon over Gearbest if the markup isn't too bad.
The S2 has an impressive 6-inch, edge to edge display running at 1440 x 720 with an aspect ratio of 18:9
This uses the Helio P20 MT6757 2.3GHz Octa Core CPU with 4GB of Ram and 64GB of storage.
The cameras are 13.0MP and 5MP
The battery is an impressive 5100mAh
At around £230 on Amazon, it is a lot of phone for your money!
OUKITEL Mix 2
The 2nd OUKITEL phone in my list, and the first one with the Mix moniker. The Mix named phones are all clones of the Xiaomi Mi MIX and have a striking display that covers far more of the body than premium brands use.
This impressive looking phone has a 5.99’’ 18:9 bezel-less display running at 2160 x 1080.
The processor is a MTK6750V Octa Core 2.3GHz using 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. This ships with Android 7.0
There is a 8MP front and 16MP rear camera, and the battery is 4080mAh
OUKITEL K10000 Pro
This deserves to be on the list for one reason only, the unprecedented 10000mAh battery! There are understandable caveats with this though, it weighs a lot! But it could be the perfect power users phones. Some users on Reddit pointed out that the USB charger needs a longer than normal micro USB plug due to the casing, this means normal cables may not work.
On top of the insane battery, you get MTK6750T Octa-core 1.5Ghz CPU, 3GB RAM, 32GB of storage.
The cameras are 13MP up front, and 5MP at the rear.
The display is a 5.5″ screen running at 1920 * 1080 and it ships with Android 7
The 2nd and not the last MIX phone. The Doogee comes with a 5.5 inch, 1280 x 720 pixels HD AMOLED screen.
The CPU is the Helio P25 MT6757CD and comes with 6GB Ram and 64GB of storage.
Cameras are 5MP at the front and 16MP in the rear.
The battery is a little disappointing compared to some at 3380mAh . It comes with Android 7.0
At £249.99 this is getting a bit pricey compared to others, but you get what you pay for. In particular with this Elephone you get a better System on Chip (SoC) which is the CPU and GPU.
This uses the MediaTek Helio X25 which was supposed to compete with the flagship Snapdragon 821 that was released at the start of 2017. In reality, it couldn't compete, but it is still an excellent SoC if the phone is priced appropriately.
Apart from the excellent chipset, you get 4GB of RAM with 64Gb of storage.
The screen is also much higher resolution than cheaper models, using a 6-inch 2560x1440 display.
The camera is 21MP on the rear with 8MP up front, and it comes with a 4000mAh battery. This is actually shipped with a slightly more updated version of Android, running 7.1.1
Ulefone S8 Pro
Going in the other direction, the Ulefone is the cheapest on the list and an absolute bargain at £79.99.
It uses a MT6737 Quad-core 64 bit 1.3GHz CPU and comes with 2GB RAM 16GB ROM.
The screen is petite compared to some standards at just 5.3″ running at 1280 x 720 and it comes with a 3000mAh battery
Vernee Mix 2
Another Mix clone, the Vernee Mix 2 is priced at a reasonable £179.99 and comes with that impressive 6.0-inch zero bezel display running at 18:9 2160*1080p.
You get the Helio P25 MT6757CD Octa-core 2.5GHz CPU with 4GB RAM + 64GB ROM
The camera is 13MP and 8MP and you get a 4200mAh battery
That being said, at these prices, you do need to make some compromises. They may pass themselves off as cheaper premium phones, but the processors in them (with the exception of the Elephone S8) are very much midrange. So when considering these over another brand, for example, don't try and compare a Galaxy S8 to the Bluboo S8, they are not even in the same league.
Long-term updates are also unlikely with these phones, these companies are relatively small compared to Samsung or Xiaomi and they churn out a large number of phones, so updating them is low on their priority.
However, if you accept the limitations of these phones, you can save yourself hundreds while still having a superb phone.