Flagship Chinese smartphones you’ve never heard of but actually want

Powerful smartphones at affordable prices

“Made in China”. There seems to be an inherent negative connotation associated with that phrase nowadays.

Products built in China often get a bad rap, either for being imitations, fakes, or just products of sub-par quality. Whilst that may be true for quite a number of scenarios, it certainly doesn’t apply to the smartphone arena. Recently, Chinese smartphones have taken over the globe by storm, seriously undermining their Western, Korean and Japanese rivals.

Brands like Xiaomi have been producing powerful smartphones at ridiculously low price points, making most consumers revisit their stance on Chinese smartphones, but Xiaomi isn’t the only brand out there that’s worth looking at. Smartphones from the likes of ZUK, Elefone and ZTE are also beginning to make their mark on the industry.

So what exactly passes for a flagship smartphone?

Well, for most consumers, that would usually mean 3 things. 

  • A Powerful Processor

Nobody wants lag, so every single flagship in the market should pack top-of-the-line processors that are at least lag-free, and a graphics processing unit capable of handling heavy 3D games. Ideally, you should be looking at something that holds at least a Snapdragon 820 processor on board and possibly an Adreno 530 processor.

  • A Fantastic Sharpshooter

When you think flagship smartphone, you think excellent camera. One of the reasons why we love our iPhones and our Samsung S7s is because of their amazing rear cameras that don’t only shoot crystal clear photos in the day, but also do well in low-light conditions.

  • An Aesthetically-Pleasing Design

We are all suckers for a beautiful smartphone. Smartphones with sleek edges and luxurious finishes always do well with the public. Of course, a fingerprint sensor attached on the rear or front of the smartphone also helps bring in the crowd, so that’s probably a given on a flagship device nowadays.

Whilst there are many more criterias on a flagship device, in general, you would want to look out for these traits. However, flagships from our favourite manufacturers like Samsung and Apple often cost over S$1000 and can cause significant damage to your bank account. Nevertheless, most people actually don’t realise the plethora of Chinese smartphones that pack the same power but carry a much more affordable price tag.

ZTE AXON 7 (from ~RM1999)

Dubbed the Flagship Killer, the ZTE Axon 7 is one of the most value-for-money smartphones you can find in the market today. Not only is it fast and efficient, the ZTE Axon 7 sports clean software that’s very user friendly, and also tremendous battery life that's bigger than the Samsung S7’s. It's also got QuickCharge 3.0 that reduces your recharging time by an hour and 40 minutes. Excelling in all departments, the Axon 7 is perhaps the most all-rounded Chinese flagship there is at its price point. And while it might not pack fancy dual cameras like the iPhone 7 Plus, it fulfills almost all your basic needs perfectly.

  • Processor: Snapdragon 820 - (same as the Samsung S7)
  • RAM: 4GB (same as the Samsung S7)
  • Internal Storage: 64GB (same as the Samsung S7)
  • Camera: 20 MP, f/1.8 (better resolution and similar low-light performance)