This is the third article about buying phones online in China. In this article I will cover 5 alternatives for online buying Chinese brands. If you are hesitating to buy a Chinese brand directly from China, you might find these options useful.

In the last two articles I wrote about buying smart phones in China. The first article was about the Pros and Cons of buying a smart phone in China. You can read many different blogs about phones from China. This article will help you to decide if a Chinese smart phones is something for you.

In the second article I wrote about the 10 steps to take before buying a Chinese brand phone. If you have decided to buy a smart phone online directly in China, this article will help you to take 10 necessary steps to make the best choice. You don’t want to end up with a phone that doesn’t work in your country.

1) Buying Chinese brand smart phones in your country

Larger Chines brands like Huawei are expending rapidly. Huawei started manufacturing white label phones for the operators. The operators sold these phones as their own brand. Since a few years Huawei sells phones with their own brand name. Second, they expand their distribution network all over the world.

Brands that can be found on Amazon are: Huawei, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Cubot and some more.


An Amazon resellers might be Chinese!

Don’t get fouled by the thought Amazon products are all in the USA. Especially when you search for Chinese brands you see a lot of sellers on Amazon that are Chinese!

When you go to the details page of a product you can see who the reseller is. Here you’ll find names like Hamswan, DIYLooks, Chinabrand, CH-WORLD. All these are Chinese shops selling their products directly through Amazon.

This Cubot phone is send by Hamswan. Although you cannot see directly they are from China, Hamswan has a customers phone number starting with +86 (China!).

This iOcean X8 is sold by DIYLooks. DIYLooks is an export trading company from China. As they say on their info page.

This Huwei Phone is sold by DeltaMobiles and fulfilled by Amazon. DeltaMobiles is an USA based store.

See the Prime logo

This Huawei Ascent is sold by Huawei Device USA and fulfilled by Amazon.

As i can say, most safe. Original company together with Amazon.

Some resellers let their products being shipped by Amazon. These phones have specifications like: Sold by ‘shopname’ and Fulfilled by Amazon. This is much safer, because now you are sure the phone is in stock and will be shipped ;-).

Drop shipping

I found some European an US sites that claims they sell you a Chinese brand directly. Some of these sites work with drop-shipping. This means: these shops do not have their own warehouse but a Chinese store is sending the product for them. You will get your order in a blank envelope or with the name of the reseller. So you are still buying directly in China! Don’t expect much service from these resellers because they just don’t have any products, technicians or customers support.

Oversea specialized shops and warehouses

Some of these resellers do have their own warehouse like (only Netherlands and Belgium). They even provide a 2 days delivery and 2 year guarantee. If the product is not in stock the delivery time will be 2 weeks (needs to come form China). The prices are comparable with Amazon or But they have less choice in models (don’t forget storage is expensive and you might not sell the phones). I’m pretty sure there will be similar shops in your country, but you must look for them to find them.

Price comparison

To see if buying in China is interesting, I made a price comparison of the new Huawei Ascend P7 5.0″ LTE.


Price: 418.34 USD
Shipping: Free
Duty & Taxes: based on your country (0-25%)

go to

Price: 349 EURO = 450 USD
Shipping: Free
Duty & Taxes: None

visit amazon

Price: 421.89 USD
Taxes: Based on your State

This was not what I suspected. There is not much difference in price with a brand like Huawei. For this price, I wouldn’t bother buying this in China. If I wanted this LTE phone I would buy it at (Dutch online market).


First be sure the phone isn’t sold in your country already. And if it is, check if the seller is really in your country or is still in China. And don’t forget to compare the prices.

2) Buying Refurbished phones

I got a lot of questions about refurbished phones. And a few weeks ago I didn’t know these exist. So I’m human after all, pfffieuw….

After diving into the world of refurbished products, I came to the following thoughts.

  • A refurbished phone is a used phone with maybe spare parts. Don’t expect a flawless looking phone.
  • The previous owner might have sold the phone because of problems like bad working buttons or battery. Or the phone is simply too old.
  • Refurbished phones have less to no warrantee.
  • The phone might be stolen?
  • It’s all about the seller. Can you trust the seller that this seller will take care of any problems?

I think buying a refurbished phone online is pretty risky. The price must be very low compared to the original price, before it will be interesting. I hope some of my readers can share their experiences with refurbished phones.

Based on eBay, here are 10 safety tips to keep in mind

  1. The phone must be on factory settings, cleared from any previous ownership
  2. Some games and applications have recurring monthly payments. Be sure the phone is cleaned for these apps
  3. Are all factory issued accessories available, like battery and charger?
  4. Check the unique ESN to know if the phone is stolen
  5. Do you get any warranty from the manufacturer or provider?
  6. Is the retailer reputable?
  7. Is the price interesting enough?
  8. If the phone unlocked from any provider?
  9. Check the reviews for the overall performance of the model. Some models may be known for specific problems
  10. Can you return the refurbished phone. Any retailer should extend a return policy like as if the phone was purchased new.

