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.
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.
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.
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