Should You Trust and Buy Android Phones From Chinese Phone Makers in India?

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Chinese electronics, namely phones, have finally shed their ‘cheap quality’ image for most people now, although it did take a few years for the Chinese to get from cheap ‘no name’ dual SIM phones to almost mainstream-quality phones with top-end features, in line with brands such as LG and Samsung. And now, the very Chinese brands are venturing in international territory; and their first priority, after their home country, seems to be the Indian market. This move by the Chinese makers has been received with a warm welcome by the average Indian (especially the youth) who is always on the lookout for the latest tech at affordable prices.

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Chinese companies such as Zopo mobile, UMI, Jiayu, etc. are reportedly trying to make foray into the huge Indian market at this moment. These companies offer some serious value to price ratio for their products, good enough to give nightmares to a few mainstream OEMs. For those doubting the quality from these Chinese players, this should come as a green signal since it is a well-known fact by now that Indian brands such as Micromax and Karbonn actually do not manufacture most of their products themselves, but instead they source devices from Chinese OEMs like these and rebrand them under their own name for sale in the Indian market.

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What exactly does it mean to the end user? This means that you get a lot more bang-for-your-buck if you buy from these Chinese players directly as opposed to say, buying from brands like Samsung, Sony, etc., or Indian brands like Karbonn or Spice, since, the Indian brands basically just act as middlemen and increase the price by a percentage for the consumer to pay. And, high-end devices with similar configurations from mainstream brands like Samsung are affordable only to the very affluent. For example, the Micromax Canvas HD and the Zopo ZP980 – both phones fit in the Rs. 14-16k price bracket (although the Canvas HD was earlier advertised to sell for Rs. 13990, only some got it at that price).


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The ZP980 beats the Canvas HD in the following departments – Screen resolution (ZP980 – 1080p; Canvas HD – 720p), Camera (ZP980 – 13MP, Canvas HD – 8MP), PPI (Pixels Per Inch, ZP980 – 440.58ppi, Canvas HD – 293.72ppi), this might be subjective, but for me the ZP980 with its thin body and sleek design looks MUCH better than the Canvas HD with the black front-white rear setup. Also, the Zopo ZP980 comes in two variants, the 1GB RAM ‘youth’ version and the one with 2GB RAM – the ‘advanced’ version. This is one of the many examples which one might think of; other examples include UMI X2, iOcean X7, etc.

 

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Now for the other side of the coin. With innumerable pros, there are bound to be a few cons. One being the lack of regular software updates, which might frustrate some over time. The biggest of them all for the average Indian should be the lack of service centers across the country. While Micromax and Karbonn have successfully set up hundreds of service centers and are in the process of setting up even more, there is nothing much to speak of for the Chinese brands like Zopo in terms of service centers. Let’s face it – With a lower price tag for the same configuration, there are more chances of things going wrong.

Most of these companies operate from China – which means there won’t be much of English-speaking staff, although it is improving. User communities and forums undoubtedly help a lot, but well, they cannot be substituted in place of service centers. Should something go wrong with your phone, the only thing you can do is go to the local phone repairer praying that he has a solution. Since most of the phones in a generation are based on similar hardware, there is a good chance your prayers do in fact get answered.

All in all, I would give a thumbs up to people looking to buy from Chinese OEMs at this point of time, and it is perfectly understandable if you are apprehensive about doing the same, there are good enough reasons to back your apprehension. At the moment, this market seems reserved by the adventurous and the youth, and it looks like it might take some time for the audience to widen.

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Comments

  1. Vijay says

    Chinese companies such as Zopo mobile, UMI, Jiayu, et. al. might initially find a lot of enthusiastic buyers from the young reckless lot- but eventually they will have to set up After Sale Service points in this vast nation of ours in case they really want to have access to the tech thirsty Indian Millions.

    • says

      Vijay, I agree with you. If and when Zopo, UMI, etc are successful in setting up service centers, I don’t think people will have any qualm in buying from them. And yes as we said in the article, right now the market is limited to the adventurous and enthusiasts who want to try something new.

  2. anish says

    I think there’s a long way to go before these chinese OEM’s get the attention of mainstream tech fanatics. Rightly said the current gen of fones come in similar specs which are can be fixed, however the durability of these devices shouldn’t be assumed to be more than a year (if you’re really lucky, perhaps two!). They do offer really sharp spec which in some cases; are infact giving the big boys a run for their money! (Xiaomi MI2s, MI3, jiayu g4 turbo etc.). I believe in due time we might finally have faith in them.

    • says

      Not really Anish, I think you got it wrong with the durability part. Xiaomi for me is at par with Samsung and the likes if not better. Jiayu and Umi are completely different territory, can’t be put in the same league as Xiaomi. According to some reviews on the net, the OPPO Find 5 is the best built Android phone ever, giving tough competition to the One. It will take Indians some time to realise the difference between UMi Chinese and Xiaomi Chinese, is what I feel. Thanks for your views though!

    • says

      You might want to consider UMI X2, Zopo ZP980, iOcean X7! All of these phones sell for around or below the 15k mark, and come with Full HD display panels!

  3. Rahul says

    Hi I am planning to upgrade my LG optimus p500 to new phone. I am little bit confused whether to buy this zopo zp980 or go for some branded phones like samsung sony etc. Below are my clarifications

    1. Lets assume after 6 months or 1 year android is releasing its new version such as 5.0, will I be able to upgrade zp980 to android 5.0, if the manufacture doesnt provide the update.

