My first Chinese smartphone was a Sweez, which to be honest was pretty poor. Shortly after I got the Sweez, I bought an Elephone P8000 which was fantastic. My daughter has a Doogee X5 which is a perfect phone for a 12 year old.
I’m not a gamer at all, but I appreciate phones that have a smooth interface so speed is important. The most important metric for me is battery life, so I tend to ignore any phones with anything less than a 4000mAh battery. As I’m always looking for these large battery phones, the fast 2A charging is also a necessity.
Most smartphones from China are dual SIM. I really like this feature as I tend to use my UK GiffGaff SIM card simultaneously with my French free.fr SIM. I’ve noticed these days that the trend seems to be to have the dual SIM/TF card hybrid tray to hold the SIM card. What this means is that you can either have 2 SIM cards or 1 SIM+TF card (MicroSD card). I’m not a fan of these hybrid trays, I prefer the set up on my Elephone P8000. The Elephone P8000 has 2 micro SIM card slots and a microSD card slot. This means that I can have both numbers active and be able to back the phone up to the microSD card. Sadly this setup doesn’t seem to be as popular with most phones that have come on the market since 2016.
Although my beloved Elephone P8000 seems to be exactly what I want I can’t help looking at what else is out there. In particular I would like a phone that runs on at least Android 6.0. The Elephone P8000 is now discontinued but I believe you can flash the ROM to upgrade it to Android 6.0, I haven’t tried this. I would prefer to wait for an ‘Over The Air’ (OTA) upgrade from Elephone, but I’m not sure if this will ever happen. The P8000’s successor the P9000 doesn’t seem quite as good to me. There are lots of improvements on the Elephone P9000 but the battery is smaller and the dual SIM tray is the hybrid type. I also worry slightly as a friend bought an Elephone P9000 Lite and the earpiece volume seems unusally quiet. This may be a hardware fault that can easily be fixed, but even so it has slightly put me off this model at present.
There’s always a bit of risk in buying direct from China, but I’ve never had a problem myself. One question many people ask is “How much is delivery from China?”, well in most cases it is free to anywhere in The World. The compromise here is time, it can easily take a month for your phone to arrive and sometimes it feels like it will never arrive! I’ve generally recieved any tech goods ordered from China within 3 to 5 weeks. Here are some of the phones that interest me at the moment:
This is my current phone but it is discontinued now. I would highly recommend getting one of these if you can pick one up cheaply. Please bear in mind that the only OTA upgrade available at the moment is for Android 5.1 Lollipop, it is rumoured that there will be an upgrade to Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but at the moment I am not convinced. If you still want one, you can get old stock from Amazon UK.
Bluboo Maya Max
This is a BIG phone with a 6 inch screen. From the reviews I have seen this phone it seems really good. Even though the screen isn’t particularly high resolution everybody seems to remark that it looks really good. It is however HD at 1280×720 pixels, which would have been unheard of a few years ago. The modest resolution helps the battery life too which is excellent. Another thing I really like is that the Bluboo Maya Max comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 4. There are videos on YouTube with people driving cars over this phone and hitting it with hammers. I think this sort of behaviour is insane, but if it will withstand a drop from pocket to floor that will do me. Here are some of the excellent features of the phone:
- 6.0 screen with Gorilla Glass 4,HD 1280×720 pixels
- MTK6750 Octa Core 1.5 GHz GPU: ARM Mali-T860 MP2 350MHz
- Android 6.0 OS , 3GB RAM + 32GB ROM, can extend to 64GB with a microSD card
- Dual Micro SIM cards: 2 x Micro SIM or MicroSD Card+Micro SIM
- 5.0MP front selfie camera, 13.0MP AF Sony IMX214 Sensor back camera with LED flash and auto focus
- Huge Sony 4200mAh Li-polymer Battery, 4.35V Battery Core, Quick-charge
- Support FDD LTE/4G/3G/GPS/Wifi/Bluetooth/Type-C/VoLTE/Touch ID
- 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
- 3G: WCDMA 850/2100MHz
- 4G: FDD-LTE 800/1800/2100/2600MHz
This looks like a great phone and at the time of writing this (November 2016) you can pick this up on GeekBuying.com for $149.99. I’m very tempted to get one of these and hand my Elephone P8000 onto my wife.
