6 quirky, fun Chinese phones we found at MWC 2017

The halls of Mobile World Congress are filled with smartphones, wearables, and all manner of other cool mobile tech; but we always love discovering all the new phones that may not get the recognition they deserve. This year we were spoiled with choice, so we put six of our favorites into a roundup, which encompasses some brands you may know already, such as ZTE and Meizu, along with some you may not. Here are some of the other fun phones that caught our eye at MWC 2017.

Gionee A1 Plus

six fun quirky chinese smartphones mwc 2017 gionee a1 plus 2

Gionee is becoming a regular fixture at Mobile World Congress, and this year it returned with two phones, the A1 and A1 Plus. The latter is the most technically impressive, with a pair of 16-megapixel cameras on the back, and a giant 20-megapixel camera for selfies. It’s that camera which has some of the coolest features, such as generating the bokeh blurred background effect to improve portrait shots.

The phone packs a large 4,550mAh battery, and a MediaTek P25 processor, plus some fast charging technology for the battery. It feels solidly made, and the design is attractive, but it doesn’t break new ground. The software let the device down, with the camera app reacting slowly and some overall slowness. The lag may be cured by the time it goes on sale, which will happen in April. You’ll be able to get it in select markets for 500 euros, which is around $530.

Ulefone Armor 2

six fun quirky chinese smartphones mwc 2017 ulefone armor 2 1

Likely to be a name that’s new to many, Ulefone showed the Armor 2 at MWC 2017, a super-tough phone that’ll be out in June or July this year. The good news is that unlike many phones sold online or via importers, it has a wide range of bands for great international support — including for those needed to work in the United States.

It’s a monster, too, and really earns its name. The body is made from metal and plastic, and the device will have IP68 water and dust resistance, plus there are physical buttons under the screen and down the sides to make it easy to use while wearing gloves or if the phone is wet. The plan is to put the new MediaTek Helio P25 processor inside, a massive 6GB of RAM, and talk of a very special fingerprint sensor.

Meizu M5S

six fun quirky chinese smartphones mwc 2017 meizu m5s 2

Announced just before Mobile World Congress opened, this was the first opportunity for Meizu to show off the M5S, a mid-range Android smartphone that uses the company’s own Flyme user interface over the top. It’s considerably more compact than several other phones on our list, with a 5.2-inch screen, that sadly only has a 1,280 x 720 pixel resolution.

The rest of the specification includes a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel camera, and a 1.3GHz MediaTek processor. Meizu’s fast fingerprint sensor is onboard, the body is made from metal, and styled like most other Meizu phones. Which means it does look like an iPhone, but that’s not always a terrible thing. The price hasn’t been announced yet, but it’s out soon.

ZTE Blade V8 Mini

six fun quirky chinese smartphones mwc 2017 zte blade v8 mini 3

Dual-cameras are about as trendy as smartphone tech gets, so it’s great to see them incorporated on low-cost phones; and while we don’t know how much the new ZTE Blade V8 Mini will be, it’s certainly going to be cheaper than the $230 Blade V8 Pro. The body contains a 5-inch, 1,280 x 720 pixel screen and has a fingerprint sensor on the back — another surprise for a budget phone — plus a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 chip.

The dual cameras recreate the blurred background effect, and we gave it a quick try. How good they looked depended on the environment, but we did manage to take some good-looking shots, while the software itself was easy to use. The Blade V8 Mini will hit Europe and parts of Asia in March.

Nubia N1 Lite

six fun quirky chinese smartphones mwc 2017 nubia n1 lite 3

Nubia may be best known for expensive flagship phones like the Z11, but it also makes low-cost phones like the N1 Lite. It’s a large device with a 5.5-inch display, but the resolution is 1,280 x 720 pixels, and while it has Android installed, the version we tried had version 6.0 rather than the latest 7.0 Nougat release.

The good news is there’s a fingerprint sensor on the back, while the cameras have 8 megapixels on the rear and 5 megapixels on the front. The specification may not be that exciting, but the large 3,000mAh battery should keep all this running for a few days before needing a recharge. The price has yet to be confirmed, but the N1 Mini should be on sale internationally in March.