The eBay article concludes the same as I did.


Unreliable sites or Too good to be true sites

First, I would buy anything from a Chinese site that is disputable. Too good to be true prices, even for refurbished products, are probably fake. You might get the ‘refurbished’ phone. But it might be not refurbished at all, it might have problems, it is stolen, it is locked.

I read about site that sent locked phones (even on AliExpress). Only after leaving a positive 5 star review or paying administration costs you get the unlocking code.

Stay away from unknown and unreliable sites!

Reliable Chinese shopping sites with refurbished phones

The following sites sell refurbished goods. Most of the Chinese shopping sites I know, do not sell refurbished stuff. So, also with these sites keep the 10 safety tips in mind. You can always encounter problems with these used phones. At least these shops have a customer support service.

Visit DealExtreme
Visit AliExpress

With AliExpress be sure to check the reseller!

3) Buying used devices

In stead of buying online and oversea, you might buy from someone nearby.

It sounds so simple, why not buy a phone from a friend. You can check the phone thoroughly. Be sure it works. You’ll get probably a lower price than online. And you can discuss it when you have any problems.

If you buy from a friend or an online marketplace, keep the 10 tips from the refurbished paragraph in mind. For me, I prefer to see and hold a used product in my hands, before I spend my money on it.

4) Buying counterfeit or 100% clones

Counterfeit are 100% copied products. According to a previous research 2% of the world trading is counterfeit. The word counterfeit is mostly used to express the illegal character of the product. That’s why you will not see this term in advertisements.

Some shops claim to sell 100% clones, like the iPhone 5s. Don’t get fouled. This is never a 100% copy! The operating system is Android and not Apple-OS. The used material is probably cheaper and of a worse quality. Even some specs are not available on these products.

By the way. If you buy a 100% Gucci bag clone, the material will be of worse quality. Probably plastics in stead of leather.

With these products, you buy them at your own risk. It is fun to show the latest model to your friends. Don’t show off or say it is real. They might laugh at you when you say it is fake and your friends have the real ones.

5) Buying last years model

Being up to date means paying a price. I you do not want to spend the top price for a new phone, why not look for the last years model. Do your research and see when the model first came out and see if it has an update yet.

Or you can wait a few months till the phone gets an update. Like Apple, they plan to come with the new iPhone 6 this autumn. At the time of writing (September 2014) I would recommend NOT to buy one of the current models. Wait a few months and you’ll get the currents models for less.


With this I’ll come to the end of three articles about buying phones in China. If you missed the previous articles, you can find them here:

  1. Buying a phone in China, Pros and Cons – Part 1
  2. 10 steps to take before you buy a phone in China – Part 2
  3. Alternatives for Chinese Brand Smart Phones – Part 3
  4. Ultimate Chinese Smartphone List

I hope enjoyed these articles and you have enough information to do your own research. I would love to read your experiences. Please let me know in the comment box which phone you bought from China, where, and if you are happy with it.

Happy and safe shopping!



References, if you want to read more:

These articles are based on internet research and with help of the following articles:


Founder of StartBuyingInChina. It all started as an hobby. I liked to categorize the few Chinese stores I knew. After 6 years over 150 blogs were published. I created a wonderful online course about Safe buying online in China, and served over 1.000.000 people. Thank you for being here!

    7 replies to "Alternatives for Chinese Brand Smart Phones – Part 3"

    • Kwaku

      I suggest Boris you establish your own online store where we can buy from.That way you can test the quality.

      • Boris

        That is an interesting thought! And it came to me also. Stay tuned….

    • Kees Staps

      Hello Boris
      Thanks for these tips I bought a thl t200 phone from thl mobile store and shop told me that it would take 3 to 5 days using DHL extra $20.00 instead took 17 days used PayPal

      • Boris

        You’re welcome!
        You’ve experienced the shipping paradox. This is a promise Chinese shops often advertise with. DHL can deliver it in a few days, but the shop takes a lot of time to get it shipped in China. Sometimes they need to order the products themselves because they don’t have a warehouse. Some shops call this processing time and make it clear on their site. Did you read chapter 4 from the ebook? it’s all about this mystery. ‘Paying for Normal & Express Shipping’.
        Btw the ‘thl mobile store’ has a poor on site customer support. No terms, no address, no info about the company. I doubt it is a certified THL dealer.

      • amos

        you should have bought from at least AliExpress. you could have gotten your package from DHL in the correct specified time.

    • amos

      as you already know, I bought a phone from focalprice. I’ve not received it yet so I’m not happy and annoyed.

      • Boris

        I understand. I contacted FocalPrice too, but no response yet…

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