I’ve been admiring these Blackview phones for quite a while now. I always think it is odd how manufacturers make such beautiful phones like the Samsung S7 Edge, but then to keep them nice you put them in a big ugly case. Blackview have bypassed this part and just made the phone itself very rugged. The only reason I haven’t got one of these is that the screen size is a bit smaller than what I am used to. Like most people these days, the old fashioned ‘phone function’ is really a secondary function for me. I spend most of my time looking at the screen, rather than using it as a phone, so screen size is important. The screen is HD though at 1280×720. I’m also not the kind of person that takes my phone with me when I’m on the beach, mountain biking or rock climbing. I really don’t need to be connected to the rest of The World all the time, so if I don’t need my phone it stays at home or in the car. For the outdoor types this is the perfect phone though, especially as it is IP68 waterproof.
Here are the features of this phone:
- 4.7 inch HD 1280×720 IPS screen with Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- IP68 Waterproof, bumps resistant and scratch resistant
- Helio P10 MTK6755 Octa Core Cortex A53 2.0GHz, GPU: ARM Mali-T860 MP2 700MHz
- Android 6.0 OS Marshmallow, 3GB RAM + 32GB ROM, can extend to 64GB via MicroSD card
- Dual sim dual standby
- 4500mAh battery, CNC metal frame, NFC, fast charge
- Atmosphere pressure sensor, GPS+GLONASS
- Dual cameras, 5.0MP front camera, 13.0MP back camera with flash and auto focus
- Support FDD LTE/4G/3G/GPS/Bluetooth/OTG
- Networking:2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz, 3GWCDMA 900/1900/2100MHz, 4G: FDD LTE: 800/1800/2100/2600MHz
This is a phone I would really like, if it had a 5.5 inch screen and Corning Gorilla Glass 4, rather than 3, I’d definitely go for it.
Xiaomi Redmi 4
The Xiaomi Redmi 4 was released at the beginning of November 2016. The Xiaomi phone has a large 4000mA battery and improves on a few features of the Xiaomi Redmi 3. The phone comes in 3 different models: the budget Xiaomi Redmi 4A and the top specification Xiaomi Redmi 4 Pro. The Redmi 4A doesn’t interest me as it has a smaller battery, but the Redmi 4 Pro is attractive with its larger memory. All these phones feature 2.5D glass, which isn’t actually curved, but has a curved edge which gives a premium quality feel without being too expensive to manufacture. To be honest I really don’t care about this sort of cosmetic detail, but if it is important to you, fair enough. Here are the Xiaomi Redmi 4 specifications:
- 5.0 inch creen, 2.5D curved glass, HD 1280×720 pixels
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 Octa Core 1.4GHz, Adreno 505,450MHz graphics chip
- MIUI 8 based on Android 6.0 OS
- 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, expandable memory up to 128GB with microSD
- Dual SIM (Micro + Nano / microSD)
- 13MP rear camera with PDAF, LED Flash, f/2.2 aperture, 1080p video recording
- 5MP front facing selfie camera, f/2.2 aperture
- 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS + GLONASS, touch ID, Miracast
- fast charge
- 4000mAh battery / 4100mAh (typical),metal body
- 2G GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz;
- 3G WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100MHz;
- 4G FDD-LTE: 1800/2100/2600MHz, TDD-LTE (B38/B39/B40/B41: 2555-2655MHz)
Overall the main appeal about this phone is the fact that it is very new. There are some very tempting offers around at the moment, but I think I would prefer to pay extra for the Xiaomi Redmi 4 Pro to get the 32Gb of built in memory. At the moment this phone is shipping with Android 6.0, so the big question is…will this have an OTA upgrade to Android 7.0 Nougat? I hope so and if I knew this for sure I would order one of these phones straightaway.
- Find out more about the Xiaomi Redmi 4 here
- Find out more about the Xiaomi Redmi 4A here
- Find out more about the Xiaomi Redmi 4 Pro here