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Smartphone Buyers Guide: Best Value For Money Chinese SmartPhones $200-$300
07-Oct-2016, 12:10 PM
Post: #1
Smartphone Buyers Guide: Best Value For Money Chinese SmartPhones $200-$300


How about Snapdragon 821 for 299$ ? Or a very well build smartphone with Helio X20 + 4GB Ram for 200 $ ? Yes this price range is where the fun begins, where competition brings us to amazing phones for every taste out there  and shows us how much more interesting the future of the smartphones might be.

So let’s begin..

Vernee Apollo Lite


209 $

Display: 5.5 inch FHD 1920x1080p Sharp IGZO

CPU: MTK Helio X20


ROM: 32GB eMMC 5.1 (up to 128GB)

Rear Camera: 16.0MP Samsung S5K3P3 sensor, 6P lens, ISOCELL , RWB

Front Camera: 5.0MP Samsung S5K5E2 sensor

Battery: 3180mAH Li-polymer

OS: Android 6.0 out of the box (Vernee OS, CM)

Features: Type-C port (supports Type-C earphone, 3.5mm jack retained), Pump Express 3.0 quick charging (5 minutes charging = 1 hour calling), LED notification, Metal unibody, 0.1s fingerprint ID (ISP smart chip, smart key), OTG, Gyro, E-compass,(2.4G/5G)WIFI, Dual SIM Dual standby / SIM + SD card, Open Kernel Code

Dimensions : 15.20 x 7.60 x 0.90 cm, 178g

GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz; WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100MHz, FDD LTE: B1/B3/B7/B20

This one is a real champ for this price. I had the chance to review one of the “gray” Apollo Lite myself and I must say, build quality is top-notch, one of the best colors on a metal body smartphone. 5.5″ Sharp IGZO screen is amazing, Helio X20 is enough almost for every duty including games. Speaking of MediaTek Helio X20 and X25 series, I think there is no need to spend money for Helio P10 based smartphones anymore (might be exceptions of course, personal taste for example), why ? Please check the picture below :


I have Apollo Lite for almost a week and it had 2 OTA updates in this time, this shows us that Vernee is serious about rom business too, this is an important topic as you all may agree. Paying for hardware is something but paying for good ROM is more important in most cases. Well optimized software that can use all the hardware features without any problems is very precious. So if you have around 200$ to send for a new series smartphone, Vernee Apollo Lite won’t disappoint you.

Full review :

Coolpad Cool1


209$  3GB/32GB, 225$  4GB/32GB, 259$ 4GB/64GB

Display: 5.5 inch FHD 1920x1080p 450nit

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 Octa Core


ROM: 32GB/64GB

Rear Camera: Dual 2 x 13.0MP back camera, Camera Maximum resolution: 4160×3120, Camera maximum recording capacity: 4K / 1080P @ 30fps, Slow recording capacity: 720P @ 120fps, F2.0 large aperture, PDAF, ball-type closed-loop motor, quick focus, Color temperature flash, back-illuminated CMOS

Front Camera: 8.0MP, F2.2 large aperture, 80 ° super wide-angle lens

Battery: 4060mAh Li-polymer

OS: EUI 5.6 base on Android M OS

Features: Type-C port, OTG, Gyroscope, NXP smart PA TFA9897, AAC Speaker BOX, LED notification, Fingerprint recognition, Infrared remote control.

Dimensions : 152 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm, 167g

GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz; WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100MHz, FDD LTE: B1/B3/B5/B7/B8

New kid in town from the marriage of LeEco and Coolpad, the Cool1. With the experience of Coolpad in camera department, this new model is trying to give customers Dual Camera setup for an affordable price powered from Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 octa-core CPU. Design is better than LeEco series for my taste, seems more compact with round corners and very good metal construction body. I wish they had a color option like Apollo Lite’s gray or even matte black. 4060mAh battery will help you to carry your Cool1 at least whole day with heavy usage without worrying about power. Cool1’s dual camera setup is like that we have seen on Huawei P9 before, one is RGB camera, second shoots only black&white. The result is better low light performance, sharper images and unique effects of course.

As for Rom department, we know LeEco takes this seriously and software updates mostly are coming in right time.

