10 Tips for buying Chinese Android phones from China


Buying a smartphone from China has many benefits, but doing so isn’t without its risks! Follows our top 10 tips when buying a Chinese Android phone to avoid potential problems.

Tips for choosing a phone

1. Research the phone and brand

Before sending cash to the online reseller for your new Chinese Android phone, spend a little time researching your purchase. Check the specifications, ensure the design is what you want, check it is not to big or small. You basically want to get as much info as possible before buying, as it may be difficult to send back and get your money back.

2. Read reviews:

As part of your research you should also read as many reviews, hands on and watch whatever video you can containing the device you hope to buy. Even blatant sponsored videos are worth watching as they can give you a good look at the phone in someones hand.

3. Check your phone will work in your country:

Remember that Chinese phones are made to work with either WCDMA or TD-SCDMA networks (CDMA also but this is not all that common). If you intend to use 3G on your smartphone then you MUST but a WCDMA model, but even then you should check the WCDMA frequencies are compatible.

4. Ask for advice:

If you are unsure of what something mean, or need general help ask. You can ask in the comments section of GizChina.com, or in a forum like MTKforums.com. Don’t rely on resellers though as they will answer with whatever they think you want to hear even if it is not the truth!

Tips for choosing an online store

5. Read reviews and comments

Just as you would when checking the phone itself you should also read reviews and comments to do with the online store you intend to trust your purchase with. Chinese online stores a notorious for spamming forums and comments with fake review so watch out for badly spelt comments as a tell-tale sign.

6. Check, double-check and triple check the specifications

Chinese online stores are not known for their attention to detail or accuracy and it is common to find a phone listed with incorrect or even impossible specifications. We have seen stores claiming to have 4G LTE Mediatek phones on sale even though they don’t yet exist, and even dual processor phones which are obviously fake!

Read Also:  Huawei sues counterfeit headphone maker and wins a compensation

7. Is the phone you want really available?

Another issue customers have is that they will pay for a phone only to find weeks later that they have either paid for a phone that hasn’t even launched yet or have unknowingly paid to be part of a pre-order. In both these cases it will be difficult to get a refund as the company taking these orders will be using your money as capital to invest in the purchase of stock. Check news sites to see if the phones you are interested in are actually available, and when in doubt ask.

Keep up to date with the latest news by following GizChina:

8. Is the phone you are looking at the one in the descriptions?

Another common issue is for resellers to list fake phones as the real thing. This use to be a problem with stores selling fake iPhones and Samsung devices as the real thing, however as customers have become more savvy so to have resellers. Now, it is common to see fake models of lesser known devices such as fake Xiaomi Hongmi phones! Check what the image is showing you matches the specifications, and if it looks too good to be true then it is!

Shipping and payments

9. Shipping costs and tax

If the reseller is shipping from China then you are likely going to have to pay some hefty tax on your new Chinese Android phone. Some companies do have warehouse in Europe or the US which avoids this problem, so you should check before making payment. Also, use the best shipping you can afford! It might cost a lot but it is better to use shipping with a tracking number so you can see where your new gadget is at all times.

10. Use PayPal

If you have found the phone you want and a trusted company then you should make payment, but only do so if they accept PayPal! Paying directly to a bank account means you have no safety net if things go sour. With PayPal you can always make a complaint to Paypal even if the resellers stops responding. If you are lucky you will get a full refund.

Anymore tips and advice?

These are just 10 tips we can think of when buying a phone from China. Do you have any more helpful buying tips or advice? If so please feel free to add let us know in the comments section below.

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44 Comments

  1. claude
    December 17, 2013

    Hi, I heared that some online shops accept to write on the package of the phone a lower price that the real price that u paid. So u receive the phone free taxes, or with much lower ones.
    Is someone make the experience, and which shops do this ?

    • December 17, 2013

      I have also heard this it might work but not sure what would happen if you got caught though

      • dwayn
        December 17, 2013

        yes, you can request from the seller to declare the item ordered to a lower value. i have done this multiple times and had no problems. jsut make sure your customs guy doesn’t frequent gizchina, lols

        • claude
          December 17, 2013

          Dwayn, can u give me names of online shops who accep to change the price on the box, and generally names of good and safe sites ? thx

      • defcomk
        December 17, 2013

        Package insurance. what happens if damaged you can only claim declared amount

      • Barry
        December 18, 2013

        If you get caught you will pay the duties (if there are any) and taxes on the real value of the phone, plus you may also have to pay a fine according to the Customs Act of your country.

    • anverx
      December 17, 2013

      At least in finland they don’t look at the box at all. You get taxed for values that you declare, if you declare the price to be $50 then you will be taxed from that, the whole procedure is done online.
      I suppose every now and again they open the box and check if the contents matches your declaration. How they determine the real price, i have no clue. I’d say it’s pretty difficult.

  2. kuba
    December 17, 2013

    The high seller’s feedbacks on Aliexpress don’t guarantee that the seller is credible. I noticed the two ways to avoid bad scores:

    – playing for time until expiration date for feedback (and possibility for opening a dispute).
    – linking length of warranty with promptness of feedback (and giving up potential dispute of course).

    That twisting has disinclined me to buy a smartphone in China.

  3. dr.igi
    December 17, 2013

    Fastcardech doesn’t accept paying via paypal over $300, I want to buy Xiaomi Mi3, wich store you can recommend for a safe buying and not to high prices?

    • Zino
      December 17, 2013

      I heard ibuygou is pretty safe for buying xiaomi devices. Dunno about the price tho

    • December 17, 2013

      I highly recommend Pandawill for any purchase.

      They really DELIVER.

      • Darren
        December 17, 2013

        Ya.. I bought from Pandawill before

      • dr.igi
        December 17, 2013

        Thanks!

