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Chinese phones can surprise

True, the iPhone is made in China. But its handset makers have their own brands, and some mid-range ones are good. Gagandeep Singh Sapra reports.

tech reviews Updated: Jul 29, 2013 22:11 IST
Gagandeep Singh Sapra
mobile phones

When mobile phones made their first appearance, the price tag was the single factor that determined one’s purchase decision. Then came features like colour screens, cameras and QWERTY keyboards (thanks to Nokia and BlackBerry. Things changed forever with the iPhone, with its cool looks, third-party apps and extra features that sent rivals back to the drawing boards.

Now, there are strange new names from China that are taking the place of brands like Siemens, Motorola and Ericsson.

Indian brands like Micromax, Spice and Karbonn source their hardware from China. This week, we take a look at Made-in-China phones including the Indian ones to answer a reader’s query – should you buy a feature-rich unknown Chinese brand, or should you compromise on features and stick with a known brand at the same budget? The look is based on a visit to China, examining phones, factories and facilities.

Miezu MX2(Roughly Rs 25,000; available only in China/online)

This phone set off a global stir with its looks, price and performance. It can be ordered online and seems to be on the top of wishlists for geeks worldwide.

Available in 3 variants of 16 GB, 32 GB and 64GB (just like the iPhone), the MX 2 has a central round button (also just like the iPhone) and runs a customised version of Android OS. It has a 4.4” screen, 1280 x 800 WXGA resolution and a 347-pixel-per-inch density; it also runs on a quad-core processor and has 2 GB of RAM. It looks very much like what you would expect Apple to design — a mix of metal, plastic and glass, perhaps what the next iPhone should be like!


Gionee E6 (awaiting launch, expected price Rs 24,990)

This phone is likely to hit the Indian market soon, priced around Rs 25,000. With a unibody design inspired by the iPhone, the E6 comes with a full-HD IPS 5” LCD screen, a quad-core processor and 2 GB of on-board RAM. It runs a custom version of Android that Gionee calls Amigo OS — a rewrite on the Android core, though this does raise questions on how fast they will be able to release updates.

The phone does not feature a microSD card slot or a removable battery. All you see is a micro-USB port to charge the phone and a micro-SIM slot for your SIM card, much like the iPhone. The E6 also has a 13-MP rear camera — one of the best in this price segment — and a 5-MP front camera.

Huawei Ascend Mate P20 Price: Rs 24,990

This is one HUGE phone, with a 6.1” tall screen you can hide behind! But if you are looking at a phone sold directly by the manufacturer, Huawei is trying to change the game. The huge screen is only HD-ready, not full HD, which means you get a 720 pixel resolution. The processor is quad-core, and it has an 8 MP rear and 2 MP front camera (though slightly saggy on performance).

The phone performs well, which is probably why Huawei stayed away from a full HD screen so that it can optimise on the overall performance. So, if a lower resolution screen is acceptable to you, this phone should be fine.

Micromax Canvas 4 Price: Rs 17,999

The original Canvas and the Canvas HD from Micromax were bestsellers. However, with the highly-anticipated Canvas 4, the company seems to have missed a trick or two. With just a slight incremental upgrade in features, the Canvas 4 seems to a Made-in-China story gone wrong.

Though it is one of the cheapest phones in the line-up today, and has a full-HD 5” IPS display, a quad-core processor, a 13-MP rear camera, a 5-MP front camera and the latest version of Android OS, the phone still ends up giving a feeling of low quality. The Canvas 4 has sadly missed the boat.