A trip to a Chinese “Phone City”

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China is a wash with low-cost, high specification Android phones, phones which aren’t terribly easy to come by in the rest of the world. So with all these phones flooding on to the Chinese market, what is it like at a Chinesephone city” keep reading to find out.

I visit our local phone city every month or so, but it is only recently that I’ve been able to actually visit, take my time strolling around, grab some photos and write-up the experience for you to enjoy.

The “Phone City” I visited yesterday is the phone city in Qingdao, Shandong, and it is possibly one of the best hidden phone markets I’ve ever been too.

Only 3 entrances allow access to the underground labyrinth of mobile phone stalls, and anyone not knowing the area could be led to believe the large phone store across the walking street was the place to be, but the real bargains are found beneath the Macdonald’s just a stones throw away.

DSC02606 A trip to a Chinese Phone City

This “Phone City” isn’t a particular big example, but it is set out well, with 3 halls catering for different tastes. The lower halls consist of second-hand phones and low quality knock-offs, while the other halls concentrate on grey imports and domestic brands.

DSC02607 A trip to a Chinese Phone City

DSC02613 A trip to a Chinese Phone City

DSC02608 A trip to a Chinese Phone City

DSC02611 A trip to a Chinese Phone CityHaving not visited this market for some time I was shocked to see the lack of iPhone 5 clones. Instead every store had knock-off Xiaomi M2 phones ranging from the very convincing to the downright terrible.

DSC02619 A trip to a Chinese Phone City

Thankfully the vendors in this market aren’t interested in ripping you off, and are quick to point out that these aren’t the real thing but they can get genuine models if I would like.

xiaomi m2 phones in stock A trip to a Chinese Phone City

 DSC02617 A trip to a Chinese Phone City

Despite angry comments on Xiaomi forums, I found it extremely easy to find a number of shops with Xiaomi M1s and M2 in stock, with prices being only slightly more than retail. The best price I was offered for a 32GB Xiaomi M2 was 2350 Yuan, which is actually only 50 Yuan more than the official Xiaomi price!

android ipad mini clone china A trip to a Chinese Phone City

Boxes upon boxes of iPhone 5′s were on show with prices slashed to as low as 4000 Yuan for the 16Gb model! Almost a $200 saving from when the first became available on the grey market. I also came across this iPad Mini clone, but unfortunately there was no one around for me to take a look at it .

DSC02626 A trip to a Chinese Phone City

DSC02627 A trip to a Chinese Phone City

The “Phone City” isn’t only a place to pick up a new phone, you can also find hundreds of accessories for almost any model or manufacture you can think of.

DSC02632 A trip to a Chinese Phone City

DSC02631 A trip to a Chinese Phone City

While most cases are the generic factory produced models, some more artist store owners are making their own custom cases for popular phone models, such as these jewel encrusted Hello Kitty iPhone cases.

DSC02623 A trip to a Chinese Phone CityPhone repairs can be carried out too, with replacement screen fitted at a labour cost ranging from $8 – $16 (depending on how well you can barter), there are even stalls offering to Jailbreak your iOS device or root your Android device while you wait.

DSC02630 A trip to a Chinese Phone CityAs I mentioned above, this “Phone City” isn’t that big (probably around 500 stalls), and not many carry the brands we talk about on Gizhcina, for example there are no JiaYu, UMi or Zopo’s here, for those you would have to head to Shenzhen, which is where I aim to go in just a few weeks! Watch this space!

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Andi Sykes is the founder and editor of Gizchina.com. He is a huge technology and gadget fan with a soft spot for hacking devices to do what they were not intended for. Follow Me! Linkedin

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  • Airyl

    Cool! I’ve always wanted to see a Chinese phone street like this, and this is just great! Do take pictures when you go to Shenzhen and post them Andy!

  • John

    Next time you go there make a video, those markets are really interesting.

  • Trent

    Hi Andi

    I was just wondering if you know of any hidden gem phone shops in Beijing ?
    I’ve been to a few and am always amazed with the phone cases lol

    Cheers

  • ivan

    very cool, andi. It is very similar to some phone market at my hometown. Kinda feels like home seeing the pictures. Thanks for the good read. I found that Oppo looks like a major brand. Is Oppo highly famous there? compare to xiaomi? meizu? and zte?

  • Paul

    Andy are you quitely scouting to get the best price for bulk order so you can setup an online store. If so many of us gizchina fans are ecstatic. Come on do it! I think this is your fortune waiting for you! It will be a headache but the outcome will outweigh the stress.

  • -Carlos-

    I love China

  • Calvin

    Andi I actually was in Shenzhen a few days ago. Pretty pissed off with the experience. The people there are rude and dirty and generally unhelpful. Also, perhaps I don’t know where to go but the shops there mainly carry the bigger brands of phones (Sony, Samsung Apple etc). Couldn’t find Jiayu anywhere, although I did see a few shops carrying Zopo and Oppo. I would love to see your article on Shenzhen so that I know where to go next time.

    • nobitakun

      I thought that before reading your post!. I have a chinese friend from a little far from Shenzhen (Suzhou) and he told me the story of the city and I would be surprised if those citizens would be as kind and helpful as people in the east coast of china (Shanghai, Suzhou, etc). When a city raises that fast citizens start to think that they are something and that’s a pity because they look down on the rest of chinese people, I’m someway sure. I don’t say every person in there act like that but I bet most of them do.

      And the fact they’re richer than the rest of china mainland is a consequence about you find lots of “regular brand” phones such as Xperias, Iphones, Samsungs, etc. Hilarious thinking they produce most of them LOL.

      • Calvin

        I don’t know whether they way they treated me was because I’m Chinese myself (but not PRC born). Perhaps they thought I’m a Hong Konger and I read that Shenzhen people generally don’t like Hong Kongers. Kinda stupid to be rude to a potential customer if you ask me.

  • uday

    This article is surely breath of fresh air b/w the monotonous routine of tech updates & also i was quite intrested to know how the local chinese market have looked & hey its just awesome!!! Range of smartphones,accessories,software hacks etc just everything for any tech enthusiast at one place. Eagerly expecting some more great posts like this in future by u Andi.

  • http://komedia007.deviantart.com/ X_Hunter

    Well, now I see where the good stuff is hidden at, lol. I just wished I had the same access you have to it… >_<"

  • sarwono

    hi, i’m from indonesia, i plan to go to china on march, i’ll be at shanghai and hanzhou just for 1 day of each city, i plan to buy oppo find 5 (i hope it’ll be available at that time), where i can find it?
    sorry for my bad english

    • http://www.gizchina.com Andi

      At an Oppo shop or a large electronics store such as Suning, Gome or Fivestar

      • sarwono

        can u give me the exact address of oppo store at shanghai?

        • http://www.gizchina.com Andi

          No, sorry

  • bhaumik thakkar

    sir,please upload the story about shenzen phone city soon…please