Image by Xuan Zheng"
Image by Xuan Zheng”

China phones have become quite popular in the last year or so. The advent of $150 quad-core smartphones really opened the eyes of many people. Now we have 8-core MTK6592 phones released and LTE/4G on the horizon. A while back, I did a series on China brands vs popular name brands. This won’t be so much about comparing the two. It’s more about a few of the hurdles to consider before becoming a proud China mobile owner.

The quality of Chinese mobiles has risen substantially since 2012. With companies like Amoi and Jiayu stepping up to the plate and making quality phones at an excellent price. In 2013 we saw up and comers iOcean and iNew take a stab at the Western market. Particularly iOcean with their 900MHz WCDMA European phone. Xiaomi just recently forayed into MTK land with their MT6582 European Red Rice Hongmi.

China phone Frequencies

So what’s next for these guys? A huge step would be producing phones with penta-band or at least quad-band WCDMA. News flash for any China brands that may have stumbled across Gizbeat – it’s 2014, let’s make phones that work everywhere in the world. Inexcusably, THL has released two beautiful phones – the THL T100S and THL T200, with only dual-band GSM. This flies beyond all comprehension, as even my second hand Nokia from 10 years back has quad-band GSM. That a $300 phone in 2014 is released with only dual-band GSM seems almost funny.

Chinese brands certainly have a bit to learn about thinking beyond their own country. I’m sure plenty of you have heard me talk about this enough, so I’ll leave it alone for now, but it certainly still surprises me they haven’t taken the step of releasing all phones with 850/900/1900/2100 WCDMA.

China phone QC / quality control

The next thing is quality control. Generally speaking, with the better known China brands, the hardware is as good, or nearly as good quality wise as the big brand counterparts, but if these guys want to enter the international market, they need to have international quality control standards. The name of the game is dough, and they work on a very thin margin of profit. However, this doesn’t excuse letting every phone out the door. Quality testing needs to be done on each and every unit. If it costs an extra $5 per phone to have this done. Fine, let’s do it.

Image by Dainis Matisons
Image by Dainis Matisons

The other side of this, is that Samsung and HTC and other well known brands also release ‘duds’, but it’s less often than with China brands, and you hear about it less often, because owners of these major brands with issues can go a couple kilo up the road and swap them out.

China phone shops

The last thing we’ll discuss is the shops who cater to international customers. Beyond the frequency issues, beyond quality control, by far the biggest problem with China brands for us, is the shops who are selling them. The people we’re dealing directly with. Often they have no clue about the products they’re selling. Even common terms such as ‘digitizer’ are completely unknown to them. Maybe you’d expect the layman wouldn’t know the term, but you’d think the sales and support teams would.

I recall telling a shop that the lights had ceased to work in the capacitive touch keys. The reply from shop support was ‘you too many app, factory reset’. While factory reset is possibly the answer to some problems, it’s definitely not the correct answer to the capacitive touch key lights not working.

Their English is often terrible as well, and many shops support have no business working with English speaking customers. Even the most basic phrases and explanations often go misunderstood. This isn’t some snooty egotistical position I’m taking. I’ve been living abroad for 7 years and speak the native language horribly for living here so long, but I don’t work in a tech support job speaking this country’s language either.

They also will do their damnedest to keep the phone from being shipped back for repair. They often will request pictures or videos of the problem. This last bit is understandable. Often the problem is due to some type of user error or misunderstanding, and it needs to be quite sure that the phone has a hardware defect before you waste your own time and money shipping back the product.

In closing

If you’re new to China phones, you may be wondering why we buy China phones if there’s often issues with frequency support, quality control and customer service.

Beyond the fact that we’re getting very good phones for literally hundreds of dollars less than if we’d purchased LG, Samsung, HTC or iPhone – we just love it. Even with some of the frustrations that can come with China mobiles, there are dedicated, often cultish communities based around some of these China models and China brands.

With many of the problems also bring about learning. At the time of the issue, it’s often frustrating, but after the issue has been solved, or even if it hasn’t, we still have come through the situation with far more knowledge about Android and smart phones.

It’s also important to reiterate that many of the hardware issues with China mobiles exist with the Big Boy Brands as well. It’s just that it’s far easier to go down the street and swap it out than it is with dealing with warranty support from China. The important thing here is that when you absolutely know it’s a hardware defect, that you’re dealing with a shop who will honor the warranty.

If I’ve made it sound like some terrible hell to go through, well it can be, but if you choose the right shop and choose the right model, it can considerably lessen the chance of a frustrating situation. I’d say the vast majority of China mobile users are more than happy with their purchase and don’t end up with any problems at all, or if they do have some problems, they’re generally of minor consideration, or problems that are ironed out in firmware updates.

I’ll be writing a follow-up to this post within the next couple days. Please add your comments or points regarding this post, or points you’d like me to touch upon in the follow-up.

