We’ve seen tons of affordable, and yet great devices this year, many people would say that 2016 has been the best year for affordable flagships, which might be true. Devices like the Xiaomi Mi 5, OnePlus 3 and the ZTE AXON 7 have stolen the show this year, as they offer great specifications and build quality, for just a fraction of a price compared to the likes of Galaxy S7 (Edge), HTC 10 and LG G5. That being said, if you’re looking to purchase a smartphone as a gift for your loved ones, and are getting ready for the holiday season by doing so, you’re in the right place. We’re going to list the best Chinese smartphones of the year in this article, so if you’re interested, read on.
The Elephone P9000 is one of Elephone’s best devices to date. This handset is quite affordable, and yet it looks great, while it also sports really compelling specs on the inside, at least as far as its pricing is concerned. The device comes with a 5.5-inch fullHD display, while it packs in 4GB of RAM and it is fueled by the Helio P10 64-bit octa-core processor, which is one of MediaTek’s best SoCs, despite the fact it’s ‘only’ a mid-range processor.
ZUK Z2 Pro
ZUK might not be one of the most popular Chinese brands out there, but this company is backed by Lenovo, and their devices are quite compelling. The ZUK Z2 Pro is the most powerful ZUK-branded smartphone to date, and it’s not all that expensive, while it offers a 5.2-inch fullHD Super AMOLED display, 4GB / 6GB of RAM and 64GB / 128GB of internal storage. This phone, on top of everything, comes with the Snapdragon 820 64-bit quad-core SoC.
Meizu PRO 6
The Meizu PRO 6 is the company’s flagship handset for 2016. This handset sports a 5.2-inch fullHD Super AMOLED display, while it packs in 4GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable internal storage. The device is fueled by the Helio X25 64-bit deca-core processor, and Android 6.0 Marshmallow comes out of the box with the company’s Flyme UI. The device is made out of metal, and it really doesn’t cost all that much considering what it offers, which is a testament to Meizu.
Xiaomi Mi 5 & Mi 5 Pro
The Xiaomi Mi 5 is one of the most powerful devices Xiaomi had ever released, though it’s no longer Xiaomi’s flagship. That being said, the Xiaomi Mi 5 is extremely affordable now that the Mi 5s, Mi 5s Plus and the Mi Note 2 are out, so it might be worth picking up instead of anything else, as this phone sports a 5.15-inch fullHD display, 3GB / 4GB of RAM and the Snapdragon 820 64-bit quad-core SoC, not to mention it’s made out of metal and glass / ceramic (depending on which version you get).
Huawei Honor 8
The Honor 8 is Honor’s flagship smartphone for 2016, and quite an interesting phone at that. This device sports two camera sensors on the back, and is able to produce really great images, comparable to the Huawei P9 and P9 Plus. The Honor 8 is made out of metal and glass, while it packs in 4GB of RAM and it is fueled by the Kirin 950 SoC. Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow comes pre-installed on the Honor 8, and on top of it, you’ll get Huawei’s Emotion UI (EMUI) skin.
LeEco Le Pro 3
The Le Pro 3 is LeEco’s flagship smartphone, it is made out of metal, and it features a 5.5-inch fullHD (1920 x 1080) display. The device is fueled by the Snapdragon 821 64-bit quad-core SoC, along with the Adreno 530 GPU. The 16-megapixel snapper can be found on the back of this phone, while you’ll notice an 8-megapixel shooter on the phone’s front side. Android 6.0 Marshmallow comes pre-installed, along with the company’s eUI skin.
ZTE AXON 7
The AXON 7 is ZTE’s pride and joy, this phone was introduced as a direct successor to the OnePlus 3, and it even beats OnePlus’ flagship in some categories, as it offers great sound, great build and a really nice spec sheet. This smartphone is fueled by the Snapdragon 820, just like a number of other devices on this list, while it packs in 4GB / 6GB of RAM and a set of front-facing speakers.
Xiaomi Mi 5s & Mi 5s Plus
The Xiaomi Mi 5s and Mi 5s Plus were introduced before the Mi Note 2, and even though the Mi 5s probably is not in the same category as the Mi Note 2 because of its size, the Mi 5s Plus certainly is. Despite that fact, these two phones are top of the line devices, and among the best out there, while they don’t cost all that much. You do get a metallic build, 3GB / 4GB / 6GB of RAM (depending on which phone you get), and the Snapdragon 821.
Xiaomi Mi Note 2
The Xiaomi Mi Note 2 is Xiaomi's latest flagship phablet. This handset was introduced next to the bezel-less Mi MIX phablet, and it comes with a 5.7-inch fullHD Curved AMOLED display. This phablet is fueled by the Snapdragon 821 64-bit quad-core processor, and it features a 22.5-megapixel snapper on the back. The 4,070mAh battery is also a part of this package, and the phone is made out of metal and glass.
OnePlus 3 / OnePlus 3T
The OnePlus 3 is definitely one of the best Chinese smartphone out there, if not the best one. This was a tough call as a number of smartphones on this list are truly compelling. The OnePlus 3 is made out of metal, and it sports a 5.5-inch fullHD Optic AMOLED display, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. The phone is fueled by the Snapdragon 820 64-bit quad-core SoC, and it comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box, with the company’s OxygenOS on top of it. The OnePlus 3T looks identical to the OnePlus 3, but there are some differences on the inside, the Snapdragon 821 SoC is included here, along with the 3,400mAh non-removable battery. The 16-megapixel camera is placed on the front side of the OnePlus 3T, and you also get an option to purchase the 128GB storage model of this smartphone.
UPDATE: The OnePlus 3T has been added to the list as it replaces the OnePlus 3. The OnePlus 3T comes with a larger battery, more powerful SoC, a sapphire lens for the main camera, a larger front-facing camera sensor, and it is also available in a 128GB storage variant. If you need more info, visit this link.