Welcome to our monthly rendezvous with the best Chinese smartphones the web has to offer! Being the month after the MWC occurred, we finally have a couple new option to add into our list. So, if you are looking for the best phone you can get for less $500, then keep reading to find out our Top 5 picks!
Top 5 Chinese Smartphones for Under $500
1. Xiaomi Mi 9 SE
We cannot not start the list with the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE, a phone to which we could refer as a high mid-ranger or entry-level flagship. The Mi 9 SE does indeed pack most of the features found on the high-end Mi 9 with the “only” downside being the less powerful CPU.
So, let’s start with that, the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE packs a still very powerful Snapdragon 712 that can be paired with either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage. This hardware powers up the relatively “small” 5.97-inch AMOLED display of 1080 x 2340 (FHD+) resolution with support for Always On Display,HDR content and under display fingerprint recognition.
In the camera department we find the same main 48MP shooter of the Mi 9 – the Sony IMX586, coupled with a 13MP ultra-wide camera and an 8MP sensor with telephoto lens on top. Moving to the front we also have the identical 20MP selfie snapper of the flagship sibling.
Finally, the Xiaomi Mi 9 SE supports NFC and fast charging at 18W to restore the 3070mAh battery to full capacity.
2. Xiaomi Mi 9
Our second spot goes to the flagship Xiaomi Mi 9 we were mentioning just above. Yes, we know it’s hard (if not impossible) to find the handset for under $500 at the moment, but give it a couple weeks and it could be yours for that amount or less. We really believe it’s worth the wait or even paying that little extra now if you can afford it.
Why do we believe that? Well, the Mi 9 comes with the best hardware currently on the market. We indeed find the latest and most powerful Snapdragon 855 fueling it, along with 6GB of RAM and up to 256GB of UFS 2.1 internal storage.
The display is also quite impressive being a big and bright 6.4-inch AMOLED of Full HD+ resolution which packs an under display fingerprint scanner beneath it. On the upper part of the display we find a 20MP selfie snapper, meanwhile on the back we have a triple camera setup. It includes a primary Sony IMX586 48MP sensor, coupled with a 16MP ultra-wide lens and a 12MP telephoto shooter.
The Xiaomi Mi 9 is powered by a 3300mAh battery with support for fast charging at 27W and fast wireless charging at a whopping 20W.
3. Pocophone F1
While being technically yet another Xiaomi phone, we believe the Pocophone F1 is still a very good option in the sub $500 price range. For less than $300 you do indeed get 2018’s flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 CPU along with either 6GB of RAM (8GB for Armoured Edition) and 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of internal storage (expandable).
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 also powered by a large 4000mAh capacity battery and runs MIUI 9.5 based on Android 8.0 Oreo.
4. Honor View 20
The Honor View 20 is the first device with a hole cut out camera design to enter our Top 5s. Honor’s flagship does indeed come with the now trendy in-screen camera placed in upper left corner of the large 6.4-inch FHD+ display. The camera sports 25MP resolution and f/2.0 aperture. Meanwhile on the back we have a dual camera setup, including a primary Sony IMX586 48MP shooter and a secondary TOF 3D stereo sensor.
Honor’s View 20 is then fueled by the powerful Huawei Kirin 980 CPU paired with 6GB or 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of internal storage.
The handset comes with NFC, a big 4000mAh battery and support for 5V/4.5A 22.5W fast charging.
5. Meizu 16th Plus
If you don’t like notches or camera holes 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.
Xiaomi Mi MIX 3
Last year’s flagship Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 didn’t make it on the Top 5 list by a hair, so we decided to include it in our Honorable Mentions section. Aside from the innovative design and sliding mechanism, the handset is also a great bang for the bucks specs wise. The Mi MIX 3 does indeed pack a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 CPU coupled with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage which powers the 6.39-inch Samsung AMOLED notch-less display.
In the camera department, the MIX 3 features a main 12MP shooter with f/1.8 aperture paired with another 12MP snapper. At the front we then find two more cameras of 24MP and 2MP resolution.
The Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 packs a 3200mAh capacity battery, it features NFC, 10W wireless charging and runs Android 9.0 Pie out of the box.
Top 5 Chinese Smartphones for Under $500
This is it for the month of March, 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!