    3.If I buy a branded phone such as sony xperia z I will not have this problem even if the manufacture doesnt provide an update. As there are so many rom developers who will provide cutomised rom, which I can just download and flash it in my mobile. As for zp980 I dont think there will be many customs rom being developed.

    4. I dont change my mobile frequently I keep a mobile for atleast 2 to 3 years. Will these chineese phone last for this period of time. As I am worried about the quality of the phone and battery life.

    It would be great if you could clarify my question which will help me in making a right desicion.

    • says

      1 and 3. As you said in #3, it would depend on custom ROM developers. However, given that the phone comes with Android 4.1/4.2, you can expect Zopo to release updates till at least the next two versions, this is based on my experience with Chinese phones. Also, if Zopo release their sources you can build the Android 5 (or whatever) by yourself.

      4. You can expect phones like the Zopo ZP980 to last 2yrs pretty easily, given you don’t drop it too often. 3yrs would depend on your usage, which is pretty much possible.

      In the end it comes down to how safe you want to play. You know what you’ll get with say an Xperia Z, but with a ZP980, there’s more excitement. In the sense, you’re bound to get surprises, good or bad. And, Zopo is a reputed Chinese manufacturer.

  4. Rahul says

    Thanks a lot Yash for such a speedy response. So with your response I feel I can take a chance with ZOPO zp980.

  5. Rahul says

    HI Yash

    I have one more question. In one of the you tube reviews of ZOPO zp980 I saw that It has internal memory for apps as 1.5 GB in 16GB version of zopo. Where as in LG Nexus 4 or Xepria Z there is noting called internal memory for Apps. You can install apps upto 12 GB of the 16gb version.

    What is this internal memory for Apps in zopo. Why is there this limitation in ZOPO.

    • says

      Most Android smartphone manufacturers have moved to a ‘unified’ storage, and apparently Zopo has not. Although there is only 1 continuous storage chip, the system on the Zopo is told that it is made up of two partitions, apps and storage. This shouldn’t be a problem because you can change the size of the apps partition, but it does require a little in-depth knowledge of Android. You can wait for a dev to increase the apps partition.

  6. Rahul says

    I suspect zopo p980 has a genuine internal memory or its just 32 GB built in SD card that mimics as a genuine internal memory.

    • says

      Nothing can be said before teardown pictures/videos start appearing on the internet. You might well be right, but I hope not since an on-board storage chip would provide better speeds.

  7. satpal says

    i dont know why we don’t believe in chinese mobiles . where there is chinese technology in every gudget almost. even nokia bettery is made in china.

  8. Sumit Kumar says

    Hi, I’m looking to buy a 5.3 inch Android phone. I don’t want to spend more than Rs.12,000 to 15,000 as my use is limited. I have short listed Gionee GPad G2. How about this phone? Also, you can suggest any other Indian or even good Chinese brand in the same price range. Phones must be of good build quality and display resolution.

    • says

      You can go ahead with the Gpad G2, the device has had nice reviews. There aren’t many Chinese devices of that size available. However, the Zopo ZP990 might interest you, but keep in mind it has a much larger screen (6″). If you don’t mind importing from China you can look at companies like Dakele who are often OEMs behind other brand names.

  9. Sumit Kumar says

    Thanks Yash for your valuable advice. Can you please tell me which Chinese brand is more trustworthy between Gionee and Zopo in terms of after sale service? And can I get a 5.3 ” FHD display in that price range (12 to 15K) because 6″ will be bit costly I guess.

    • says

      Cheers, Sumit!
      Out of the two brands I’d definitely suggest Gionee because they’re a registered company in India, and they’ve been in the business for a long time now. There are a few ‘no-name’ (iNew, etc) Chinese brands offering 5.3″ FHD screens, but I wouldn’t suggest those. You can look at 5″ options like the ZP980, I don’t seem to recall any 5.3″ FHD phones at the moment.

  10. Sumit Kumar says

    Hi Yash!

    Thanks for your comments. Actually I’m looking to replace my Samsung Galaxy I9003 4″ LCD with Gionee GPad G2. It has developed some h/w problem off late. I use IPad Mini wifi for indoor use and Nokia Asha 302 for regular phone calls. I want a smart phone for occasional on-the-go use. And don’t want to spend more than 15K and on popular brands. I liked this Gionee phone very much from its reviews on the YouTube and it’s in-box contents. So finally should I go for it ….? Your final say please.

    Thanks,

    Sumit

    • says

      Hey Sumit!
      You’re welcome ๐Ÿ˜€ I would definitely suggest Gionee to you over any other domestic or Chinese branded phone. Gionee manufacture their own hardware and have stringent quality control measures apart from frequent firmware updates.

      Cheers!

  11. Sumit Kumar says

    Hi Yash,

    Thank you very much for your kind suggestion. It’ll be verymuch helpful for me to to take a final decision on this product. Actually I also got to check the phone in a store just yesterday and yes the built quality and display is at par with any other branded product. So may be in a few days time I am going to buy this. And I’ll definitely let you know once I got it.

    Thanks once again.

    Sumit Kumar

    • says

      Hello again, Sumit!

      I’m glad our opinion helped you with your decision. And yes, it’ll be real cool if you let us know of your thoughts on the device. Having no expectations is the key ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Cheers and keep visiting!

  12. Preye says

    Dear yash,

    i am interested in buying a phone between 11 k to 13k, i have shortlisted Gionee dream 1 because of its amoled screen and nice hardware configuration but the sceptism enters in after sales support, its upgrading feature of its software as some of user says the updates you recieve in some chinese inscription which on downloading turns out to be anything else etc.
    please clear my doubts as there is an air like you can’t trust chinese product although they offer much feature but its because of lacks quality.

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