Xiaomi Redmi Pro


224$ 3GB/32GB, 254$ 3GB/64GB, 300$ 4GB/128GB

Display: 5.5 inch FHD 1920x1080p LTPS-AMOLED

CPU: Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25 | MT6797 Helio X20 Deca-core 2.5 GHz – Exclusive edition | 2.3 GHz – High edition |  2.1 GHz – Standard edition


ROM: 32GB/64GB/128GB

Rear Camera: Dual Setup, 13 MP Sony sensor and 5 MP Samsung sensor

Front Camera: 5MP, f/2.0 lens

Battery: 4050mAh Li-polymer

OS: Android 6.0 – Marshmallow

Features: Finger print sensor under home key front, OLED screen, TYPE-C connector, metal unibody, microSD – upto 256 GB.

Dimensions : 151.5 x 76.2 x 8.2 mm, 174 g

GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz; WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100MHz, FDD LTE: B1/B3/B7

Xiaomi version of affordable Dual Camera setup and first metal unibody metal body model of the maker, the new Redmi Pro. The contender of Cool1 in this price range with rear dual cameras. If you like front replaced finger print sensor more, if you like deep blacks more (who doesn’t ?), if you don’t mind about the maker of the CPU, i’m saying that because there still many people who just buy Qualcomm processor  based phones, then Redmi Pro is your choice. This phone uses MediaTek’s high-end line (until X30/X35 comes to market) Helio X20 and X25, both as an option. Both are equal or better CPU’s then Qualcomm’s 652. Rest is like always,  taste. As for rom/software support Xiaomi is way in front of every maker, has world’s biggest forum support behind. If you want to buy high end model with X25 + 4GB Ram + 128GB Rom, this will cost you 300$ and there you might consider other alternatives too. Base model seems most logical as Redmi Pro offers SD card slot for storage upgrade. Dual camera setup differs from Cool1’s, Redmi Pro’s setup has 2 RGB (color) cameras, main is 13MP, second “depth” camera is 5MP.

Full review

LeEco Le 2 Pro



Display: 5.5 inch FHD 1920x1080p 

CPU: Mediatek MT6797T Helio X25



Rear Camera: 21 MP, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash, 1/2.4″ sensor size

Front Camera: 8.0MP, F2.2 large aperture

Battery: 3000mAh Li-polymer

OS: EUI 5.6 base on Android M OS

Dimensions : 15.60 x 7.80 x 0.75 cm, 185gr

GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz; WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100MHz, FDD LTE: B1/B3/B7

Complete package with 4GB Ram, 32GB Rom, very good workmanship/quality, plus powerful engine with Helio X25. LeEco Le 2 Pro is naturally in our list. Beeing developer friendly, bootloader  can be unlocked with a simple fastboot command, not only this model, talking about every LeEco models, has many custom ROMs online, LeEco community is growing among power users.

Full review : .

Nubia Z11 Mini



Display: 5.0 inch FHD 1920x1080p 

CPU: Qualcomm MSM8952 Snapdragon 617 (Octa-core (4×1.2 GHz Cortex-A53 & 4×1.5 GHz Cortex-A53))


ROM: 64GB, microSD up to 256 GB

Rear Camera: 16 MP, f/2.0, 1/2.8″ sensor size, 1.12 µm pixel size, geo-tagging, touch focus, face/smile detection, panorama, HDR

Front Camera: 8 MP, f/2.4, 1.4 µm pixel size, 1080p

Battery: 2800mAh Li-polymer

OS: Android OS, v5.1.1 (Lollipop)

Dimensions : 141.4 x 70 x 8 mm , 138gr

GSM 850/900/1800/1900, WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100;  TD-LTE B38/39/40/41; FDD-LTE B1/3/7

What do you want from a smartphone these days ? Picture (camera) quality and very good sound output are enough for you ? You want these specs in a very good looking 5″ screen phone right ? Then go grab a Nubia Z11 Mini and all done. The little brother of Z11 family shares same 4-axis OIS Sony IMX298 sensor with its big brother Z11 and Xiaomi’s Mi5, flagship grade camera performance, both pictures and videos (4K). For music lovers AKM’s latest audio chipset is onboard too. Being a former DJ myself, I always test audio outputs of smartphones in first place. Nubia’s powerful and clean sound output been always my favorite and Z11 Mini carries this tag too.  You love taking many pictures and videos and listen to music, this means you need storage too, 64GB onboard + microSD up to 256 GB are more than enough. Build quality of Z11 Mini is one of the best in the market, worldwide. Rom updates ? This is where ZTE comes behind its competitors, usually slow. Had mobile data bug in Z9 series, I hope they will take more care with new Z11 models.

