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Buying devices direct from China


Since MoDaCo has started covering China branded phones many people have had questions relating to the range of devices and how to buy them. In this article I will endeavor to cover the ins and outs of buying from China and give a selection of devices I have had some experience with along with places to purchase them.

I'm providing links only to stores and sellers I have had personal experiences with. I have never had any negative experiences with these stores, but you might not get the level of service you are expecting. A few things to remember:
  • With anything out of China or Hong Kong, handling and shipping will take a long time. It's not at all uncommon for something to take a week to be shipped out and 3 weeks on top of that to arrive. Using Registered Airmail also means it is 90 days from the time of shipping before an investigation can be started on a lost package. If you want something with any urgency I highly recommend investing in DHL, UPS or other expedited courier shipping.
  • Never expect a fast reply to any service inquires you have. It could take over a week for any store or Aliexpress seller to reply to a message you send. Because of this, be very sure of your details before placing an order.
  • Customs are a pain. No matter where you order from there is a chance it will get held up with customs in your country. There also may be fees involved. Having a customs declaration state that an item is a Gift or listing a value of only a few dollars is also not a fool proof method to bypass customs. With that being said, I have ordered close to 100 products out of China and have only had real issues with customs twice.
All of the listed devices use the latest MT6577 processor from Mediatek. This a dual core CPU running at 1GHZ.

A few points about these phones:
  • Currently all MT6577 devices run Ice Cream Sandwich. Any upgrades beyond this will be dependant on Mediatek more than the individual OEM's. Chances are, Jelly Bean and other future Android builds will be reserved for the upcoming quad core processors rather than being ported to the current chipsets.
  • All mentioned devices are Dual SIM, Dual Standby and support 2G 850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz in both SIM slots with 3G 900 and 2100 MHz limited to one. While this makes it compatible with most providers, some do use 1900 MHz or other frequencies for 3G coverage. Double check before buying.
4-inch devices

Bedove X12 - available from Aliexpress and FastCardTech
The phone for the style savvy, coming in Black or a two-tone White/Hot Pink combination. This is one of the few devices listed here that has 512MB of RAM compared to 1GB. If you're a light user this shouldn't be much of an issue, but the enthusiast might want to stay clear. The screen is nice and clear but doesn't perform very well under strong sunlight. It is on the low end, but worthwhile for a 4-inch dual core phone at such a low price.

Jiayu G2 - available from Aliexpress and FastCardTech
A popular device from a rather new brand. Offers a gorgeous screen and a large battery. Its chubby, all plastic design might put some off, but this phone really shines as a value priced performer. For more details be sure to look at our review.

Zopo ZP500+ - available from Aliexpress, DealExtreme and FastCardTech
Zopo devices have come to represent solid build quality, and their ZP500 provides this on a budget. It's another WVGA device also sporting 512MB RAM This is what I would recommend to people who need a phone that can handle a little wear and tear. The biggest concern I have with this phone is the rather small, 1300mAh battery.

4.3 inch and above

Jiayu G3 - available from Aliexpress and FastCardTech
The sequel for the G2 has suffered a range of delays. Announced before the dual core MT6577 chips were available, the G3 promised to bring premium features at a low cost. It's 720p, Gorilla glass protected screen is the real selling point with a large battery and metallic finish adding to it's reputation. It should be available very soon, but like so many times before this is subject to delay.

Newman N1 - available from Aliexpress and FastCardTech
A 4.3", qHD Phone. Available in Black, White and a very Pink Red. All reports indicate that this device performs well, but there have been issues with light and colour bleeding on the screen. The battery is only 1700mAh, probably on the low side to accommodate the sub 10mm thickness. Comes partitioned to allocate 800MB to apps with the rest of the 4GB ROM allocated to a virtual, onboard SD card. Newman has released official firmware updates to fix some bugs. This can be downloaded and applied using the included System Update app.

THL W3+ - available from Aliexpress and DealExtreme
An alternative for those not willing to wait for the delayed Jiayu G3. Offers full 1280x720 HD on a 4.5 inch display. Be sure to seek out the W3+ model to get the dual core processor over its older, single core counterpart. It does use a full glossy finish, so those who don't like fingerprint marks should avoid! In comparison it is a bit on the expensive side, but the specifications do make up for this. Keep in mind that the additional screen resolution does tax the processor more - performance will be slightly less than its lower resolution counterparts.

Zopo ZP900 - available from Aliexpress, DealExtreme and FastCardTech
This device was the recent CIDotW here on MoDaCo and is also the phone I personally use. Size does matter here with the biggest feature being its 5.3 inch qHD screen. It might not have the wide viewing angles of other devices but the screen is impressive, even in some sunlight. There are various unbranded versions of this phone available, some sporting less memory and a lower quality camera sensor.

If you have had experience with these or similar devices, share your thoughts in the comments. MoDaCo is building up a community around branded phones out of China and would value any insight you have.

About the author

aaroNiGHTS's Photo
Aaron Davies is a freelance technology writer based out of Wellington, New Zealand.

