China’s smartphone market is the largest in the world, but some of the country’s major players including Xiaomi and Lenovo have found that, with the domestic market reaching saturation point, they need to look internationally for further growth.
Today is Chinese New Year and to celebrate we've taken a look at ten of the best handsets to emerge from the Asian country.
Various sources have placed Xiaomi as the world’s third largest smartphone vendor, but the brand is still relatively unknown outside of its native China. However, if it continues to make sterling handsets like the Mi4, that won't remain the case for long.
Read more: IDC: Xiaomi reigns supreme in China
The Mi4 launched in August last year and quickly continued Xiaomi’s emphasis on high-end specs without the high-end price tag. The handset boasts a 5-inch 1080 display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and a whopping 3GB of RAM.
Priced at 1999 yuan domestically and costing international buyers around $370, the Mi4 offers very decent value for money.
Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
Lenovo is perhaps more associated with its range of laptops, but the Chinese firm also knows how to deliver a killer smartphone.
The Vibe Z2 Pro fits the bill if larger handsets are your thing, with the device sporting a 6-inch display. Despite the size, Lenovo has managed to make the phone surprisingly portable, and the Z2 Pro is actually shorter in length than the iPhone 6 Plus and smaller in all three dimensions than the Nexus 6. It also comes with a 16-megapixel camera, 32GB of internal storage and looks very stylish – which is always a bonus.
IUNI may be one of the least well-known Chinese brands to Western consumers, but anyone who did take a punt on the U3 would have been pleasantly surprised.
The handset’s real selling point is its fantastic display, which measures 5.5-inches and provides Quad HD resolution. When you factor in that the IUNI U3 also comes with some impressive specs, a 13-megapixel camera and is available for just $370 (£240) it more than holds its own against some better known devices.
The Oppo R5 held the record (albeit briefly) for the world’s thinnest smartphone when it launched late last year, and at just 4.85mm thick, it proves that good things come in small packages.
It includes an excellent AMOLED screen, a 13-megapixel camera and is available for around £290. While other handsets may boast more impressive specs, the R5’s sleek design is what really makes it stand out, so if the look of your handset is important, it is definitely worth checking out.
ZTE Nubia Z7
Many consumers both in China and abroad struggled to get their hands on the ZTE Nubia Z7, when it launched in July last year, such was the demand for the device.
The Z7 utilises a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor to power its 5.5-inch display and its 13-megapixel camera. The latter of which actually forms one of the handset’s best features, as it is capable of shooting 4K UHD video and 120 FPS slow-motion clips.
The smartphone is available in three variants, the Maxi, the Mini and the regular Z7 and prices range from £200 to £300.
Gionee Elife S5.1
The Gionee Elife S5.1 is targeted at individuals who may not need top-of-the range specs, but want a good quality, well-designed smartphone that doesn’t break the bank.
The handset boasts a 4.8-inch display, 1GB of RAM and LTE support. There’s also no sign of any plastic to be had here, with the Elife S5.1 housing everything within Gorilla Glass 3 front and rear panels and metal sides.
It also measures just over 5mm thick and weighs less than 100 grams, so if you want a compact, stylish, budget smartphone then look no further.
Huawei Honor 6
One of the first things to note about the Huawei Honor 6 is its premium feel, despite a price tag of around £250.
It has 3GB of RAM, a 5-inch laminated display and the option of expanding its 16GB internal storage with a microSD card of up to 32GB. Consumers may have to get use to Huawei’s custom Emotion UI, but will surely be delighted with the manufacturer’s claims that the phone’s 3100mAh battery will give more than full day’s charge, even under heavy use.
The Huawei Honor 6 is currently available in the UK for approximately £250.
The Meizu MX4 is not one of the cheapest smartphone’s available from a Chinese manufacturer, but it still offers very good value for money.
It’s powered by an octa-core MediaTek processor and boasts 2GB of RAM and a substantial 3100mAH battery. The smartphone is also equipped with a 20.7-megapixel rear-facing lens, so it should be a serious consideration for any budding photographers out there.
Another worthy camera-centric option comes in the form of Vivo’s Xshot handset. Aside from its Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM, the Xshot has a 13-megapixel camera, which is equipped with a second-gen Sony sensor and is capable of 4K video and slow-motion capture.
It also includes special modes, such as a Smart Night Mode, and even sports a front-facing full-spectrum flash, so camera enthusiasts will have plenty of features to fiddle with, all for around £300.
The OnePlus One made headlines last year for its unusual distribution strategy, with consumers only able to purchase it via an exclusive invitation process.
Read more: China now the most powerful mobile market
However, the hype surrounding the phone soon grew for other reasons, namely its high-end specs and low-end price. The 16GB version can be purchased for just £240 and offers a 5.5-inch display, 3GB of RAM, and the latest Snapdragon processor. What’s more, the OnePlus One will also allow consumers to root their handset without voiding their warranty, enabling them to run whatever custom ROMs they want – a far cry from the walled garden of Apple’s iPhone.