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Buying devices direct from China

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#1
aaroNiGHTS

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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.

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#2
RaoulTeeuwen

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I read/heard good stories about www.lightake.com (to compare prices of the G3, http://lightake.com/...Search.JiaYu-G3 ) . For anybody interested in even more resellers, this (Dutch) topic (about buying the Jiayu G3) shows a lot of Chinese vendors (logo's and direct links, no need to be able to read Dutch ;-)) > http://forum.fok.nl/topic/1866526

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#3
den_breacker

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You forgot the Xiaomi Mi2

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#4
hecatae

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You forgot the Xiaomi Mi2


This list is MediaTek only, Xiaomi M2 is Qualcomm

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#5
lineone

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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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#6
aaroNiGHTS

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You forgot the Xiaomi Mi2

Heh, I forgot alot of phones! I'm only going to recommend devices I've either personally used or know someone personally who has used it. There's just too many devices with horrid build quality for me to just recommend a device based on its specifications alone.

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 :)

Awesome! People sharing their experiences is the best way for us to build up a community around these devices and give people good places to buy them.

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#7
breesey

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That Newman N1 looks awesome. Think it might be time to sell off the Ascend G300 and venture into the world of MediaTek.

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#8
domenico lamberti

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quite seriously considering the Jiayu G3 as my next smartphone, either that or the Zopo ZP300+ (dual core version) as the English equivalent (money wise) is terrible, the specs can't compete, I mean the G3 and the Galaxy Ace 2 are roughly the same price, the Ace 2 might even cost more for far inferior specifications, sure the waiting time will be astronomical, and warranties might be hard to do, but hot damn it looks great, has a cracking screen and from what I've seen, a dual core CPU in line and in some ways better than the Snapdragon S3

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#9
lineone

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at 105 gbp, including bank fees for currency conversion, the phone i've gone for is 10 gbp cheaper than my 2 year old orange san francisco!
if it's as good as the specs and pictures suggest, then i'll be rather chuffed. :D

Heh, I forgot alot of phones! I'm only going to recommend devices I've either personally used or know someone personally who has used it. There's just too many devices with horrid build quality for me to just recommend a device based on its specifications alone.

Awesome! People sharing their experiences is the best way for us to build up a community around these devices and give people good places to buy them.


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#10
yaqh

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Has anyone got the g3,what are their thoughts.

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#11
aaroNiGHTS

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The Jiayu G3 just started shipping out to people. It's a very popular device so I'm sure there'll be hands on impressions very soon!

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#12
h@mster81

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I'm looking for a phone with 5+ screen to replace my SatNav.
I would need a car mount as well.

PS. I don't care about screen resolution. And price should be around 100 quid


I've found this one: http://www.aliexpres.../657704123.html

Cheap and cheerful but can't find a car windscreen mount.

Any other ideas?

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#13
hecatae

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altek a14 leo, 14mp camera, where is it?

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#14
yaqh

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my bro is going singapore.what would a good handset to buy,i wonder if g3 is available

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#15
aaroNiGHTS

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I'm looking for a phone with 5+ screen to replace my SatNav.
I would need a car mount as well.

PS. I don't care about screen resolution. And price should be around 100 quid


I'd recommend the 9300+, available on on Aliexpress and FastcardTech


It's the same specs as the Zopo ZP900, just with a bit less memory. It is also the same dimensions as the original Galaxy Note, so a mount designed for that should work.

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#16
lineone

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took Ugood 5 days to ship but hey it's on it's way! :D

at 105 gbp, including bank fees for currency conversion, the phone i've gone for is 10 gbp cheaper than my 2 year old orange san francisco!
if it's as good as the specs and pictures suggest, then i'll be rather chuffed. :D


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#17
yaqh

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took Ugood 5 days to ship but hey it's on it's way! :D



which phone did you order?

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#18
lineone

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hi mate.
http://www.aliexpres..._610246306.html

which phone did you order?


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#19
andenthu

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I am planning to buy Xiaomi 2. But I heard it doesn't come with gapps. Is it possible to install that later, otherwise, it is a no go.

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#20
Jaisan888

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Very much interested in the JiaYu G3 mainly due to my need for a Dual SIM device. Then again I don't mind carrying two phones, if one goes down then there's the other as backup.

Which leads me to be interested in the Goophone I5 , this beats the iPhone 5 even in screen resolution at a fifth of the price. In my personal opinion, this Goophone also has the advantage of being an Android device.

Then again wait a little longer and new MediaTech CPUs will support 12 mega pixel camera etc etc etc...............even better devices.

On hindsight, all these preorder devices may just be speculations by those little manufacturers just to test the market.........

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