Top 5 unlocked LTE phones – January 2014

As China has now started to switch on it’s 4G LTE networks the rest of the world can now benefit from unlocked LTE phones. Here are our top 5 for the start of 2014!

Nubia Z5S Mini LTE

ZTE’s Nubia range of phones offers stunning hardware at affordable pricing. The Z5S Mini is the most affordable of the range with the LTE version costing just $390 (a regular 3G model is also available for $247).

nubia z5 mini hands on photos

As the name would suggest the Nubia Z5S Mini LTE is a small screen phone with just a 4.7-inch 1280 x 720 Sharp IGZO display. Under the hood a 1.7Ghz Snapdragon 600 CPU runs this unlocked LTE phone plus there is 2GB RAM inside too! Network connectivity is rather good on the Mini which supports FDD-LTE band 1/3, TD-SCDMA 1900/2000mhz, WCDMA 2100mhz, CDMA/EDDO 800mhz, GSM 900/1800mhz

Nubia Z5S

If the Nubia Z5S Mini LTE tickles your fancy but the size is a little on the small size you could take a look at the bigger brother the Nubia Z5S. Like it’s little brother, the Nubia Z5S is an unlocked LTE phone built around a stylish design, but being the flagship device in the range a few more features have been thrown in.

nubia z5 unboxing

The display is a larger 5-inch model with a FHD resolution of 1920 x 1080, the processors is a more powerful Snapdragon 800, plus there are all your usual smartphone features such as NFC, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 and 2 x good quality cameras. Again cellular support on the Nubia is very good with most of the bases covered inducing TDD-LTE band 38/39/40, FDD-LTE band 3, TD-SCDMA band 34/39, WCDMA 2100mhz and GSM 900/1800mhz.

Lenovo Vibe Z

Lenovo have been taking the smartphone market more seriously over the past few years. The K900 was a solid phone for 2013 and the new Lenovo Vibe Z looks to take on the flagship crown for 2014.

Gizchina News of the week

lenovo vibe z heroHardware is just what we like to see from unlocked LTE phones and includes a 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080 display, 2.3Ghz Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB RAM and high quality 13 mega-pixel rear camera. The design of the Vibe Z is more business like when compared to the Nubia phones, but it’s still a very handsome device and measures in at only 7.6mm.

Network connectivity covers GSM, 3G and LTE, plus there’s Bluetooth, WIFI, GPS etc.

Read Also:  Honor Magic Vs Launch Event, How To Watch

Vivo Xplay 3S

By far the most advanced phone in this list, and currently the most advanced of all unlocked LTE phones on the market today, the Vivo Xplay 3S has everything every other smartphone would dream to have!

vivo xplay 3s specifications 9

Not only the most advanced but the largest of the phones here, the Vivo Xplay 3S has a 6-inch 2K display (2360 x 1440) with a pixel density of 490ppi, pretty impressive for such a large screen device!

Other features include a Snapdragon 800 CPU, 3GB RAM, dedicated audio chips from Texas Instruments and ESS Technologies, and DTS stereo offering surround sound! The battery is a large 3200mAh cell, and even the rear 13 mega-pixel camera has a F1.8 aperture for excellent low-light photography!

Gionee Elife E7

Last but not least we have the Gionee Elife E7 smartphone which actually comes in a number of versions with the top of the range Snapdragon 800 model supporting 4G LTE network connectivity.

yellow gionee elife e7

As well as packing a 2.5Ghz Snapdragon 800 chipset and up to 3GB RAM, the Gionee Elife E7 has a 5.5-inch 1080 display, 16 mega-pixel Largan M8 lens, NFC and 2500mAh battery. Pricing for the Elife E7 begins at $440 rising to $570 for the 3GB RAM 32GB memory version of the phone which will launch in around 40 countries around the world.

Top 5 unlocked LTE phones – January 2014

Do you plan to pick up an unlocked LTE phone this year? If so keep up to date with the latest devices on

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  1. Nahúm Pérez Mesa
    January 2, 2014

    Why you say that the VIvo xPlay 3s is the most advanced by far in this list? i think that the Gionee Elife E7 is interesting too with S800, 3Gb RAM and 16Mpx camera (i don’t know the aperture if 2.0 or 1.8 like the Vivo, but, whats are the mesures of the sensor in both?) and i still saying that a <5,5 screen is innecesary and tedious for a normal hand, i rest in 4,7"-5,3" range or maximun 5,5" if the body design and bezels are extremly thinner.

    • defcomk
      January 2, 2014

      E7 has F2.0 Lense but It Has a Large sensor @ 1/2.3 with fairly Large Pixel size so E7 Camera Should Easily beat the vivo however based on what i have seen in reviews the Software side is lacking see this it can do 16mp @ 30fps yet theres no 1080p @60fps or 720 @ 120fps oh yeah from 8mp cam can only record @ 720p software side needs a lot of work and a lot of manual control IMO The mi3 miui Camera UI/Features is the best ATM.