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74 Comments

hi guys.
i've just received my phone after 21 days but there are a few problems.
there is a tiny chip in the screen and in the bottom left of the front surface (but thankfully not on the screen itself) there is what i can only describe as an "air bubble" around 5mm long and 1mm wide.
also, ugood advertise this phone as having an 8mp camera but it is only 5mp.

oh, and the mains charger is not for the uk and no adaptor was supplied.
all of this is a shame because this phone feels great, has an amazing super amoled screen with excellent viewing angles, a vanilla version of ics :D and is just so fast compared with my blade!

i also find the 4.3" screen perfect in size and how did i manage up until now without a dual sim slot :rolleyes: .
i've informed ugood of the problems and will let you know their response.
at 105gbp all in though, i'll put up with these small issues mainly because of the aggro of returning the item. :rolleyes:

nice one aaron.
i've just ordered the Star Ulefone V12 from here:
http://www.aliexpres..._610246306.html
no special delivery instructions.
i'll let you know what happens :)

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2 days and no response from ugood which is, er, not good :rolleyes:
phone's great though :D

hi guys.
i've just received my phone after 21 days but there are a few problems.
there is a tiny chip in the screen and in the bottom left of the front surface (but thankfully not on the screen itself) there is what i can only describe as an "air bubble" around 5mm long and 1mm wide.
also, ugood advertise this phone as having an 8mp camera but it is only 5mp.
all of this is a shame because this phone feels great, has an amazing super amoled screen with excellent viewing angles, a vanilla version of ics :D and is just so fast compared with my blade!

i also find the 4.3" screen perfect in size and how did i manage up until now without a dual sim slot :rolleyes: .
i've informed ugood of the problems and will let you know their response.
at 105gbp all in though, i'll put up with these small issues mainly because of the aggro of returning the item. :rolleyes:

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4 days go by and still no response from ugood.
personally, i wont be buying anything else from them.
the colour of my text tells you what i think of their service! :D

hi guys.
i've just received my phone after 21 days but there are a few problems.
there is a tiny chip in the screen and in the bottom left of the front surface (but thankfully not on the screen itself) there is what i can only describe as an "air bubble" around 5mm long and 1mm wide.
also, ugood advertise this phone as having an 8mp camera but it is only 5mp.

oh, and the mains charger is not for the uk and no adaptor was supplied.
all of this is a shame because this phone feels great, has an amazing super amoled screen with excellent viewing angles, a vanilla version of ics :D and is just so fast compared with my blade!

i also find the 4.3" screen perfect in size and how did i manage up until now without a dual sim slot :rolleyes: .
i've informed ugood of the problems and will let you know their response.
at 105gbp all in though, i'll put up with these small issues mainly because of the aggro of returning the item. :rolleyes:

    • 1

4 days go by and still no response from ugood.personally, i wont be buying anything else from them.the colour of my text tells you what i think of their service! :D


if ugood doesn't respond, you can inform alliExpress team about that? ;)If you didn't give positive feedback yet, i think they (ugood) will answer :D they want your money :D

I ordered my thl W3+ from Best Android Tablet store on alliExpress... I think i will receive it in next two days... Now it's in custom office in my town (I need to pay taxes :( after they call me for this :( )...I will see will all be in one piece or...
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cheers mate.
i'll wait a bit longer before posting feedback.
good luck with your w3+ :)

if ugood doesn't respond, you can inform alliExpress team about that? ;)If you didn't give positive feedback yet, i think they (ugood) will answer :D they want your money :D

I ordered my thl W3+ from Best Android Tablet store on alliExpress... I think i will receive it in next two days... Now it's in custom office in my town (I need to pay taxes :( after they call me for this :( )...I will see will all be in one piece or...

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I tend to avoid unbranded clone devices for those very reason - the built quality is normally very low. But on the plus side, that device looks to have a great price!
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I'm now glad I didn't go down the cheap Chinese route. I can do without dodgy traders selling me iffy goods and then ignoring my emails, let alone the hassle of Customs and Excise trying to fry my balls for all they can get... nah!
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yeah, great price for what you get and build quality perfectly acceptable.
one little touch i really like is the all enveloping back cover.
it's as good as having a protection cover without the bulk.
very clever :D

I tend to avoid unbranded clone devices for those very reason - the built quality is normally very low. But on the plus side, that device looks to have a great price!

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it certainly is a risky route to take.
i hope my experience helped you decide.
personally, i'm not sure whether i'd go down that way again :rolleyes:


I'm now glad I didn't go down the cheap Chinese route. I can do without dodgy traders selling me iffy goods and then ignoring my emails, let alone the hassle of Customs and Excise trying to fry my balls for all they can get... nah!