Doogee Shoot 1

six fun quirky chinese smartphones mwc 2017 doogee shoot 1 3

Never heard of Doogee? We’re not that surprised, but it’s another company on our list that proves dual cameras on smartphones are the in-thing with its Shoot 1 phone. Except it’s doing it at a really low price: You can pick up the Shoot 1 for just $130 through importer GearBest if you want to give it a try.

For this, you get a pair of rear cameras — one with 13-megapixels and the other with 8-megapixels, which are made by Samsung — a Sharp 5.5-inch screen with a 1,920 x 1080 pixel resolution, plus a MediaTek octa-core chip. The downside is the software, which is Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and a little bit slow and awkward on the model we tried. Still, it’s hard to argue when the phone is so cheap.

Product Review

Huawei’s monster Mate 20 X makes the Galaxy Note 9 look small

The Huawei Mate 20 X has a 7.2-inch screen, but is surprisingly manageable to hold, yet still a little too big to carry around. Huawei’s pushing the phone’s ability as a mobile gaming handheld, challenging the Nintendo Switch.
Mobile

Keep your new Google phone pixel perfect with the best Pixel 3 cases

If you want your new Google phone to stay pixel perfect, then you should snag one of the best Pixel 3 cases. We've scoped out some of your best options so far based on different styles, levels of protection, and budgets.
Movies & TV

Never miss a moment of the NBA season with our streaming guide

The NBA season is in full swing, and if you want to watch games online, you've got plenty of options. Here's our guide to the best ways to watch NBA games online, as well as some additional resources.
Smart Home

Amazon has an even dozen new smart devices. Here’s how to order

Amazon's hardware announcement meant a whole bunch of new Amazon Alexa gadgets. From a microwave to stereo equipment, here is the complete list of devices that were announced, as well as reviews for some.
Mobile

Google Pixel 3 vs. Apple iPhone XS: Does Google’s A.I. take down Apple?

The Google Pixel 3 is here, boasting top-tier specs like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and 4GB of RAM, and some of the world's best artificial intelligence features on a phone. But can it take out the Apple iPhone XS?
Mobile

Need a do-over? Here's how to factory reset an iPhone, from XS on down

Resetting an iPhone can alleviate all sorts of software woes, and wipe away personal data should you sell your device or give it to someone else. Here's how to factory reset an iPhone from within iOS or iTunes.
Photography

Camera shootout! Testing the latest Pixel, iPhone, and Galaxy Note in real life

Which takes the best photos, the Pixel 3 XL, iPhone XS Max, Galaxy Note 9, or Pixel 2 XL? We put the cameras on all these top-notch phones through their paces to see which performs best in the real world, from low light to portrait mode…
Mobile

How to sell your old Google Pixel or Pixel 2 for the most money

So, it's time for a expensive new smartphone, and you'd like to partially fund the purchase by selling your old Google Pixel. Find all the information you need to get as much money as possible for your Pixel or Pixel 2 here in our guide.
Mobile

The OnePlus 6T is coming a day earlier, event moved to October 29

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 6T.
Mobile

Sprint now lets you add Hulu's Live TV service to your unlimited plan

Sprint recently introduced three new data plans to its roster -- Unlimited Basic , Unlimited Plus, and Unlimited Premium. Here, we break down your options to help you decide which one is best for you and your family.
Mobile

Sams's Club offers $100 gift cards for iPhone XR pre-orders

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.
Mobile

It’s about time! A USB-C magnetic charger for the Apple Watch has finally arrived

While most of the buzz surrounding Apple has been about the iPhone XR, the company also introduced a new Apple Watch accessory. Starting October 24, a USB-C magnetic charger will be available for purchase.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Product Review

Amazon’s child-friendly tablet is the complete package

Kids are tough on electronics and it’s difficult to police screen time and manage what they’re doing. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition could be the affordable answer to your prayers, with a rugged case and worry-free warranty.