Buying China Phones – The Pits And The Fallshttp://www.gizbeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/girl.jpghttp://www.gizbeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/girl-150x150.jpg Damian Parsons AboutOpinionTech
China phones have become quite popular in the last year or so. The advent of $150 quad-core smartphones really opened the eyes of many people. Now we have 8-core MTK6592 phones released and LTE/4G on the horizon. A while back, I did a series on China brands vs popular...
China phones have become quite popular in the last year or so. The advent of $150 quad-core smartphones really opened the eyes of many people. Now we have 8-core MTK6592 phones released and LTE/4G on the horizon. <a title="China Phones vs Popular Name Brand Phones – 1,2,3: Fight! (Part 1)" href="http://www.gizbeat.com/2347/china-phones-vs-popular-name-brand-phones-123-fight-part-1/" target="_blank">A while back, I did a series on China brands vs popular name brands</a>. This won't be so much about comparing the two. It's more about a few of the hurdles to consider before becoming a proud China mobile owner.<span id="more-3071"></span> The quality of Chinese mobiles has risen substantially since 2012. With companies like Amoi and Jiayu stepping up to the plate and making quality phones at an excellent price. In 2013 we saw up and comers iOcean and <a title="iNew V3 Preview and iNew Brand Review!" href="http://www.gizbeat.com/2751/inew-v3-preview-and-inew-brand-review/" target="_blank">iNew</a> take a stab at the Western market. Particularly <a title="MT6582 iOcean X7 HD Review!" href="http://www.gizbeat.com/2974/mt6582-iocean-x7-hd-review/" target="_blank">iOcean with their 900MHz WCDMA European phone</a>. <a title="MT6592 SoC Xiaomi Red Rice Hongmi 2 Review Specifications!" href="http://www.gizbeat.com/3055/mt6592-soc-xiaomi-red-rice-hongmi-2-review-specifications/" target="_blank">Xiaomi just recently forayed into MTK land with their MT6582 European Red Rice Hongmi</a>. <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;">China phone Frequencies</span></h3> So what's next for these guys? A huge step would be <a title="Will MTK6592 China Phones Work In America and Europe?" href="http://www.gizbeat.com/2668/will-mtk6592-china-phones-work-in-america-and-europe/" target="_blank">producing phones with penta-band or at least quad-band WCDMA</a>. News flash for any China brands that may have stumbled across Gizbeat - it's 2014, let's make phones that work everywhere in the world. Inexcusably, THL has released two beautiful phones - <a title="MT6592 THL T100 Iron Man Monkey King 2 Official Frequency Specs" href="http://www.gizbeat.com/2678/mt6592-thl-t100-iron-man-monkey-king-2-official-frequency-specs/" target="_blank">the THL T100S and THL T200, with only dual-band GSM</a>. This flies beyond all comprehension, as even my second hand Nokia from 10 years back has quad-band GSM. That a $300 phone in 2014 is released with only dual-band GSM seems almost funny. Chinese brands certainly have a bit to learn about thinking beyond their own country. I'm sure plenty of you have heard me talk about this enough, so I'll leave it alone for now, but it certainly still surprises me they haven't taken the step of releasing all phones with 850/900/1900/2100 WCDMA. <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;">China phone QC / quality control</span></h3> <a title="China Phones vs Popular Name Brand Phones – 1,2,3: Fight! (Part 1)" href="http://www.gizbeat.com/2347/china-phones-vs-popular-name-brand-phones-123-fight-part-1/" target="_blank">The next thing is quality control. </a>Generally speaking, with the better known China brands, the hardware is as good, or nearly as good quality wise as the big brand counterparts, but if these guys want to enter the international market, they need to have international quality control standards. The name of the game is dough, and they work on a very thin margin of profit. However, this doesn't excuse letting every phone out the door. Quality testing needs to be done on each and every unit. If it costs an extra $5 per phone to have this done. Fine, let's do it. The other side of this, is that Samsung and HTC and other well known brands also release 'duds', but it's less often than with China brands, and you hear about it less often, because owners of these major brands with issues can go a couple kilo up the road and swap them out. <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;">China phone shops</span></h3> The last thing we'll discuss is the shops who cater to international customers. Beyond the frequency issues, beyond quality control, by far the biggest problem with China brands for us, is the shops who are selling them. The people we're dealing directly with. Often they have no clue about the products they're selling. Even common terms such as 'digitizer' are completely unknown to them. Maybe you'd expect the layman wouldn't know the term, but you'd think the sales and support teams would. I recall telling a shop that the lights had ceased to work in the capacitive touch keys. The reply from shop support was 'you too many app, factory reset'. While factory reset is possibly the answer to some problems, it's definitely not the correct answer to the capacitive touch key lights not working. Their English is often terrible as well, and many shops support have no business working with English speaking customers. Even the most basic phrases and explanations often go misunderstood. This isn't some snooty egotistical position I'm taking. I've been living abroad for 7 years and speak the native language horribly for living here so long, but I don't work in a tech support job speaking this country's language either. They also will do their damnedest to keep the phone from being shipped back for repair. They often will request pictures or videos of the problem. This last bit is understandable. Often the problem is due to some type of user error or misunderstanding, and it needs to be quite sure that the phone has a hardware defect before you waste your own time and money shipping back the product. <h3><span style="text-decoration: underline;">In closing</span></h3> If you're new to China phones, you may be wondering why we buy China phones if there's often issues with frequency support, quality control and customer service. Beyond the fact that we're getting very good phones for literally hundreds of dollars less than if we'd purchased LG, Samsung, HTC or iPhone - we just love it. Even with some of the frustrations that can come with China mobiles, there are dedicated, often cultish communities based around some of these China models and China brands. With many of the problems also bring about learning. At the time of the issue, it's often frustrating, but after the issue has been solved, or even if it hasn't, we still have come through the situation with far more knowledge about Android and smart phones. It's also important to reiterate that many of the hardware issues with China mobiles exist with the Big Boy Brands as well. It's just that it's far easier to go down the street and swap it out than it is with dealing with warranty support from China. The important thing here is that when you absolutely know it's a hardware defect, that you're dealing with a shop who will honor the warranty. If I've made it sound like some terrible hell to go through, well it can be, but if you choose the right shop and choose the right model, it can considerably lessen the chance of a frustrating situation. I'd say the vast majority of China mobile users are more than happy with their purchase and don't end up with any problems at all, or if they do have some problems, they're generally of minor consideration, or problems that are ironed out in firmware updates. <p class="size-medium wp-image-3072">I'll be writing a follow-up to this post within the next couple days. Please add your comments or points regarding this post, or points you'd like me to touch upon in the follow-up.</p>



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