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there's another problem too.
indoor performance of 3g is, frankly, hopeless.
that's using the same sim card and giffgaff settings straight out of my san francisco which has no indoor 3g issues at all.
from my experience then, don't buy this phone or use this dealer :mellow:
    • 0

there's another problem too.
indoor performance of 3g is, frankly, hopeless.
that's using the same sim card and giffgaff settings straight out of my san francisco which has no indoor 3g issues at all.
from my experience then, don't buy this phone or use this dealer :mellow:


Thanks for the info
    • 0
6 days now since my first correspondence to ugood after receiving my phone and still no response from them.
they have four contact names but not one of them is ever available on chat :rolleyes:
    • 0
Hi All,
just a bit of info I have found etotalk.com very reliable and trustworthy. just purchased a Jiayu G3 and it was in my hands in 6 working days! fantastic screen! they can be a little more expensive, but a g3 in stock! good customer service questioned ask answered immediately (allowing for time difference)
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6 days now since my first correspondence to ugood after receiving my phone and still no response from them.
they have four contact names but not one of them is ever available on chat :rolleyes:


Hope they give a response soon :/ reading your posts i can just imagine the frustration i'd be in in your situation.
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Hi All,
just a bit of info I have found etotalk.com very reliable and trustworthy. just purchased a Jiayu G3 and it was in my hands in 6 working days! fantastic screen! they can be a little more expensive, but a g3 in stock! good customer service questioned ask answered immediately (allowing for time difference)

How is the G3? can you give us some feedback when you've had time to play? there were some questions about 3g frequencies can you shed any light on that?
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thanks haxorg.
still no response and, yes, it's a bit frustrating but at least my phone (which i actually really like) didn't cost a fortune.
ugood have now added a $32.67 shipping fee to the uk whereas when i bought it there was no charge!
i must admit i didn't do enough homework on the subject as i probably would have bought the excellently reviewed jiagu g2 from another dealer.

Hope they give a response soon :/ reading your posts i can just imagine the frustration i'd be in in your situation.

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Ordered a G2 - 6577 1Gig version: http://www.aliexpres.../567921439.htmlOrder placed 5th Nov, confirmed shipped (DHL $37.18 extra) 7th Nov, excellent tracking, arrived in UK (East Midlands) early Saturday (10th), sat there over the weekend (typical), delivered safe and sound 12th (Monday).Well packaged, all working, exactly as advertised. 'Invoice' marked with value of $20 - no customs charges or delays.Phone lovely, very pleased with my first Aliexpress transaction.
http://i1275.photobu...R/Photo0033.jpg http://i1275.photobu...R/Photo0032.jpg http://i1275.photobu...Photo0034-1.jpg http://i1275.photobu...R/Photo0035.jpg http://i1275.photobu...R/Photo0036.jpg http://i1275.photobu...R/Photo0037.jpg
    • 0

Hi All,
just a bit of info I have found etotalk.com very reliable and trustworthy. just purchased a Jiayu G3 and it was in my hands in 6 working days! fantastic screen! they can be a little more expensive, but a g3 in stock! good customer service questioned ask answered immediately (allowing for time difference)

I ordered a ZTE V970 from etotalk. Placed the order on Friday night (2nd Nov), it shipped on Monday and was delivered to Belgium on Wednesday (7th Nov). I've been hit for a further €25 by customs but all in all I pretty happy with the phone.
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what about the newman nm860? it's like the jiayu g2 (ust 5mp and 512mb) but costs 140$ shipped with ups (jy-g2 is 145+35)
http://www.aliexpres.../682832566.html

It's strange I couldn't find something about it in any website... maybe it's really new, dunno...

another interesting is the haipai (or tinji/tianji/tianhe?) x720d that's 126$ but shipped with singpost. This last has a 4.7, that's why I'd prefer to buy the newman...

Leo
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How is the G3? can you give us some feedback when you've had time to play? there were some questions about 3g frequencies can you shed any light on that?


Hi Have not had much time to play yet,keep getting interupted by that "work" thing, but first impressions are good.
Did not know about 3G issues, just put in a t-mobile sim I had knocking about, all seems to be working OK.
Will report especially if I find anything bad
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yesterday I received my THL W3+ (via Singapore post)...For now everything works fine...except in the beginning - language on the phone was set on Russian :unsure: but I solve this problem....
    • 0

what about the newman nm860? it's like the jiayu g2 (ust 5mp and 512mb) but costs 140$ shipped with ups (jy-g2 is 145+35)
http://www.aliexpres.../682832566.html


FYI, there are two iterations of the Jiayu G2. One uses a single core CPU with 512MB RAM. The second is the dual core with 1GB RAM - going for about ~$170 USD.
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Hi Have not had much time to play yet,keep getting interupted by that "work" thing, but first impressions are good.
Did not know about 3G issues, just put in a t-mobile sim I had knocking about, all seems to be working OK.
Will report especially if I find anything bad

Oh yeah I know what you mean about the "work" thing! Please let us know how you get on, hows the battery life?
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FYI, there are two iterations of the Jiayu G2. One uses a single core CPU with 512MB RAM. The second is the dual core with 1GB RAM - going for about ~$170 USD.

really? then the option "mtk6577 512mb add gift" for 145$ comes indeed with a mtk6575?
http://www.aliexpres.../594081004.html

otherwise the seller of the newman nm860 told me that it's available... I'm really tempted.. :S
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The Jiayu G2 is at 125$ shipped in antelife.com, trustable?
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