Qiku 360 N4S



Display: 5.5 inch FHD 1920x1080p 

CPU: MTK Helio X20


ROM: 32GB, microSD up to 128 GB

Rear Camera: 16 MP, f/2.0, ISOCELL, PDAF, geo-tagging, touch focus, face/smile detection, panorama, HDR

Front Camera: 8 MP, f/2.0

Battery: 5000 mAh Li-polymer

OS: Android 6 Marshmallow

Dimensions : 151.3×74.6×8.35mm, 169gr

GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz; WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100MHz, FDD LTE: 1800/2100/2600MHz

Take Nubia and Meizu, mix them, you get 360 N4S design. Full metal body, 2.5D glass on top, high build quality. Put a Helio X20 CPU with 4GB Ram and 32GB Rom (microSD up to 128 GB) in it and power all these elements with a 5000 mAh battery (biggest capacity in our list, higher than Mi Max, coming next). How does it sound ? Price should be normally a bit lower, but this phone is very hard to find, so if you want an alternative you need to pay 239$ for this beast. Cameras look very good on paper. An infrared remote control is a bonus too. 360 N4S runs its own OS, 360 OS 2.0.

Xiaomi Mi Max


219$ 3GB/32GB Snapdragon 650, 259$ 3GB/64GB Snapdragon 652

Display: 6.44-inch, full HD (1920×1080 pixels)

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 650/652


ROM: 32GB/64GB, microSD up to 128 GB

Rear Camera: 16 MP, f/2.0, phase detection autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash

Front Camera: 5 MP, f/2.0

Battery: 4850 mAh Li-polymer

OS: MIUI 8 based on Android 6.0 OS

Dimensions : 173.1 x 88.3 x 7.5 mm, 203gr

GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz, WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100MHz, LTE-FDD: 1800/2100/2600MHz (B1/B3/B7)

I love big screen ! I always did, and now I’m using a Mi Max as my daily phone (first time using a Xiaomi), 3GB/64GB with Snapdragon 652 CPU, bought it for 259$ and I must say worth every penny. If you like big screen phones too, there is nowhere else to look, with 4850 mAh huge battery Mi Max will suit your needs in a quality metal body, having everything including infrared remote control and a good camera (good for my taste, can shoot good pictures in dark room with dual flash). Audio quality is surprisingly very good too. I tested Mi Note Pro’s ES9018 DAC last week, Mi Max’s output is nothing less, high output with clean sound. This big fellow is made for multimedia for sure.

Full review :

LeEco Le Max 2



Display: 5.7 inch 2560×1440 Pixel

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 64bit, Quad Core, 2.15GHz



Rear Camera: 21MP 6P, f/2.0 for 4K video

Front Camera: 1.4μm 8MP f/2.2

Battery: 3100 mAh Li-polymer

OS: eUI Android 6.0 OS

Dimensions : 15.68 x 7.76 x 0.80 cm, 185gr

GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz; WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100MHz, FDD LTE: B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/20/25/26

Wellcome to the first league, talking about CPU and GPU power. Are you an Antutu freak too ? Then you should start from here.

Quote : ” Do we need so much power in our cell phones ? Can software follow this hardware power ? These are only phones, ok smart phones with operating systems in it, but what are we doing with them when its about CPU power ? Using 10 applications same time ? Playing 2-3 power hungry games same time ? Not enough..? We need somehow take this power out of these little gadgets to our desktops and push their limits with much more options like creating. After then, this “race” about making more and more powerful CPU’s for phones can come to a logical state. And when those days come, every one of us will use just one ARM powered PC for every computer based job, our Qualcomm’s, MediaTek’s or Fusion’s…”

130K is the minimum score of Snapdragon 820, best CPU that Qualcomm has made till now (+821). And you can grab it just for 239$ thanks to LeEco. The only phone in our list that has a 2K screen in 5.7″ size, if you care about that, this is your only choice, a good one indeed. Lossless audio over Type-C, excellent build quality, awful color options ?

