Android phones don’t just extend to the latest Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC, Google Pixel or Google Nexus.
The smart bet for money-savers is on the rise of 4G-ready China-made smartphones running the Android operating system.
For anyone looking for a Sim Only deal with the tech to match, our cousins over in the East have the grip on the market.
The popularity of Chinese Android smartphones is not new; going back as far as 2015, 7 out of the top 10 smartphone makers in the world are Chinese.
Before you Buy: 4G problems with Chinese smartphones in the UK
While the popularity of these devices in their homeland (the world’s largest smartphone market) drives sales, brands like Huawei and Lenovo are also making major inroads into the European and US markets.
China has a multitude of Android OEMs, covering all specifications and price ranges.
Our top five best Chinese Android devices on the market more than stand up against familiar names such as Sony and HTC.
There can be a misconception in the West that Chinese products lack the quality of some of their counterparts, particularly when they come with a much lower price tag.
Many of the options are even more feature packed than their better-known rivals.
The best of the bunch offer a sturdy metal body, 2GB or 3GB of RAM, 64GB expandable internal storage, dual-SIM options and 4G capability, all for a price tag well below £200.
1. Meizu M3 Note
Whilst Meizu is a relatively unknown in the UK, at home they have had great success in the budget smartphone space.
Perhaps the best 4G-capable Android phone that you can get your hands one for less than £175 – to be precise £163.76 (Gearbest, May 2017)
With a 1080p IPS LCD 5.5-inch screen, an octa–core Helio P10 SoC processor and a massive 4100mAh battery, along with the nice user features such as fingerprint sensor, 13-megapixel rear camera, Meizu have certainly packed a lot of quality into a handset with such a small handset.
The M3 Note is another phone which resembles both an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy in its aesthetic.
It is also worth noting that the M3 Note houses a SIM tray which with space for either two nano-SIMs or one nano-SIM and a microSD card.
2. Huawei P10 – the iPhone beater?
The P10 is Huawei’s 2017 flagship device, and will look to build on the success of the Chinese giant’s 2016 model, the P9.
A direct replacement for the P9, the P10 has built on some of its predecessor’s better features, whilst doing away with the much-maligned on-screen navigation bar.
Boasting impressive features, such as good quality dual camera, powerful Kirin 960 processor and 5.1-inch display, the P10’s 3,200 mAh battery keeps the latest version of Android, Nougat, keeps running throughout the day.
Plus the internal memory can be expanded with a microSD card.
The design is strikingly similar to the iPhone 6, the new aesthetic gives the impression of a Chinese smartphone that is not still trying to break into the Western market, but to lead it.
This may also be representative in the cost: UK department stores have it priced at £550+ but online you can get much better deals. eGlobalCentral have the P10 on at £435.99 in May 2017.
While Huawei may no longer be seen as a cheap Chinese equivalent to a mainstream Android phone, it does still offer great value for money.
3. Huawei Honor 8
Where Huawei’s pricing may be catching up to the traditional smartphone manufacturers, their sub-brand Honor offers good quality Androids at much more economical prices.
The Honor 8 is an example of how Chinese brands can offer great devices for prices below £400.
In fact, until the end of May Gearbest have a deal on for the Honor 8 selling it at £286.
With a slick, ultra-shiny design with 5.2-inch LTPS display and dual 12MP rear camera and 8MP front camera all powered by a HiSilicon Kirin 950 Processor, the diminished price tag takes nothing away from the handset’s capability.
4. Xiaomi Mi5S
With a flood of Xiaomi handsets on hitting the market back in 2016 it can be difficult to keep up with which is deemed the latest, and whether the latest model is in fact the best.
It is the Mi5s model which seems to be doing best in the customer satisfaction and value for money stakes.
It will cost you a mere £231.70 (GeekBuying, May 2017) for a phone with 64GB of internal storage and 3GB of RAM.
The closest Google Pixel model with these features would set you back a cool £599.
The above price is particularly impressive when considered with the Mi5s being described online as the ‘the Xiaomi flagship that could replace Samsung, LG or HTC’.
The Mi5s comes with impressive Xiaomi patented screen technology on the 5.15-inch screen, which uses 16 LED lights to provide a bright and crisp image which shouldn’t be possible on a phone costing less than £250.
A SnapDragon 821 processor and 3200mAh built-in battery help power some nice features, such as Ultrasonic ‘button less’ fingerprint scanner and Ultra light-sensitive camera.
The price point is already low, but with the Mi6s currently on pre-order, it remains to be seen whether the price of the will fall further.
5. OnePlus 3T
It is not often that a smartphone manufacturer, or any manufacturer for that matter, releases two flagship models in one year, but that is exactly what OnePlus did in 2016.
After releasing the OnePlus 3 in June, the company released the 3T just 5 months later, having listened to the customer’s feedback on the 3 model, they made relevant changes and released a better version.
With a Snapdragon 821 processor and an insane 6GB of RAM all powered by a 3400mAh battery, which will easily afford a full day’s usage from one charge, the 3T arguably packs the biggest power punch of all the Android variants on this list.
Online stores are selling the 3T for £355 (Gearbest, May 2017)
The 3T also comes with 16MP rear and front facing cameras, impressive 1080p panel and dual-SIM card slot.
It appears that OnePlus are doing everything in their power to get themselves noticed in the busy Chinese Android market.