This year has been quite interesting in the land of Chinese smartphones and China-based companies, no matter if we're looking at really affordable Chinese smartphones, or some very well-known flagships. Some of the larger Chinese companies managed to grow quite a bit, while Huawei even managed to catch up to Apple on a global scale at one point. That being said, we'll try to take a look back on 2017 as a whole, and see what exactly went on when the Chinese smartphones are concerned, ranging from thinning down bezels, all the way to some significant steps forward for particular companies, read on.
Bezels Are Thinner, But They Are Still Here
A number of top Chinese smartphone manufacturers managed to thin down their bezels quite a bit this year, companies like Huawei, OnePlus, OPPO and Vivo. Huawei had introduced its Huawei Mate 10 flagships this year, namely the Huawei Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro and PORSCHE DESIGN Mate 10, all of which sports really thin bezels, considerably thinner than the Huawei Mate 10, Huawei P11 or the P11 Plus. The same can be said for OnePlus 5T, which is quite similar to the OnePlus 5 in many areas, including its SoC, RAM, and storage, but it sports a larger display and considerably thinner bezels. OPPO and Vivo also released several phones with visibly thinner bezels, phones like the Vivo V7 and OPPO R11s.
Xiaomi is yet another company which started trimming down below, as they released the Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus which are almost on par with some of the devices that we've mentioned, but that's just the beginning for Xiaomi. The Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus are affordable smartphones, and we do expect to see even thinner bezels on some of the company's upcoming phones, like the Xiaomi Mi 7 for example. Huawei will probably push its 'P' flagship line of smartphones in the 'bezel-less' territory as well, as the Huawei P11 is expected to sport razor-thin bezels. ZTE and Nubia are also worth mentioning here, as the Nubia Z17 is one of the better-looking Chinese smartphones out there at the moment, and it also sports really thin bezels, though this handset's availability makes is really difficult for some regions to get ahold of that phone. ZTE did not introduce its global flagship in 2017, its Axon-branded flagship, but the ZTE Axon 8 is expected to arrive in the first half of next year, and it will probably sport very thin bezels.
That being said, some less-known Chinese companies are marketing phones with extremely thin bezels, via renders, though many of those phones still sport black bars around the display, and black bars are bezels, of course, and that's something to keep in mind when purchasing more affordable Chinese phones, as it may be wise to check what the phone looks like in real life before you opt to purchase it.
Xiaomi Strived In 2017, But Not Only In China
Xiaomi is one of China's most popular companies, which is quite a success for them considering that the company was founded back in 2010. Having said that, Xiaomi didn't really do all that well in 2016, but the company more than made up for it this year. Xiaomi grew quite a bit in China, even though it's still not amongst the top 3 smartphone manufacturers in its homeland, those three spots are currently occupied by Huawei, OPPO, and Vivo, though Xiaomi is still growing quite a bit in China. Xiaomi did manage to grow quite a bit on a global scale, however, its growth rate in India is staggering. Xiaomi actually managed to catch up to Samsung in India, and become the first smartphone manufacturer in India, while all the other companies trail behind these two tech giants. It's also worth noting that Xiaomi managed to sell over 90 million smartphones in 2017 thus far, which means that the company reached its goal already, a couple of months before the end of the year.
Xiaomi is not the only company who did well in 2017, however, Meizu actually grew more than 50 percent on a global scale this year (YoY), while Huawei, OPPO, and Vivo also managed to leave their footprint in the smartphone market. Huawei even managed to catch up to Apple at one point and jump over the Cupertino giant on a global scale, well, until the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X sales kicked in, the two companies are now trading places constantly and it will be interesting to see who will be the second-placed at the end of this year, as Huawei's Mate-branded handsets have been selling really well too, and the same goes for a number of devices Honor released in the last couple of months. OPPO and Vivo strived in China, mostly, as the availability of OPPO's and Vivo's phones is still quite limited. And last, but not least, OnePlus is definitely worth mentioning, as the OnePlus 5T became the company's fastest-selling smartphone to date.
LeEco's story is definitely one of the saddest one this year. This China-based company started this year full of hope that it will be able to leave its footprint in the US smartphone market, and succeed on a global scale, but needless to say, that did not happen. LeEco went in over its head it seems, as not only did the company did not succeed in the US, but they were forced to close its headquarters in the country, due to a significant debt the company found itself it. At first, it seemed like LeEco will have to leave the US, but will be fine in general, though the company's problems turned out to be much deeper than just the US.
LeEco agreed to acquire Vizio, but that deal never went through, which forced Vizio to sue LeEco. That seems like a big enough problem for the company, but it's only one of many LeEco had to deal with in 2017. Latest reports actually claim that LeEco is selling its Beijing headquarters, which means that the company's financial crisis not only impacted its US business, but the company's foundation in general. The company's former CEO is currently being sued by several parties as he's in considerable debt himself, and he had to step away from the company in general. Both LeEco and Jia Yueting, its CEO, overextended their hand a bit, it seems, and as a result, the future of LeEco is quite uncertain.
This China-based company was supposed to become a great success in more than one market in 2017, and instead, something completely different happened. LeEco did not release a single smartphone since the first half of this year, we've seen several leaks of LeEco-branded phones, but those seemed like older models, not the company's upcoming devices. The future of this company is definitely uncertain, and if something does not change drastically in the near future, LeEco may cease to exist, though that's only a guess on our part, as things seem that bad for the company.
Competition in the Chinese smartphone market is quite fierce, needless to say, China has the largest smartphone market in the world, by far, so that's not surprising at all. Having said that, many Chinese companies are looking for a way to expand their horizons, which is why many of them either already started intensively selling their devices in other markets, or they're planning to do that soon. Things did not go that well for LeEco, so other Chinese companies are definitely more careful with their approach, but they're getting there. We've already talked about Xiaomi and its success in India, Xiaomi did not arrive to India this year, but the company definitely put more focus on the India smartphone market with some help from Manu Kumar Jain, Head of Xiaomi India.
India is not the only market Xiaomi is aiming at, though, the company started selling its smartphone in Spain, officially, which essentially means that the company is now up and running in Western Europe. Not all of its devices are available, but a number of smartphones are, from various channels. Vivo is also a company worth mentioning here, as this company announced that it's coming to the global smartphone market, after being focused on China and some other Asian markets for quite some time now. Vivo will still keep selling its phones in Asia, of course, but it seems like the company is, like Xiaomi, trying to succeed on other continents as well, though unlike Xiaomi, Vivo's journey is just beginning, and we should see more of their devices in markets outside of Asia in 2018.
It is safe to say that this year has been quite successful for China-based smartphone manufacturers, as not only did many of them strive in various smartphone markets, but we've also seen a ton of really nice smartphones released by Chinese OEMs. The Huawei Mate 10, Mate 10 Pro, OnePlus 5, 5T, Xiaomi Mi MIX 2, Xiaomi Mi 6, Xiaomi Redmi 5, 5 Plus, Honor 9, Honor View 10, OPPO R11s, Meizu PRO 7 Plus, Nubia Z17… and many other smartphones create a really nice picture when it comes to Chinese smartphone manufacturers, and it will certainly be interesting to see what will happen next year. The Huawei P11, Xiaomi Mi 7 and OnePlus 6 are quite probably the most anticipated smartphones of H1 2018, if we presume that all of them will launch in that timeframe, of course, while it will also be interesting where will Xiaomi's Mi MIX line go in 2018, same goes for Huawei Mate lineup of devices, ZTE's Axon phones, and so on.