Let’s kick off the new year with some of the best smartphones currently available on the market. Most Chinese flagship phones do indeed cost below $500, so on this list you’ll find “la crème de la crème” as far as Chinese devices are concerned. If you’re looking for a future phone upgrade, then keep reading!
Top 5 Chinese Smartphones for Under $500
1. Xiaomi Pocophone F1
The Pocophone F1 launched back in August is starting to age a little today, what doesn’t age is its incredible specs to price ratio though, making it still one of the best phones on the market. The handset does indeed pack a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 along with either 6GB of RAM (8GB for Armoured Edition) and 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of internal storage (expandable); all of that for around $300!
On the Pocophone F1 we then find a large 6.18-inch Full HD display with a high res 20MP selfie snapper above it, meanwhile on the back we find a dual camera setup comprised of main 12.2MP and a secondary 5MP shooter.
Finally, the smartphone is powered by a large 4000mAh capacity battery and runs MIUI 9.5 based on Android 8.0 Oreo.
2. Lenovo Z5 Pro GT
Last month’s top 5 pick – the Lenovo Z5 Pro – gets dethroned by its successor – the Lenovo Z5 Pro GT. The GT version is indeed a monster of a phone which packs a next gen Snapdragon 855 CPU along with at least 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, while all the rest stays the same, including the fancy sliding mechanism.
The smartphone then sports a large 6.39-inch Samsung AMOLED display with FHD+ resolution, a 16MP main rear camera with f/1.8 aperture paired with 24MP secondary, meanwhile on the front we find another dual camera setup of 16MP and 8MP res.
Finally, the Lenovo Z5 Pro GT packs a 3350mAh capacity battery, runs ZUI 10 based on Android 9 Pie and – incredibly enough – it’s already on presale for $499.99 from some online retailers.
3. OnePlus 6T
Albeit slightly over our $500 budget, the OnePlus 6T is – in our opinion – something worth considering. The smartphone does indeed pack some of the best hardware available on the market, going from the Snapdragon 845 to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage, along with a very attractive design and a great software experience.
The OnePlus 6T sports a large 6.41-inch AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution, a waterdrop notch at the top and an under-display fingerprint scanner.
As pretty much any phone nowadays, the 6T packs two rear cameras of 16MP and 20MP of resolution, meanwhile at the front we find a 16MP selfie snapper.
Finally, the OnePlus 6T packs a good sized 3700mAh battery, features 5V/4A 20W fast charging and runs OxygenOS 9.0.5 based on Android 9 Pie and
4. Meizu 16th Plus
If you really don’t like the notch and you’d rather have slim bezels around the phone, then the Meizu 16th Plus might be the right choice for you. The smartphone packs a large 6.5-inch Super AMOLED panel with FHD+ resolution and is powered by a flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 CPU, paired with either 6GB or 128GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of internal memory.
In the camera department we find a good 12MP shooter with F/1.8 aperture in the back along with a 20MP sensor to snap photos with a shallow depth of field effect. At the front we have another 20MP to snap selfies at ultra-high resolution.
The Meizu 16th Plus packs a 3640mAh battery which supports mCharge 4.0 (12V2A 24W) and runs FlyMe 7.5 based on Android 8.1 Oreo.
If you’re looking for a more compact device, also check out the Meizu 16th (non Plus) coming with pretty much the same specs in a smaller 6-inch screen size.
5. Honor V20
We conclude our list with one of the latest devices to hit the shelves – the Honor V20. Honor’s flagship phone does cost a little more than $500 at the time of writing, but oversea prices are quickly catching up to China’s at $440, for the variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.
Other specs on the Honor V20 are – of course – top notch, such as the powerful HiSilicon Kirin 980 CPU based on 7nm technology, the 48MP main rear camera and the TOF 3D stereo camera to make 3D models of objects and more.
Another neat detail on the V20 is the punch-hole camera on top of the 6.4-inch display, which makes it one of the first phones with such tech.
Finally, the smartphone is powered by a nice 4000mAh capacity battery, supports 5V/4.5A 22.5W fast charging and runs Magic UI 2 based on Android 9 Pie.
Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro
If you’re a big Xiaomi fan and you’re fine with having a notch, then the Mi 8 Pro with its under display fingerprint scanner is probably the best phone produced by the company in the sub $500 price segment. The Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro comes a flagship Snapdragon 845 processor, along with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.
The phone then packs a 6.21-inch display with the previously mentioned under display fingerprint scanner. Meanwhile on the back we find a transparent back cover just like on the Explorer Edition.
Another selling point for the Mi 8 Pro are its great cameras. Coming with two 12MP rear cameras and a large F/1.8 aperture, the phone is able to snap some impressive photos. We then also find an high-res 20MP shooter on the front for high quality selfies.
The Xiaomi Mi 8 comes with a good sized 3000mAh battery with Quick Charge 4.0+ 18W support, an infrared face scanner to unlock the phone and runs MIUI 10 based on Android 8 Oreo.
Top 5 Chinese Smartphones for Under $500
This is it for the month of January, hopefully you have found your next daily driver among our picks. If you didn’t and you’d have suggested other options, then let us know in the comments below!