    • ramdroid
      January 2, 2014

      oh comon man ! seriously !!! 2K screen wither its ur taste or not, still more advanced than FHD…. the sound system and speakers alone can blow e7 … otherwise they are practically the same phone with more advanced software features on the VIVO

      • Nahúm Pérez Mesa
        January 2, 2014

        sry but 2k resolution in a mobile phone is ridiculous, i think that FHD is the roof of the resolution on mobiles, more than 1080p is not necessary and i doubt that current processors can move that resolution smoothly, i have an MTK MT6589T @1,5Ghz with FHD screen and is not bad, but in powerful games is not as smoothy as expected, while in 720p go much better in equal processor. I means that is not necessary and i doubt that we can see the differences without having to approach less than 6cm in 2k to FHD resolutions…

        • ramdroid
          January 2, 2014

          and 720p is more than enough as well …. no need for FHD with some people. others have their camera and dont care about mobile cameras. others like high speed processors and others like u say its not bad,
          still ….. more advanced is more advanced, not your cup of tea thats ur opinion, and BTW eprice already did the test and stated that there is a huge difference and the 2K screens are the next big thing 🙂

          • Nahúm Pérez Mesa
            January 2, 2014

            Its true! and you are right, but the technology, not for be more advanced, it is more logical, I mean that if certainly will look great on a 2k screen, but now the consumption of a screen and battery 2000mAh-3000mAh seems excessive, and haven’t no much services that offer 2k video (if TVs are still not standardized at that resolution) ALL technology advanced is welcome, but always staying in the logic, I mean 2k screens? Yes, but with more powerful processors and software optimized for that and batteries to match, if not … I see disproportionate and thus illogical

            • ramdroid
              January 3, 2014

              I hear u my friend and totally agree but thats not what we are discussig hereyou stated that the vivi is not the most advanced not the most logical 🙂
              It is the most advanced. Power consumption etc will get to know when its out and tested

            • Nahúm Pérez Mesa
              January 3, 2014

              YEAH! BUT the differences of performance comes with the same procesor unit with a different screen resolution…i means that with equal processor, which has the highest resolution (logically) will yield less 😉

  2. Digiray
    January 2, 2014

    I’m wanting a LTE phone, but I’m holding out for Mediatek’s MT6595 to see what good prices manufacturers release their phones with and what good deals arrivr after the chinese new year in mid febuary.

  3. zaikatanox
    January 2, 2014

    Andi, if I’m not mistaken, you’re based in Beijing, right? Have you personally tested China Mobile’s TD-LTE (or if you personally know anybody who’s using it)? How is it?

    I know that it’s probably wiser to wait up for FDD-LTE (Unicom and Telecom), but since this is a Chinese technology site, I feel that TD-LTE is actually a very important milestone for Chinese mobile phone industry, so I think maybe you guys should cover it a bit more 🙂

    • qwerty
      January 7, 2014

      Do all of these 5 phones work on 4g all over the world or just in china?
      I wanna buy the Gionee elife e7 3gb ram 32 rom 4g.

      • zaikatanox
        January 8, 2014

        I’m pretty sure they will support both FDD-LTE and TD-LTE (especially if they’re aiming for international markets), though you would still have to worry about the frequencies of your home country.

        • moke
          August 21, 2015

          I have z9 mini TD LTE but it doesn’t work in Ethiopia it says no sim. so , how can i solve it ? could you help me to solve .

  4. Supermario
    January 2, 2014

    I was planning on buying the 4g version of the gionee elife e7 at liaow ($669).
    If anybody knows a better seller please reply.
    Ow and I live in Europe, the Netherlands.

    • njren
      January 3, 2014

      Did you see the teardown of the Elife posted here a couple weeks ago? The phone may look nice on the outside, but the inside doesn’t look like anything I’d spend $700 on.

      • Supermario
        January 3, 2014

        What wrong with the inside?
        Don’t all the phones look like that from the inside???

  5. Dominicmccree
    January 2, 2014

    I managed to get my 4g LTE phone, I got the Huawei Ascend P2 from Ebay for $250, it ships from China as well, very happy with it, I live in the Uk.

  6. The Chosen One
    January 2, 2014

    I am tempted but I am seriously sticking to the gamble that within the 1st 60days after the Chinese New Year we will get a wave of 4G Octa Core Smartphones.

    We may be even lucky enough to have one maybe two manufacturers launching a pre-sale unit for their New Year!

    Fingers crossed!

  7. Faux-News
    January 3, 2014

    Im dieing waiting for a video review of Vivo xplay 3s.

  8. Allanitomwesh
    January 3, 2014

    OPPO confirmed LTE so it’s all good

  9. Mobile hunter
    January 4, 2014

    I want to buy ZTE nubia z5s english international version. I am in India. Please suggest from where I get it.

  10. juan
    January 23, 2014


    Does the GPS work well or it has problems like phones with Mediatek chipset? And Glonass?.
    Does the Z5s “mini” also include optical stabilziation or only the big Z5s?
    I’m worried by the non removable battery. Is there any chance to remove it or is welded?. Or can I get a 3000mAh version?

    What about pictures in low light conditions compared to other mobiles?