Is a Chinese unlocked Android phone a good choice?

AHardKnocksGrad October 4, 2012
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It’s time for a new Android phone and I want to remain with my present carrier but don’t want to renew the contract. I am wondering about purchasing a Chinese unlocked phone. Sturdy, reliable, or just a poor choice?

What are your thoughts?

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  1. jim
    December 31, 2012 at 3:57 am

    I have just bought a android 4.0 from china it is on its way as I post. it is a $100.00 gamble i did a search for a unlocked phone . it was a dual sim gsm what I wanted
    now when i do a unlock search My phone did not show up and unlocked is not in the listing.very concerned are all new cell phones from china unlocked ? if not what will I need to do to get it to work on at&t? I .have a very old contrack that is not offered any more . and i just want to get a little nicer phone and keep this plan.any help will be greatley appresiated

  2. jtay
    December 2, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Yes the chinese unlocked cell phones running the Android system are very good.

    But make sure you buy from a good ebay dealer.....specify the EXACT make and model you want.....

  3. Calle Sweden
    October 6, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Well, if you are sure it is not fake, and that is is a good phone with a good price, then why not? But i would recommend you to buy one from a trusted website.

  4. Tim Brookes
    October 6, 2012 at 8:06 am

    There are a few things to take away from this discussion:

    1. If it looks too good to be true, it is (especially on the Internet).

    2. If it looks like another mobile phone, say the iPhone or Galaxy S3, then it's going to be a piece of garbage for sure.

    3. Not all Chinese phones are bad, some are in fact just as good as what HTC or Samsung put out.

    The third one might seem like a shocker, and I really can't comment on build quality, but a select few manufacturers are producing some killer phones (hardware-wise) for literally half of the price of say the HTC One X or the Samsung Galaxy S3. The phone I'm thinking of here is the Xiaomi Mi2, which is due out this month and really packs a punch in terms of specs (2GB of RAM, quad-core processor, Adreno 320 GPU) and it comes with MIUI as opposed to TouchWiz or Sense - something you will probably change anyway. It's going to retail for CN„1999 which is around US$330. That's unlocked, standalone, no contracts - yours for less than $400.

    Again, it might break in a week, but even the design is actually quite nice and understated. For me, an iPhone user, it actually looks pretty good (for the price, of course). The way I see it is, if you're going to buy Android I don't see why you would pay the money Samsung is charging for what is essentially cheap plastic when you can get another one that's equally cheap for the price Samsung SHOULD be charging - that's my opinion, of course.

    You can see a review here, though it's in Chinese (Google Translate does pretty well): http://www.cnmo.com/reviews/185140.html

    You'll want to use websites like http://android-sale.com/ to buy these, unless you have friends in China who can get you one! I'd actually love to get my hands on the Mi2 to see what it's really like. I won't actually buy one, but I'd love to be pleasantly surprised.

  5. Hard Knocks Grad
    October 6, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Once again, thanks for your time and attention to my question about the off brand phones from China. This was something that I had been considering for awhile and was relying on you good folks to steer me in the right direction as you have. I did find a solution to my plight through AT&T customer service. They suggested purchasing a Go Phone and then swap out the SIM and then call them so the settings can be adjusted to match the new phone. Seems that I have found my direction and this query can be put to bed as resolved. Once again, thanks to all of you for your help.

  6. Alan Wade
    October 5, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Think about your question.
    Would you buy a laptop from a guy passing in the street or car? - Of course not. So why would you buy something thats cloned or pirated from China? Not a lot of sense in that is there?

  7. Kannon Y
    October 5, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    If price is your main concern, then my suggestion is that you make the purchasing decision that gives you the most mileage for your dollar (or whatever currency you might trade in). That means emphasizing three criteria: (1) reliability OR inexpensiveness, (2) basic functionality and (3) low monthly rates.

