A lot of press inches have been given over recently to Apple and Samsung – the two giants of the smartphone world. But as greater expectations are placed on a brand, there are always two possible outcomes: greater prices, and/or disappointment. As such, the attention of many tech blogs has turned to the smartphones coming out of China. Often dismissed as poor copies of their Western rivals, we’ll show you that there are plenty of Chinese smartphones more than ready to hold their own in a global market.

Lenovo

Founded in 1984, it’s very likely that you’ll have heard of Lenovo, especially since their hiring of actor Ashton Kutcher as product engineer and spokesperson. However, the company are still more well-known for their computers and tablets than their smartphones.

One to watch: Look out for the Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro. This 7.7mm metal smartphone has clean, edgy lines, and packs a 4,000mAh battery.

Huawei

Given their status as the largest telecom equipment manufacturer in the world, Huawei is a familiar name. We wrote last week about Huawei’s wearables from MWC15 – with their Android Wear watch more than holding its own against competitors from Apple and LG.

Ones to watch: The Huawei Ascend Mate 2, with a 6.1” display, offers excellent value for money, whilst the Ascend Mate 7, with a 6” display, has an attractive 7.9mm metal body, industry-leading fingerprint sensor, and a 4,100mAh battery. The Huawei Honor 6 Plus houses an innovative dual camera sensor, with two 8MP sensors allowing for better photography in low-light conditions.



Xiaomi

Pronounced shao-me, the company was founded in 2010, and is proving itself to be something of a game-changer. Makers of the bestselling affordable smartphone in Asia, the Redmi, Xiaomi are sometimes referred to as the “Chinese Apple” due to both the perceived design similarities, and the legions of dedicated fans.

Ones to watch: The Xiaomi Redmi Note, an almost unbeatable combination of quality and affordability in phablet form.

The Redmi 2 – a 4.7” screen, with 720 x 1280 display, running on a Snapdragon 410 64-bit quad core chip. If you can get hold of one, an excellent introduction to Xiaomi’s products.

The Xiaomi Mi Note. Described by many as the best Chinese smartphone, although not easily available outside of Asia. The Mi Note runs on a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 chip – not quite as powerful as the OnePlus One’s Snapdragon 8.1, but none too shabby – and has a 5.7”, 1,920 x 1,080 display. This is a larger screen than the iPhone 6Plus, but both thinner and lighter.



The Mi Note combines enough innovative new features, with familiar, comfortable ones, to make it incredibly usable. Despite the OS no longer requiring capacitive buttons, the Mi Note features three on the bottom bezel – I for one prefer this set-up. The structure of the phone is a metal ‘body’ fixed between front and back Gorilla Glass 3, with a slight curve making it more comfortable to hold.

Perhaps the most interesting feature is the custom MIUI Android skin, described as “strikingly refreshing” in comparison to Samsung’s TouchWiz.


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