Full review :



259$ (4GB Ram)

Display: 5-inch, 1080p Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels)

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 64bit, Quad Core, 2.15GHz



Rear Camera: 13 Megapixel, Samsung ISOCELL sensor, f/2.2

Front Camera: 8MP

Battery: 3500 mAh Li-polymer

OS: ZUI 2.0 base on Android 6.0 OS

Dimensions : 141.65mm x68.88 mmx8.45mm, 149gr

GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz , WCDMA: Bands: 850/900/1900/2100MHz, LTE FDD: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8

And the fun continues. Ok you want Snapdragon 820 but 5.7″ screen is too big for you ( Le Max 2 ), how about a 5″ in a matte black metal frame ( my favorite ) and front finger print scanner ? And a bigger battery compared 3500mAh to 3100 mAh ? + 32GB more storage for 20$ more ? Here is your phone, ZUK Z2 from Lenovo. Still no official multilanguage ROM from the maker, but there are custom ZUI based ROMs supporting your language, or even CM14 Android 7 if you are familiar with flashing ROMs ( if you are not we will help you with our guides for sure ). It’s good to have community behind a model and Zuk Z2 does that. Best 5″ that 259$ can buy for sure.

Full review :

Xiaomi Mi5


269 $

Display: 5.15 inches, 1080p Full HD 

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 64bit, Quad Core, 1.8GHz



Rear Camera: 16 MP, f/2.0, 1/2.8″ sensor size, 1.12 µm pixel size, geo-tagging, touch focus, face/smile detection, panorama, HDR

Front Camera: 4 MP, f/2.0 – , 1/3″ sensor size, 2µm pixel size, [email protected]

Battery: 3000 mAh Li-polymer

OS: MIUI 8 Android 6.0 – Marshmallow

Dimensions : 144.6 x 69.2 x 7.3 mm, 129g

GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz, WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100MHz, LTE-FDD: 1800/2100/2600MHz (B1/B3/B7)

Famous Xiaomi Mi5, love the black version (especially with the ceramic back). Talking of color, new Mi 5s models don’t have black as color option, why Chinese phone makers don’t use black in every model, I will never understand that. Support of MIUI community, the power of Snapdragon 820 and one of the best cameras in the market, Sony IMX298. If you are a Xiaomi fan you probably get this one under 300$, it surely deserves this money. But I must remind you this version has only 3GB Ram and Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 clocked at 1.8Ghz, not at 2.15 like others, will you feel it as less performance in daily use ? No, you will not, only less Antutu score that’s all, but why Xiaomi reduces clock speed ? To make higher models more attractive ? But it does not. Just make all the clock speeds same and the ram to 4GB in all Mi5 models, it will be easier to sell.

Full review :

LeEco Le Pro 3



Display: 5.5 inches, 1080p Full HD 

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 64bit, Quad Core, 2.35GHz



Rear Camera: 16 Megapixel, Sony IMX298, PDAF, F2.0, 1/2.8″ sensor size, 1.12 µm pixel size

Front Camera: 8 MP, f/2.2, 1.4 µm pixel size, 1080p

Battery: 4070 mAh Li-polymer

OS: eUI Android 6.0 OS

Dimensions : 151.4×73.9×7.5mm, 175g

GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz; WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100MHz, FDD LTE: B1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/17/20/25/26

Our final model and most powerful model as CPU and GPU power because it has a Snapdragon 821 onboard. Higher clocks of 820 give us about 20K more Antutu score. But, like I always say, scores are not the first key point when you want to buy a smartphone. Talking about LeEco Le Pro 3 it’s not just CPU power, the new model of the firm finally has one of the best cameras, Sony IMX298, finally has enough battery power 4070 mAh, much better comparing to Le Max 2’s 3100 Mah, 2.5D glass on top, which gives a much better look and feel, a new brushed metal body and all this in 7.5mm thickness, for just 299$ ! Many of you may say so why bother to make a list, this one is  a real bargain for this price, who would anyone buy a Mi5 for 269$ if you can buy this beast for 30$ more ? I agree with you, speaking of science, of course, rest is, like we always say, taste and budget (and better software optimizations)….

Every phone in our list is on par or even better (price/performance ratio) then famous phone makers like Samsung, iPhone, HTC, Sony or LG. I don’t count Google’s new Pixel line, nonsense costs for that ugly HTC made phones. So why pay 600$-900$ if we can buy almost same quality and absolute android freedom for 1/3 – 1/4 the price ?

Please don’t forget to check our new compare tool for full specs of phones at Gizmochina (phones are still being added to our database):

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