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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

has anyone seen the Newman N2 ? quadcore,13mp 1080p
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just a quick update.
12 days on and still no response from ugood.
i've posted my feedback on their site
http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Freeshipping-STAR-NEW-Smarthone-V12-V1277-MTK6577-Dual-core-Android-4-0-4-512MB-RAM-4GB/610248925.html
but it made no difference :(
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Oh yeah I know what you mean about the "work" thing! Please let us know how you get on, hows the battery life?

Battery life is great, I am not an heavy user, do not play games and stuff, I am getting 2 days easy.
The rest of the phone working exactly as it should, no problems (volume rocker a bit stiff , but more I use it the better it gets!).
I know I already said this but the screen is great, watched a few films and a bit of catch up tv, the 4.5" screen makes the difference.
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Just ordered a Jiayu G3 from Aliexpress. I'm a bit anxious. :)
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unrandomsam
Nov 25 2012 05:12 PM

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)


They charge $1.99 to mark it as a gift (You pay them then you are complicit in it). It isn't the same as if they just do it without you asking. It is you paying them to commit fraud on your behalf.
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you guys should think about getting the Neo NO3 when it is out shortly: http://www.gizchina....leaked-details/

The Neo NO2 is £123 ish on uredeal.com so i'm sure the Neo NO3 will be a similar price with this much improved processor.
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you guys should think about getting the Neo NO3 when it is out shortly: http://www.gizchina....leaked-details/

The Neo NO2 is £123 ish on uredeal.com so i'm sure the Neo NO3 will be a similar price with this much improved processor.


338 $
http://www.uredeal.c...-8gb_g3524.html

big battery - 3000 mAh

for me, for now is good my thl W3 which works fine... ;)
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that is the neo n003, it has a 5.3" screen. Not sure if that is a different model to NO3. Hoping it isn't as 5.3" is too large for me and it costs £225 which is too close to the nexus 4.
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jes, one "0" to much...
I don't think n03 will be much cheaper...

You have lenovo with 4,5'' screen and the same quad-core
http://www.aliexpres.../688494297.html

but the price is...
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yeah, lonovo charge a fortune as they are a proper brand. That price is more than nexus 4 so they won't sell many in uk/us and other countries that get the nexus 4 cheap.
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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


As I understand it.. the MTK6575 is a single core CPU phone and is usually paired with the 512MB RAM, and the MTK6577 dual core CPU phone is paired with the 1GB RAM.

I have purchased the MTK6577 - 1GB version. My opinion is that it is this iteration that presents the best value proposition. The price I paid was approximately 170USD, but this can vary slightly depending on if the merchant includes extra covers, or batteries. My price was for the phone only and nothing more.

I also understand (from the Jiayu G2 thread) that there is a further iteration of the MTK6577-1GB that comes with a 2200mAh battery (as opposed to the 2000mAh that came in my own unit). So this can cause further differentiation in price.

I purchased my unit from UGood - and it took about 3 weeks to arrive. The delays in postal service is within China. Once it gets out of the country it should move quickly. I was also worried about shipping and the tracking no. did not seem to work for several days. But it's possible to chat live with the folks over there and be reassured.

The people at UGood don't communicate in the best English. So when asking question, keep it short, simple, and to the point.

My advice is that, if the product information is unclear, make explicit in the "Comments section to Merchant" (I think) exactly what you want. For example I wasn't sure if I'd be getting a black and white phone or an all white phone, and so I said "Please send me the all black phone". I got a response confirming that an all black phone will be sent.
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They charge $1.99 to mark it as a gift (You pay them then you are complicit in it). It isn't the same as if they just do it without you asking. It is you paying them to commit fraud on your behalf.

Well don't pay it!!
I didn't, just paid the VAT requested by DHL, which I must admit was not the full amount,
but felt better for not being completely under handed!
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Huewei G330 is going to be £100 at talk talk btw or £10/month. On sale early next month: http://www.techradar...ristmas-1114777 hands on review here: http://www.theinquir...-handson-review

The Ascend G330 packs a 4-inch 480x800 display, 1GHz dual-core processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage, 5MP camera, microSD slot and comes running Android 4.0.4.
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Papa Moomin
Nov 27 2012 01:23 AM
anyone used a GooPhone i5 Lite ?
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synchropair
Nov 27 2012 01:05 PM
When buying from Aliexpress or similar what is the best/safest method of paying for the phone etc?
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Hello
Is dificult to find a store to sell this devices on europe to avoid the custom taxes .
Now i find one is from spain
http://www.powerplan...sim-es/jiayu-g3

If some one find others put on forum will help
Regards
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http://www.levnesmartphony.cz/cs/ they import these phones to Czech republic... 1£ cca 30kc or 1€ cca 25kc
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Papa Moomin
Nov 27 2012 04:39 PM

http://www.levnesmartphony.cz/cs/ they import these phones to Czech republic... 1£ cca 30kc or 1€ cca 25kc

so the Newman N1 works out at around £150 or so, that's an ok price for that, yeah ?


has anyone bought from www.android-sale.com before ??
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Its £155,45 exactly today...
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What's up with AliExpress canceling my order and requiring that I file a "claim" with them that includes a copy of my passport, my credit card, and my credit card statement? Sure, that's what I really want to do, give someone plenty enough information to steal my identity! Sorry, but I think I'll be looking for another source.
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When buying from Aliexpress or similar what is the best/safest method of paying for the phone etc?


I chose etotalk because they accepted paypal. I bought a ZTE V970 at the beginning of the month, no complaints so far.
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I bought a UMi X1 from http://www.uredeal.com/
After about 5 weeks, some white spots started appearing on the screen. This can happen with IPS screens and needs replacement screen.
I emailed them and they wanted a video which I sent. They offered me $15 compensation. As more spots started to appear and there was also leakage I insisted they fix. Eventually they agreed and sent me an address to send the phone. They said they would fix if I paid for postage both ways. Not great but I agreed.
Anyway about 5 weeks later, they receive the phone and then tell me that I must also pay $50 because the phone is more than 1 month old!!! Obviously they see me as a rich westerner, they have my phone and can make some more money. I refused and say send back the phone, they said $40... This continues for a while until I put a stop to it. Now I have nothing as I will not pay!
So, according to Uredeal, if the phone is more than 1 month old, you must pay for shipping and pay for the factory to fix your phone!
I believe they also go by the name Ugood on Aliexpress so avoid both.
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Hi all,

I am thinking of buying ZTE V970 from etotalk http://www.etotalk.c...html#show116.70 which costs about £117 + DHL shipping according to my calculation. To those that live in the UK and have ordered this phone before could you please clarify whether you guys had to pay custom tax upon receiving the phone or not?

Thanks in advance! :)
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"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."

It is hard to believe the shipping time. Sometime it tell us one week, but it will need 2 weeks. And some almost over one month. Especially meet with holidays in their country. I order an mobile from www.eachbyte.com. They told me that I could receive in one week. In fact I got my item after 10 days. Just because of the busy logistics season. So, I recommend that you should choose a right time to make the order. And you should keep focus on your item shipping status. Because it may be more problem as time much longer. In Asia, you will know that Oct. to Dec must be a busy season if you always shop online.
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