      • claude
        December 17, 2013

        Did u try to tell them to write a lower price on the package ?

        • December 17, 2013

          I haven’t had any customs problems so I never checked.

          I just needed an specific phablet that was sold out in all other stores and they lasted a couple of days to squeeze the manufacturer to deliver.

          Hope to deal more with them in the future.

      • ausjay
        August 29, 2014

        They are the worst store I have ever dealt with, they sell items they dont have in stock and try to lie about it, cost me weeks without a phone. (ended up canceling my order after 2 weeks of lies)

    • NiHouMa
      February 13, 2015

      http://blog.fastcardtech.com/tag/otg/ has a very
      bad WOT reputation

  4. Guest
    December 17, 2013

    Hi, I heared that some online shops accept to write on the package of the phone a lower price that the real price that u paid. So u receive the phone free taxes, or with much lower ones.
    Is someone make the experience, and which shops do this ?

    • Andi Sykes
      December 17, 2013

      I have also heard this it might work but not sure what would happen if you got caught though

    • dwayn
      December 17, 2013

      yes, you can request from the seller to declare the item ordered to a lower value. i have done this multiple times and had no problems. jsut make sure your customs guy doesn’t frequent gizchina, lols

    • Guest
      December 17, 2013

      At least in finland they don’t look at the box at all. You get taxed for values that you declare, if you declare the price to be $50 then you will be taxed from that, the whole procedure is done online.
      I suppose every now and again they open the box and check if the contents matches your declaration. How they determine the real price, i have no clue. I’d say it’s pretty difficult.

    • defcomk
      December 17, 2013

      Package insurance. what happens if damaged you can only claim declared amount

    • Guest
      December 17, 2013

      Dwayn, can u give me names of online shops who accep to change the price on the box, and generally names of good and safe sites ? thx

    • Guest
      December 18, 2013

      If you get caught you will pay the duties (if there are any) and taxes on the real value of the phone, plus you may also have to pay a fine according to the Customs Act of your country.

  5. Guest
    December 17, 2013

    The high seller’s feedbacks on Aliexpress don’t guarantee that the seller is credible. I noticed the two ways to avoid bad scores:

    – playing for time until expiration date for feedback (and possibility for opening a dispute).
    – linking length of warranty with promptness of feedback (and giving up potential dispute of course).

    That twisting has disinclined me to buy a smartphone in China.

  6. Allanitomwesh
    December 17, 2013

    Number 10 is very important,or at the very least Visa,but never EVER pay directly via Money Order.

  7. Guest
    December 17, 2013

    Fastcardech doesn’t accept paying via paypal over $300, I want to buy Xiaomi Mi3, wich store you can recommend for a safe buying and not to high prices?

    • Zino
      December 17, 2013

      I heard ibuygou is pretty safe for buying xiaomi devices. Dunno about the price tho

    • Yetimania
      December 17, 2013

      I highly recommend Pandawill for any purchase.

      They really DELIVER.

    • Guest
      December 17, 2013

      Ya.. I bought from Pandawill before

    • Guest
      December 17, 2013

      Thanks!

    • Guest
      December 17, 2013

      Did u try to tell them to write a lower price on the package ?

    • Yetimania
      December 17, 2013

      I haven’t had any customs problems so I never checked.

      I just needed an specific phablet that was sold out in all other stores and they lasted a couple of days to squeeze the manufacturer to deliver.

      Hope to deal more with them in the future.

    • Guest
      August 29, 2014

      They are the worst store I have ever dealt with, they sell items they dont have in stock and try to lie about it, cost me weeks without a phone. (ended up canceling my order after 2 weeks of lies)

    • Guest
      February 13, 2015

      http://blog.fastcardtech.com/tag/otg/ has a very
      bad WOT reputation

  8. ChinaPhone
    December 17, 2013

    I would prefer to buy China cell phones from official website not Chinese online stores.

  9. Nikola Petrovic
    December 17, 2013

    Hi, I was wondering about getting tablets from China. There is no info on Teamgee Super 8, or Tomato T2 anywhere but at the sellers’ blogs and youtube channels, the ones I know for credible either don’t have 3G or are too slow (or have some mixed bag reviews and no decent and recent custom roms, like Hyundai T7s). Please help!

  10. Allanitomwesh
    December 17, 2013

    Number 10 is very important,or at the very least Visa,but never EVER pay directly via Money Order.

  11. quatermass
    December 17, 2013

    Really guys?
    You can’t spell ‘Android’ correctly on your Facebook front page? :))

  12. Guest
    December 17, 2013

    I would prefer to buy China cell phones from official website not Chinese online stores.

  13. Nikola Petrovic
    December 17, 2013

    Hi, I was wondering about getting tablets from China. There is no info on Teamgee Super 8, or Tomato T2 anywhere but at the sellers’ blogs and youtube channels, the ones I know for credible either don’t have 3G or are too slow (or have some mixed bag reviews and no decent and recent custom roms, like Hyundai T7s). Please help!

  14. quatermass
    December 17, 2013

    Really guys?
    You can’t spell ‘Android’ correctly on your Facebook front page? :))

  15. John Gass
    December 19, 2013

    Some sellers offer to root your phone prior to delivery for just a few dollars more. What are the pros and cons of this? Does it imply that they’ll have to test the phone prior to despatch or does it maybe mean they’ll rush the rooting and perhaps ship a bricked phone?

  16. John Gass
    December 20, 2013

    Some sellers offer to root your phone prior to delivery for just a few dollars more. What are the pros and cons of this? Does it imply that they’ll have to test the phone prior to despatch or does it maybe mean they’ll rush the rooting and perhaps ship a bricked phone?