    Sometimes the most efficient purchasing decision can be a Chinese "knock-off", but most of the time your best option is a factory refurbished or used phone, or an older, outdated phone. I suggest getting a Squaretrade or Geeksquad warranty (look for it in the eBay auction) on a refurb model. Just make sure it's the right cellular technology for your network, before buying. Like GSM (T-Mo/AT&T) or CDMA (Verizon/Sprint).

    As far as functionality is concerned, be wary of imported Chinese phones. Sometimes they might broadcast on frequencies not available in the US. Also, some features might be unavailable due to incompatibility in data technologies, since the device may not have been cleared through the FCC.

    Third, and this has nothing to do with the question you asked - if you are now off-contract, most cellular carriers have much cheaper, prepaid monthly plans and "bring your own phone" policies. For example, most iPhone owners who are off-contract can switch to a prepaid plan and save about $400 a year. Just Google your carrier name, plus prepaid. If you have any questions, please ask.

    By the way, all phones are at least partially made in China. I think Samsung and LG phones tend to sometimes be made in Korea, but even then, there's a high degree of components made in China.

  8. Hard Knock Grad
    October 5, 2012 at 4:34 am

    Thanks to all of you that have responded to my question about the Chinese phones. I take the consensus to be to avoid them. I will certainly do that. The ads looked real good though. Several looked likes GS II's. Any suggestions as to a reputable reseller?

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      October 5, 2012 at 7:34 am

      You can checkout the models Acer Liquid Gallant Duo, Samsung Galaxy Y Duos Lite GT-S5302, Samsung Galaxy Chat GT-B5330 or Sony Xperia Tipo Dual. I am sure there are lot of other branded android smartphones at cheaper price.

    • Timothy Liem
      October 5, 2012 at 9:10 am

      Huawei and ZTE are the only reliable brands.

    • Timothy Liem
      October 5, 2012 at 9:10 am

      I mean, China brands

  9. Alex Perkins
    October 4, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Probably not the best idea, try and go with the big names like HTC, Samsung etc... As they usually make sturdier phones, watch reviews on youtube.

  10. Alex Perkins
    October 4, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Probably not a good idea, go with the big names like, samsung, HTC etc...

  11. James Franklin
    October 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    As most of the above comments say, no, bad choice. Stick with the more reliable, good branded companies.

  12. vasu gupta
    October 4, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    no as u know that chinese sell fake things so dont prefer them

  13. Nethu Alahakoon
    October 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    poor choice.. go for a branded one like sony or samsung..

  14. hamad3914
    October 4, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Not really. Firstly they are not of good quality, plus you can get a really good Android phone for a very good price or you can get used phone that would be better. Also you can win in the Giveaways in MakeUseOf (Y)

  15. HLJonnalagadda
    October 4, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Yeah Sammy has so many Android handsets now that you can be sure of finding a device to your liking.

  16. Rajaa Chowdhury
    October 4, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Most of the Chinese mobiles earlier never used to come with a IMEI and was banned in India. For the existing handset users, a scheme was launched to approach their mobile service operators to generate IMEI. Also with all the good branded companies now offering Android psmartphones with decent features at cheap price, Chinese mobiles have lost the wind. You can checkout the models Acer Liquid Gallant Duo, Samsung Galaxy Y Duos Lite GT-S5302, Samsung Galaxy Chat GT-B5330 or Sony Xperia Tipo Dual. I am sure there are lot of other branded android smartphones at cheaper price. I would suggest to go with well-established brand names.

  17. Rajaa Chowdhury
    October 4, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Most of the Chinese mobiles earlier never used to come with a IMEI and was banned in India. For the existing handset users, a scheme was launched to approach their mobile service operators to generate IMEI. Also with all the good branded companies now offering Android psmartphones with decent features at cheap price, Chinese mobiles have lost the wind. You can checkout the models Acer Liquid Gallant Duo, Samsung Galaxy Y Duos Lite GT-S5302, Samsung Galaxy Chat GT-B5330 or Sony Xperia Tipo Dual. I am sure there are lot of other branded android smartphones at cheaper price. I would suggest to go with well-established brand names.

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